Close up shot of potted moray eel with fangs showing.

Cozumel in October and November: Spooky Spirits and Divine Diving

October and November in Cozumel feature the rich tradition of Mexico’s Day of the Dead, the annual Ironman Triathlon event, great weather and warm diving conditions, and low crowds.  There is still some chance of late-season tropical storms, but generally, the weather is clear and sunny all year.

Cozumel in October or November is just before high season, and one of the best times to visit. The weather can be a little rainy, but as long as the wind stays calm, you’ll find awesome diving conditions.

The ocean water temperatures are at their warmest (avg. 84F/28C), and the crowds are at their lowest.

October and November also have the peak bird-watching season in Cozumel, the annual full Ironman Cozumel event, and you’ll get to experience one of the most interesting holidays of them all: Mexico’s beautiful Day of the Dead. 

No matter what brings you here in the Fall months, it’s a really great time to come. 

October & November Weather in Cozumel

Let me start with the obligatory disclaimer that, of course, you can’t predict future weather conditions, so you should always get good trip insurance, but that’s especially true in these volatile weather months. 

Bad luck aside, October is typically a great month to be here.

The threat of hurricane season is on its way out by October.

Chances are better that we will not have a hurricane by the time October rolls around, as the winds from the North increase, and the threat of tropical depressions start to wane. 

Hurricanes aside, the weather in October is Cozumel sunny but getting slightly less HOT. 

Meanwhile, the Cozumel water temperatures while diving are still nice and toasty warm (Usually around 81-84F)  

Plus, the high season crowds have not yet arrived, so you have even more time and space when chilling with the drift diving Cozumel is famous for

Granted it’s not yet peak eagle ray season in October, but you still have all the encounters with your favorite marine life during this month, especially sea turtles, nurse sharks, and Cozumel’s splendid toadfish.

Cozumel Diving in October

If you’re here for Cozumel’s scuba diving, then October-November is a great time to come. 

Again, barring inclement weather (that frankly can happen at any time, especially these days), you’ll enjoy loads of encounters from large animals like local sharks that live here in the reefs, three varieties of sea turtles, and several different kinds of eels

Grey purplemouth moray eel with large orange crab in Cozumel, Mexico. Original photo by author.
Purple-mouth moray eel with large crab in Cozumel

There are also lots of schooling fish at this time, and fun mid-size fish like technicolored (but camouflage) scorpionfish – like the one shown here: 

Scorpionfish blending in along reef in Cozumel's national marine park.  Original photo by author.
Spooky scorpoinfish blending in to the Cozumel coral reef – Boo!

And don’t forget to always look for Cozumel’s macro marine life, which sometimes gets overlooked. 

All your dives will be full of a wonderful variety of crabs, cleaner shrimp, Flamingo Tongue sea snails, sea stars, nudibranchs and sea slugs, a few shy sea horses, and much more – IF you slow down and know where to look!  

Spotted Cleaner Shrimp is a common macro marine encounter in Cozumel, Mexico. Original photo by author.
Learn more about Cozumel’s spotted cleaner shrimp, here

If you’re interested in underwater photography like this, but not sure where to start, check out the end of this post for my full list of simple and inexpensive UW camera gear I use for all the marine life images on this website. My simple set-up is super popular, and probably the easiest and cheapest way to get started taking some great quality dive pics from your trip.

Mexico’s Day of the Dead in Cozumel 2023

One of the best things about Cozumel in the month of November is the wonderful holiday of Day of the Dead. And Cozumel is really upping its game on this beautiful and visually stunning holiday.

Beautiful face painting job to create a "catrina" skull on woman's face, for Day of the Dead festivities in Mexico.
Mexican woman in catrina makeup (C. Newman on Unsplash)

Cozumel’s Day of the Dead celebrations in 2023 will last from approx. October 28 – November 2, and will include various activities for all ages.

There will be a parade of catrinas (or the glamorously macabre costumes and skull-like makeup and garb you see above), free cultural concerts and performances, costume contests for kids, a 5K “Race of Souls” road race, and more.

For the full lineup on what Cozumel has planned for Halloween and the Day of the Dead in 2023, check back here for the full agenda of public programs (once it’s released in the Fall…)

Cozumel’s Day of the Dead vs. Halloween Traditions

Speaking of Halloween, many people from the United States and elsewhere assume Mexico’s Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) is a similar holiday to our Halloween, but there are some distinct and delightful differences.

From this great intro article from National Geographic: 

Though related, the two annual events differ greatly in traditions and tone. Whereas Halloween is a dark night of terror and mischief, Day of the Dead festivities unfold over two days in an explosion of color and life-affirming joy. Sure, the theme is death, but the point is to demonstrate love and respect for deceased family members. In towns and cities throughout Mexico, revelers don funky makeup and costumes, hold parades and parties, sing and dance, and make offerings to lost loved ones.

National Geographic

If you’ve ever seen the delightful Pixar movie “Coco” based on the Day of the Dead traditions  (and if you haven’t I highly recommend that you do!) you’ll know some of the features of this unique celebration. 

This holiday, like many in Mexico, includes special sweet treats like Pan del Muerto, sugar skull candies, and other favorite Mexican treats that are left out for those we’ve lost along the way, so they can come back and visit – and enjoy all of their favorite earthly foods. 

For more on some awesome bakeries and coffee shops in Cozumel, check out this related post!

