Cozumel Travel Guide: 2 days in Cozumel

Our friends recommended Cozumel to us, and we are glad they did! We only had two days, so here is our brief Cozumel travel guide to help you make the most of your time there.

Cozumel is a popular stop for cruise ships, and its easy to see why. The island is home to beautiful beaches, dramatic coastlines, adventure activities (including some of the best scuba diving) and some amazing places to eat. Best of all, if time is tight, you can get around the entire island in less than a day!

cozumel travel guide

We spent 2 days in Cozumel and here is what we think you should do to make the most of your time! (You can see our short video of all the action here).

Scuba Diving in Cozumel

Home to the start of the second largest coral reef in the world, the great Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, Cozumel is a mecca for scuba diving.

It is well known that Cozumel has beautiful, bright coral, a diverse range of stunning marine life and crystal-clear waters. After our visit, we could not agree more.

Back in 2011 we completed our PADI Open Water qualification in Koh Tao. This meant we could do what is known as a fun dive (your equipment is set up and you just follow the dive master).

We completed two dives during our stay and can definitely see why people make a special effort to come and dive in Cozumel instead of diving from Cancun or Playa del Carmen.

The water was  truly crystal clear, you could see straight down to the bottom (about 22m) from the boat. We saw multiple loggerhead turtles, lionfish, beautifully coloured parrot fish, and most exciting of all, 3 eagle rays.

For those who have not seen an eagle ray, they can grow up to 18ft in wingspan and glide elegantly through the water as if they were flying. They were absolutely stunning. Divers go to what’s locally called ‘Ray Alley’, because you have a high chance of seeing them. On some days our instructor had seen up to 30!

This was an easy dive as it was a ‘drift dive’. This means that you can float along with the current and don’t need to put too much effort in (unless you want to go back against the current!)

Cozumel
Exploring the reef 22 metres deep

Cozumel Diving Companies: Who did we use?

We used Salty Endeavours.

We have dived many times with many different dive schools. This was by far the most professional, friendliest and easiest company we have used.

Our dive master Aries did an excellent job of providing all the information we needed making us feel 100% comfortable.

Water, towels and snacks were provided between dives. Equipment was less than a year old, clearly good quality. Best of all, we didn’t need to do anything in terms of set up. Just wait in the boat, put on your equipment and in you go.

We had a great experience and would definitely recommend Salty Endeavours to anyone who goes to Cozumel to dive (or to learn to dive)!

Rent a Jeep and drive around Cozumel Island

During our stay in Cozumel I (Sion) had my birthday.

I have always wanted to drive an open top jeep, with music blaring and people stood up in the back dancing. So that’s exactly what we did. Except it wasn’t people dancing, it was just Ben!

I chose an open top red jeep (details on how we rented and who we used below) and tentatively pulled out of the parking lot into the small streets. The Jeep felt huge to me and I am not very spatially aware. For the first hour of the journey all you would hear is ‘how close am I, will I hit that bike/person/car/dog and so on’.

Cozumel travel guide
Cruising around in our Jeep

Our Route driving around Cozumel

Once we were out of the main town we headed south along the west coast. The roads here are wide and quiet and very easy to drive along. We were aiming to drive around to the east side of the island.

The east side of the island is known for its beaches, wild seas and stunning scenery. All of which we can attest to! We thought we might be able to swim, but it was too rough and there were red flags everywhere to signal danger.

There were different places along the way to stop and relax or eat. We stopped at Senor Iguanas which served your standard Mexican food, right on the beachfront.

Next, we then took the road directly across the island from east to west, overshot the town and went up to the north hotel zone.

If you are looking for beautiful beaches to swim at, this is the place to be. We stopped off at Playa Azul. We saw a sign in the parking lot that said for clients only but we were told we could use it. After the sun burning down on us all day it was a relief to jump into the clear, still water. Afterwards we had a snooze on the beach.

We found that the actual drive around the island took no more than 2 hours, with extra time depending on how many stops you make.

