It’s very hard to beat the crystal-clear water and white-sand beaches found on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. And while Cozumel has a lot of rocky “iron-shore” there are plenty of incredible beaches there too.
This post will tell you all you need to know to visit the best beaches in Cozumel. We’ll start off with our favorite four based on our numerous trips and Kristina’s time living on the island, including one that’s boat-accessible only.
Then we’ll list the rest of the best beaches in Cozumel separating them by location: southwest beaches, the relatively-undeveloped eastern side, and finally, the northwest part of the island.
Click on the name of each beach to see the location and reviews on Google Maps!
Table of Contents
- The Top Four Beaches in Cozumel
- Things You Need to Explore the Best Beaches in Cozumel
- Other Beaches: Southwest Cozumel
- The Best Beaches on the Eastern Side of Cozumel
- Cozumel’s Best Beaches: Northern End
The Top Four Beaches in Cozumel
Playa El Cielo
The water at El Cielo (the heaven) is the best around. Waist-deep sandbar stretches on for a long way, with abundant starfish, rays, and other aquatic life.
The entire area around El Cielo is undeveloped and pristine. This means you must take a boat to it (NOT accessible by car). But if you can do a tour of the island that includes a stop here, you’ll want it to stay this way. Pure heaven.
Playa Chen Rio
It’s hard to beat this beach. The eastern side of the island is barely developed and still has a very rustic feel to it. But Playa Chen Rio manages to have it all. It has a wonderful beachfront restaurant and club, complete with good food/drinks, volleyball court, and much more.
Playa Chen Rio also has a large public beach area with some tide pools and a wide sandbar. You can also explore a large, rocky outcropping. Check your ability to spot the many small animals which call this area home! If you thought the eastern side is all rocks, then you have to check this out. It is a great spot with a good mix of relaxing beach that has food but isn’t overly developed.
This is one of our favorites and is widely known in Cozumel. It is on the southern portion of this area, about a 20-minute drive away from the main downtown area of Cozumel. But it is gorgeous.
It is a beautiful, long beach stretching over 1 km (0.6 miles) long. There is a small parking area and a couple of beach clubs, but there is also a lot of space for you to throw down your own towel or beach chair and hit the water. Best of both worlds!
Looking for a nice beach club with access too good snorkeling? Coral Princess if your spot. This nice hotel offers a large pool and a large sandy area with umbrellas and beach chairs to hang out in. The drinks will keep flowing and the service is solid.
To snorkel, you walk down a few steps and into the water. You can drift along with the current or stay nearby. If you drift down, there are other hotels where you can hop out from and walk (or take a taxi) back to Coral Princess. Just be respectful when getting out of the water as some hotels are more friendly about this than others. We really enjoyed the drift snorkeling here and were able to see a lot of wildlife.
We also found a few secluded beaches in this area that are perfect if you want to bring your own drinks and just hang out on the water. Keep reading to find out more!
Things You Need to Explore the Best Beaches in Cozumel
Don’t forget to bring the right gear to Cozumel! You’ll be much better off bringing your own stuff that you can keep rather than renting the low-quality equitment usually provided.
- Coral-safe Sunscreen – Keep the ocean healthy by using mineral-based sunscreen
- Long-sleeved Rash Guard & UPF Shirt for Men & for Women – Protect yourself from the rocks and the sun without a lotion
- Waterproof Case: Wallet-sized, Fanny Pack, or Dry Bag – Don’t leave your valuables unattended when you go for a swim
- Dive/Snorkel Float – Make sure boats know you are in the water
Other Beaches: Southwest Cozumel
The name of this beach translates to south point and that’s exactly what it is: The southernmost point on the island. It is located inside of an eco park which charges a fairly large entrance fee for Mexico (around $14 USD). But that comes with great perks of a nice large beach with two beach clubs, excellent snorkeling, and beautiful water.
This is about as close to El Cielo (a Cozumel favorite) as you can get by car. So if you’re venturing around in a car, feel free to make a stop out here to see the lighthouse and check out one of the best snorkel spots on the island.
This beach in Cozumel is small, but it is near Chankanaab Reef. You can do excellent snorkeling (and scuba diving) near it. The beach is small, but there are huts and a small restaurant for service. If you like snorkeling, this is a good spot for you.