Bird Watching in Cozumel – Audobon Approved

The island of Cozumel is a bird watcher’s dream, and local enthusiasts will happily explain the hundreds of both migrating and endemic species that have been seen here throughout the decades. 

There have even been more pink flamingos spotted in recent years, most often in the Punta Sur Eco Park, which is one of our favorite unique (and fun) things to do in Cozumel.

And when is peak bird-watching season in Cozumel? You guessed it – October! 

One of the most famous endemic species of birds here in Cozumel is the Cozumel Emerald Hummingbird. 

Endemic Cozumel Emerald, a green hummingbird , nipping at small pink flower blossoms.
Cozumel’s endemic Emerald Hummingbird (by Z.Machacek on Unsplash)

There is a Cozumel Birding Club, as well as an annual “Festival of Birds” on the island – known in Spanish as “Festival de los Aves Isla Cozumel.”  If you love birds and maybe bird-related travel, follow their Facebook page! It’s really active and full of interesting information

The Annual Cozumel bird festival takes place every October, as October is the peak month for bird watchers and bird photography in Cozumel, Mexico. 

Cozumel is also home to a Jack Nicklaus designed golf course, (currently closed) which has received the honor of being the first Mexican course to be designated as a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary by Audubon International.  

Many environmentalists find this controversial.  

After all, if it was such an incredible natural habitat to hundreds of waterfowl and various local and migratory birds, then why build a golf course in that spot?  

Tough question, but all I can say is that on the upside, it was overseen by the Audubon Society International, and there are high standards that needed to be met for the sanctuary designation.

According to the Nicklaus Course Design site: 

Because of its strong commitment to an environmental program, in March 2006 Cozumel Country Club became the first golf course in Mexico to earn the designation of Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary from Audubon International. To reach certification, a course must demonstrate that they are maintaining a high degree of environmental quality in a number of areas including: Environmental Planning, Wildlife & Habitat Management, Outreach and Education, Chemical Use Reduction and Safety, Water Conservation, and Water Quality Management.

For a list of other Cozumel wildlife that you and your kids can go see on the island, click here to read through our full “A-Z Guide of Family and Kid-Friendly” activities to try on Cozumel – in any month!  (check under “W” for “wildlife…)

Cozumel Ironman Triathlon Season – Every Autumn

The Ironman organization holds two annual events in Cozumel.  

In September, we host the Ironman 70.3, or the “Half” Ironman.  

Then, come November, usually right around the U.S.Thanksgiving holiday week, Cozumel hosts the Ironman Full-length triathlon. 

Thousands of athletes from around the world travel to Cozumel, practice and warm up in the weeks running up to the event, and then compete in the Cozumel Ironman – one of the most exciting live events to witness in sport.  

Bike pack in a trathlon race, similar to the racers we see in Cozumel's annual Ironman events.
Ironman competitors beat the heat in Cozumel’s annual Ironman events

October and November: Prelude to Cozumel’s Main High Season

Cozumel is great year-round – especially the scuba diving in Cozumel – but there’s no escaping the fact that we have a high season. That means we also have a low season, where many people on the island have less work and stability.

By the time October rolls around, of course, people are starting to look forward to seasonal jobs more work part-time or freelance work.

As a visitor, it’s nice to be able to enjoy the various areas of the island without the more substantial holiday crowds that come during the high season of December through March

As a resident, it’s nice to look around and almost sense collective relief that what we sometimes referred to as “hungry September” has finally come to an end.

Trying Underwater Photography in Cozumel?

If you want to get started with underwater photography but aren’t sure what to buy, this setup is easy and inexpensive, gets great technical reviews all over the internet, and is used by thousands of divers all over the world.

It’s also light, and can easily fit in your carry-on bag – a big consideration these days.   

This straightforward kit is accessible and simple when you’re just starting out, but it can grow with you as you progress in your new hobby. 

This is the exact UW camera gear I use on every dive and for all the UW images on this site.

My Tried and True Dive Photography Kit: 

  • Olympus TG-6 compact camera
    Olympus’ “tough” series is inherently waterproof and dust/dirt proof, so it’s also great for other outdoor activities, or as your everyday point-and-shoot camera for weddings and events.  Small and durable. 
  • Olympus PT-059 Marine Housing. 
    Olympus’ own marine housing allows the camera’s on-board flash to operate without additional cables or added strobes. This is important if you don’t want to deal with external strobes, etc.  The marine housing is needed for diving, but not for snorkeling or swimming depths. 
  • 64GB Memory Card. 
    I’ve used this exact card for years, and it hasn’t failed.  I bought a backup, but haven’t needed it, yet. 
  • Memory Card Reader. 
    I find this memory card reader a dead-simple way to save my photos to my MacbookPro at the end of each dive day.  I don’t want to rely on wifi during dive trips, and while I’m using the card in the card reader, I can be recharging my camera for the next day.  
  • Camera lanyard!!!!! 
    I’m not kidding – if I had a dollar for every time someone posted on social media about losing a camera on one of Cozumel’s dive sites, I’d have…hundreds of dollars.  Plus, I’ve lost my own camera and housing…TWICE!  Lesson (finally) learned.  Now I never go in without this simple coiled lanyard clip that attaches to a D-ring on my Cressi BCD, and give me plenty of range of motion, yet the security of knowing I won’t throw another camera and housing down the drain.   The best 20 bucks you’ll spend on this hobby. 

    *These are my honest opinions on products I use every day. The links above are affiliate links, where I may receive a commission on referred visits and purchases at no extra cost to you.

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