2021 COZUMEL MEXICO TRAVEL GUIDE
by Mac Candee
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Posted: Monday, September 27, 2021

Cozumel, Mexico a stunning island in the Caribbean Sea. This magical place is where you can have the time of your life. I spent one month there this year, enjoying its sunny beaches, trying its tasty dishes and overall - having a blast. If that sounds like something you want to do as well, this guide is exactly for you. I’ll go through everything you should to know to make the most out of your stay there. Once you read this blog post you’ll know everything you need - where to stay, what to eat, what to do and everything in between.

1. Transportation to/from Cozumel

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There are two ways to fly into Cozumel that are most efficient - the Cozumel International Airport, or Cancun Airport. Of course, getting to the island directly is the most convenient, but the airport there is very small and has limited options, which can also get more expensive. The second option is a bit more inconvenient, but might be better in terms of budget and time. If you land in Cancun, you have to take either a bus or a taxi to Playa del Carmen. The bus will cost you around $10, and you can expect roughly a 1 hour bus ride. If you’re with 4-5 friends, feel free to hop in a taxi, as you will pay roughly the same per person if you negotiate properly

After your short ferry ride, you’ll be at your destination. The Cozumel Ferry Port is the heart of the city, so you should be able to get around easily. If you want, you could catch a taxi to your accommodation - you should find the cars lined up right when you walk out of the port. This is a great option, as the taxis are inexpensive and convenient. Keep in mind that the cost is negotiable, because that can easily make a difference. If the price seems to high, it probably is…so negotiate it!

Another transportation option you can think about is taking a private plane from Playa del Carmen to the Cozumel Airport. The plane can fit up to 5-6 people. Don’t expect anything too glamorous, because it’s only a short 3-minute flight. That said, it is very convenient, and you should keep this in mind in case there are any cancellations with the ferry schedule.

One thing to note: wtraveling in Mexico, keep your customs form in a safe place. You will receive this document upon entering the country, and if you lose it, you will be fined $25 - $35 when you try and exit the country at the end of your trip.

2. Accommodation

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This island offers many places to stay, and you can choose what fits you best depending on your travel style.

Nicer hotels can be found along the coastline in the west end. There, you can find the highest level of luxury for the highest cost.

Another option is to find an Airbnb. My dad and I chose this, and it cost us $1800 for a whole month, split between 3 people. For this price, we got amazing accommodation with a pool, so it was the best choice for us. This guide won’t get too deep into the costs associated with my stay, if you want to find out more about this, check out this video. There, I tell you all about my expenses I incurred while living in Cozumel for 1 month. It may be helpful for you to use it as a guide to plan your budget.

I made the decision to get an Airbnb, because it fit my lifestyle best. Since I travel full time and constantly move from place to place, I need to stay somewhere that will feel like home. Make sure to think about your own preferences and make an informed decision, because that can be a huge factor in your experience.

The most budget friendly option is to stay at a hostel. If you haven’t been to one before, I’ll tell you a bit more about what you can expect. You’ll rent a bed in a shared room with a number of people, and it’s usually very inexpensive. You can expect to pay around $10-$20 per night. This option is also a great way to meet people, but don’t expect anything fancy.

3. Getting around the island

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If you want to cruise the perimeter of Cozumel you’ll probably need to think about transportation. That said you won’t need a car, as the island is pretty small. We opted for scooters, as they were the most convenient and cost-effective option for us. The shop we got them from had amazing deals, and you can contact them here Daniel Scooter/Buggy Rental Phone #: +52 744 383 5652. Their place is only 5 minutes away from the ferry port, so you’ll have no trouble finding them.

Another option is renting a buggy or jeep, which can be a bit pricier, but might be worth it if you’re worried about safety on a scooter.

And last but not least, you can rent a bike. Many of the locals use bikes to get around, and it’s very enjoyable to do so. You can expect a 3-4 hour drive to circle the whole island with a bicycle, 1 hour if you’re using a scooter, or 45 minutes if you’re driving a buggy, jeep or any other car.

4. Dining out in Cozumel

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As you can imagine, Cozumel is a tourist centric island, so you can find everything your heart desires in terms of dining options. It really depends on your preference.

The most expensive options are along the coastline in San Miguel in the heart of Cozumel, right next to the ferry port. You can expect to pay $5 for a drink, $10-$20 for a meal.

If you’re looking for lower range pricing for restaurants, you’ll find these spots a bit further into the island. The further you are from the ferry port, the cheaper you can usually find the restaurant prices.

My personal favorites are the hole in the wall places, which are mainly known by the locals and offer the most authentic/traditional dishes. My favorite restaurant I’ve been to on the island is Mr. Taco, where you can find some truly incredible tacos. They are the best I’ve tried - period. I actually went there 17 times in the month I was there, so you can imagine how much I liked them. You can get Queso Fundido or their delightful tacos, and in both cases, you’ll have an incredibly delicious meal. It is more of a locals place and the prices are incredibly inexpensive as an American tourist.

The good thing about Cozumel is that you can find different restaurant options scattered all around the island, and you can’t go wrong with the tasty Mexican cuisine, so you’re almost guaranteed to have a great meal. Even while circling around the island, you can find venues along the way to get food and drinks.

