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

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

Since many schools have a winter recess or spring break during these months, lots of people ask – what is Cozumel like in February and March?  Cozumel has great weather and fun activities year-round, but when you’re planning your hard-earned vacation, you want a little more detail about what you can expect, beyond just the weather. 

This time of year is the peak of Cozumel’s high tourism season, with many visitors taking advantage of school spring break vacations. Divers will be happy to visit during Spotted Eagle Ray season, and February (and sometimes early March) is also the time of Cozumel’s spectacular Carnaval parades. Cozumel in February or March is typically sunny and very warm (mid-80s F) with nice breezes during the day, and cool, comfortable temps in the evenings.

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

First, Some Notes About COVID-19 in Cozumel

First of all, as of 26 January 2021, we are still grappling with COVID-19 and some new travel restrictions. 

The good news is, that in Cozumel the COVID-19 situation is better than in most places.  It is currently very safe to travel to Cozumel, as long as you follow the COVID-19 travel protocols – wear a mask, social distance, and wash your hands frequently.

According to published numbers from the state of Quintana Roo, there have been under 1,000 cases on the island, and unfortunately approximately 110 deaths. Overall, the case rate is relatively low and the hospitalization occupancy rate in Cozumel is currently low and manageable, as well. 

And of course, we all need to do our part to keep it that way!  Visitors must respect the local population and each other. 

If you are traveling to Cozumel, please note: It is still the local rule to wear masks in all public places, including outdoors (with some exemptions related to outdoor exercise, very sparsely populated areas, and when you are actively eating, drinking, swimming, and diving).  

You will often get your temperature taken before entering larger stores and restaurants, and are politely asked (and expected) to use the copious amounts of hand sanitizer provided all over town.  Additionally, there are overnight curfews in place, but these rules and times fluctuate, so ask around and/or check local Facebook group pages for the most up-to-date mandates. 

Please, please just go with the flow, respect the local rules, and relax and have a good time. 

All that said, as of February 15 2021, travelers ARE welcome in Cozumel, including Americans.  There have been no official quarantine restrictions upon arrival (though it would be prudent), and currently, there is no requirement to prove that you have had a negative PCR test before arriving.  It is, however, recommended and appreciated. 

What IS new about traveling to Mexico as an American citizen as of January 26, 2021: when you return to the United States, you are now expected to take and show negative results for either a PCR or Rapid test for COVID-19 no more than 72 hours before boarding your return flight to the U.S.

According to the U.S. Embassy in Mexico website:
Effective January 26, 2021, all airline passengers to the United States ages two years and older must provide a negative COVID-19 viral test taken within three calendar days of travel. Alternatively, travelers to the U.S. may provide documentation from a licensed health care provider of having recovered from COVID-19 in the 90 days preceding travel.  Check the CDC website for additional information and Frequently Asked Questions.

**(Update February 2021: The new Canadian restrictions on flights to Mexico and other Caribbean areas, as well as the testing and mandated quarantine rules upon return to Canada are still fresh and, frankly, the news is all over the place.  We will update that to the best of our ability as we go forward.) 

But don’t lose heart! As usual, Cozumel hotels and hospitals are making the COVID-19 testing process very easy to navigate. For the absolute easiest and most current information: Please speak with your Cozumel hotel or dive shop, and see what coordination and concierge services they already have in place during this period to make your arrival and departure as seamless as possible. 

In addition to hotel and resort coordination systems to help guests, there are at least 4 well-regarded hospitals where you can have these tests done, and get your results back quickly.  You are advised to make an appointment beforehand so that you have your results in hand before you need to go to the airport.

Important Disclaimer! Until vaccinations are more widespread and social restrictions ease worldwide, please do not rely solely on this article as your main resource. As we all know things are constantly in flux, worldwide.

Please check with the most up-to-date and official requirements from your own country of origin, especially to check requirements when returning home to your respective country.  

Travel to Cozumel in February and March

So, back to the topic at hand. Let’s continue with our seasonal series (see our main blog page for other highlighted monthly articles) with the height of the high season in Cozumel:  What is Cozumel like in February or March? 

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

Otherwise, though, things in Cozumel in February and March are lively, but never truly overcrowded – especially 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, and if you visit Cozumel during the late winter, you won’t be sorry.  Escape those cold and snowy regions!  

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 82-83F/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.  But usually only at night, or in an air-conditioned restaurant or movie theater in the evening. 

The 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

Some hearty scuba souls feel fine just diving in shorts and a rash guard, but most people are more warm, comfortable, and protected (from accidental brushes with small jellies or fire coral) in a full 3mm wetsuit, or perhaps a 3mm shorty wetsuit over a dive-skin, or maybe Lavacore or Sharkskin garments.  

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 windy also, so after a long 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 of hot tea! 

Honestly, I would recommend having a light rain jacket or windbreaker on any trip to Cozumel, because tropical showers are quick but to be expected.  

This same jacket will cut the windy chill after you come up from your dives, as well.  Well worth the small space in your dive bag.  Alternatively, divers who get cold easily (like me, now) sometimes pack a fleece “boat coat” or hoodie during winter months, to take the edge off. 

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.  

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

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 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. 

eagle ray close up of face and beak hunting in sand

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 here:  

Cozumel splendid toadfish face up close

Read more about the Cozumel splendid toadfish (Sanopus splendidus) HERE

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 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. 

Carnaval in Cozumel – Mexico’s Mardi Gras

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

IMPORTANT FOR 2021:  The 2021 Cozumel Carnaval festivities are officially canceled this year, due to obvious reasons – our need to continue social distancing and limit large gatherings.  As of December 2020, the expected dates for the 2022 Carnaval in Cozumel are February 23 – March 2, 2020 (according to the official Facebook page of Cozumel Carnaval).  

In typical years, however, 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. 

Cozumel has bedazzled competitions for the King, Queen, and various ‘court’ members of the annual Carnaval, 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 parades.  

Carnaval float in Cozumel 2016
R. Schreck, 2016

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 blow out 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, if cheesy, 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. 

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, Hemingway, Sorrisi, Rolandi’s, and he perennial favorite, Guido’s. 

For more details and contact links for some of these restaurants and more, click HERE

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. 

 ( **another reminder, however, as of January 2021 you should still check ahead for COVID-19 seating capacity limits and/or take-out options.)  

assorted handmade chocolate truffles from Cozumel craft shop

For a classic “valentine” 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!  

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. 

The real heart of Cozumel is its scuba diving, snorkeling, and the beautiful 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, and 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. 

Rachel Schreck

Rachel is a writer here at CozInfo, when she's not diving and taking underwater photos. After decades of project managing some mighty fine exhibition design projects in NYC, she took an adult gap year to pursue her divemaster training in Cozumel...and never made it back.