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Top Cozumel Attractions

The first time you visit Cozumel, or any new destination, the question asked isn’t usually what attractions should be scene but what attraction to see first, what to expect, how to get there, and how much time is needed. We’ve provided tips, advice, and other information about the top tourist attractions in Cozumel to help with your itinerary planning.

Chankanaab Park Chankanaab Park
San Gervasio San Gervasio
El Cadrel El Cadrel
Cozumel Museum Cozumel Museum
Beaches Beaches

Chankanaab Park

 Address Carretera Sur, Km 9
 Admission $10
 Hours 7am – 5pm, daily
 Phone 987- 872-2940

The national Chankanaab Park features the only inland coral reef formation in the world. Situated just south of San Miguel, Chankanaab is located within Isla Cozumel's Reefs National Marine Park and is the perfect place for families to spend the day. Visitors can partake in a variety of activities both natural and man-made.

The Park is home to many natural habitats like Chankanaab Lagoon, the world renowned eco-system aquarium. More than 60 species of tropical fish, crustaceans and corals can be found in the Lagoon. The island’s only botanical garden also resides within the Park and is filled with a variety of tropical plants- more than 350 different species! Trails are mapped out throughout the forest making it easy to spot exotic birds and plants during a walk.

A popular Park attraction is Dolphin Discovery, where visitors can interact with the dolphins during a 45-minute swim. Another activity for the animal lover is watching the talented sea lions perform stunts and such during their daily shows.

For history buffs, take a stroll through the Maya Zone, a modern reproduction of a Maya village where visitors are educated about the ancient culture's building and farming practices.

Two more activities, Snuba and Sea Trek, link non-divers to oxygen tanks above the water giving them a chance to view the coral reefs and colorful tropical fish that populate these waters.


San Gervasio

 Admission $5.50
 Hours 8am – 5pm, daily

Visitors wishing to experience the mythical side of Cozumel should look no further than San Gervasio, regarded as the sacred center and capital of the island during the Maya occupation of 300 to 1200 A.D. It was during this span of time that the Maya created dozens of temples to worship Ixchel, the island's main goddess. Located on the north side of the island, San Gervasio welcomed many visitors over the centuries looking to worship Ixchel and seeking guidance in their need for motherhood and fertility.

Surrounded by forest, he remains of these Maya temples are marked by informational plaques describing each structure. Characteristic features include steps leading to limestone plazas and arches, as well as stelae bas-reliefs.

Tours organized all over the island usually include a stop at San Gervasio. If you wish to visit San Gervasio on your own, just take Avenida Juarez from the town of San Miguel or Punta Este and look for the well-marked turnoff that will take you along a well-maintained road leading to the ruins.

Craft shops and a snack bar are located at the entrance of San Gervasio.


El Cadrel

 Address Turn at Km 17.5 (off Carretara Sur or Avenida Rafael E, Melgar)
 Admission Free
 Hours Dawn until Dusk

Spanish explorers first discovered El Cadrel in 1518. The area was the main hub of Maya life on the island and was named the first official city of Cozumel in 1847. The only trace of El Cadrel’s Maya past is the ruins of an arched structure. The rest of the temples were torn down by Conquistadores and the U.S. army during World War II to make way for the first airport on the island. Additional ruins can be found off the beaten path nearby in the jungle, but you will need a tour guide to find them. Horse back riding companies offer specialized tours for this area.

Today, El Cadrel is more of a fishing community with small, polished homes and gardens. It is believed that Mexico’s first mass was held in El Cadrel’s green and white cinder block church. Inside crosses are shrouded in embroidered lace. A fair is held here each May complete with bullfights and dancing.


The Museum of the Island of Cozumel

 Address Rafael E. Melgar, between Calles 4 and Norte 6
 Admission $3
 Hours 9am – 5pm, daily
 Phone 987-872-1434

Located in downtown San Miguel, The Museum of the Island of Cozumel
Is housed on two floors of a former hotel and highlights the island's history and natural environment.

The museum underwent a large renovation project over the last two years and its façade and exhibit halls spaces were remodeled. Two new exhibits just added address the pre-Columbian and Colonial periods. Exhibit halls display information on Cozumel’s natural history and origins, including details on wildlife migration patterns, reefs, archeology, and pirates. There is even an exhibit showing what a typical Maya home looked like.

Traveling exhibits, interactive demonstrations and tour guides who speak English, Spanish and Maya, bring the museum to life. One of the most interesting highlights of the museum is the photographs of the island spanning the 20th and 21st centuries. This display shows the shocking transformation of the island over the last 100 years.

Arrive at the museum early and enjoy breakfast at the museum’s casual restaurant on the second-floor terrace. With a reasonably priced menu, the restaurant also offers sweeping views of the Caribbean Sea.


The Beaches of Cozumel

Visitors far and wide come to Cozumel to explore the world-renowned Maya Reef, which wraps 20 miles around the south-western tip of the island. Divers use the beaches along this part of the island as a home base, where developers have strategically placed hotels and diving shops.

The popular white beaches of the island’s leeward (westward) side include: Playa Corona, San Clemente, San Francisco, Sol, and Palancar. Beach clubs dot the coast line, some charging relatively small admission fees or none at all (if you purchase food and drink). The water is shallow and the rocky shoreline provides the best access to shore diving.

The windward (eastern) side of the island offer beaches that are more secluded and are almost never infiltrated by cruise ship passengers. The eastern side is marked by its powdery soft sand offset by blue-green waters. The surf on this side of the island is rough, so swimmers beware. There are also sudden drops along the ocean floor. If you can make it over to this underdeveloped side of the island, two nice beaches to visit are Playa de San Martin, and the more southern Playa Paradiso.

The Northwest coast is home to the Cozumel Country Club and the nearby airport. But the northern Playa San Juan and Santa Pilar are nice beaches with good snorkeling as well. Most hotels along this part of the coast offer ladders leading to the water.


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