Bookmark us now! Hotel, Resort, Restaurant, & Vacation Reviews
unbiased travel reviews for top vacation destinations
Travel Directory| Community

Facts & Information
Cozumel History
Cozumel Hotels
Cozumel Attractions
Cozumel Tours
Picture Gallery


Cozumel History

Cozumel is an island deeply rooted in its past, but poised for its future. The Mayans lived on the island sporadically from 300 to 1200 A.D. and the name Cozumel is derived from the Mayan Cuzamil, or “land of the swallows.” Over time, the Mayan word changed into the Spanish name of Cozumel.

Because of its location, Cozumel was a center for

trade. Its main exports were salt and honey, both as good as gold in those times. The island also served as main distribution point for canoes carrying goods from far away places.

Cozumel also has a strong sacred past. After the Mayans settled on the island, people from all over Mesoamerica would travel to Cozumel by canoe to worship Ixchel, the deity of moon, fertility and childbirth.

In 1519, the popular Spanish-born Mexican explorer Hernán Cortés sought out Cozumel after hearing tales of others travels. Cortés laid claim to Cozumel and the island became the starting point for the conquest of Mexico. Between 1519 and 1570, the island's population dropped from 40,000 to 30. Mayans that weren’t massacred by the Spanish were killed off by diseases like smallpox, leaving the island abandoned by 1600.

Cozumel was also quite popular with pirates who, for nearly centuries, utilized the island’s safe harbors and the Maya’s temples as hiding spots for their treasure. The notorious Henry Morgan and Jean Lafitte were among the several pirates that frequented the island.

In 1848, the abandoned island once again accepted settlers. The brutal War of the Castes caused 20 families to flee Mexico and resettle Cozumel. Their descendants still reside on the island.

The start of the 20th century was fairly prosperous for the island. It had become a stop-over for large vessels and the island began capitalizing on its large stock of zapote trees, which produce chicle, a main ingredient in chewing gum. The search for chicle in the wild brush led to the discovery of ancient ruins and brought on visits by archaeologists from all over the world. This hustle and bustle of visitors soon died down as the airplane wiped out many ship routes and synthetic ingredients replaced chicle in chewing gum.

Americans first descended on to the island during World War II when an airstrip and submarine base were built. Drawn by the clear water, the military trained their frogmen on the island and word quickly spread about the underwater vistas of Cozumel.

The world really began to notice Cozumel in the 1960s when famous diver Jacques Cousteau featured the island and its beautiful underwater coral reef mazes of on his popular TV program. Since then, tourists have flocked to the island to enjoy diving and snorkeling in this tropical slice of heaven.

Cozumel's current population is more than 75,000, a staggering figure considering it was totally abandoned just 150 years earlier.

More Information


Cozumel Travel Guides
 Frommer's Cozumel
 Lonely Planet Cozumel
 Let's Go Cozumel
 Fodors Cozumel