It takes more than a little rain to phase the people of Cozumel, and the island is always a beautiful and fun place to explore – even if you get a little wet.
Don’t let some clouds and raindrops stop you from finding the fun stuff to do on the island.
There are plenty of things to do in Cozumel on a rainy day. The downtown area is full of shopping, art, salons and spas, and a fully renovated museum. Foodies can sample local specialties and add the island’s new gastro-parks to their “must-try” restaurants. And divers will still go diving in the rain, as long as the winds are calm and safe.
If you only packed for a sunny pool-side getaway or just aren’t sure what to do in Cozumel when the sun isn’t cooperating, you’ll find some fun ideas among these rainy day suggestions.
Shop Locally (For a Rain Poncho)
First off, if you’re consulting the forecast in this area of the Caribbean, don’t worry if you see rain showing each day. Like many tropical climates, there’s often a chance of rain Cozumel.
But when it does rain, it usually only lasts a few minutes.
On those rare days where the rain is more of a factor, your best offense is to throw on a good rain poncho for hands-free fun, accept your fate, and proceed with your plan and just have fun in the rain. (Acceptance is key.)
If you packed light and took your chances on the weather, that is no problem. Take this opportunity to buy your first utility souvenir from Cozumel: a rain poncho.
Visit one of the major grocery stores like Mega or Chedraui, which are both located on the main drag Melgar Avenue, just at the southern edge of downtown San Miguel.
These two stores are fun to poke around anyway, but you’re sure to find some variety of rain jackets, umbrellas, and rain ponchos (or large trash bags if you’re really in a pinch).
My advice is to invest in the poncho option, as they are usually one size fits all, very easy to pack, and leave you hands-free to hit the streets and explore the island.
The best part is once it dries out you can roll it up and keep it in your bag to bring on your next trip to Cozumel.
Take a Guided Island Tour
One of the best things to do in Cozumel is to take a guided van tour all the way around the island.
A full tour allows you to see a lot of the island in a relatively short period of time and gives you a great overview of Cozumel’s Mayan history, its geography, natural protected zones, and its variety of people, cultural influences, food, and more depending on your areas of interest.
There are many taxi drivers who are also trained tour guides, and they’re more than happy to drive you around to some of the island’s “must-see” highlights.
Start with a tour of Cozumel’s primary Mayan ruins site, later named “San Gervasio.” San Gervasio is fascinating, and you might really enjoy the fact that you’re beating the crowds and beating the heat by touring on a day with some clouds overhead.
Continue along the transversal road across the island to its eastern coast.
On the way, make a few pit stops at one of several attractions, such as the Cozumel Bee Sanctuary to learn about bees and try some delicious local honey and products.
Next, try a tequila tasting spot, or just one of several simple ceramics or textile vendors.
Once on the eastern shore, locally known as “the other side“ of the island, take some time to just soak in the beauty of the topography and the stunning coastal scenic drive.
On a rainy day, there’s a good chance the waves will be especially dramatic, crashing onto the high elevations and various rocky inlets along the wild side.
There’s also a good chance you might get sunny breaks between showers, so always be on the lookout for a rainbow or two.
Take one of your driver’s suggestions for a place to stop for lunch, or hit up one of the island’s favorite hotspots over there such as Coconuts or Chen Rio.
Coconuts has kind-of a PG-13 vibe, with some off-color puns and racy snapshots on view if you really look, but all in all it’s a welcoming and “good clean fun” environment. It’s also situated high on a bluff and provides some really cool views of the shoreline and the crashing waves.
Coconuts in Cozumel also has good pub food, delicious cocktails and soft drinks, a fun staff, clean bathrooms, and even some resident parrots and iguanas to round out the tropical beach vibe.
If you choose Chen Rio you might also catch some of our local surfing scene.
Although Cozumel is not known as a surfing hotspot, the east side is the only place to be with your surfboard. On a rainy day, there’s a good chance surf’s up.
As you wind your way back down to the southeast shoreline, take shelter with an afternoon cocktail at one of several roadside stops such as the relative newcomer, Welcome to Miami– a new crowd favorite quickly becoming known for excellent fresh juice drinks and cocktails.
