Cozumel: Frequently Asked Questions
Where is Cozumel Island in Mexico?
Cozumel is Mexico’s largest Caribbean island, and is in the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico. Cozumel is approx. 30 miles long x 10 miles wide (or 48km x16 km) and sits off the Eastern coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, in the Caribbean Sea. You can get to Cozumel in an hour’s drive south of Cancun to the popular beach town of Playa del Carmen, and then take a 40-minute ferry from Playa del Carmen to Cozumel island.
Best Way to get to Cozumel?
Cozumel has an international airport, the Cozumel International Airport (CZM). There are several direct flights to the island from the US, Canada, Mexico and Brazil, and a number of connecting fights, as well.
An easy and cost-effective option for getting to Cozumel is to fly to the Cancun International Airport (CUN), instead. Cancun is a larger airport with more flights, and often lower fares, and it’s easy to proceed south for one hour by bus or taxi to Playa del Carment, and then take a ferry boat to Cozumel.
There are a few very small, local air carriers that fly from Cancun to Cozumel, though as of February 2022, these carriers are still wounded by the disruptions of the Covid-19 pandemic, so availability and prices fluctuate. If the timing works out, this is a great time-saving alternative, especially if you have a group of 5 or 6 people who can split the cost.
Note that baggage weight restrictions may be stricter on these small planes than on larger commercial airlines.
Cozumel is most commonly accessed from the mainland by a 40-minute ferry ride (12 miles / 19 km) out of Playa del Carmen, a popular beach town, about an hour south of Cancun. For more information on ferries go here.
It is very common for residents and visitors to find direct flights into Cancun International Airport (CUN), and do what we call the Cozumel “bag drag.”
- Take advantage of the local ADO Bus service just outside of your arrival terminal in CUN for a cheap ticket (approximately $210MXN/$10.00USD) to Playa del Carmen
- Walk/drag/bike taxi your bags about 6 blocks down to the ferry terminal
- Buy another inexpensive ticket (approximately the same price as the bus, or about $12.00USD…) for the ferry – an easy and pleasant boat ride to Cozumel Island, with entertainment, and cold refreshments available.
**For full step-by-step instructions please also review this related post.
This sounds complicated, but it’s really not – the hardest part is “dragging” the bags (and there are plenty of bicycle “cabs” that will be happy to help!).
As of 2021, each of these tickets (bus, ferry) is approximately $10.00USD/$200MXN.
Alternatively, you can opt for a private taxi or group van shuttle to make the drive from Cancun International Airport (CUN) to Playa del Carmen, and then take the ferry. This is a bit faster, but more expensive. If you are a pair or small group, or don’t want to risk being in crowds, it’s well worth it.
There are currently two ferry services from Playa del Carmen, and they typically operate 7 days a week, on every hour, from around 7am – about 10pm. See the WinJet and Ultramar Ferries’ Facebook pages for the most up-to-date information on current times and fares. (see links below)
PLEASE NOTE: (As of September 2022) After the Covid-19 adjustments, the two ferry services are both back to running every day. They are now alternating crossings, so only one operator crosses at each hour.
Please see our full guide to Cozumel ferries HERE.
The most up-to-date information for the ferries’ daily schedules are still found on each of the Ferry companies’ Facebook pages, linked here:
Cozumel’s Climate Averages
The weather in Cozumel is excellent. On average you’ll enjoy sunny, slightly humid but breezy weather in the 80s (F) during the day – high 80s (F) from April to October, and lower 80s from November to March (Range from 28-32 Celsius). At night, it (usually) cools off but rarely goes below 70F (21C).
(In the Winter months, I’d recommend bringing a fleece jacket and jeans, or equivalent. Basically, probably what you wore on the plane. And then you’ll likely note later that you didn’t need them…)
Like most tropical areas, there is always a chance for brief rain shower – sometimes we get a quick hard rain, but usually it passes quickly. Still, to be safe, you should always bring a light rain jacket or poncho.
