15 Best Things to Do in Cozumel – Mexico’s Largest Island

|   Last Updated on March 25, 2020

Most commonly known as one of the world’s top scuba diving destinations Cozumel – Mexico’s largest island – has a lot to offer. Its year-round warm weather, calm crystal-clear waters and relaxed vibe make it the perfect holiday getaway.

Located in the Mexican Caribbean off the Yucatan peninsula, it has been called America’s playground and for good reason. For decades fantastic family vacations full of fun, adventure and great food have been enjoyed.

Partly because cheap flights from most major cities will bring you straight to Cozumel or nearby Cancun, but also because there is something for everyone. From romantic honeymoon private islands to inflatable ocean fun parks that entertain the kids all day long so that parents can relax. Cozumel has your dream holiday.

One look at the postcard perfect turquoise water and you’ll understand why it’s also popular with major cruise lines like Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian and Disney. Cruises arrive daily bringing thousands of tourists to shop, dive, snorkel, enjoy the eco-parks, the huge range of water sports and outdoor activities.

Here’s a list of fun things to do and see on Cozumel…

1. Beach Clubs

Buccanos Beach Club, one of the top rated on Cozumel © Bel Woodhouse

Beach clubs offer a wide range of activities like snorkeling, stand up paddle boarding, diving, tequila tours, zip lining and parasailing for all of us who love a little adventure on vacation. Or, you can just relax on the white sand beaches under huge palapa thatched-roof umbrellas sipping cool drinks and cocktails.

Most have swimming pools, showers, lockers, beauty treatments and beachside massages on offer along with restaurants and bars. One of the top beach clubs on the island is Buccanos which you see in a three minute video here.

2. Food, Glorious Food

Traditional Mexican taster plate with tamale, quesadilla, fajita, enchilada and chile rellenos at Casa Mission © Bel Woodhouse

One of the greatest joys on vacation is food. With over 500 restaurants on Cozumel, no matter what you are in the mood for you’re bound to find it. All your favorites like pizza, seafood or a good steak are here in abundance along with amazing authentic Mexican flavors.

The Yucatan region is rich with flavors for you try and don’t be scared of the street food. Some grilled corn, called elote is my favorite and each evening you can find every type of taco under the sun. Fish, conch, octopus, chicken, beef and the local favorite conchita pibil, an overnight slow roasted pork so succulent it melts in your mouth.

3. Free Walking Tour of San Miguel de Cozumel

Cozumel’s clock tower in the town square ©Bel Woodhouse

Discover the main township of San Miguel de Cozumel in a couple hours of non-strenuous strolling. Starting at Cozumel’s oldest landmark built in 1910, the clock tower, this tour is fun, free and helps you get your bearings quickly. Full of architecture, history and culture it covers the township all the way back to the municipal market (five blocks).

More than a history lesson, a local guide will answer any questions you have about the islands rich culture. They’re very friendly, English speaking and will be able to help you’ll find anything you need. You don’t have to be super fit to do it. There is a lot of stopping for photos too, so don’t forget the camera. Or, to tip your tour guide. 

4. Punta Sur Eco-Park

Punta Sur’s white sand beach ©Bel Woodhouse

Kiss a macaw, see huge iguanas or go crocodile spotting on a free mangrove boat tour that leaves hourly. Punta Sur is Cozumel’s largest ecological preserve and park. It shows where the unique wetland environment meets the ocean through a small canal and is a wildlife lovers paradise.

There’s a bird spotting tower to see flamingos, wetland species and birds of prey, Mayan ruins and the light house which is well worth the climb for an amazing birds eye view of the coastlines turquoise and cobalt waters the Caribbean is famous for.

Wide white sand beaches have snorkeling, swimming and restaurants. Or, just laze around with a nice cold margarita on the beach in a hammock.

5. Mayan Bee Sanctuary

Small stingless Melipona bees, the main honey producers © Bel Woodhouse.

Don’t worry these tiny bees are stingless and the staff are as adorable as the little bees so don’t be scared to go in. Take a stroll and try their unique honey. The only way I can describe it is to say that you can taste the jungle in your mouth. Made from orchids and jungle flowers it is said to hold potent healing powers and medicinal properties.