Car Rental advice for Cozumel

Car rental is hugely popular in Cozumel. This can be overwhelming because you have so many companies to choose from and unfortunately we have heard too many horror stories about car rental scams abroad (not just here). So how to choose?

We did this a little back to front. We talked to a lot of companies, chose one and then got home to find terrible reviews online. So, we started again but finding some good reviews and then approaching those companies.

We used HTL Rentals. This cost $900 (Mexican pesos) for an open top jeep including liability insurance but not the collision damage waiver (which you could purchase for an extra $20USD). This can be confusing as its different between companies. In summary, this meant if someone else’s car was damaged we were covered, but for damage to our jeep we were not covered. Please make sure you ask lots of questions and fully understand what you are signing up for!

We decided to circumnavigate this, and used RentalCover.com. For £9.01 we were fully covered. In the email policy from them they even provide specific reassurance for Mexico:

‘’At the rental desk you will be offered an equivalent product to this one but it will have less inclusions at double the price. Some rental companies will aggressively sell their policies.’’

An American lady overheard us telling the company about our insurance and she said our insurance would not work. She did not understand we had explicitly taken out insurance for Mexico.

We returned the Jeep with no incidents and also no ‘pretend damage’ which is one of the scams we had heard about. All in all, an easy and trouble-free experience with HTL Rentals.

Cozumel Rental
A treat for Sion’s birthday

Cozumel Carnival

This was a surprise during our stay! Cozumel has its own Mardi Gras in February each year!

Events run across the week and you can expect an extravaganza of parades, dancing competitions, costume contests and the coronation of the Carnival Kings and Queens.

We attended the opening event and the first parade along the Oceanfront.

The Carnival Kings and Queens were crowned at the opening event (which had been voted for the month beforehand). The outfits were elaborate, colourful and a work of art. There were many different categories for Kings and Queens but what we were happy to see was the Diversity category. The award celebrated sexual diversity and it was great to see this being embraced by the local community.

Cozumel travel guide
Time to crown the Kings and Queens

The parade was a huge procession of more colourful outfits, lots of dancing and upbeat music. This really brought life to the oceanfront and we could not help but to dance along a little. The parade started at six and went on until sunset.

If you are lucky enough to visit Cozumel during Carnival make sure to take a look at the website to find out what is going on.

Was Cozumel Gay Friendly?

This is always an important question for us and the answer, like Cancun (see our guide to Cancun), Playa Del Carmen (see our guide to Playa Del Carmen) and Tulum was yes.

There is no gay bars in Cozumel or gay beaches as its such a small island, however it is a common stop for the Atlantis gay cruise each year where the island is flooded for one day with hundreds of gay men!

Where to stay in Cozumel?

There are plenty of options for where to stay in Cozumel, we recommend taking a look at:

The Landmark Resort of Cozumel

The Landmark Resort is perfect if you deserve a treat. It has incredible ocean views in the early morning and at sunset. The hotel is immaculate with beautiful decor and a very luxurious feel! You also have access to a beautiful pool, hot tub, tennis court, and exercise area.

Prices: c$390 per night depending on season, look out for offers.

Presidente Inter-Continental Cozumel Resort & Spa

The Presidente Inter-Continental Cozumel Resort & Spa is up there with the best hotels in Cozumel. It has recently had a $25million refurbishment so you can expect very stylish decor and facilities. It also markets itself as being somewhere for both adventure and relaxation as it has plenty of activities on offer such as snorkelling, but also a very luxurious spa on site.

Prices: c$270 per night depending on season.

Casa Mexicana Cozumel

At a slightly more reasonable price than the other two, Casa Mexicana Cozumel is a beautifully designed hotel near the main pier in Cozumel with great staff and a good breakfast.

Prices: c$100 depending on season

Getting to Cozumel

Cancun to Cozumel

Cancun to Cozumel is one of the most common routes people take to get to Cozumel.

Cozumel does have its own airport and you can fly from Cancun directly in 20 minutes. Fares vary throughout the year from as little as $100 to $300+.

