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

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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.

2022 Surprises for Cozumel Visitors this April and May

Please note that in the year 2022, April will be a little different than usual in Cozumel…

Semana Santa is Later Than Usual

First of all, this year the Easter holiday is later than we’re used to, as the holiday is tied to the timing of the Spring or vernal equinox, and this year that plants Easter Sunday on April 17th of 2022.

This is important, not only as Easter is the high religious holiday for Mexico’s large population of devout Catholics and Christians, but the week leading up to Easter has also grown into of the most traveled weeks of the year among Mexicans: Semana Santa.

Known locally as Semana Santa (or holy week), this is a favorite time to travel, 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 Will Hold Carnaval in May 2022, After All – Change in Tradition

Another unusal thing happening this Spring in Cozumel is that our annual Carnaval celebrations were postponed (again) to be careful about the potential for more Covid-19 surges, but is has recently been decided that it will go ahead, after all!

Rather than occurring just before and up to the start of lent, the dates for Cozumel’s 2022 Carnaval will now be from May 8 – May 25, 2022. The famous festive parades (gran paseos) that create Carnaval’s finale in Cozumel will take place on Saturday May 21, Sunday May 22, and Tuesday May 24, 2022.

Fun float in Cozumel Carnaval Parade circa 2016.
Cozumel Carnaval float, circa 2016

For more information, and the most up-to-date posts on Carnaval shows, competitions, parade schedules, and more, head to the Cozumel Carnaval’s own social media page, and follow along.

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 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. 

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

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.” 

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. (*see 2022 information, above!)

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 “Batlle 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. 

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. 

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. 

Statue depicting Mayan goddess Ixchtel in Cozumel park

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.

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.  

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

CozInfo’s Recommended UW Camera Gear

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.