The rainy season in Cozumel is typically from mid-late August through early October. This corresponds with the regional hurricane season in the Western Atlantic and Caribbean, so rain is more common, with higher totals. Rarely, though, does it rain for full days, unless a storm is moving through. Mosquitoes are also more common during this time.
Sun Protection in Cozumel
The sun in Cozumel is strong. You will need sun protection.
Please be mindful of the pollution issues caused by many sunscreen products, and try to rely primarily on physical protections like sunglasses, wide-brimmed hats and SPF camp/fishing shirts.
For your face and areas that need extra protection, try to source “reef-safe” sunscreens (usually those with non-nano zinc oxide or titanium oxide as the main ingredients) to protect our incredible marine environment and the coral reef.
*My absolute favorite line of quality reefs-safe sunscreens, hair products, and mask de-fog is the Stream 2 Sea range (affiliate link) – and they’ve got their research information to back up their good name.
Cozumel, in the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico, which is known for a high level of safety, especially in heavy tourist zones. Cozumel is within Quintana Roo, and is especially safe, given that it’s an isolated island and a popular and lucrative cruise and diving destination. Violent crime in Cozumel is nearly non-existent. Petty theft, pick-pocketing and local robberies are reported sporadically, especially during low tourist season, as more local work/income opportunities decline (Aug-Sept).
Bottom line, as you would anywhere – use common sense to keep your valuable belongings secured and your wits about you. Overall, though, it is far safer than most destinations, and residents and visitors alike report high safety, few (if any) personal threats, and a very friendly, helpful, and welcoming environment.
For more of our Cozumel safety tips, check out this related post, here.
Currency in Cozumel
Cozumel uses the Mexican Peso (MXN), and it is worth your while to exchange some money into the local currency, both for ease and often for favorable pricing. That said, the US Dollar is widely accepted, and even preferred in many of the hotels, dive operations, and busy tourist areas. Change for large bills – whether in MXN or USD – is sometimes challenging, so best to stock up on small bills!
Credit cards are accepted in many places – namely Visa and MC. However, this is not universal, and especially not in more remote areas of the island – like the eastern coast of Cozumel, familiarly known as “the Other Side.” Some remote restaurants and shops have occasional internet connection issues, so try to have cash on hand, and be sure to ask ahead about using credit cards.
When in doubt, plan ahead: Cash is King (of course…).
Language in Cozumel
Cozumel is officially Spanish-speaking, though you’ll find many people – especially in the taxi and tourism businesses – that speak excellent English. There are also many international travelers and ex-pats to lend a hand. Learn some intro words and phrases, though! It’s fun, and way more friendly.
Wi-Fi and Cellular Service.
Wi-Fi coverage in Cozumel has come a long way, and now one can find high-speed Wi-Fi connections all over town. Most hotels, restaurants and other venues offer free Wi-Fi to their guests – just ask! Likely you’ll get the password (contraseña in Spanish) right away.
Cellular plans for visitors are very common these days, too. US-Mexico-Canada plans seem almost ubiquitous now, and are way less expensive than they used to be. Or add a temporary cell plan just for the dates you’ll be in Mexico. New US-Mexico_Canada mobile data plans are reasonably priced and well worth it for the convenience and safety while traveling.
What should I do if I need help in Cozumel?
When calling any of the following numbers do not forget to dial first…
From Mexico: +52 (987)
Outside of Mexico: + 52 1 (987)
Emergencies: dial 066
Fire department: 872-0800
Police department: 872-0409
Migration department: 872-0071 or 872-0226
U.S. consulate: 872-4574
International Hospital & Hyperbaric Medicine (Centro, near ferry. 5th Street (South) and Melgar Ave)
Médica San Miguel (Centro, near ferry. 6th Street (North), b/w 5th and 10th Avenues)
CostaMed Cozumel (“CMC”) (1st St. near 50th Avenue. Further into town, great modern facility, another hyperbaric chamber, modern.)
