spotted eagle ray gliding through blue Cozumel water

Cozumel in February and March: Spring Breaks and a Break From Winter

By February, it’s really time to trade damp socks and icy windshield scrapers for flip flops and beach bags. Cozumel has great sunny weather and fun activities year-round, and getting a little tropical break just when you’re good and done with another winter will make your hard-earned vacation even sweeter.

Here’s a little more detail about what you can expect, beyond just the weather. 

February and March are the last months of Cozumel’s high tourism season, with many travelers taking advantage of school spring break vacations. Cozumel at this time is typically sunny and very warm (mid-80s F) with nice breezes during the day, and cool, comfortable temps in the evenings. Divers will be happy to catch the end spotted eagle ray season, and February is also the time of Cozumel’s spectacular Carnaval parades.

If you and your family choose to take your spring break in Cozumel, you won’t be disappointed.

Travel to Cozumel in February and March

Cozumel scuba diving or dining prices don’t rise during high season necessarily, but demand does – your favorite hotels may command slightly higher nightly rates, and dive shops will be busier and potentially have some full boats, so it’s wise to book in advance. 

Otherwise, though, things in Cozumel in February and March are lively, but never truly overcrowded – especially when you’re enjoying more fun stuff at night

February and March in Cozumel are ideal for a sunny break from the cold weather in the US, Canada, and even Mexico City. This time of year also offers some specific pros and cons, which I’ll cover here. 

Mostly positives, though!  

Clearly, it is “high season” for a reason! (i.e. people LOVE it here, and keep coming back).

If you visit Cozumel for a late winter escape, you definitely won’t be sorry. 

Cozumel Air Temperatures in February and March

A Cozumel trip in February or March offers a very sunny and warm escape from winter, with an average high temperature of 81-83F/27C (sometimes much warmer), and about 72F/22C in the evenings.  

This is the one time of year that you might occasionally want to wear those jeans and a long-sleeved shirt even once you’re off the plane.  (I now swear by traveling with at least one of these light but versatile sun shirts (Amazon link) on all my dive trips – for sun protection and air-conditioning protection).

But usually only at night, or in an air-conditioned restaurant or movie theater in the evening

Cozumel’s ocean water is plenty warm enough for swimming and snorkeling comfortably. See more on this, just below. 

Cozumel Diving Water Temperatures in February

Cozumel diving water temperatures in February and March stay at about 78-80F/26C, with February probably being the coolest of the whole year.  

Locals and/or frequent Cozumel divers start to find that a bit chilly, and are donning 5mm wetsuits, often with hooded vests and heavier socks or booties. 

Many scuba divers coming to Cozumel on vacation in February and March still find the water nice and warm – especially if they only dive a few times a year. 

Divers in March with full length wetsuits in Cozumel, Mexico.
A group of Cozumel divers in early March (note the full wetsuits)

Some hearty scuba souls feel fine just diving in a dive skin, or shorts and a rash guard, but most people are more warm, comfortable, and protected (from accidental brushes with small jellies, bristle worms, or fire coral) in full-length thermal garments.

Try a full 3mm wetsuit, or perhaps a 3mm shorty wetsuit over a dive-skin, or maybe Lavacore or Sharkskin garments.  

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To make sure you pack the right dive gear, and advice on whether or not you’ll need a wetsuit when diving in Cozumel, read this post next!

The time lots of divers do feel chilly is in-between dives, during your surface interval on the boat. 

Usually, Cozumel is nice and sunny, but it can be pretty breezy. After a long drift dive, it’s nice to spend your surface interval warming up in a windbreaker or fleece, and some kind of hat.  I’ve even been known to bring a thermos bottle of hot tea! 

I would also recommend having a light rain jacket or windbreaker on any trip to Cozumel because tropical showers are very quick but can be expected.  See all of our recommended rain items in the feature text box at the end of this post…just in case!

For divers who get cold easily (like me, now) it might be worth following the crowd, and investing in a really nice fleece-lined “boat coat” for diving during winter months, and for future dive trips – to take the edge off. (I often wear mine as your outer layer on the plane, too, to save space in my precious luggage allotment).

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Once March is well underway, Cozumel’s air and water temperatures typically start to rise by a degree or two, so it will get warmer, but the same general advice still applies. 

