Unlike its bustling neighbor Cancun, Cozumel is relatively quiet — only 3 percent of this 189-square-mile island in Mexico has been developed. Located 12 miles off the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula and fringed by beautiful reefs, “the land of the swallows” offers clear turquoise waters and wide, white-sand beaches.
Before You Go: Need-to-know info
Entry requirements: Passport that’s valid for at least six months from the date of entry and a tourist card (usually included in the price of your flight)
Flight time: 6 hours from New York City; 8 hours from LA; 7 hours from Chicago; 2 1/2 hours from Dallas
Getting around: Taxi and rental car
When to Go: Cozumel at its best
Best weather: December to April. Rainy season runs from May through October; hurricane season swirls from June to October.
Best prices: May to July (exact dates vary by hotel)
What to Do
Go diving: With more than 30 charted reefs and a variety of dive tours — including deep, drift, shore, wall, night and theme dives that focus on ecology, archaeology, wrecks and photography — Cozumel is one of Mexico’s premier diving destination. In fact, Columbia Shallows is one of the most electrifying shallow dives in the Caribbean. As an added bonus, peak diving season (June to August) coincides with off-peak hotel season.
Visit San Miguel: The island’s only town has the ambience of a charming Mexican village. Stroll the waterfront boulevard and people-watch at the main square, where mariachi bands sometimes play on Sunday nights.
See the wildlife: Visit Chankanaab (“little sea”) inside the National Park and tour its botanical garden, archaeological park, and saltwater lagoon wildlife sanctuary. Snorkel or dive in underwater caves, offshore reefs or a protected bay with sunken cannons, anchors, statues and a ship.
Tour the lighthouses: Drive (be sure to rent a car with four-wheel drive) to either end of the island to take in magnificent faro (“lighthouse”) views from Punta Sur’s Celerain lighthouse (south) or Punta Molas (north). Punta Sur is surrounded by sand dunes and offers jungle views, while Punta Molas is great for sunbathing and jagged shoreline vistas.