5. Grocery store options

Even though eating out is great, if you’re staying there for a longer period of time, you’ll probably need to do some cooking. I’ve been to pretty much all the grocery stores around the island, and there are three main ones. The first is Super Aki, with affordable prices and a decent selection. The second one is Chedraui, and it’s very similar to Walmart. It’s very big with a huge array of products, so it’s very convenient. The third one is called Mega, where you can find everything from coffee pods to scooters.

One thing you should keep in mind when shopping in Cozumel is to bring your own bag. They only offer reusable bags, and they cost around $1, which can easily add up.

6. Things to do in Cozumel

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Cozumel is most well-known for scuba diving, snorkeling, its white sandy beaches and the overall relaxed atmosphere. Most of the activities on the island are water related, including adventure parks like Chakanaab where you can watch sea lion shows, scuba dive and enjoy the beach. You can also do a cruise around the island, enjoying its beautiful nature. You can do that with anything from a bike to a jeep, and it’s a fun excursion where you can stop at secluded beaches along the way. The nearby island of Isla de la Passion is a must-see as well, with its unbelievable white sand and crystal-clear waters. You can check out my video on things to do in Cozumel right here, or read the blog post, because there I go into much more detail.

7. Cash, credit, ATM tips

You can pay with a credit card in almost all tourist facing places. Whether it’s excursions, restaurants or shops, they usually have this option available. However, I’d still recommend bringing some pesos, because smaller, local places are cash only. Mr. Taco - my favorite taco place, is an example. It’s also usually going to be cheaper to pay in pesos than in USD, because of the conversion rate.

You should also be wary when taking money out of an ATM. If you’ve read my Tulum travel guide, you’ll be familiar with this, but if you haven’t, make sure you pay attention, because this can save you so much money in fees.

First off, when taking money out, the process is reverse compared to the USA. In general, you put your card in, make your choice, receive the card back and after that - get your cash. In this way, people are much less likely to forget anything. But in Mexico, the order is reversed - you first get your cash, and since you got the cash first a lot of people will put their cash away and walk away. So make sure that after collecting your money, you always double-check if you got your card too, because this makes it so easy to forget, which can easily cause you immense stress. (Always bring a backup credit/debit card and keep it in a safe spot separate from your main credit/debit card.)

Another thing to mention, I had an annoying situation once where I went to an ATM to get some cash, and due to not paying enough attention, I accidentally withdrew $800, instead of 800 pesos. This caused me to be worried all night as I ventured back to my accommodation, because I was carrying so much cash with me. The other drawback is the huge transaction fee that came with withdrawing all of those US dollars - it was 7%. Luckily, my Charles Schwab Credit Card refunded these charges, so I got the nearly $60 fee back.

On one of the last steps when withdrawing any amount, the ATM will ask you if you want to accept their conversion rate. This is never in your favor, so I recommend that you decline when you see this question pop up on the screen. Just this alone can easily save you up to 10%. Make sure you pay attention to it, because it can make a huge difference. Once you decline, the ATM will use your home bank’s conversion rate, which will be much better for your wallet. Just make sure you decline the conversion rate, and not the ATM fee, which is the previous step of the process. As a rule of thumb, even if venues accept USD, always have pesos on you, because otherwise you’re going to get an unfavorable exchange rate.

8. Other misc. Tips about Cozumel

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1. Haircuts

If you’re staying on the island for a longer period of time, you will probably need to get a haircut. Luckily there are many options available. In some cases though, if you don’t speak Spanish very well, you might get into a situation where you don’t get the cut you want. That’s why I recommend taking a video next time you get a really nice haircut, and having it on hand to show it to your barber. This will make sure they know exactly what you want done. That being said, the best barber in Cozumel is La Barber. You will find this venue after only 10 minutes walking from the ferry port, and you will need to make a reservation beforehand. A men's haircut cost me about $11, and they do a spectacular job.

2.Gym

If you’re not staying at a hotel, and you’re feeling sporty, you might want to find yourself a gym. Luckily, there are quite a few to choose from. The place I went to was called Ego gym, and they had everything I needed from free weights to cardio machines and more. There are many others, and you can find them all within a mile or 2 from the ferry port in San Miguel.

3. Health related venues

Cozumel offers great options in this regard. I went in for a COVID-19 test, and found a doctor who was working off of tips. He managed to get me tested, and it only cost me around $15. The medical services there are great, and you’ll be in good hands if you need any assistance. I went in for a dental appointment, and I wasn’t disappointed. A teeth clean cost me $53, which isn’t a bad price at all. The dentist also spoke English, so that’s a huge plus. This was at Costa Med - you can check them out if you need anything similar.

Closing Thoughts

This has been my Cozumel travel guide. I hope it has been helpful to you, and I wish you lots of sun, fun, and an overall great experience there. It’s a great place to enjoy a tropical vacation, but you’ll have lots to do even if you stay longer. If you have anything to add to my tips or use them in your adventures, feel free to let me know. Thank you for reading and happy travels!





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