Bright and sunny beaches, coral reefs, and island tours, Isla Cozumel is home to a ton of tropical activities. We drove down to Playa del Carmen and parked in a parking lot next to the ADO bus station (X of Av. Benito Juarez and Calle Quinta Avenida). The ferry to Cozumel leaves from Playa del Carmen dock. There are two agencies (Ultramar and Water Jets) who run ferries within 30 minutes interval. We planned for a day trip to Cozumel, so we hopped on to one of the early ferries. Check the details here
Tip – there is no need to bargain if you are buying tickets from one of these agencies. Just make sure to not get a return ticket, because a, it costs the same and b, you won’t have flexibility in choosing the return ferry.
After getting sun bathed atop the ferry, while enjoying the serenity of the Caribe mar, we ventured out to the island. Multiple tour operators and agents flock the dock at Cozumel for tourists. We managed a deal with one of the operators for Snorkeling for about ~$20 per person. Snorkeling took 3 hours and we got to see a ton of fishes, corals, and underwater artifacts. Some cruise lines stop at Cozumel too, which can be distracting some times. We snorkeled at around 5 locations around the island. They had water, cerveza, and some snacks which kept us entertained.
Tip – The west side of the island has nice beaches while the east is rocky. But the best snorkeling experience will be on the eastern side. Also, if you do not have reservations with a snorkeling company, feel free to arrive and bargain a lot.
Tip – We think the best way to go around the island is in a scooty or motorized trikes. There are car rental companies too but they are expensive and lack supply. Taxi rates are reasonable if you ask for the rate before hopping on to them.
We did not have much time to explore the park but there are some ruins in the north side of the island. Also check out the sandy beaches in the west side.
Food and Nightlife
Definitely check out Money Bar near the south west side. If you can time your visit, you can catch amazing views of the sea as well as catch a glimpse of the sunset. It takes about $10 to come back to the dock by taxi.
Playa del Carmen
|Playa Del Carmen
We took the return ferry to Playa del Carmen to reach the dock around 7pm. The dock and the vicinity was flooded with people. We had been to Playa del Carmen a few times before, so did not have much to check out. We tried the beaches in Playa del Carmen twice, and both times we found seaweed galore making the water dirty. The sandy beaches are good, but the ones in Cancun trumps these to me. Locals though love to visit these beaches. We have had good times in the beach shacks though.
The street parallel to the beach has a ton of shopping and restaurants. Most of the restaurants on Calle Quinta Avenida and 10th Street are moderately good and expensive. We found it hard to find authentic Mexican fare in this part. Although we did stop for a drink or two at a local pub and had some street side tamales, food experience is not that great for us. So during our visit in 2015, we tried a place a tad north of the downtown and was not disappointed. Details below-
Food and Nightlife
If you do not have a car, don’t panic. The public transportation, though is time consuming, is cheap and reliable. We had once taken the local route: took the R2 bus to the ADO station in the downtown. Cost 9.50 pesos per person. From ADO, we took the second class bus to Playa Del Carmen. Cost 30 Pesos per person. It took about 90 minutes, compared to the 40 minutes promised by the local people. (Note: Mexico is so much like India, in so many respects such as sense of time, respect for others, and intention to cheat foreigners! LOL). The return back to the hotel was eventful. We ended up paying 60 pesos per person for the return trip to Cancun downtown in a first class coach, and 200 pesos for a cab to the hotel.