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Why Go to Cozumel

Cozumel's clear turquoise waters and powdery sands coax travelers from cold winter climates to this roughly 185-square-mile island off the Yucatán Peninsula. Cruise ships are a constant feature of Cozumel's coastal views, and the atmosphere on this charming island is often interrupted by tourist chatter. In fact, Cozumel's charms are so effective that the shopping plazas along the waterfront stay congested much of the year.

But crowds shouldn't deter you from discovering what this tiny Yucatán island has to offer, especially as Cozumel's real allure is far away from the downtown area. You can hire a fishing or diving charter boat to discover the shallow reefs along the coast (this is arguably one of the best diving destinations in the world), take a glass-bottom boat on a tour around the island or simply find a quiet beach where you can relax and do nothing. Once the cruise ships clear out, you should head down to a local bar for some live music and the real skinny on this little island.

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Cozumel Travel Tips

Best Months to Visit

The best time to visit Cozumel is from March to June, when the island enjoys daytime highs around 90 degrees Fahrenheit and nighttime temperatures in the mid-70s. Winters are slightly cooler, with temperatures ranging between the upper 60s and the lower 80s, so it is best to pack layers. Late summer and early fall mark the rainy season, and hurricanes have been known to wreak havoc on the island.

Weather in Cozumel switch to Celsius/mm

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Data sourced from the National Climatic Data Center

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What You Need to Know

  • Protect your feet Some of Cozumel's beaches are littered with rocks, and coral reefs have been known to snag a tourist toe or two, so be sure to bring your swim shoes.
  • Keep your top on The culture here is conservative, so nude bathing and topless tanning are prohibited.
  • Say no to tap water Cozumel's water filtration system pales in comparison to U.S. standards. To avoid unnecessary illness, always make sure your bottled water is sealed, your ice has been tested for purity and your food has been prepared with bottled water.

How to Save Money in Cozumel

  • Pay in pesos Most places accept U.S. dollars, but you will usually get a better deal in pesos.
  • Steer clear of the piers The major cruise lines unload at Cozumel's piers, so avoid them at all costs – it's one expensive tourist trap. If you must shop, head into San Miguel where the souvenirs are cheaper.
  • Pack your sunscreen You can buy your sunblock in Cozumel, but you'll probably pay dearly. Don't forget the sunglasses, hats and bug spray, either!

Culture & Customs

Spanish is the primary language spoken, but many residents – especially those who work in the tourist zone – speak English. It may be both helpful and respectful to know some basic Spanish vocabulary, such as hello (hola), goodbye (adíos), please (por favor) and thank you (gracias).

Cozumel's official currency is the Mexican peso. Since the Mexican peso to U.S. dollar exchange rate fluctuates, be sure to check the conversion before you go. American dollars are, however, widely accepted in Cozumel, though you may get change back in pesos. You also might get a better deal on goods and services if you pay in pesos.

What to Eat

Thanks to the abundance of all-inclusive resorts in Cozumel (which commonly include the cost of food and alcoholic beverages in the room rate), many tourists find little need to explore the island's dining scene. But if you're willing to venture beyond your hotel digs, you'll find a bevy of delicious (often affordable) eateries.  

Meals in Cozumel are built on a foundation of shellfish, seafood and common Mexican staples like beans, salsa and tortillas. Many of the best restaurants in town offer local seafood, including affordable lobster dishes. Most can be found in downtown San Miguel, in addition to a number of local food stands that offer cheap, local fare that is ideal for a quick snack. Kinta Mexican Bistro, a local restaurant that plates "sophisticated interpretations of classic Mexican fare," is a favorite among travelers. If your taste buds are looking for a change of pace, try Guido's, an Italian restaurant that's as lauded for its sangria and pasta as its verdant courtyard setting. And when you need a refreshing libation, head to The Thirsty Cougar. Thanks to its waterfront perch, you'll have a prime view of the Caribbean Sea while you're sipping a mango margarita and snacking on nachos.

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Safety

Cozumel – San Miguel in particular – experiences relatively little crime. Still, if you need help, special tourist police can assist you with any safety concerns. Travelers' main concerns should regard food and water safety. Never drink the tap water in Cozumel; drink bottled water instead. According to local sources, most restaurants prepare their food with bottled water, but you should confirm this with your server before eating. Be sure to wash all produce thoroughly with bottled water before consuming. You should brush your teeth with bottled water, as well.

Getting Around Cozumel

The best way to get around in Cozumel is on foot, as most of the attractions are centrally located. Moped rentals are popular, but they can be dangerous for novice drivers. Although you can easily rent cars in San Miguel, through many hotels, and at the Cozumel International Airport (CZM), we recommend taking one of the many taxis. They're cheap and government regulated, so you won't have to barter for the fare.

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Entry & Exit Requirements

You'll need a passport to visit Mexico, plus a tourism card (or FMM) that can be issued at any Mexican consulate, border-crossing point, Mexican tourism office, or directly from your airline. FMMs are usually issued free of charge upon arrival (and if not, the price is absorbed into the cost of your plane ticket). Be sure to hold onto this card for the duration of your trip, as you will need to present it upon departing the country. It's also a good idea to leave your passport and FMM in a secure location and carry a photocopy of both documents with you at all times. For additional information, visit the U.S. State Department's website .

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