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Cozumel: Mexico’s Hidden Gem

Mexico is a big country. It is also incredibly varied. It stretches from the snow-dusted canyons of Chihuahua and the deserts of Sonora in the north to the deep swamps of Tabasco and the incredible mountain jungles of Chiapas in the south. From glitzy Acapulco on the Pacific in the west to the gorgeous Caribbean coast of Quintana Roo in the east. Although its most famous spots - Mexico City, Los Cabos, Cancun, Oaxaca - are well known, there are dozens, even hundreds of remarkable spots that still fly well under the radar.

Even in the tourist paradise of the Riviera Maya that stretches from lively Cancun to boho Tulum via sophisticated Playa del Carmen, you can still find hidden gems. And the little treasure of Cozumel, Mexico’s Caribbean island, is one of the finest hidden gems around.

Cozumel might just be the most popular cruise port in Mexico, and yet is still undiscovered and off-the-beaten-track in so many ways. Most cruise tourists don’t venture much further than the main town of San Miguel de Cozumel (which is delightful, it has to be said), but there is so much to discover on this fantastic island paradise. So if you find yourself disembarking on Cozumel and are looking to discover the real island experience, here are some of the best things to do during your stay!

Explore Mayan ruins

The Yucatan peninsula was the center of the ancient Mayan civilization, and there are Mayan ruins dotted around in the jungle throughout Yucatan and Quintana Roo. Cozumel has plenty of archaeological sites of its own, including El Cedral in the south, Castillo Real in the north east, and the largest pre-hispanic ruin of San Gervasio deep in the jungle near the center of the island.

Dive gorgeous coral reefs

The Cozumel Reefs Marine National Park is part of the Mesoamerican Reef, the second largest reef system on the planet. As a result, scuba diving here is unbelievably impressive. Descend below the waves and discover another world of brightly-colored coral reefs, tiny electric fish, sharks, eels, rays, and even magnificent sea turtles. Depending on the season you can swim with enormous whale sharks or watch bull sharks migrate for mating - a terrifying yet exciting experience!

Swim in a natural sinkhole

The Yucatan peninsula sits on a vast aquifer, a network of freshwater underground springs, rivers, and lakes. The thin limestone crust has collapsed in places over the millenia to form natural sinkholes, known as cenotes, which make the most amazing and magical swimming spots. A plunge into the stunning clear, refreshing water is a wonderful way to cool off from the Mexican sun, and many of them offer access to the underground caves and river system themselves. Exploring these with snorkel or scuba equipment is not to be missed! Cozumel has several cenotes, or you can take a quick ferry across to the mainland and discover the more extensive collection around Playa, Puerto Morelos, and Puerto Aventuras.

Visit a pearl farm

Cozumel Pearl Farm is an incredible opportunity to discover the traditional method of pearl farming and to swim or snorkel around a live pearl farm and see how the process works for yourself! Hidden away in a secluded corner of the island, it is also a great way to spend the day enjoying the soft white sand, warm seas, and gorgeous atmosphere of this relaxed island paradise.

Explore the island by bicycle

Cozumel is a small island and is best discovered by bicycle! Head out on the road and discover hidden beaches, remarkable secret snorkeling spots, and even a few remote, secluded beachside bars that are perfect for sundowner cocktails. Just make sure you are still in a fit state to make it back to your accommodation at the end of the day!

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