I grew up following Eastern time, so living here in Cozumel it’s very familiar and helps me keep in touch with my people back home. Until daylight savings rolls around.
Does Cozumel observe daylight savings time? In a word, no. There are several Mexico time zones, and in Cozumel, Quintana Roo Mexico, we are on Eastern Standard Time. However, island residents do not adjust the clocks.
Since 2015, Cozumel does not change its clocks for daylight savings. There is no Spring Forward, no Fall Back. Along with the whole state of Quintana Roo (which also includes Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Tulum), Cozumel time follows the Hora del Sureste in Mexico, which is UTC-5.00, and equivalent to Eastern Standard Time (EST). Cozumel keeps the clocks the same all year.
Of course, if you’re here on vacation, you probably don’t care too much about the precise Mexico time zones!
But there are times when this can still create confusion.
Cozumel Cruise Ship Port Times
If you arrive on a cruise and have a pre-booked excursion, the rule is that the start time of the local activity is established by the current, local time of the port city in question.
When you arrive, you now need to know the time in your local Mexico time zone to make sure that you are on time for your tour or dive boat.
So, if you’ve booked our private island tour of Cozumel at 10 am, that means it starts at 10:00am Cozumel time. Meanwhile, if you’ve come on a cruise or a plane from California and are used to being on Pacific time, and forget to change your watch to the current Mexico time zones?
Well, then you’ll miss your tour (and likely won’t get a refund).
In most cases with local excursions, it’s your responsibility as the traveler to know what time it is in the place you have now entered.
Central Time vs. Eastern Time in Cozumel
Lots of folks come to Cozumel from Texas, Minnesota, and Oklahoma in the U.S., and Winnipeg and other central Canadian cities. Other places, too, of course, but these areas really seem to be three major sources of tourism to Cozumel.
In the summer months, it’s easy to fall into the habit of thinking the accurate time Cozumel is always in Central Time.
For one thing, the island used to be in Central Time, along with Mexico City and other states that are close neighbors of Cozumel, Quintana Roo, Mexico.
After many adjustments to the time zones throughout Mexico over the years, the state of Quintana Roo returned officially to the Hora del Sureste (Southeast Hour) in 2015, and has remained there ever since.
Quintana Roo is the only Mexican state in this time zone, so it also includes the Cancun Mexico time zone.
It is officially UTC-5.00, and corresponds to Eastern Standard Time (EST).
Cozumel Tip: Use a World Clock App on Your Phone
When I first moved here, I didn’t have a smartwatch, and I was trying only to use wifi service until I could set up a Mexican data plan.
Nevertheless, I assumed my phone was keeping updated to the proper time as per the Mexico time zones, just as it normally does when you travel.
But without the data service activated, though, I didn’t always have the most accurate information. If I needed to know the time in Mexico now, I needed to get on a WiFi network and make sure my clock was refreshed to the current local time.
I also relied on the “World Clock” app on the phone, but back then “Cancun” wasn’t an option, so I assumed “Eastern Time” city like New York or Miami was fine.
And it was…until the clocks in the U.S. changed!
Long story short – always double-check the current local Mexico time zone in Cozumel by using an app on your phone, or consulting with a local time source.
If possible, set the World Clock app to “Cancun” (Cancun Mexico time zone has been added! It is now available – at least on the one iOS built into the iPhone), and you’ll be all set.