The second and cheapest option is the ADO bus from Cancun airport (or town) to Playa Del Carmen. This takes about 1.5 hours and costs c$10 (book online or buy at the desk at the airport).

At Playa Del Carmen you then need to get a ferry across to Cozumel. The ferries are very regular and cost between $7-$10 one way depending which one you choose (fast 20 minutes or slow 40 minutes).

You can also get a taxi to Playa Del Carmen from Cancun, take a look at what you should pay here.

There you have it, not somewhere that was on our plan, but completely worth it. That’s why we love travelling and ”planning to have no plans” which was one of our top tips. We hope you found our Cozumel travel guide useful!

For more about Mexico and Central America, check out:

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This Post Has 18 Comments

  1. Looks like you had a lot of fun! Never heard of that place till now, I had to guess where it was actually till read Mexican Pesos! Good info!

    1. The Globetrotter Guys

      To be honest we hadn’t heard much about it either. If it wasn’t for friends recommending we probably wouldn’t have gone but we are so glad they did!

  2. Sippin Gypsy

    Great post! I have only been to Cozumel on a cruise excursion and have always wanted to go back for longer! Thank you for the tips and suggestions! I had no idea they celebrate Carnival too! That’s a must see!!
    Cheers!
    Sippin Gypsy

    1. The Globetrotter Guys

      Glad you enjoyed the article! We didn’t know they celebrated Carnival either – so lucky it fell whilst we were there!

  3. Christina

    I love these suggestions! I’ve been to Cozumel twice but both times only for a day trip. I love the pristine coastlines and little taco stands right on the beach. If I ever return I’ll definitely go diving as it looks so clear and beautiful! Last time I was there we rented mopeds and it was glorious exploring the island until my best friend crashed and it turned into a huge fiasco. Lol, maybe we’ll opt for the jeep next time!

    1. The Globetrotter Guys

      We totally know that feeling – we had a little moped accident when we were in Thailand! The jeep was so much fun – we would definitely recommend it if you do ever get back to Cozumel!

  4. Addie

    The jeep ride looks pretty awesome, but I would definitely like to dive there! Can you get PADI certified there, or do you need to have it before?

    1. The Globetrotter Guys

      No you can become certified on the island itself. The company we booked through offers the certification, follow the link in the article and check it out 🙂

  5. Eric Gamble

    That is so cool that you got to see Mardi Gras in Cozumel. Being from New Orleans, I think I want to travel around and see Carnival celebrated in different countries like Mexico.
    I am not scuba certified but I did do Snuba in Cozumel on one of the cruise line expeditions. IT was amazing though I think I would love to get certified if I could see an Eagle Ray! That would be amazing!

    1. The Globetrotter Guys

      That sounds like a great plan! Becoming certified divers is hands down one of our greatest travelling achievements to date. If you get chance definitely do it!

  6. Ourjournal

    Great article! Your photos are fantastic too. I’ve always been interested in doing some scuba diving… It looks like you had a lovely time doing this. 🙂

    1. The Globetrotter Guys

      Thanks 🙂 Glad you enjoyed it. We couldn’t recommend scuba diving enough – and this was one of our favourite places that we have dived too!

  7. Constance

    How cool! I had no idea they did Carnival in Mexico as well, for some reason I totally only thought it was a Caribbean/South American only thing. How silly of me, lol. Looks like you had tons of fun!

    1. The Globetrotter Guys

      It was a lot of fun. And it was the same for us – a nice surprise to find the Carnival when we arrived 🙂

  8. Ethel

    Wow seems like a great place for adventurous vacation. Defenitely more than just lying on beach and getting tan 🙂

    1. The Globetrotter Guys

      It really was! We were surprised ourselves by how much there was to see and do there. So glad we were recommended it.

  9. Wow, If I were here will surely do the same, will be trying the scuba diving since I tried it once. I love that you both had really an amazing adrenaline rush wanderlust. The photos are really awesome. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

    1. The Globetrotter Guys

      Thanks so much – we’re glad you enjoyed reading it!

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