Another thing we like about this beach are the steps entering into a tide-pool area. It’s a nice, relaxing way to cool off while you hang out at under one of the huts or at a table.
The Money Bar and Dzul Ha Reef
The Money Bar is one of our favorite spots for sunset food and drinks with a great happy hour and live entertainment. Check out our post on things to do in Cozumel for more information on it!
But the snorkeling near here is widely known and excellent. The beach area is rocky, however, so don’t expect to lay out in the sand. The Money Bar does have some beach chairs on a piece of sand, but you have to climb down some steps into the water. Fun place to go for an eventful afternoon though!
Turqoise Beach Bar (La Palapita Den Medio)
This place is close to town, offers a nice small beach area, and has good food/drinks/entertainment. If you need a spot for a quick dip without venturing too far away (and without breaking the bank) here is your place!
Mr. Sanchos Beach
This place has it all, including a beautiful sandy beach over 1,500 feet (450 m) long. But the most popular thing about Mr. Sanchos is the all-inclusive day pass. This includes food and drink, plus tons of great seating options. You can even book a romantic, private cabana if you want to have some privacy.
Mr. Sanchos reviews and ratings seem to be significantly higher than other areas around. $55 USD for day pass (current prices here).
Mr. Sanchos also offers tours and rentals, making it the perfect all-day adventure. Wave runners, ATVs, inflatable jungle gyms, parasailing, and more are all onsite. You can make reservations in advance (not required but a good idea if you have something specific in mind).
Paradise Beach Cozumel
Looking for a bit more fun under the sun? Perhaps want the kids to have some fun inflatables to play on in the water? Then head to Paradise Beach. Here, you can find some areas stacked with lounge chairs and fun activities to do.
You can get an all-inclusive day pass or just hang out under some umbrellas. $3 USD access pass.
Or you can keep walking to the south and get some peace and quiet. If you walk far enough, you should be able to escape most of the crowds and find a nice piece of sand to lay out on. Then head back up for a quick drink to cool off or a bite to fill the stomach.
Playa Mia Grand Beach Park
Another all-inclusive resort with a large amusement park in the water and an underwater Mayan world for snorkelers. Looking to relax, eat, and drink as much as you want? This isn’t a bad choice. Always fun to head out into the water for a bit of snorkeling too.
This small beach area offers an entrance for $15 USD for access to the facilities, a welcome drink, snorkel gear, 30-minute guided snorkeling, and 30-minute kayak ride. You can do open bar for 4 hours for $37 USD per person. Another touristy place, but a bit lighter on the wallet.
Swim with the Dolphins Experience
If you’re considering going to one of the dolphin experiences located in Cozumel (or anywhere) we strongly urge you to reconsider. In order for dolphins to maintain a high quality of life, they should be with their pod and need a lot of space to move around in since they can swim a hundred miles in a day. Canada is even working on passing a law to outlaw dolphins in captivity.
You can find dolphins in the wild: Mexico, Belize, Hawaii, and plenty of other places are natural homes to these beautiful and intelligent creatures. If you are interested in swimming with dolphins, it is best to visit their natural habitat and hope for the best.
For more information about the ethical treatment of dolphins and why you should reconsider supporting this industry, please visit the Humane Society and this compilation of posts.
The Best Beaches on the Eastern Side of Cozumel
Playa Chen Rio
Our favorite beach on the eastern side, described in detail above.
This is another spot very similar to Playa Chen Rio, complete with a large restaurant and beach area. There are plenty of hammocks and you can even find a small surf school here, although the waves are nothing to write home about.
It’s a bit more touristy than Chen Rio, and doesn’t offer a large, spacious beach specifically designated for public use. That’s why we prefer Chen Rio over Punta Morena. But it is still an excellent option along the eastern side. There was also more sargassum (seaweed) here compared to Playa Chen Rio during the times we visited.
This beach area offers a long stretch of open sand to check out the water. There is less protection here, so the waves and current are likely a little stronger than most beaches on Cozumel, but it is beautiful.
