Cozumel is a large island in the Caribbean Sea, opposite the town of Playa del Carmen, one of the main tourist centers of the Mexican coast. It is located in close proximity to the most beautiful reefs, so people come here to enjoy the underwater beauty. But the nature of the island itself is also interesting: there are tropical forests, and mangroves with crocodiles, and even endemic animals - for example, there is its own, Cozumel, species of raccoon.
The first settlements on the island appeared already in the 3rd century AD. NS. It was one of the main religious sanctuaries of the Maya - the goddess Ish-Chel, a female deity, the goddess of childbirth and medicine, was worshiped here. On her behalf, the priests uttered predictions, and beautiful girls were sacrificed to her. The ruins of the temples dedicated to her have been preserved on the island. There is something to see here if you come here on a one-day excursion, and if you decide to stay here for a rest.
Top 10 attractions of the island of Cozumel
City of San Miguele
The capital of the island, the main pier for huge ocean liners (this pier is called Punta Langosta). The city was founded in 1847. Here you can see the beautiful city square with a clock tower and the small church of San Miguel, St. Michael, the patron saint of the island. Tradition says that all the churches of the island are located in the places where the Mayan temples stood before the arrival of the Europeans. But this building was built in the middle of the 19th century, what was earlier on this place is unknown. The church is small, very well appointed and beautiful.
In addition to the Catholic Church, there is also a synagogue in the city. The seaside park is located on the coast. Benito Juarez.
San Miguel is the administrative and tourist center of the city: here you can take any excursions, check into an all-inclusive hotel, go shopping, so even if you are not staying here, it is worth visiting the city.
Coral Reef Monument Fountain in San Miguel
The main decoration of the embankment of the city of San Miguele is a huge sculpture-fountain, which is depicted by scuba divers at a coral reef. It is dedicated to the memory of Jacques Cousteau. The fact is that it was this famous traveler who discovered and began to explore the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef in 1961, which stretches along the entire coast of the Yucatan and for which many lovers of diving and snorkeling come here. It is the second largest coral reef in the world, its length is about 900 kilometers, and the most famous part of it is the Belize Reef. It is home to over 100 species of various corals, many invertebrates and fish. It is believed that not all species that inhabit it have been discovered, so research continues. The fountain monument was opened in 1997 by sculptor Oscar Ponzanelli.
San Miguel Museum
The island's museum is located in the city center. It has only been operating since 2005, but attracts many tourists. This is a classic local history museum with 4 large halls. The first is devoted to the natural world and the ecology of the island itself, the second to marine abodes and coral reefs, the third to the history and archeology of Cozumel, and the fourth to its modernity.
In addition, the museum regularly holds temporary exhibitions from its funds, mainly dedicated to the history of the Maya, because many artifacts of this ancient people have been found on the island. The cult of the goddess Ish-Chel, the patroness of medicine and fertility, flourished here, and one of the centers of her worship was located just in the territory of San Miguel. There is a public library at the museum. Tours are conducted in Spanish and English.
On the roof of the museum, there is a restaurant with an observation deck - from there you have an excellent view of the city of San Miguel, and, in addition, tourists greatly praise its cuisine.
Chankanaab National Park
Chankanaab National Park is the main entertainment destination on the island. The national park includes a part of the coast and the sea day with coral reefs. The park's beach is one of the best snorkelling spots. There are no smooth "sandy" entry into the sea - only bridges, at which bizarre corals begin right away, and only in the bay there is a small shallow water zone that children will like. You can take an excursion on a boat with a transparent bottom, from which it is also convenient to observe the life of corals.
But children will be delighted with the Zip line - a roller-ski lift over the park. It passes over the lagoon itself, where from above you can see numerous crocodiles living in mangroves.
The park also has a small lake with ornamental fish, connected to the sea by an underground tunnel, and a botanical garden. Turtles and iguanas roam freely in the park, and many tropical plants grow in it.
