HeidiTown is all about Colorado and I have no plans to change my brand. However, it’s been nine years since I’ve been on a vacation abroad, and being a writer, it was impossible for me not to share my experience with you.
As most of you already know, Ryan and I spent last week celebrating my fortieth birthday on the island of Cozumel in Mexico. Cozumel is located in the Caribbean, and is a 45 minute ferry ride from Playa del Carmen.
We stayed at El Cozumeleno Beach Resort on the north side of the island. We’ve been to Cozumel before and we like the north side because it’s just a 80 to 100 peso (about $5) taxi ride from San Miguel, Cozumel’s charming town.
As you might expect, when we travel in Mexico we love to explore, and if we do an all-inclusive, like on this trip, we spend a lot of time off-resort. This trip was no exception.
This was only my third trip to Mexico, so I am no expert, and while I do a lot of pre-trip research, a lot of what I learn is through trial and error. Here are 11 things you should know before visiting Cozumel, Mexico.
1. Reapplying SPF50 while snorkeling all day isn’t enough protection. Those of us with Celtic blood running through our veins should invest in a swim shirt. You have been warned.
2. Cute bathing suits are for sitting next to the pool. If you want to be active, wear a Speedo. This is not a paid endorsement of this brand, just a fact.
We snorkeled every day in Cozumel, mostly off the beach in front of the Playa Azul Beach Club. I wore my ten-year-old Speedo throughout the week while my two fashionable swimsuits stayed in my suitcase because neither was appropriate for water sports of any kind. Note: If you don’t snorkel in Cozumel, you’re doing it wrong.
3. There’s a reason fish have flippers. One day I tried to go snorkeling without my flippers and I felt completely off balance. For pure snorkeling enjoyment, wear flippers.
4. Utilize outdoor showers at the resort or beach bar to rinse off every time you get out of the ocean. I wish I had started doing this on the first day instead of the third. Your hair and skin will thank you.
5. Unless you want to waste money in Mexico, make sure you use pesos to pay for everything (absolutely everything). The exchange rate you’ll get for using dollars for beers and cab rides is terrible. Taxicab drivers and restaurants aren’t trying to rip you off, they just don’t want to have to pay fees to convert your dollars into peso.
6. There is no bad guacamole in Cozumel, although my favorite was at Senor Iguanas on the east side of the island.
7. Don’t get busy doing something and miss the Cozumel sunset. Sunsets on this island are the stuff screensavers are made from, and if you are lucky enough to catch a thunderstorm over Playa del Carmen like we did one evening—even better.
8. If it swims, eat it. Seafood on Cozumel is delicious and our two favorite places to get seafood were La Choza and La Perlita. You can’t go wrong with ordering ceviche at any beach bar, although Playa Azul makes the best octopus ceviche.
9. Don’t be afraid to leave your resort. While your resort is cool and has free booze, San Miguel is one of the most charming towns you’ll visit and the east side of Cozumel is wild. Plus, there are Mayan ruins on the island (San Gervasio) and big, bright blue butterflies in the jungle surrounding this site.
I’d also add that Cozumel is very safe. According to this article on TripAdvisor.com, it’s one of the safest destinations in Mexico. During my two visits to the island, I have never once felt unsafe. Just like any place you visit, it’s wise to use common sense while in Cozumel, but you do not need to waste a lot of time worrying about safety issues.
10. Try to speak Spanish even if you’re not very good. It’s quite possible that your cab driver may giggle at your attempts, but he’ll also likely give you a free mini-Spanish language lesson during your ride.
11. Want to watch a Broncos game on Cozumel? Kelley’s Sports Bar in downtown San Miguel is the place to watch any NFL game, but it’s also Cozumel’s Broncos bar (they also like the Green Bay Packers). And you don’t have to sacrifice great American football food at Kelley’s because their wings are awesome.
I am a travel writer, but this was not a work trip. I did not receive any compensation for my travel to Cozumel nor was I hosted by any resort, restaurant or bar.