Or if you have time, spend an hour or two and Cozumel‘s Punta Sur Eco Beach Park.
Punta Sur Park, run and maintained by the municipality, is not only home to the island’s oldest lighthouse, the Celarain Lighthouse, but you may also catch a glimpse of some of our special wildlife species.
Wild water birds like pink flamingos have been spotted in Punta Sur’s mangrove lagoon, and the more densely treed areas are full of endemic coatis, raccoon-like critters that are usually not afraid of people.
These animals, and numerous human species, have been known to have a great time at Punta Sur’s many attractions and white sandy beach.
If you’re into nature photography Punta Sur in Cozumel is a great place to catch some wonderful and varied nature shots – from the dramatic ocean horizon viewed from the top of the Celarain Lighthouse, to marshy or forested landscapes, or close-up portraits of individual plant and animal species.
Reboot at a Cozumel Spa
Truth be told, sometimes during a warm and sunny vacation, I welcome a rainy day. It’s kind of a relief to take a little bit of shade and get out of the hot sun.
A day like that is also a fantastic time to duck into a nice shady salon for a fresh pedicure, or perhaps treat yourself to a full body massage.
Cozumel has no shortage of excellent massage therapists, some of whom will even come to your hotel room or rental. Check with your hotel’s front desk to see if they have any massage therapists that they work with in-house, or ask for recommendations.
There are also numerous nail salons. One of the best-reviewed nail spots in downtown Cozumel is called Glammin Your Nails. They also do massages and wax treatments.
Cozumel also has several pop-in places to get a quick back massage or a full body massage depending on availability.
Many of these are staffed with well-trained and licensed professionals, with knowledge in sports medicine, aromatherapy, or a combination of both.
Visit the Museum of Cozumel Island
The Cozumel Museum, officially known as the Museum of the Island, has been fully renovated and was reopened in 2020.
The main galleries in the museum will introduce you to the island’s natural history, as well as its human history spanning Mayan times, the growth in global exploration and trade, the colonial periods, and influences up to the modern-day.
The Museum features exhibit content on many of the island’s endemic animal species, like the Cozumel Splendid Toadfish, and the Cozumel Emerald Hummingbird.
The museum includes temporary exhibitions of local artists, side exhibitions of cultural artifacts like costumes from the annual Carnaval festivities, and shares refreshed knowledge about local Mayan ruins.
If you get tired of touring through the galleries, there is also a popular new restaurant on the second floor.
As of 2021, the museum restaurant has a new and fresh menu, but the same much-loved second-story balcony location, with a great vantage point and a killer view across the ocean water.
Even on a rainy day that makes for a very dramatic setting for your ceviche and cocktails.
Local Divers Go Diving (Rain? What Rain?)
Yes, that’s right. Cozumel divers still dive in the rain. After all, you’re just going to get wet anyway, aren’t you?
Unless there are strong winds making the marine park’s dive sites dangerous for people or small crafts, the port usually remains open for diving and other watersports, even in the case of rain.
Pull your wetsuit on early, pack up your best dry bags (see recommendations below), and have a blast!
Honestly – and this may just be a total coincidence – but I find that when I’m diving in the rain, I very often see new marine life, or see our local favorite critters exhibiting some new and intriguing behaviors. My inner “armchair marine biologist” has a theory, but maybe just see for yourself.
Regardless of that, the fact remains: don’t assume your scuba diving arrangements will be canceled due to a little rain.
Rain in Cozumel very often ends just as suddenly as it begins, so a rainy early morning very often breaks and gives way to a perfectly sunny day.
Drive Over to the Eastern Wild Side
The “other side of the island,” a.k.a. “the wild side”, is a favorite leisurely drive for visitors and residents, alike.
With its open coastline and dramatic topography, turning the corner onto the east coast of the island is a little like entering a new climate.
The air feels a little cooler, the breezes feel a little stronger, and the already chill tropical island vibe gets turned up a notch or two.