There’s some fun as you partake in a Mayan ceremony to be cleansed with incense while asking permission from the Mayan gods to enter the jungle sanctuary. Inside there’s a fresh water cenote, natural log hives and man-made hives. Then finish off with a tasting before exploring the shop.

One of the islands top sculptors is based there, working on his Mesoamerican pieces happy to chat and tell you about his work. All are English speaking and the cost of admission is only $8 USD. It’s a fascinating tour in beautiful natural surroundings.

6. Premium Tequila Tasting

The three main tequila’s – Blanco (white), Reposado (rested) and Añejo (aged) ©Bel Woodhouse

Learn how to drink tequila like a Mexican and delight your taste buds by diving into a premium tequila tasting. Hosted by Mexico’s oldest tequila house – Jose Cuervo – you will learn how to taste, savor and appreciate top shelf tequila.

Prepare yourself to fall in love because by the end of it you will be a connoisseur with a new appreciation of this velvety complex spirit.

You can find this premium tour at Discover Mexico, which far surpasses tequila shots on the beach and you can also combine it with other tours to save on money while upping the fun factor with chocolate making and traditional Mexican cuisine.

Now, I only drink Añejo and will for the rest of my life. Accompanied by a high cacao dark chocolate, a new love was born for me.

7. Experience a Temazcal – a Traditional Mexican Steam Lodge

Traditional Temazcal with goddess Ixchel, the favored goddess of Cozumel. ©Bel Woodhouse

Deep in Cozumel’s peaceful jungle you’ll discover the wonder of a traditional Temazcal at Temazcal Cozumel – Mayan Steam Lodge. These stone steam lodges purify mind, body and soul. They are for healing, relaxation and detoxification.

Water taken from the nearby fresh water cenote is made into a tea with lemongrass and fresh herbs then brushed onto hot rocks providing steam as you are guided on an internal journey.

I loved this experience and emerged from the pitch black of the Temazcal into a night jungle full of fire flies dancing while the sweat dried on my skin. It was an amazing experience but if you are claustrophobic you may want to sit by the door in case you need to leave if it makes you uncomfortable.

8. Discover the Caribbean’s Only Pearl Farm

The unique Cozumel pearl ©Bel Woodhouse

Shipwrecks, pirates and pearls. Well, maybe not pirates but on the forty-minute boat ride to the pearl farm you will pass a huge rusted shipwreck.

This tour led by the owner is a wonderful day trip where you see the rare one-of-a-kind Cozumel pearl. Wide pristine white sand beaches greet you. In the outdoor museum you’ll learn all about pearls, their growth and this family’s passion for them.

Burgers on the beach are lunch and then the second part of the tour begins. Where you gently float over the aquatic half of the operation. A beautiful submerged statue of the holy virgin saint Guadalupe is down amongst the pearls protecting them and the farm. Afterward you are free to snorkel untouched reef abundant with colorful marine life. It’s a fantastic day.

9. Hike to the Highest Point on Cozumel

View from the top at Coconuts Bar ©Bel Woodhouse

This is the easiest hike you will ever go on. There’s even a bar at the top so you can enjoy a cool drink after hiking the whopping fourteen meters above sea level which takes all of about three minutes. Five if you need to stop half way up for a rest. After all, it is Mexico so it’s hot.

But seriously, this is the highest point on Cozumel so worth a look. Plus, the hand-made lemonade is divine. There’s a nice breeze and ocean view but watch out for the macaw and the cockatoo, they bite.

This place is a fun hang out to have a beer in the afternoon and a popular spot to grab lunch with an ocean view.  

10. Swim with Rays and Sharks

Josephine the friendly Caribbean Ray © Stingray Beach

This is where I fell in love with Josephine, a huge Caribbean ray. If you have never felt a stingray then let me tell you it’s amazing. They are so soft, like jelly crossed with silk. Completely friendly, safe and guided, this swim is fun for the whole family. It’s an educational talk, tour, feeding and guided snorkel out in the marine pens with the big rays all rolled into one.

