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. Since 2015, Cozumel does not change its clocks. 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 what time it is!
But there are times when this can still create confusion.
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.
So, if you’ve booked our private island tour of Cozumel at 10 am, that means 10 am 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?
Well, then you’ll miss your tour (and likely won’t get a refund).
In most cases with local excursions, it’s on you as the traveler to know what time it is in the place you have now entered.
Central Time vs. Eastern Time
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 Cozumel is in Central Time.
For one thing, Cozumel used to be in Central Time, along with Mexico City and other states that are close neighbors of Quintana Roo.
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.
It is officially UTC-5.00, and corresponds to Eastern Standard Time (EST).
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, just as it normally does when you travel.
But without the data service, I didn’t always have the most accurate information.
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 time by using an app on your phone, or consulting with a local time source.
If possible, set the World Clock app to “Cancun” (Cancun has been added! It is now available – at least on the one built into the iPhone), and you’ll be all set.