Travel Journal #5 is here… Welcome to Cozumel!
We have just moved to this beautiful Caribbean island off the coast of Playa del Carmen, Mexico, and couldn’t be happier. Home to some of the most spectacular reefs for scuba-diving and snorkeling, amazing beaches and even some Mayan Ruins, Cozumel has a lot to offer. We look forward to eventually becoming experts on the island, but so far it has left a great first impression. Now that we have started to settle in, and have started to explore the island, we have decided to share a few of our first insights!
One of the things that we missed while living in Playa del Carmen was watching the sunset over the water. Both of us are used to a West Coast sunset, which usually sets over the ocean – having the sunset over the jungle behind us was a difficult transition. The Riviera Maya is an amazing place to watch the sunrise, but unfortunately, we couldn’t always be up early enough to enjoy them. We have had to do a lot of really tough “research” over the last 3 weeks to find the best spots to watch the sunset with the mainland in the background.
I know, life is tough.Map of Cozumel.
We have been quite active so far, visiting some cool spots – Palancar, Punta Sur and Sky Reef – as well as exploring the town. This upcoming week we are looking into taking a trip to El Cielo – which is one of the most popular destinations to visit by boat. And we both super excited to visit the islands main Mayan Ruins, San Gervasio.
Getting around is the first challenge of exploring Cozumel. We are lucky that we have brought a car over to the island, which makes it a lot easier. Most of the island does not have public transport, and the entire north half of the island is only accessible by boat or by foot, so we have started planning different options for exploring the island.
Fortunately, there are many agencies at the ferry terminal that will rent you a set of wheels – dune buggies, jeeps, and scooters are the most popular – and will allow you to see the entire island. This is essential if you want to see the east side of the island. Most of the coastline is rocky, but there are a few hidden beaches if you look hard enough. We plan on finding as many of these hidden gems as possible.
Palancar Beach Club is the nicest sandy beach we have been to. 2018.
Beaches and Sunsets:
Our goal is to find some of the best and most exciting things that the island has to offer. The island is super laid back, and you can tell the activity on the island depends mostly on how many cruise ships are in town.
We will eventually do our best to seek out the best beaches on both sides of the island – but to begin with we have focused our efforts on the west side. This side appears to be the best because it is protected from the elements by the island itself; there are significantly fewer waves which makes it best for swimming, snorkeling or lying on the beach.
As mentioned above, we have been completely amazed by the sunsets on Cozumel. We are becoming sunset junkies, always looking for our next fix. Throughout the last couple weeks, we’ve been collecting sunset pictures, and already have enough to make up its own “best of” post. We should be able to make up a pretty good “top 10” places to watch the sunset from very shortly.
Part of our difficult “research” to find the best sunset on Cozumel. 2018.
Most of the best locations to visit the beach are the many beach clubs that are located along the shore, which offer food and great views overlooking the water. There are some with sandy beaches (such as Palancar) and others with rockier shores (Sky Reef and Money Bar) have been the best for snorkeling so far. All of them have full-service bars, and the ability to rent snorkel gear.
In town, there is a beautiful Malecon that seems to be a popular place to go for a sunset stroll for both locals and visitors. One of the most popular (and our leading candidate) places to watch the sunset is nearby the Pureto Abrigo Marina, just a little bit north of the city. Locals come here to sit on the seawall while enjoying a few adult beverages to end the day. The water here is so blue, especially at sunset, that it is difficult to describe with words.
Punta Sur, the southernmost point of Cozumel and a protected area. 2018.
We have been Snorkeling at two different spots – Punta Sur and Sky Reef – and both of them were breathtaking. We have some spectacular underwater video from these two spots and are excited to share with the world. There is also a place called Stingray Beach – which we assume will be a good place to see sting-rays – and the island is known for being a turtle sanctuary, so we are hoping to soon see some of those.
We also posted our first underwater video (from Sky Reef) this week, and are really happy with what we came up with… Spoiler alert: we got to see an octopus!
Lastly, we have to talk about the Mayan ruins. During the peak of the Mayan Empire, the island was a very important destination – especially for women, who would make the pilgrimage by boat from the mainland to visit the mysterious temples which were said to give fertility powers. They worshiped the goddess Ix Chel, who was the god responsible for childbirth, fertility, medicine, and weaving.
The main Mayan attraction on the island is the old city of San Gervasio – which we have yet to visit – which is mostly accesable to the public. There are several other smaller Mayan sites on the island – we have so far visited El Caracol (at Punta Sur) and El Cedral. The latter is cool because it is in the center of a village, with a church built around it, honoring the past and present of local belifs.
Some of the Mayan ruins we have seen so far; El Cedral and El Caracol. 2018.
Coming soon from Cozumel:
We are still exploring the island, but we already have a few little projects we are working on so we will have much more from Cozumel in the coming days and weeks. We hope you enjoyed our introduction to the island as much as we have. Here is just a small sample of what we are working on right now. We hope you enjoy!