Statue depicting Mayan goddess Ixchtel in Cozumel park

Cozumel in April and May: Crowds Mellow and Sea Turtles Arrive

April and May are great months to visit Cozumel, whether it’s just at the end of your school vacation or after the spring break season is over. 

April and May in Cozumel offer smaller crowds, and ocean water that is warming up to about 81F/27C for very comfortable diving and swimming temperatures. The annual high season for Cozumel tourism is tapering off in April, meaning even more space to yourself. May ushers in the annual turtle nesting season in Cozumel and kicks off the warmer and calmer months of the dry season, as well. 

There really is no bad time of year to visit Cozumel, but if you’re coming in April or May, you’ll be in for typically great weather and nice diving.

Cozumel Weather in April and May 

Cozumel weather in April and May is very mild, usually moving on from the higher winds in March and into sunny and warm days, with less wind and little rain.  

Average air temperatures are from about 88+F/32C during the day and go down to about 72F/22C in the evenings. 

Cozumel Crowds in April and May

Cozumel’s high tourism season is traditionally from late November through the end of March. And once winter escapes and spring breaks wind down, so do the overall tourism numbers. 

Beach club with lots of empty chaise lounges and palm trees
Buccanos beach club in Cozumel during the day

Cozumel is never a mob scene, which is one of the many great things about it. 

In April and May, you’ll have awesome weather and no worries when it comes to venues being overcrowded, or difficulties getting reservations at the one or two places in town that might book up at night. 

Semana Santa Brings Crowds to Cozumel

The one possible exception what I’ve said here is Semana Santa, or Holy Week in Spanish, which is the high holy week between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday in the Catholic tradition. For example, semana santa in 2023 is from April 2 through April 8, 2023.

Lots of Mexican people travel to Cozumel during semana santa to spend time with family and celebrate some time off.

Semana Santa a favorite time to travel in Mexico, taking advantage of various school and professional vacation time. Combined, it adds up to some of the highest tourism rates in Cozumel, from both Mexicans and foreigners, alike.

Cozumel Diving Conditions in April and May

Diving in Cozumel is great during April and May.  

The “winter” water is warming up again from the frigid (kidding) 78F/25C temperatures of the previous months, to the more common 80-82F/27C  that divers in Cozumel enjoy most of the year. 

Diving visibility on Cozumel is normally pretty close to perfect, with very clear blue water and a visible distance of 100ft/30M to near infinity. When winds or heavy rains come through, things get churned up a little, but a day with even slightly hazy visibility in Cozumel is really unusual. Cozumel divers are definitely spoiled in the visibility department. 

The only downside to diving in Cozumel in April and May is that you’re likely to hear about how you’ve just missed the heart of our spotted eagle ray season. Eagle rays show up annually in Cozumel, starting around November and typically they’ll hang around until around the end of March. 

Of course, you never know when one might swoop in, but most of the time they’re much more common to see during the months of December, January, and February. 

Luckily, diving here is great all year round, and there will still be plenty to see if you’re diving Cozumel in April or May.

The dive sites in the Cozumel marine park are known for great variety in corals and sponges, and lots of large marine life including nurse sharks, three types of sea turtles, various moray (and other) eels, southern stingrays, and large fish like grouper and barracuda.

Cozumel and the Mesoamerican barrier reef is home to all manner of small colorful reef fish, from rainbow or midnight parrotfish, the always paired angel– and butterflyfish, and on down to juvenile drumfish, trunkfish and blue-spotted damselfish. 

Pair of flamingo tongue sea snails on coral in Cozumel Mexico.
Cozumel diving is great in April and May

Cozumel diving is also great for macro marine life

On any given dive in Cozumel, you can find little blennies popping out of hard corals or abandoned tubes along the sandy bottom.

There are various colorful cleaner shrimp in Cozumel’s many sea anemones, as well as sap-sucking sea slugs, and the occasional nudibranch.

Throughout the reefs and sea beds of Cozumel, divers also find various kinds of sea snails, including small marginellas, flamingo tongue snails, and much larger conchs, and stunningly red-fleshed “true tulips.” 

Cozumel Wetsuit Recommendations in April and May

Most divers coming at this spring break time of year have just suffered through a cold winter, so the hot sunny weather and average 80F degrees underwater will feel downright warm. Many vacation divers in Cozumel are perfectly comfortable in shorts and a rashguard, or lightweight full-length dive skins.

Nevertheless, most of us need a full wetsuit’s worth of thermal protection, as well as the protection that long sleeves and full-length pants provide against any floating organisms or brushes against fire coral.

The vast majority of diving in Cozumel is done comfortably in a full-length 3mm wetsuit, with some of us that chill easily adding accessory layers or upgrading to a 5mm when it’s colder back in January and February.

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02/19/2024 10:26 am GMT

Local Cozumel Holidays in April and May

If you’re here in late February through April, keep an eye out – the annual festival is traditionally linked to Fat Tuesday and Ash Wednesday, so the dates will vary each year, and sometimes it is later than usual.

In a typical year, April and May have some interesting days on the Cozumel calendar beyond Carnaval.

Depending on the year, locals may be observing the end of Passover or the coming of Easter Sunday. 

Visitors interested in attending a Catholic mass will love the experience of attending the beautiful yellow church in the Corpus Christi neighborhood, or the more quaint and historical Church of San Miguel along the back of the town’s main plaza. 

Aside from high religious holidays, there are special family-oriented holidays during this time as well. 

Mexico celebrates an annual “Children’s Day” each year on April 30th, meant to emphasize – via special parties and gifts – the importance of children in our lives, and the hope of future generations. 

