Cozumel is an island off Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. It’s an island that seems purpose-built for tourists, with phenomenal beaches, outstanding diving locations and nearby cultural attractions.
Much of the island’s reef system is protected as a national park, and is a favorite place for snorkeling. There are fun diversions within the island, like buggy rides on the sand dunes, food tours and bus tours of the island. If you want to take it easy, this is the life for you.
But if you want to explore, then you’ll have to travel out of the city, crossing to the mainland on a ferry. Take your swimsuit and your hiking boots with you, because you’ll need them both.
First, marvel at the ancient Mayan city of Coba, around three hours east from Cozumel. You’ll wander among stelae — tall slabs of stone covered with ancient writing and images. You’ll also be able to climb Nohoch Mull, the tallest Mayan pyramid in the Yucatan Peninsula. At the top, you’ll have an unparalleled view of the surrounding forest and two nearby lagoons from above the treeline.
Hire a bicycle to explore the ancient city, popping into settlements that have been practically untouched for centuries.
Now head to Cenote Dos Ojos (the Two Eyes Cenote). It’s one of many deep natural wells that were exposed by sinkholes. Dos Ojos is actually two cenotes connected by an underwater cave system. Join a scuba diving tour and you can explore the cave system between the pools — it feels like an alien world. Remember to visit the “Bat Cave,” which — as it says in the name — is filled with bats. (T)