Cruz Roja (Red Cross) (Centro, near ferry/main square. 20 Av.& Adolfo Rosado Salas)
Accommodations in Cozumel
Chances are you already have a place to stay if you’ve gotten this far, but perhaps you’re not sure where to begin.
The first big decision is which of Cozumel’s three main hotel zones to stay in. For help deciding, check out this article about the pros and cons of each main area, or hotel zone, on the island.
There are several high-end resort hotels in Cozumel, but also many lovely privately-owned boutique hotels, as well as a bund of trusted hotels that cater specifically to scuba divers. There’s also a wide range of personal condo rentals, AirBnB home rentals, efficiency apartments, and many small travel hostels with good modern amenities for that cheap-and-cheerful budget lodging.
Please see our related post on Cozumel’s best boutique hotels: HERE
Please see our related post on Cozumel’s many fun and funky travel hostels: HERE
Please see our related post on Cozumel’s favorite dive-friendly hotels: HERE
Cozumel Land Transportation
Taxis are the main mode of transportation in town, and the taxi association maintains a very strong union. There are taxis everywhere you look, and the drivers are helpful, friendly, and often certified tour guides, themselves.
Cozumel taxi rates vary depending on the length of your trip – ask your hotel or host if they have a current taxi rate grid (determined by distances/zones) and always ask and/or negotiate your total fare before getting in and starting on your way – it’s best for everyone involved. No misunderstandings.
Another good option, especially if you’ll be visiting for a while, is to rent a car. There are many places to rent from, and you can choose standard sedans, or get a little more fun with convertibles or jeeps, etc. Rates are good, and it gives you more freedom to explore.
Always get the local rental car insurance. Always. For more crucial tips on renting a car in Cozumel, check out THIS POST
There are also public bus/van routes, known as “collectivos.” These are run by the Uniper bus company, and are reliable, and super economical, but a little tricky to figure out for the casual visitor. If you want more information, look for Uniper’s very good mobile phone app for iOS and Android for real-time van times and routes.
From the CZM Airport: Please keep in mind that the Cozumel Airport has its own transport rules and regulations. Typically you must arrange an airport transfer with your hotel directly, or seek out a shuttle service there once you are in the airport to take you to your destination, upon arrival.
Best Cozumel Food Options
Cozumel has awesome food! The local Mexican food is terrific and usually highlights a lot of Yucatecan regional specialties, but you will recognize many of your old favorites.
There is a great range from fine, high-end Mexican restaurants, to casual spots with good deals, and then many local cooks opening their homes, sidewalk counters, and carts for you to try some of the best home cooking around. (Give this a try! You won’t be sorry.)
The restaurant scene here extends well beyond strictly Mexican cuisine. There are several impressive Italian restaurants, including a great and growing pizza presence , incredible Indian food, wonderful grill and burger joints, several excellent bistros and cafés, a growing number of vegan and vegetarian options, Greek and Middle-Eastern spots, and more.
There are also many grocers and fun public markets (try El Mercado Municipal in the “Centro” area) to poke around in, shop, and grab some snacks for your hotel or rental.
We have many posts about the Cozumel Food Scene on our blog here – check this overview article, along with many others drilling down on local tacos, pizza, great coffee shops, and more.
Shopping and Stores in Cozumel – the essentials
There are small mom-and-pop convenience stores and pharmacies all over town, as well as several large, well-stocked supermarkets.
For general needs or something you forgot to pack, visit one of our two large department stores: La Mega or Chedraui (shed-ra’-wee). These 2 are centrally located in San Miguel’s “Centro” area, right on the main drag – Melgar Avenue. They’re both similar to a Target (Mega) or a Kmart (Chedraui), where you can find everything from groceries, snacks, and beer/wine, to sunscreen, cleaning supplies, beach toys, and clothing.
The main chain of convenience stores in Cozumel are called Oxxo, and there are several spread out all over town. Oxxo is a lot like a 7-11 or Quick-Stop style store, but they don’t sell gas.
For ideas on what to buy in Cozumel and some authentic souvenir finds, check out our updated Cozumel souvenir shopping post, HERE.