Cozumel, Mexico is an island with a lot going on. The best things to do in Cozumel can be found just offshore: scuba diving and snorkeling. But you can also explore the island in a jeep or ATV, check out an old Maya ruin site, and even hop around to incredible restaurants.
How do you decide which things to do in Cozumel during your stay? Let us be your guide! We’ve both visited the island numerous times and Kristina (my wife and cofounder of this travel blog) has even lived there! You’re getting true, first-hand information on this site.
Obviously, one of the best things to do is to go to the beach. We have another whole post dedicated to the best beaches in Cozumel.
Here is our list of 9 amazing things to do in Cozumel:
Scuba Diving and Cozumel Dive Shops
The scuba diving in Cozumel is world-class. It has vast coral structures, vibrant sponges, and incredible visibility. You can do wall dives or shallow drift dives with a gentle current. The aquatic life will not let you down with sea turtles, spotted eagle rays, and nurse sharks.
Finding a Cozumel dive shop is not a challenge. But some are better than others. We look for places that offer smaller groups on a covered boat with a nice surface interval. Aldora Dive Shop is our favorite and is often cited as one of the absolute best dive shops in Cozumel.
What sets them apart? They use large steel tanks that provide more air. We regularly had 75-minute dives with them. People also love the large jackets they have to keep you warm after being in the water for so long.
Aldora also has nice, covered boats with knowledgeable captains and dive masters that only go in small groups. You keep your gear for the entire length of your stay. And they even have their own hotel on the north side of the island making pickup/drop-off a breeze at their dock.
Go Snorkeling in Cozumel
Snorkeling is a great way to pass the time and one of the best things to do in Cozumel. There are a lot of places which offer snorkeling tours where you can go out on a boat into deeper water, but you can also go snorkeling from the shore on self-guided tours if that’s more your style.
Bring your own snorkel gear to save money and use superior gear. You can get an entry-level package like this one from US Divers which will pay for itself in a few days. Or you can go a bit higher end with Wacool mask and snorkel and CAPAS travel-sized fins. We do not recommend the full-face snorkels due to controversy over their safety.
Playa Las Casitas is the closest snorkel spot to town, right in front of the military airport. There is boat activity here, so make sure to use a floating dive flag. Closer to shore are some large concrete blocks which act as artificial reefs and farther out are two shipwrecks (expert level snorkeling) located near Love Cafe.
On the north side of the island, one of the best snorkel spots is located just outside of Coral Princess Hotel. Walk through the hotel (or grab some drinks/food and a seat) then head out into the water. The current may be strong here, so you can drift down the shoreline and hop out at a hotel nearby. Some hotels are friendlier about this than others.
On the south side of the island are many different spots. Some people like to get in from a small area just south of Intercontinental Presidente and go down to the Money Bar. Punta Sur is another favorite on the southern side of the island, but you’ll likely have to pay for entrance to the eco-park area.
Rent a Jeep or Scooter and Explore the Island
One of the best things to do in Cozumel is to explore the island with the wind in your hair. If you don’t stop at all, you can drive around the entire southern loop of the island in less than two hours. But we recommend setting aside at least a half day or more to do this so you can see everything.
You can head to the southernmost part of the island to see the lighthouse and beach park (with an excellent snorkel spot). The ride along the desolate eastern shoreline with a pitstop at a restaurant for a bite and some swimming. Chen Rio is our favorite spot on this side of Cozumel. Or just explore around the downtown area and western coastline, where you can find a limitless selection of beachfront restaurants and snorkel spots.
We recommend renting a jeep or scooter in person when you arrive on the island. That way you can negotiate the best price and see the vehicle in person before agreeing. There are a lot of shops right around the city center offering both.
If you prefer a tour or booking through an agency, just know that sometimes these places work on commission and you might be taken to some very touristy places. You can also check out one of these companies: Cozumel Tours, Jeep Riders Cozumel Tours, and Jeep Tours Cozumel. (We have not used these groups and we are not affiliated with them, but they are highly rated.)
Happy Hour at Money Bar
Want to enjoy the beautiful sunset with great happy hour drinks? Then head just south of town to The Money Bar Beach Club. Two-for-one drinks are offered every day 5-7pm.
Here, you can find a lovely restaurant with seating under a large palapa and outside on the patio. A line of lounge chairs rest in the sand and a small pier goes out into the water. They have live music regularly (Thursday and Friday from 6-9pm) and it’s one of the hottest places on the island. We can’t wait to go back!
Head to Buccanos for Fine Dining
Want to enjoy a nice meal in a lovely setting? Head up north too Buccanos. While it’s a bit secluded from the rest of the island, it is not secluded from excellent food, chefs, or service.
The drinks are also top-notch and you will definitely not go home hungry. A section of this restaurant is located on a rooftop patio and is downright beautiful. Worth the trip up to!
Head into the Heart of Town for a Real Meal
Sick of the tourist trap restaurants along the coast? We don’t blame you. Sometimes the overpriced food there just isn’t worth the cost.
Head to La Perlita for an authentic experience with real Mexican cuisine. Your belly will thank you for it!
Visit an Archeological Ruin Site: San Gervasio
Cozumel is home to a Maya archeological ruin site named San Gervasio. It is quite close to the downtown area (9 miles or 15 km) toward the center of the island. While it isn’t the largest Maya ruin site in the Yucatan Peninsula, it still offers a glimpse into the past. And countless iguanas inhabit the area.
The site itself is comprised of 4 districts, but only District 1 is open to the public. It still has a few areas with different buildings, including one with small red handprints, one with a nice archway, and another with large columns.
San Gervasio was an important site for the Maya people. Most women would try to make a pilgrimage to give offerings to Ix Chel, a goddess of fertility.
The entrance fee was $183 pesos (about $9 USD) per person as of April 2019. Check out our post on Tips for Visiting Mayan Ruins in Mexico for all you need to know.
Go to the Local Market
Cozumel has a nice, small local market. Here you can find great, cheap food and many different types of vendors. You can find all sorts of shirts, hats, and souvenirs to bring home – for much better prices than the beachfront shops.
The market is located here. Don’t be afraid to haggle a bit on the prices and ask before ordering food if the price isn’t listed.
If you’d like a guided tour of the market, consider signing up for this Cozumel Food Tour.
Enjoy the Central Plaza
It’s always great to visit the central plaza in small Mexican towns. For Cozumel things to do, that means going to Parque Benito Juarez.
Yes, you will be surrounded by many tourists since it’s close to the main piers, but there is still a lot of nice benches and it’s a great place to hang out. Sunday nights are usually when the most entertainment and fun can be found here.
If you get bored, grab a drink or some snacks and enjoy on the bench like a true local.
Popular Day Tours in Cozumel
Things to Do in Cozumel
That sums it up for 9 amazing things to do in Cozumel, Mexico. Go scuba diving, tour the island, and enjoy the beautiful sunsets as much as you can! And read our post on the best beaches in Cozumel to find the place that suits your needs.
Have you been scuba diving before? Where is your favorite location to do so? Leave a comment below and we’ll add it to our list!