As of this posting, the Playa Bonita Restaurant is closed. Reports indicate this was due to a tax issue. We imagine it will reopen someday and regain its fame as one of the best spots on the eastern side. But for now, the beach is still accessible and it makes a nice stop on a tour around the island.
Playa San Martin
This is another place to stop and eat on the eastern side. It doesn’t have the rocky protection of Chen Rio or San Martin but is more like Playa Bonita with a long, open stretch of sand.
Cozumel’s Best Beaches: Northern End
The north of the island has a lot of “iron-shore” areas, meaning it is full of extremely sharp and jagged rocky structures, rather than a lot of sandy beaches. But it does have a few excellent beaches and some great snorkeling spots. It’s also lacking a lot of major resorts and tourist acuities, so it’s a more quiet and peaceful area to spend some time.
This is our favorite of the northern end. Head back to to the top of this post for most details on it.
This is a fairly secluded, undeveloped beach area just north of town. Close enough to walk. And if you are looking for a quiet place to bring your own food and drinks to sit by the water with, this is perfect.
You can also walk about 1 block north and you’ll find a small pathway next to a wall. This leads out to another even more secluded beach area. It’s basically the locals’ hangout spot and is perfect for getting some time by the water away from tourists but still close to town.
Tequila Beach Club
This beach club has a nice sandy beach to hang out on, as well as well-priced food and a lovely atmosphere. Plenty of beach chairs and great service cause people to review this beach highly, again and again.
Playa Punta Norte
This is the biggest stretch of true beach area on the northern end. It has multiple beach clubs and restaurants, along with plenty of space to claim your own spot. If you want to try to escape the crowds, head up to Playa Punta Norte. There are some all-inclusive resorts located on it, but there is some area between them that is basically uninhabited too.
Playa San Juan at Buccanos or Playa Azul
Buccanos is one of our favorite restaurants on the island for fine dining. And the beach nearby is intimate and offers excellent views. You can hop down a few steps and into the water.
Playa Azul is another spot down the road from Buccanos which is essentially private and has an area to enjoy the water.
If you REALLY want to get away from it all, head to Passion Island. Accessible only by boat on the far northern end of the island, this is an area far away from most tourist crowds, although some cruise ships do offer excursions here.
It has a very large sandy beach and is essentially undeveloped. But the water isn’t the best, which is why we prefer El Cielo over Passion Island.
Popular Day Tours in Cozumel
The Best Beaches in Cozumel: Summary
That’s a lot of beaches for such a small island, right?! Well at least you know where they are and what they’re like. Find the one that sounds the best to you, and escape to one of the best beaches in Cozumel!
What beach sounds like the best to you: Mr. Sanchos with the all-inclusive pass or El Cielo with no crowds and stunning blue water? Leave a comment below to let us know!
Plan Your Trip to Cozumel
Book Your Flight
Find the cheapest flights on Skyscanner. Check out our guide to finding cheap flights.
Live like a local by staying at an Airbnb (use this link to get $40 off)or get the best hotel rates in Cozumel at Booking.com.
Pack Your Bags
Wondering what to pack? Check out our Ultimate Packing List.
Bring your own snorkel and mask, dry bag, and sunscreen to make sure you don’t have to waste money there.
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2 thoughts on “The Best Beaches in Cozumel”
Hi we are arriving in october by carnival for the day. we want to lay in the sand and play in the ocean, we want to buy food there on the beach. What beach is best for this? we want to be able to go in and out of the water freely.
There are a lot of options to fit these desires, but I suggest Playa Palancar or Mr. Sanchos Beach Club. They both have large sandy beaches with lounge areas and food service. Mr. Sancho’s is more of an all-inclusive resort so you’ll need to purchase a day pass, while Playa Palancar allows you to rent a lounge area for a minimal price (somewhere $200 pesos or $10 USD) and has waiters to serve you. You can catch a taxi down to these areas quite easily from the cruise ship port (taxi prices change often and are tightly controlled; you can find them listed on signs in town near the ferry terminal).
If you want to really get away, you could take a longer taxi ride (or car/motorcycle/scooter rental) to eastern side of the island to visit Playa Chen Rio. This side of the island is much less developed, which is great to experience a more raw Cozumel, but lacks the amenities and food offerings found on the western side.