When preparing to explore Cozumel, a logical place to begin is the Museum of the Island, found near the ferry pier. I know, I know… the weather is great, the water is crystal blue, and the amount of things to do outdoors is overwhelming. Who wants to spend time in a museum? But the overview of Cozumel’s history, geography and ecology is brief and well-presented, and afterwards you can reward yourself with an excellent breakfast in the museum’s restaurant.
The Museo de la Isla is separated into four sections, dedicated to the island, the ocean, Cozumel’s history and contemporary life. Hey, snap snap, stop staring out the window at the shimmering Caribbean Sea, I’m explaining important stuff here. About learning and history and stuff. I promise it’s worth your time.
Within minutes of stepping into the museum, your attention should be wholly absorbed by the fascinating history of Cozumel and its unique ecology. The island has never been a place of heavy settlement; when the Spanish first arrived, only a smattering of Maya farmers remained. And for most of Mexico’s history, it was almost entirely neglected. This was great from an ecological point of view as, today, Cozumel is still home a lot of endemic animal life.
In the museum, you’ll learn about pivotal moments in Cozumel’s history, see pictures from before and after the devastating 2005 Hurricane Wilma, and admire some underwater dioramas introducing the island’s unique sea life and corals. And there are usually a couple temporary exhibitions featuring local artists.
After you’ve met your culture quota for the day, head over to the restaurant on the top floor. The breakfasts here are good, as are the ocean views and the reasonable prices. Really, there’s no excuse not to check this museum out. Even if you’d rather spend your time on Cozumel in the great outdoors, you’ll have a better appreciation for the island after having learned about it.