Cozumel - AttractionGuide

Cozumel
Attractions

Welcome to MetroGuide Networks' overview of Cozumel-area attractions. The Greater Cozumel area is full of attractions for all ages. As Mexico's largest inhabited island, Cozumel -- until recent years best known as a diving mecca – also has emerged as a favorite among cruise ship passengers. Far less glitzy than built-to-order tourism magnet Cancun, Cozumel's appeal lies in low-key simplicity with a flat, forested interior and white sand beaches. Offshore under turquoise waters are some of the hemisphere's most spectacular coral reefs, showcased to great advantage by a 1961 Jacques Cousteau documentary putting Cozumel on the map as a world-class diving and snorkeling site. For non-divers, sightseeing includes more than 35 archaeological sites (few are easily accessible), and San Miguel (population 50,000), an eclectic mix of cantinas, and boutiques on the main plaza and seaside promenade. Cozumel has giant sea turtles laying eggs, May to September, and a notable variety of exotic migratory bird life. Tidal waves of day-trippers from Cancun and cruise ships take over the city only to retreat a few hours later leaving a blissful serenity. Boasting a rich Mayan heritage, Cozumel was settled as early as 300 A.D., flourishing as a port for Mayan sea trade. In 1519, Cortez landed on Cozumel en route to the mainland. Island coves later provided sanctuary for marauding pirates. Popularity of chewing gum in the U.S. led to a 19th century resurgence when Cozumel was a port-of-call on the chicle (gum) export route from Central America. During WWII, a U.S. Air Force base was built for Allies to launch aircraft hunting down German U-boats. Hopscotching for the day between Cozumel and the mainland, a 40-minute ferry ride connects San Miguel to the Yucatan mainland's Tulum Corridor region at Playa del Carmen (about an hour bus ride from Cancun), and flights of less than 20 minutes are also offered.

Below is a list of some suggested things to do in the Cancun Area, with links to more details when available.


Beaches
Beach retreats abound on the island and two of the more popular are Playa Corona (where rental snorkeling equipment is available) and Playa San Francisco (often packed with cruise passengers and with two outdoor restaurants, a bar, volley bar and an array of other amenities.)
Playa Corona, South of Chankanaab. Playa San Francisco, south of Playa Corona.
Castillo Real
On the east coast near the island's northern tip, Castillo Real is a Mayan site with a lookout tower, a pyramid base and a temple. Snorkeling is popular here because of several shipwrecks submerged in quiet waters.
North end of island.
Discover Mexico, Cozumel Park
Take a short trip south from Cozumel's Hotel Zone and explore Cozumel Park with its interactive exhibits on Mexico, its history, and information on places of interest throughout the country; stop to enjoy lunch at the Mercadito Corona, surrounded by Mexican music.
Carretera Costera sur km. 5,5 Zona Hotelera Sur.
El Cedral
Cedral, an agricultural village near the island's center, was the first Mayan site found by Spanish explorers in 1518, and its ruins are among the easiest to reach on the island. Not much remains, but a small arched structure has traces of paint inside. Admission is free.
KM 17.5, about 2 miles off the main road.
Chankanaab Lagoon
A marine inlet allowing snorkelers to swim among hundreds of rainbow colored fish.
Museo de Cozumel
Established to offer a better understanding of the island's geography, geology, history, and natural growth, the museum describes the natural terrestrial and submarine environments and presents a panorama of flora and fauna. Also recounted are historical events, starting with the pre-Hispanic epoch when Cozumel was a shrine visited by pilgrims to venerate Ix-Chel, the Maya goddess of love, fertility, weaving, and the moon. Exhibits follow pre-Hispanic and colonial lifestyles and history, including the arrival of Juan de Grijalva and Hernan Cortez in the 16th century, the harassment of Spanish ships by pirates during the colonial period, and other incidents. The museum also has a restaurant, book store, gift shop, and library.
Avenida Rafael Melga
Plaza Del Sol
Plaza Del Sol, San Miguel's main square, is popular for strolling and people-watching, especially on Sunday evenings when locals are out in force.
Punta Celarin
At the southern end of the island, this lighthouse has terrific views.
San Gervasio Ruins
San Gervasio, the most visited among Cozumel's ruins, is a major 10-acre excavation in a forested area. Dedicated to the fertility goddess Ixchel, this one-time capital has plaques identifying each of the ruins in both Spanish and English. The so-called “hands” temple has red hand imprints covering the altar.
Avenue Juarez, east at the end of a dirt road.
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Cozumel: A view of the Museo de la Isla de Cozumel (Museum of the Island of Cozumel)