And of course, Mothers’ Day is celebrated in Mexico annually on May 10th, and in pretty much the same ways, from what I’ve seen.  Families arrange nice lunches or evening meals, share gifts, and pour love onto the mothers and grandmothers (abuelas) all over town. 

May 5th is also Cinco de Mayo – but this is more a Mexican-American celebration, started in California by people proud to share their Mexican heritage there.  In this way, it’s reminiscent of St. Patrick’s Day for Irish-Americans. 

The 5th day of May is important as it mark’s the triumphant “Battle of Puebla,” as it is known in Mexico.  The battle gave Mexican’s a boost of needed morale, when underdog Mexican forces drove out the French from Puebla, and enjoyed (at least a temporary) victory, and an important taste of independence.

Tourists to Cozumel are often disappointed to learn that Mexicans outside of Puebla don’t really celebrate Cinco de Mayo, aside from perhaps having the day off from school.  

It reminds me of “Flag Day” in the United States – definitely an important historical date, but not one that garners that much attention among the citizens of Mexico. 

For divers and other nature lovers, though, don’t forget Earth Day on April 22nd

Keep your eye out for local beach clean-ups or other ways to pitch in and honor mother Earth and the environment.  And any time of the year, check out this related post on some of Cozumel’s most eco-friendly tours, excursions, and places to eat, right here.

As a teaser, one great eco-friendly option for Earth Day in Cozumel is to book yourself on that day’s “Light House Project” razor tour of the Northern lighthouse area.  This area is a real treat, almost impossible to access without this kind of excursion. 

You’ll have a super fun off-road experience, some spectacular scenery, swimming, and lunch, and get the chance to make a difference by collecting some trash from the windy shoreline, along the way.  

Unique Cozumel Celebrations in the Spring

Cozumel itself has a few annual holidays that are unique to the island. 

Statue reproduction of Mayan goddess, with a backdrop of lush green jungle trees.
Mayan ruins are found in Cozumel

Cozumel’s Festival of Cedral

One such occasion is the (normally) annual Cedral festival, which takes place in Cozumel’s second historic town settlement, the village of Cedral, located several miles south of downtown San Miguel. 

Traditionally, Cozumel’s Festival of Cedral takes place over several days, and the schedule includes loads of music, regional dancing, traditional garb, local Mexican and Yucatecan foods, drinks, and general revelry. 

The Festival of Cedral has (over the years past…) also featured various performances and traditions such as horse racing, bullfighting, and bird fighting – the likes of which are phasing out, as new sensibilities influence and modernize the event.  

The dates of the Cedral Festival are often in flux, but it is usually at the very end of April or early May. The dates are often and set after the time most home wall calendars need to be printed, so these days, people wait and usually find out about the official dates via social media. 

If you’re in Cozumel around this time, ask a local, and/or keep your eyes out for signs and info – the municipality usually offers a free shuttle bus service back-and-forth to Cedral Village from the fair-grounds area behind the Palacio (adjacent to the original Chedraui store).

The Sacred Mayan Crossing to Cozumel

Another celebration unique to Cozumel is the Sacred Mayan Crossing, or La Travesía Sagrada Maya, which typically takes place at the end of May. 

The Sacred Mayan Journey, or Sacred Crossing, is an annual reenactment event that preserves and educates about the ancient Mayan tradition of gathering various goods on the mainland as tributes to the gods in Cozumel

The annual ritual starts on the mainland (now at Xcaret park near Playa del Carmen) as these gifts are loaded into traditional wooden canoes.

Volunteers, meanwhile, have trained all year to complete the difficult physical travesía canoe trip, and complete the pilgrimage and present their offerings to the goddess Ixchel, located on Kuzumil (an early word for today’s Cozumel Island).  

The ceremonial canoes arrive in Cozumel along the shores of the Chankanaab Beach Park, where people can cheer them on, see the recreated boats and traditional garb, and learn more about the historical pilgrimage process.

Sacred Mayan Crossing annual reenactment in 2023 showing the fleet of traditional canoes being rowed by people in historic garb arriving to Chankanaab in Cozumel 2023
Sacred Mayan Crossing arrival to Cozumel 2023

Cozumel Sea Turtle Nesting Starts in May

If you’re one of us sea turtle super-fans, you may want to jump straight here, to our comprehensive post all about Cozumel Sea Turtles that live and make their nests around the island. 

But in the meantime, take note that the month of May is usually the start of the turtle nesting season in Cozumel. 

Thousands of green sea turtles and loggerhead sea turtles return to Cozumel’s eastern coastal beaches each year and create their own new nests that each hold around 80-100 eggs. 

The eggs remain buried for a long incubation period of about 90 days, and young turtle hatchlings emerge in late summer and early fall, for a dash to the open ocean. 

Cozumel’s Ecology Department and Parks Department work in concert to help the scientists monitor new nests, mark them, and protect them from animals, people, and other hazards over the summer. 

The authorized staff welcomes volunteers to their program to pitch in and make sure the nests stay intact.  

Cozumel turtle nests are active each summer, and this tiny hatchling green turtle is fighting through the surf to get out to the open ocean for the first time. Photo by author.
Green turtle hatchling in Cozumel – made it!

Then, in the late summer and early fall, staff and volunteers return to identify nests that are ready to hatch and help to release and document the baby hatchlings that emerge and scramble their way to the water and start the new cycle.  

Recording the new nests and making sure they’re listed and geolocated at the beginning of the season helps ensure the overall process succeeds and the life cycle continues. 

Click here for our full post on Cozumel sea turtles, or head to the full blog page for more visitor information to help make the most of your time in Cozumel.  

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