Taking a tour in Cozumel succeeds with the Hotels of the WestCoast, lonely beaches of the East coast and the historic Maya site of San Gervasio.
Quintana Roo C1 South of Chakanaab: Upscale Hotel Resorts and Beaches (e.g. Playa Mia and Paradise Beach)
Further south along the coastline you see some upscale resort hotels, restricted hotel areas and some beaches. All beaches offer tourist equipment that means they have pools, sun beds, service restaurants, volleyball fields, sunshades, sometimes even water parks for children.
From north to south, these beaches are:
- Punta Tormentos: does not have much, mostly bigger stones that make swimming and getting in and out of the ocean difficult, a decent place for a short stop, not more
- A bit further south is Paradise Beach: this beach has everything: pools, pavilions, rooftop restaurants, sun beds, washrooms. All in all like a resort hotel, only open to public.
- Playa Mia comes next: a water park with slides and everything else. For children, this is definitely the best place. Anyways it has a fee but not a very high one. Many cruise guest come here, mostly family. Expect this place to be rather crowded.
- The next beach is Albertos Beach: it’s less busy but also has a beach bar and the usual (sun beds, sun shades, music).
- Most southern beach on this list is Playa Palancar, this beach has sun shades made of straw, a bar and sun beds. Similar to Alberto, also quite nice. From all the western beaches, I liked these two best. Things are not so much over the top here.
All the beaches on this route are entertainment centers with music, restaurants, sports and games. You will not find a calm, pristine beach here. But the water is very comfortable the ocean is calm and quiet, the waves very low and weak. If you have any, bring water shoes. Sometimes, there are stones in the breakwater. All of these beaches a nice place to see the sunset in the evening.
At the very South of the Island: Punta Sur
Punta Sur is a protected area, pristine, deserted and extremely pretty. The route from San Miguel is 35 km (about 45 min). The last bit of the route is already part of the protected area. There are no paved roads, only flat sandy roads. We could easily drive here with our rental scooter. The nature sanctuary requires an entrance fee. Here, at the end of the island the Caribbean Sea appears in many shades of blue and turkey. The sand is very fine and white; there is a lighthouse and a swamp area.
Information about Punta Sur can be found here.
East of the Island: Atlantic Coast and Traversal the Cozumel
You are now at the eastern side of the island, off the main routes and facing Open Ocean. Winds are stronger, the ocean is rough and the waves are bigger. Every now and then, there is a restaurant or a café around, even smaller shops. Yet, this part of the island is much less busy than the other side. Very little traffic, loads of tranquility and calmness and only very few humans anywhere. It’s windy; you can basically only sit the in shores and not really swim. At the beaches there is usually nothing. You can sit, but there are many sand grains in the wind. It’s a nice place to walk, relax, be alone but not a good place to sunbathe and swim.
Yet, I like this coastline better than the west: this appears more real and more beautiful. I don’t need a pool 50 meters from the ocean; I don’t need endless background noise from music or water games and slides. The west is an artificial place; the east is mainly a place of nothing but the beach and the ocean. In spite of the strong winds and waves, there are no surfers of kite-surfers anywhere. I don’t know why.
I think I should definitely come here. Driving along the coast on your scooter, stopping every now and then, having something to eat or drink: these are the things that work quite well here.
There are no towns or hotels anywhere. After 25 km (35 min) along the coast, you reach the islands only cross connection ´”Traversal de Cozumel”. Turning left is the only option you have, you cross the island and after 15 km (15 min) you reach San Miguel and the ferry port.
The island continues quite a bit further north but there are no public roads north.
Maya Ruins San Gervasio
There is another stop in the middle of the cross connection: the Mayan Ruins San Gervasio. You drive another 7 km north off the cross connection on an unpaved road. Even that worked quite fine on the scooter. Then, you reach the Maya Ruins. You can do a little hike here. We were almost the only ones there.
More information about San Gervasio here.
I would definitely recommend this short trip: there are more spectacular Maya Ruins (Chichzen Itza) but San Gervasio is definitely nice and gives a good impression of the atmosphere of those days.
North of San Miguel
After a roundtrip on the island, you are now back in San Miguel. At the ferry port, you can go a bit further north (Avenue Rafael E.Melgar). You find some more hotels and restaurants here, but less fancy less chic and much simpler (plastic chairs instead of fancy promenade). The food was super tasty and much cheaper here. In some of these restaurants, you only find Mexicans, no tourists. Also, the island’s little airport is here. You can only north for about 7 km, final spot is a golf course with some hotels around. You cannot go any further north or any further inland.
Tour on the Island – How and How Long?
You should plan an entire day to do this tour. The best option is to rent a scooter. The island is not that big, a scooter is enough to circle it, you don’t need a car for that. I find it important to move a bit off the main routes. No matter how crowded the island is, no matter how many cruise passengers make a day visit, if you move far enough south (Punta Sur) or west (Caribbean Coast) in the main time between 10 am and 3 pm, you can always beat the crowds. People gather in the resorts south of the ferry port and in Chakanaab.
I would visit the beaches on the east in the morning or in the evening. In the evening, this is the best place to see the sunset. I would do Chakanaab on a day with very few cruise ships around.
This is Part 2.
You can find part 1 here:
Taking a Tour in Cozumel: A Day Trip Around the Island Part 1 from San Miguel to Chakanaab