The island of Cozumel, off the eastern coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, has seen a lot of history.  From Mayan metropolis, to abandoned pirate hideout, to quiet fishing village, it has changed over the centuries.  Its latest incarnation as tourist haven kicked off in the 1960s, when famed French diver Jacques Cousteau declared it one of the best places in the world for scuba diving, because of its startling and beautiful coral reefs.

The island’s natural beauty, rich history and excellent shopping guarantee it will be one of the most memorable ports of call on your cruise.

Every cruise line offers a wide variety of shore excursions in Cozumel, and it’s also simple to create your own itinerary. So if you want to shop for silver jewelery in downtown San Miguel, swim with dolphins or go back in time, Cozumel has plenty of adventure to offer.

Step Back into Ancient History

The Mayan Ruins at Tulum

Cozumel is the perfect place to explore the mystery of the ancient Maya civilization. There were once tens of thousands of Mayans living on the island, before the Spanish explorers came, and what is left of that great culture can be seen on an excursion to San Gervacio, the island’s largest archaeological site.

The Mayans gave the island its name, which translates to “Island of Swallows”. If you want a modern way to experience that history, sign up for an ATV tour. You can check out the tropical birds and the Mayan ruins first hand, all while getting your kicks on a cool ATV ride through the jungle.

For a truly spectacular experience, arrange an excursion to the Mayan ruins at Tulum, on the mainland. Perched at the top of a 40-food cliff, looking out over the sapphire blue Caribbean Sea, Tulum is one of the best-preserved Mayan sites in Mexico.

If you prefer a more relaxing kind of adventure, spend your day on one of the beaches. Whether you’re looking for a beach party, a quiet corner of sand and sun to yourself, or a safe place for the kids to splash and play, there is a beach here for you. There are beaches surrounding the entire island, most with amenities, including restaurants, dressing rooms and sports equipment for rent.

But most people come to Cozumel for what’s underwater. Whether you want to paddle a see-through kayak, snorkel, scuba, or go deep-sea fishing, there is plenty to experience.

A sure fire success for families will be the dolphin encounters in Cozumel, which allow you to get up close to some of the ocean’s friendliest inhabitants. But it’s diving and snorkeling that are legendary here, and when it comes to checking out the coral, there are excursions available for every level, from snorkeling tours for first-timers to licensed deep-sea divers.

Your best bet is the Chankanaab National Park, a government-protected wildlife sanctuary for some of the most spectacular coral reefs, sheltered from the open ocean by the geography of the island. The waters are crystal clear, with visibility up to 200 feet, perfect for viewing the thousands of fish, coral and turtles native to the region.

So whether you want to spend your visit to Cozumel steeped in history, embracing the local culture, or swimming with the wildlife, there are plenty of adventures just waiting for you here. So just put on a mask and snorkel and jump in!

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