Renting a car here is pretty straightforward, but if you plan on doing so, take a moment to read our related post on staying safe in your Cozumel rental car, here.
Eat at Cozumel’s New Gastro Parks
Young travelers will recognize these hip new food truck parks and indoor-outdoor gastro parks since they’re an emerging trend all over the world.
Doing some traveling within the country of Mexico I found several in Mexico City, San Cristóbal, and Merida – all reminding me of some cool little joints as far away as Brooklyn.
Well, Cozumel is not one to be left behind by the cool kids.
Hitting one of these new foodie markets is great fun, perfect for interacting with neighbors and other travelers. Plus, it allows different people you’re with to try different foods and drinks.
There are now a few different small, outdoor food courts around town. One of the more lively and fun ones is called the Gastro Park 140, shown above, and featuring sweet and savory crepes, pozole, grilled meats, green juices, teas, and of course tacos, chilaquiles, sweet Mexican pastries, and more.
While this food park is located technically outdoors the whole thing is tented, so while you may get a drop on you here or there, you’ll be protected from any waves of stronger rain.
It’s a good thing you have that new rain poncho!
Play a Cozumel Board Game in the Rain
One fun activity to try on a rainy day in Cozumel is to venture out to the central market, the Municipal Mercado, and acquire one of Mexico‘s classic old-school board games called La Lotería.
The Lotería is a simple game suitable for all ages.
I first encountered La Lotería game at a local restaurant. While waiting for our regional huitlacoche tacos to arrive, the waiter brought us a few cards so we could play while we waited – and learn something in the process.
The game resembles “BINGO” and follows the same basic gist – calling out information from the small cards, and then each player marking the corresponding squares on the larger grid cards. Except, in this case, cards are full of cool illustrations of common and more traditional Mexican icons to learn some vocabulary as you go along.
The Lotería game can be played in different formats, and repeated for as long as you like.
It’s a great way to have inter-generational game time with your family while you’re stuck in your hotel room.Then again, if you’re smart, you’ll go find more interesting shelter under a Palapa somewhere along the beach.
By the time you finish playing, the sun will likely be out again.
Watch the Cozumel Rain from Higher Ground
Whether you just need a cool place to play a game, or you want to get a good view of a slightly longer storm, or have succumbed to the always good rainy-day activity of day drinking, you’ll likely want to seek higher ground along the shoreline.
If you took the advice to drive to the other side of Cozumel, then stick with Coconuts – they are located on a very high east-side bluff and there isn’t a bad seat in the house.
Back on Cozumel’s western shore, there are several beachside restaurants and bars along the waterfront, all of which would have a great view of the ocean and perhaps some exciting lightning on the water.
Look for something with an upstairs locale, like the new Serreno’s restaurant or a palapa-style beach-front hang like Hemingway’s. Money Bar is always another lively favorite for people to gather and make the best of things.
Most of the outdoor venues in Cozumel have some areas with a protected roof so you can stay out of the rain, but still keep tabs on the weather. And be the first to see the rainbow when it inevitably peeks out.
Cozumel Packing Advice:
Rainy Any-Day Gear
These are top water-friendly things to pack for your trip to Cozumel (or anywhere!):
Light, high-quality rain jacket with a hood. (this is an Amazon link to my favorite one, but any good waterproof jacket will do).
These jackets don’t take up much room in your bag, but provide great protection from sudden showers, sun (especially on a dive boat), and can even serve as a warm layer on the airplane.
Truly waterproof dry bag(s) for your phones, wallets, and important papers.
All-terrain tennis shoes that pack easily, and can take you from walking around town to snorkeling in the water, and then back to lunch at a cool cafe.
Water-tight dry box for your phone, keys, and wallet, especially if you’re diving and might find yourself on a small fast boat, without tons of protected space on board. Look for a crush-proof box that will withstand immersion – that’s of course the worst-case scenario, but then you’ll know it’ll be absolutely fine with some rain.
(I think of it as a pretty cheap insurance policy for my iPhone…and all the information that’s on my iPhone!)