How To Experience the Intriguing Island Life in Cozumel: A Playa del Carmen Day Trip
Having been gifted by Mother Nature with a copious amount of raw beauty, the Playa del Carmen area in Mexico’s majestic Caribbean is filled with awe-inspiring gems. One such treasure is the nearby island of Cozumel. In fact, Cozumel is so close that it’s visible from Playa on a clear day.
Just a hop, skip, and a short ferry ride away, the Riviera Maya jewel offers an intriguing taste of island life. In this article, you’ll find helpful tips and Cozumel excursion ideas to plan a sunsational day trip from Playa del Carmen.
Getting To Cozumel From Playa del Carmen
Near the chapel and one block south of the city’s iconic Portal Maya statue, sits the ferry terminal. Along the southern end of 5th Avenue as well as on Calle 1 Sur heading towards the sea, you’ll find Ultramar and Winjet ticket booths. Between the two ferry companies, you can sail to Cozumel every hour beginning at 8:00 a.m. Whereas the final return from the island to Playa del Carmen is at 9:00 p.m.
The cost per adult is approximately $500 Mxn round trip ($25 USD) and the trip takes about 45 minutes. It’s important to arrive 40 minutes prior to departure.
Vehicle Rentals and Taxi Service on Cozumel
As far as embracing the island vibe, few things accomplish this better than cruising around on a scooter or an open-top jeep. While a scooter ride can definitely achieve that divine easy-breezy feeling, a jeep or convertible beetle is the safest option. The main drag, which runs along the scenic shore of the island, is fairly busy throughout the day. That being said, if you feel comfortable with the rules of the road in Mexico, a scooter adventure may be perfect for you.
After disembarking, you’ll discover that there’s no shortage of Cozumel rental companies to choose from. For a more established agency, try Fiesta Car Rental. The online booking platform is straightforward with no hidden costs. From personal experience, Rentadora ISIS provided an older, but reliable jeep that was both economical and hassle-free.
Alternatively, taxis offer convenience as the rates are posted in the ferry terminal. Plus dozens are available directly from the dock. Contrary to using credit cards at the rental agencies, you’ll need cash to get around by taxi. If you’re traveling in a larger group, a van taxi can be booked for the day. Rates are usually quoted in USD, but of course, pesos are accepted as well.
Be sure to fill your gas tank up as you set out on your island day trip since there are few gas stations after the cruise ship terminal.
Cozumel’s Top Attractions
The sublime waters around Cozumel have spectacular visibility, which beckons scuba divers from around the globe. Yet have no fear if you’re not exactly a scuba enthusiast, there are still plenty of ways to have magical encounters on land and at sea.
The route along Cozumel’s edge presents picturesque views of the Caribbean, not to mention the dazzling sunset. Although it takes roughly two hours to complete the entire journey around the island, you’ll definitely be compelled to make a few pit stops.
Pirate History and Panoramic Views at Punta Sur
The Punta Sur ecological park is about 15 miles from downtown Cozumel. It’s a protected area with a lagoon, home to a variety of wildlife including crocodiles and a variety of exotic birds.
The entrance fee ($18 USD) gives access to the Celerain Lighthouse and the maritime museum. Discover the island’s rich pirate and Mayan history. Before plundering pirates like the infamous Henry Morgan visited, Cozumel was the home to the fertility and war goddess Ixchel. After reading about the fascinating stories of the past, you can climb to the tower to take in the unobstructed views.
Follow the path to two onsite restaurants for a cold cerveza and a sunny siesta in one of the beach hammocks. Just off the shore is the Mesoamerican Reef System, where you can snorkel with sea turtles and schools of tropical fish.
Piña Coladas at Playa Palancar
About 20 minutes south from the ferry terminal on the main highway, you’ll find a colorful boat anchored on the sand at the Playa Palancar entrance. Spend the day snorkeling off the shore and relaxing in the glorious Mexican sun. Without a doubt, it’ll be hard to forget the day you spent with your toes in the sand, sipping cold cocktails and taking in the stunning view.
There’s no shortage of dining tables along the wide shore. Plus, there are shaded loungers available to rent ($10 for the day.) Although the club does not have an entrance fee, you’ll have to order from the restaurant in order to use the facilities. In addition to paddle board and kayak rentals, you can book a boat tour to nearby reefs, just 15 minutes away. What’s more, you can visit the jaw-dropping, azure bay of El Cielo. This heavenly destination will leave you breathless as you wade in the crystal clear waters amongst stingrays and starfish.
