Did you know that Cozumel is an island in the Caribbean Sea? In fact, it is Mexico’s largest island. It is located off the eastern coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, opposite the Playa del Carmen, and close to the Yucatan Channel. Cozumel is a very popular tourist destination and is known throughout the world for it’s scuba diving and snorkeling. Some of the most spectacular coral reefs are found in Cozumel.
The island of Cozumel is approx 30 miles (48 km) going north & south and approx 10 miles (16 km ) going east & west. It’s the largest Atlantic island of Mexico. It’s approx 12 miles (20 kms) from the mainland, and approx 36 miles (60 km) south of Cancun, Mexico.
With the tropical climate of Cozumel, the weather can change from one day to the next. It is warm year round with an average temperature of 81 F (27 C). Heavy rains start in June and go on through October. Even if it rains every day, the usual duration of a shower is short. Humidity is naturally high during the rainy season.
The west side of Cozumel is calm – ideal for swimming, diving or just relaxing in the sun. This part of the island is also the most developed with banks, markets, shops, restaurants and hotels. The east side of the island is more secluded, with very few people living there and little activity. There are some calm beaches with clear emerald green water. There are at least 20 live reefs so close to the shore, it makes snorkeling and diving a must. The island also has it’s share of Mayan ruins hidden in the jungles that can be explored by car, bike or foot.
The area’s diving and snorkeling are legendary. Following a 1961 documentary by Jacques Cousteau, Cozumel earned a worldwide following of divers who ranked it one of the top five scuba diving and snorkeling sites on the planet. The island’s surrounding waters are filled with undersea life, colorful reefs, and the wrecked hulls of Spanish galleons. The area’s marine life & reef structures attract more than 75,000 divers from all over the world, every year. With over 30 kms of reefs & water visibility up to 200 feet and over 200 species of tropical fish, Cozumel is considered by many to be the best. It’s very easy to find dive shops – they are everywhere!
For non divers, the island has something for everyone. Sightseeing includes some archaeological sites. You won’t want to miss the shopping & dining in the village of San Miguel de Cozumel. Nature lovers come to Cozumel to see giant see turtles laying their eggs from May to September and to view the island’s variety of exotic migratory bird life.
Fishing is also a major sport in Cozumel. Species like dorado and barracudas can be caught. It’s easy to find charter boats. Other water activities include sailing, water ski & windsurfing.
According to Mayan legends, the home to Goddess Ixchel, the islanders built temples to honor her, the goddess of love & fertility. In return, Goddess Ixchel sent the swallow, her favorite bird, as a gesture of gratitude, thus the name of “The Island of the Swallows”.