Dolphinarium in Chankanaab Park
One of the best dolphinariums in the Caribbean is located in Chankanaab Park - usually tourists in their reviews note it first of all. They show traditional shows with dolphins, but the most important thing is the opportunity to swim with these animals in the vast outdoor pools and communicate with them in person. If you arrive in the early morning, you can see the morning dolphin "toilet": they clean their tails and fins. The guides will show the teams that dolphins are trained in: you can ride them, you can even persuade them to jump.
In addition to dolphins, you can also swim here with huge manatees. They are not as intelligent as dolphins, but they also know how to perform different tricks, and besides, there are dolphinariums in almost every resort, but the opportunity to swim with manatees is unique.
Discover Mexico Park
All Mexico in miniature! A unique theme park, on the territory of which there are small copies of all the main attractions of Mexico with detailed information boards. There are famous cities of the pre-Columbian period, and huge cathedrals, and public buildings - all the most interesting that is in the country.
In addition, the park has a Museum of Mexican Folk Art with traditional skeletal dolls for the Day of the Dead and ceramic "Trees of Life".
There is a chocolate factory, where you can see the whole process of making chocolate from the very beginning, with the processing of cocoa beans, and you can taste the local chocolate liqueur. The cost of visiting the park includes a tasting of several varieties of tequila, so you will definitely not be bored here.
Ruins of a huge Mayan temple complex in the northern part of the island. The settlement was founded in the 3rd century AD. NS. and by VI it reached its peak - it was the largest city on the island, which was actively trading with the coast. Most of the buildings that have survived here were built already in the XII-XIV centuries. The city fell into decay after the arrival of the Spaniards: they did not ravage it on purpose, they just brought smallpox with them, which almost deprived it of its population.
This place is considered one of the centers of worship of the goddess Ish-Chel. A large temple has survived, which is often identified with the description left by the Spaniards in 1552. They said that they saw a large sanctuary with a mysterious clay statue at the top, the priests of which gave predictions. The palace of the supreme ruler, the sacred well-cenote, the arch - the passage to the "white road" (the road for religious processions), the Kukulkan temple with frescoes - this building has survived to this day, is the least damaged, and much more.
El Sedral is a small town in the southern part of the island. Its main attractions are the oldest ruins of the Mayan era in Cozumel. Once there was a Mayan temple, most likely dedicated to the goddess Ish-Chel, it dates back to the 8th century AD. NS. It is about 500 years older than the San Gervasio complex. It is well preserved, although it was rebuilt: in the 19th century, the building was used as a prison. A whole tourist structure has now formed around these ruins.
There is a Spanish church here, which is also considered one of the oldest on the island. It was built in the Gothic style on the site of another Mayan temple.
The second attraction of the town is the tequila factory. Usually tourists are taken here primarily to taste different varieties of this drink. Tequila is very different here - both strong and very weak, "liqueur".
Punta Sur nature reserve and beach
Another popular place for ecological recreation on the island is the Punta Sur nature reserve, which is more than 600 hectares in size: a beach area with colorful corals, and a coast with mangroves, and a section of wild jungle have been declared a protected area. The beach - with white sand, azure water and palm trees, is considered one of the best on the island. There are areas with a smooth sandy approach, where you can just splash, and there are those where colorful corals begin almost at the coast.
The attraction of this place is the white lighthouse on the cape - you can climb to its observation deck, and in the caretaker's house there is a small museum dedicated to this national park. Here you can see flocks of flamingos, huge iguanas, native raccoons and turtles.
A small uninhabited island near Cozumel, on its northern coast, easily accessible by boat and even by catamaran. It is believed that this is the best beach in the vicinity of the island, and if you are traveling with an excursion, drinks, snacks and entertainment on the beach will be included in the price. There are trampolines and several water slides, as well as several souvenir shops. There are not so many people on the beach, and it is really very beautiful: an exemplary Caribbean beach with golden sand, palm trees and fish jumping out of the sea.
This beach is the fifth in the ranking of the best beaches in Yucatan. Large iguanas are found here, you can see waterfowl - they nest not far from here in one of the lagoons on Cozumel itself. But mostly people come here to soak up the sand next to the transparent sea water.