Playa Palancar Beach Club is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. If you opt for a taxi, it’s about $300 pesos one-way for up to four people.
Undersea Adventure on Atlantis Submarine
Photo courtesy of Atlantis Submarine Cozumel
For those of you that are curious to see what life’s like under the sea, the Atlantis Submarine is a remarkable expedition. During the 2-hour underwater journey, you’ll be able to peer out the portholes to observe marine life in the second largest reef system in the world. For certain seeing the sunken ship, Felipe Xicotencatl will be an exciting end to a fascinating adventure.
It’s important to note that this excursion is for children 4 and older.
Sea Lions and Snuba at Chankanaab Park
There’s no question that Chankanaab National Park has enough activities to keep you smiling all day long. From sea lion and crocodile exhibitions to zip lines and tequila tasting, you can experience the best the island has to offer all in one place. Whether you’re walking along the ocean floor on the sea trek or you’re meandering through the botanical garden, the vast park is a hit for nature lovers.
Chankanaab is a 10-minute drive from the passenger ferry dock and costs $26 USD for adults while kids pay $18.
Caribbean Breezes and Ice-Cold Beers at Buccanos
Photo courtesy of Buccanos Grill & Beach Club Cozumel
For sure, beach clubs along Cozumel’s western shoreline are as plentiful as kids around a piñata that’s about to burst. Yet Buccanos stands out above them all. Located just under 20 minutes north of the pier, Buccanos Bar and Grill gets a gold star for its attention to quality and detail showcased in their upscale menu. Nosh on delightful dishes such as the shrimp and sundried tomato pizza, Mayan inspired octopus, or lobster mac and cheese.
Soak up the sun by the pool or lounge seaside on one of the luxurious sunbeds. In between sipping signature cocktails like their jalapeño margaritas, take dips in the inviting turquoise waters to stay cool. From the platforms along the sea wall, is a prime snorkeling area for observing the local reef ecosystem in all of its vibrant colors.
Pristine Beaches At Isla Pasion
This sublime piece of paradise is about a 20-minute boat ride from the north end of Cozumel. There is little development, only a restaurant, restrooms, massage huts, and a few souvenir shops. Thus, it is the perfect tranquil escape. There are beach games including volleyball and soccer, as well as limbo rounds for whomever is up (or down) for it. For an extra cost, you can rent snorkel gear, kayaks, paddle boards, and private cabanas on the beach.
Needless to say, you’ll remember this day forever, when you kicked back in a hammock, while you’re feet dangled in the breathtaking, electric blue waters. If you’re traveling with youngsters, they’ll love the sand playground area and trampolines in the water. Tours start around $50 for kids and last approximately 3.5 hours.
Oysters and Coral Reefs at Cozumel Pearl Farm
Photo courtesy of Cozumel Pearl Farm
Without a doubt, this particular island expedition is rare. After all, it is the only active pearl farm in the Caribbean. Established in 2001, this family-owned operation works not only to sustain their own livelihood, but also to ensure the sustainability of ocean species near extinction.
Partnering with Cozumel Ocean Research, the pearl farm offers courses to support research on the Spotted Eagle Ray. As well, they have formed a collaboration with a gifted Mexican artisan who creates the jewelry sold on the tours and on their website.
The excursion begins from the north end of Cozumel island. Groups of a maximum number of 8 people are guided by boat to the pearl farm, which takes 45 minutes. Throughout the 6-hour tour, guests will walk the facilities and learn about the cultivation and harvesting process. Then it’s time to take a second boat trip out to the oyster hatchery, which lies beneath the surface of some of the bluest, clearest waters on the planet.
Included in the once-in-a-lifetime tour is a guide, the boat trips, snorkel gear, soft drinks, beer, bottled water in addition to a light lunch.
We hope this list of Cozumel day trip ideas proves helpful as you plan your Playa del Carmen vacation. For more Cozumel attractions worth visiting, be sure to talk to your designated Bric Ambassador. These local experts can assist with transportation, excursion bookings, and other travel tips for your enchanting island getaway.