I never realized Cozumel was such a cool walking town until I spent extended periods of time here. San Miguel and the waterfront areas reveal themselves to you, the more you explore on foot and find some of the best little spots around the island.
Cozumel is a fantastic place to walk around and learn about the diversity of life along the coastlines and in the small city of San Miguel, while getting those steps in. You can find real guided hiking excursions through the Northern jungle and mangrove areas, or in other off-the-beaten-path locations, too. But of all of them, the prettiest walks in Cozumel are also the easiest, most accessible, and most relaxing. And they’re right under your nose. Here’s a guide to the three main walking routes along the waterfront walking paths (including distances, steps#, and approximate time durations).
Isolated physically, the island is very safe, especially when compared to other areas in Mexico that are pushing back on some elevated levels of crime.
Cozumel is generally quieter than a party town like Cancun. It also feels kinder and humbler with a tight-knit population and is now more strictly screened and monitored by various law enforcement presences. You’ll definitely feel at ease.
Cozumel and its people are very down-to-earth, charming, and full of smiles, laughter, music, and hospitality.
So for at least part of your vacation, consider getting some steps in, and seeing more of the place up close and personal in the most eco-friendly tourism way possible.
We love urban exploring and hikes through the wilderness, but here are a few lovely introductory walks along the easy, open coastal sidewalks. No preparation or advanced planning required – go on island time.
You’ll get a great view of the place, and get your blood moving at the same time.
Walking Cozumel’s Coastline
The easiest and most accessible walks to take in Cozumel are along its beautiful and welcoming coastal roads – primarily on the populated West side of the island.
No matter which of the three main hotel zones in town you decide to stay in (see this recent post for more info on the 3 general tourist zones and their characteristics).
All you have to do is walk out your door, head toward the water and you’ll find a nice walk.
North Cozumel Coastal Road
In the Northern zone, there is a good walking path all the way up to the Northern point of the island – as far as you can go, before the road cuts off to through traffic.
From the main sidewalk in front of the passenger Ferry terminal in the Center of San Miguel, just walk North along the shoreline.
As you leave downtown, you’ll pass the CZM airport on your right, and continue on up beyond the Presidential residence, and around a few wide curves that define the Marina Puerto de Abrigo.
Please note: For the best experience, stay on the “outer” side of the main road, toward the water. The waterfront side has wider sidewalks, and it will eventually morph into a separate walking path, once you are up beyond the marina. The inner side of the road in the North is not always easy to navigate and can be a little more dangerous in some particularly curvy spots where cars may come a little fast.
Once you reach the neat views of the boats in the marina, you can turn around here, or keep going to slightly higher elevations and wider water views.
The path continues, so you can walk further up via a tree-lined and semi-shaded walking path to some of the well-known Northern hot spots like the Buccanos beach club, Playa Azul beach club, and the Cozumel Country Club (golf) – which is also a known Audobon birding destination.
Stop for an incredible milkshake at Pancho Burger or some nice tart Key Lime Pie next door, before returning back to the Ferry Terminal downtown.
Ferry Pier to Puerto Abrigo Marina (RT) = 4.5 km or 2.8 m or about 6,000 steps (figure 1 hour)
Ferry Pier to Playa Azul and back (RT) = 10 km or 6 m or about 12,000 steps (figure 2 hours)
Mostly good sidewalks and/or intentional footpaths. Some areas of unevenness and occasional large puddles after rain. Gradual hills as you proceed to the North.
The Central Malecón in Cozumel
The Malecón is Spanish meaning esplanade or large, main roadway along the waterfront.
Cozumel’s Malecón, properly named Melgar Avenue (Avenida Melgar) is most definitely a proper promenade – a wide, bench-lined street along the sea, that is also bustling with stores, cabs, horse-carriages, and vendors, residents, and tourists of all ages and stripes.
As described in our recent post about things to do in Cozumel at Night, the Malecon in Cozumel is a great place – day OR night – to stroll, shop, maybe stop for an ice cream, and enjoy the waterfront view and the coming and going of boats of all shapes and sizes.
Walking along Melgar in the Centro area of town is also a fun way to spend some time, and check out the sights.
The same sidewalk that runs all the way North to Puerto Abrigo Marina, as described above, continues through town, and South past Punta Langosta (the Norther/older cruise ship port).