This is not the rainy season in Cozumel, though. You may experience the fleeting showers that are somewhat common in the tropics but relax – those are few and far between at this time of year, barring some kind of major weather front passing through.  

On the off chance it does rain, we’ve got you covered with this article on some fun, local rainy-day activity suggestions, here

Cozumel Diving Marine Life in February and March

Diving in Cozumel is great year-round, but in February and March, the primary benefit is that you are still catching the spotted eagle ray season in Cozumel. Consider yourself lucky, and cross your fingers that you encounter some of these beautiful rays during your dives. 

The spotted eagle rays in Cozumel tend to show up in good numbers each year, starting in November and definitely December, and stay around until the middle or end of March.  

Divers in Cozumel will often get a glimpse of 1 or 2 gliding eagle rays in the blue, off the walls in the more southern dive sites, like Columbia Deep or Palancar Caves.  This is an amazing visual, with their crisp white markings in stark contrast to their black skin and the deep blue of the Caribbean. 

spotted eagle ray gliding through blue Cozumel water
One of Cozumel’s spotted eagle rays

Very often, however, the real show is encountering the spotted eagle rays on the shallower dives, where they’re often hovering above sandy areas, and searching for crustaceans under the sand to get a good meal. 

When diving in the sandy flats of Cozumel, keep an eye out for broken conch or heart urchin shells, and/or a series of medium-sized divots in the sand. Chances are you just missed a spotted eagle ray on the hunt.  

These strikingly spotted pelagics can be seen on truly any dive in Cozumel, but I think my best luck has been on dives at Dalila, Cedral Pass, and Santa Rosa Shallows. 

Cozumel eagle ray showing a close-up of face and beak digging and hunting in the sand for shellfish.
Eagle ray sifting through sand for a snack in Cozumel

Diving with the spotted eagle rays is worth coming during the winter. They’re amazing. 

Beyond eagle rays, you’ll find your typical Cozumel marine life suspects, namely Atlantic nurse sharks (see more about diving with nurse sharks in our companion article, here), three types of sea turtles, macro life including flamingo tongue sea snails, nudibranchs, and blennies, a range of moray eels, and Caribbean lobsters the size of small children!  

And of course, any dive trip to Cozumel will hopefully include a glimpse (or more) of our special mascot, the endemic Cozumel splendid toadfish, seen below. 

Read all about the Cozumel splendid toadfish in my feature post, right: HERE

Author's original photo of a Cozumel splendid toadfish face, up close.
Cozumel’s endemic splendid toadfish

What Wetsuit Should I wear in Cozumel During February or March? 

As mentioned above, the water temperatures in Cozumel during February are around 78-79 degrees (26C), so it’s usually our coldest month (lucky us!).  

Many certified scuba divers who come on their dive trip to Cozumel during this time are happy with a 3mm wetsuit, socks, and maybe a hood. 

But if you have diving experience, you know that our tolerances for cold vary greatly. 

I myself start wearing a full 5mm wetsuit (like this one from Henderson) in November or December, even if the water is 80F/27C or so.  I add a hooded vest – like a Lavacore, Sharkskin, or even a 1mm neoprene – as we move into late December and January.  

If you have a higher tolerance, or you don’t get to do as many repeated dives (so your core temperature remains pretty constant/normal), you might feel fine with just a 3mm full suit, or even a shorty.

But the main rule is, don’t be a hero.  For some reason, lots of divers like to “tough it out” or even mock those who choose to bundle up. (um…why?). 

But here’s the thing:  being cold on a dive is not only ruining a good time, but it may cause you to come up earlier than necessary. Suffering through cold dives may even be dangerous, as prolonged exposure to cold can dull your thinking, reflexes, and eventually put you at risk for hypothermia.  

I honestly don’t know anyone who is “too hot” during a nice long, hour dive – even in 85-degree water! (do you?)  So just be prepared, and make sure you have the appropriate thermal protection for your body. 

If you’re still just not sure what to pack for Cozumel diving, please consult this full guide to wetsuits and thermal layers recommended for Cozumel diving. It will help you narrow it down and pack the right gear for your dive trip.

