August 14, 2015 | By Bryn Symonds |
There’s a lot to do in Cozumel. You might be staying at an all-inclusive resort or stopping off on a cruise. Whichever it is, be sure that you get out and get to know this Mexican island. It’s a gem, with lovely beaches, bright marine life and some really fascinating Mayan heritage.
1) Scuba dive
Cozumel is actually the northern tip of a reef system stretching up from Central America. There are 19 popular scuba diving sites and on a good day, visibility can be up to 200 feet. Palancar Reef, Santa Rosa Wall, and famous Chankannab Reef are just a few of the most colourful and vibrant. There are gentle currents running parallel to many reefs, which makes for a drift diver’s dream. For more experienced divers, there are dramatic swim-throughs teeming with life.
2) Cooking classes
Who doesn’t love Mexican food? It’s some of the tastiest in the world. And what better souvenir than a recipe or two, and some tips and tricks from the pros? Two popular choices are Kondesa Culinary Workshop, where chefs Omar and Cesar take foodies through some of their favourite Mexican recipes. Chef Oscar’s Mexican Cooking Workshop is another popular choice. You’ll prepare a three-course Mexican dinner as well as learn creative plating techniques.
3) The Money Bar
This is just a great all-round beach bar. The service is friendly. The view amazing. During the day, you can snorkel and relax in the sun with a cold drink. And at night, the party gets going. The ceviche is outstanding, especially followed by a cold Bohemia.
4) Isla de Passion
Perfect for a day away from everything. You can escape à deux, or bring the family. A 45-minute catamaran ride takes you to this private island where you can spend the day in a hammock, a swinging bed, or floating in the surf. For the more energetic, there are watersports including a water trampoline.
5) Temazcal Mayan sweat lodge
A spa experience that’s out of this world. This ancient Mayan tradition is based on the healing powers of heat. Your ritual begins fireside where your shaman will start breathing exercises and a guided meditation. When ready, you’ll enter the traditional sweat lodge where a combination of heat and healing herbs purifies your body, mind and soul. This is what rejuvenation truly feels like.
6) Faro Celerain Eco Park
One of the most famous landmarks on Cozumel, the Faro Celerain (lighthouse) guards the southern tip of the island and a sizable nature preserve. You’ll see exotic birds, crocodiles, iguanas, and tropical fish, especially if you follow one of the expert guides through the natural wonders of mangroves, lagoons, reef systems and coastal dunes. You can even climb the lighthouse for some pretty great views of the island and the ocean.
7) El Mirador
A lesser-known destination on the island, this one is definitely worth the effort. Beautiful rock formations and amazing snorkelling are just the beginning. There are quiet coves to sunbathe, a bar with hammocks and driftwood chairs, as well as places to get ocean-side massages and some fun souvenirs. Rent a car and make a day of it.
8) San Gervasio Mayan Archaeological Site
San Gervasio was a religious centre for the Maya, dedicated to the goddess Ixchel ("She of the Rainbows"), deity of midwifery, fertility, medicine and weaving. Many Mayan women would perform a pilgrimage to Ixchel´s shrine at least once in their lives. One of the most interesting buildings is the Temple of Hands, which is covered inside with many red handprints. While the significance of this ritual is unknown, it’s fun to speculate as you walk through the ruins; they haven’t been restored so you really feel like you’re walking back in time.