There’s a couple of big nurse sharks in there too for a thrill and Stingray Beach has done great work re-releasing all baby stingrays back into the wild to help local populations thrive.

11. Discover Ancient Mayan ruins

Goddess Ixchel is the main deity at San Gervasio ©Bel Woodhouse

In the heart of Cozumel’s jungle deep in the middle of the island you will find San Gervasio, the Mayan ruins dedicated to the goddess Ixchel (pronounced ish-shell). She is goddess of healing and medicine symbolized by the snake on her head, fertility, childbirth and midwifery, and water which is why she is depicted with a jug of water.

Yes, that’s water, the life-giving element, not a squid. Entry is ten dollars and there are English speaking guides who will tell you the rich history of the ruins, the Mayan culture and Ixchel.

12. Make Your Own Chocolate

Roasted cacao beans ready for grinding into chocolate ©Bel Woodhouse

There is nothing like the smell of freshly roasted cacao beans. A rich chocolatey aroma fills the air as you grind up the beans then add what you would like to your chocolate. Cinnamon, honey, sugar, chili perhaps.

This recipe is centuries old and was said that drinking one cup each morning held enough energy to keep a soldier running all day. Being one of the most intelligent ancient civilizations, we now know why … they were fueled by chocolate!

At The Maya Cacao Company, you have the choice of a guided tour and chocolate making exhibition for fifteen dollars or you can opt to spend an extra ten dollars and make your own to take home along with delicious chocolate cocktails!

13. Fast Boat Ferry Adventures

Cozumel to Playa del Carmen fast boat ferry ©Bel Woodhouse

Fast and luxurious, the Ultramar fast boat ferries are the perfect way to get around the Riviera Maya region. They run every hour and during peak times there is usually onboard live entertainment so you get a free show. Drinks and snacks are available along with a mini Starbucks coffee.

The ride from Cozumel to Playa del Carmen takes approx. 35 minutes so grab a beer and go topside for some fresh air and live music or just sink in and relax in those huge cushy recliners in first class. Tickets are $400 pesos return ($20 USD) or half that one way. Sometimes I just go for a ride over to Playa del Carmen for lunch as a nice mini vacation and cheap day out.

14.  Walk the Oceans Floor Helmet Diving

Helmet diving off Cozumel’s coast ©Sea trek Cozumel

If you’ve dreamt of joining Captain Nemo from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea on an underwater adventure this will fulfil your childhood dreams. It did for me and is a unique way to explore the underwater world. Even experienced scuba divers get a kick out of walking on the oceans floor helmet diving through Sea trek.

It’s safe, you have a guide and a diver to help out plus an underwater photographer tagging along and if you feel unsure there is a rope to hold onto. The crystal-clear water makes it impossible to get lost and there’s plenty of sunken treasure to look at like statues, colorful marine life and even a plane wreck.  

15. Organic Chef’s Table

Spicy Jamaica (hibiscus flower) tacitos ©Bel Woodhouse

Even the most hard-core foodie will love this organic chef’s table. Held in Cozumel’s oldest historical building El Palomar built in 1903 this four-course meal is tailored to your taste buds. Chef, Paula will sit down with you and find your favorite flavors then made a dining experience just for you. Carnivore or herbivore – it isn’t an issue.

Holding a KMO (zero kilometer) certification means the freshest organic produce is obtained locally highlighting the local fruits and vegetables and catch of the day straight off the boat. Everything is paired with top Mexican wines, tequilas and mezcals.

Last Updated on March 25, 2020


  • Belinda Woodhouse (Bel) decided to change her life, left the Royal Australian Navy and let her wanderlust take her roaming the planet in free sandal wearing bliss. Head honcho at The Travel Bag and author of 21 Reasons to Visit … travel book series, her love of writing, photography and videography enable her to live her dream life abroad. Nothing is safe from her curiosity. Loving adventure, exploration and the wild places you will find her climbing all over ruins, tubing down jungle rivers and exploring the depths of the oceans laughing and loving every minute of it.