Along the way, you can walk past all of downtown San Miguel’s touristy shopping, the main central plaza, Benito Juarez Park.
This plaza with its landmark Clocktower is the main hub of Cozumel and filled with residents, tourists, vendors, and performers each day.
It’s also a main public square, so home to annual Carnaval celebrations (Feb-March), frequent outdoor concerts and dance events, arts and crafts markets, and seasonal celebrations and holiday displays, like the amazing art installations for the yearly Day of the Dead festivities if you’re here during the week of November 1st.
Continuing southward, you’ll pass more shops and hotels along the water, and eventually walk by city hall, or “El Palacio” and the Quintana Roo Park, and then the Cozumel Convention Center.
Airport Road to Cozumel Convention Center (OW) = 2 km / 1.25 m / 2,500 steps (20-30 min)
Airport Road to Cozumel Convention Center (RT) = 4 km / 2.5 m / 5,000 steps (1 hour)
Good sidewalks, all flat.
Cozumel’s Southern Coastal Stretch
Beyond the Convention Center, and continuing South along the waterfront sidewalk, the road opens up again and you can get in some great mileage and even better views.
This is another potentially long but mostly flat walk, so good for getting your Fitbit steps in, as it could take you all the way to the Southern cruise ports – International Pier and Puerta Maya.
Here, again, it’s best to opt for the “outer” side of the road so you’ll be on the wider sidewalk, closer to the beautiful blue water.
The inner walkway gets slightly more shade, but is at times too narrow – once in a while forcing you into the street – and the sidewalk is a bit uneven.
Walking on down past the Car Ferry pier you’ll enjoy the Punta Caleta Lighthouse (and adjacent cute Caletita beach that is free and popular with local families), and get a peek at several fun little beach clubs and bars.
By all means, take a break and enjoy a cold one at any place that looks welcoming. We like Blue Angel, Sand Dollar, Sunset, Turquoise, and Tikila Beach bar.
Right around here is another busy spot in town, with great dive shops like Cozumel Marine World and the nearby Dive Boutique store full of better-than-average T-shirts and souvenirs (and dive gear).
This is also where you’d find the popular Atlantis Submarine, which is a fun way to see parts of our famous coral reefs and sea life if you’re not into diving or snorkeling – or you have kids. (See more on the Atlantis experience in our related post with a full “A-Z” list of fun, family-friendly activities on the island, here. This experience is listed under “U” as in Underwater Submarine.)
If you keep going, you’ll hit more shopping around the Park Royal’s shopping center, and then see the two southern cruise ports – depending on the day and time, this may be too crowded for your taste.
Ferry Pier to Car Ferry Pier/Punta Caletita Lighthouse and back to town (RT) 5 km / 3m / 6,000 steps (1 hour)
Ferry Pier to Puerta Maya Cruise Port and back (RT) 10 km / 6 m / 12,000 steps (2 hours)
Good sidewalks, mostly flat.
Pack the Best Walking Gear for Cozumel
Walking is my favorite exercise now, and that’s especially true when traveling. Just throw on the right shoes and – if you’re in Cozumel – sun protection and you’re good to go.
For the sun, I rely on quick-dry shirts, polarized sunglasses, and various sun hats.
I’ve also come to love wearing a fitness tracker. I love seeing how many miles I’ve gone and how my heart rate is doing before, during, and after.
My favorite daily walking gear on the island is simple, but can take a beating:
- I used to use my Fitbit religiously, but after mine died (probably this climate…) the BF surprised me with an Apple Watch, and I’m now in love with the iWatch and all its health tracking features. (Plus, the new ones swim proof! Nothing like a dip in the Caribbean after a good tropical walk.)
- Good quality polarized sunglasses like these awesome Costa shades are a necessity for Cozumel’s gorgeous sun and its reflection off of the deep blues of the ocean.
- I’ve been wearing these cool Tropicfeel all-terrain sneakers all around the island (and occasionally down to the beach and into the water…), and they hold up really well on my long walks, plus are great to pack when I head out to other diving destinations. Otherwise, just go for a good pair of running or walking shoes like these nice light Nike ones on Amazon.
- While a T-shirt is good, the older and wiser I get, I throw on one these great SPF-worthy camp shirts pretty much every day to keep my neck, chest and arms protected. It’s also great to stash one in your bag for diving, a day at the beach, or even as that extra layer in a restaurant or on the plane when the AC is cranking.