Carnaval in Cozumel – Mexico’s Mardi Gras

The Carnival celebration in Cozumel is one of the largest in Mexico and is quite a spectacle of costume, music, joyous performance. 

In typical years, the Cozumel Carnaval is worth scheduling your visit around.  

Every year (while dates are subject to change here and there) the event – like its counterparts in Rio, Mexico City, Italy, Spain, Trinidad, and of course New Orleans’ Mardi Gras – is filled with weeks of rambunctious run-up performances and preparations. 

The run up to Carnival in Cozumel has bedazzled competitions for the King, Queen, and various ‘court’ members of the annual extravaganza, full of amazing dresses and costumes, and impressive public performances of song and dance in the weeks before the main parades. 

Then, of course, these culminate in multiple huge, boisterous public carnival parades right through the center of downtown San Miguel de Cozumel.  

Carnaval float and performers taken by author in Cozumel 2016.
Carnaval float in the annual parades in Cozumel, Mexico.

In Cozumel, candy and beads are thrown, partying is widespread, and the biggest and final parade along Cozumel’s “Malecon” (Melgar Avenue) happens on the evening of “Fat Tuesday.”  

The final Cozumel Carnaval parade is always the Tuesday before the beginning of lent, so it is the last blowout before lent and the more reverent coming of the Christian high holy days leading up to Easter. 

Check your calendars, accordingly – while Cozumel’s Carnaval season often happens in February, it can also run into March, depending on when Easter falls on that particular year.  

Valentine’s Day in Cozumel 

In addition to Carnaval, Cozumel also shares another “holiday” with the United States and other parts of the world – St. Valentine’s Day. 

And like elsewhere, it does have the cute feel of a sweet day to remember those you love, and especially your special someone…or your best friends. 

If you’re here in Cozumel specifically for Valentine’s Day or perhaps a romantic getaway, be sure to review our related post about Cozumel for Couples HERE, first. (And if you’re here as a hard-core diver, this post on mating marine animals in Cozumel might be more up your alley!)

There are also many lovely restaurants and shops on the island that do special menus or gift options for you and your Valentine. 

Look for prix-fixe dinner specials or “date-night” menus at some of Cozumel’s most romantic restaurants, like Buccanos at Night, Kondesa, Kinta, Sereno’s Rooftop, Hemingway, Sorrisi, Rolandi’s, and the perennial favorite, Guido’s. 

For more details and contact links for some of these restaurants and more, click HEREAnd if you’re vegetarian or vegan, check out this post for some cool plant-based spots.

K’ooben Laab – Last but not least, this pretty gem is fast becoming the island’s favorite restaurant for intimate (and homemade) Italian.  This is one restaurant where I would definitely recommend arranging a reservation for Valentine’s day, and they’re sure to have some specials to make it a delicious dinner. 

Array of assorted handmade chocolate truffles from Cozumel craft shop.
Local artisanal chocolates at a Cozumel chocolate shop

For a classic valentine’s tradition, don’t forget the chocolates! 

There are many local chocolate makers on the island of Cozumel, but perhaps the current winner for beautiful, hand-made chocolate treats at Chocolateria Isla Bella for the perfect Valentine’s gift. 

Or go for the super romantic move and split a pizza and a bottle of wine on a moonlit Cozumel beach!  

Check out this post for the best pizza places in Cozumel!  

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Cozumel’s High Season for a Reason

Although February and March are perhaps the height of the high season in Cozumel, you will still have no trouble finding reasonable accommodations, great dive operations, and countless restaurants and shops to fill your days with all the charm, cuisine, and culture of Mexico.

Cozumel is very accessible, and English is widely spoken.  

While known by many as “just” a cruise ship destination, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Cozumel is well-known for so much more by thousands of loyal, repeat friends around the globe.

The real heart of Cozumel is its scuba diving, snorkeling, and the awesome people who live and work here all year round.  

It’s SO much better to spend more than one day here!  Stay awhile, experience Cozumel at night, other cool things to do downtown, a great selection of eco-friendly tours and activities, and more.

Really soak in all the fun and friendly faces this beautiful Caribbean island has to offer.

The local Cozumeleños – and the local economy – will be grateful, and will be sure to show you a good time. 

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