Cozumel is a beautiful island paradise with many great places to explore. Much of the island is untouched wilderness and there is only one main road that circles the island. The west side of the island is sheltered from the open seas, as the channel between Playa del Carmen and the island is just under 20 km keeps the waves to a minimum. The east side is wild; it is where you will find crashing waves reaching the islands shore. Only a few times a year, when the weather is right, can you go for a swim.
That doesn’t mean that there aren’t many great things to do! The beaches here are some of the best on the island and there are many great places to stop along the way. You can still dip your feel in. The east side is not the place to go snorkeling or swimming (aside from a few sheltered bays or calm weather days). Instead, it is where you might fight people trying to go surfing or sitting on the shore watching the waves crash in. It’s absolutely beautiful and is one of the best places to spend a day on the island hopping between bars and beaches.
This is our second East Side photography feature. We decided on going back for another visit to the East Side of Cozumel simply because we had so many wonderful pictures that we couldn’t bear the thought of not sharing them. To visit this side of the island you need to have a car (or hire a taxi for the day). It’s well worth it. With about 10-15 places worthy of stopping to take pictures and great beach bars and restaurants to go for a snack or a beer along the way.
When the wind blows in from the north – a “norte” as the locals call it – the west side will be facing the wind, and they sometimes close the port to small crafts (which means no snorkeling or scuba diving boats are out). This is when you want to flock to the east side, as the waves will now be small and the water becomes calm. It’s perfect for swimming.
The east side of the island is rustic and feels like it is lost in the past. Many of the structures on the east side were hit hard by Hurricane Wilma in 2005, and those that are left today feel like the elements are slowly wearing them down. If you’re staying on the island overnight, there is one hotel on this side and it’s the first place in Mexico where the sun rises. We’ve made the drive a few times, and despite the battle with willpower and the alarm clock, we promise that it is worth it.
We hope this photography feature will inspire you to visit the east side, as it is a wild adventure you won’t soon forget.