Don’t just settle for that Hard Rock Cozumel t-shirt! (unless you’re into 80s retro…)
Shopping in Cozumel is a super fun, so read on for some of my best insider insight on what to buy in Cozumel.
Don’t get me wrong, I love me some cute and kitschy souvenir shopping. It’s just not the best bang for your buck – and certainly not the most authentic or artistic options when shopping in Cozumel.
Shopping in Cozumel is fun and great for popular souvenirs, like T-shirts and hats.
For a more authentic shopping experience, the best things to buy in Cozumel include: hand-crafted silver jewelry, leatherwork, art, embroidered textiles, Mayan hammocks, small-batch chocolate, natural vanilla, and chic accessories.
older wiser I get, I prefer digging a little deeper when I travel and finding the neat indie spots for more unique, artistic, and unexpected gifts and souvenirs.
This guide to some legit local Cozumel shopping – as well as items NOT to buy in Cozumel – will get you past the novelty, and lead you to some special and more personal gifts so you know what to buy in Cozumel for yourself and your friends and family.
Here’s my updated favorite list of the best fresh, fun, and fashionable Cozumel shopping spots.
**Each best of what to buy in Cozumel section below is organized by category and then offers up some gift suggestions on who these are perfect for, and where to go shopping to find them on the island.
Cruisers! If you are coming to Cozumel on a cruise, you might also want to check this post about shopping near each of the three different cruise pier areas, too.
Shopping in Cozumel for Handmade Artisan Keepsakes
Craftsmanship and creativity infuse all of Mexico, and Cozumel’s best shopping is certainly no different.
1. Hammocks and Other Best ‘What to Buy’ in Cozumel when Souvenir Shopping
Most lists of ‘best things to buy in Cozumel’ include:
- hand-woven Mayan hammocks (hamacas)
- guayabera shirts (a.k.a. Yucatan shirts)
- Talavera pottery
- woven palm leaf baskets
These are excellent examples of typical local craftsmanship that are still fresh, and make wonderful gifts to bring back from your trip.
Each is useful, light, and easy to pack (except larger pottery pieces), as well as rich with local tradition.
Who they’re perfect for:
I have bought several hammocks for our home here in Cozumel (and they get a lot of use), and also for friends and family members back in the U.S.
Hammocks have also long been my signature wedding gift and/or housewarming gift over the years. (I mean, who doesn’t love a hammock session? But it’s often not something we buy for ourselves.)
Mayan Hammocks make Great Cozumel Shopping
Traditional hamacas Mayas in Cozumel come in various sizes – the two most common single and ‘matrimonio’ (or double) – and are made either in 100% cotton (soft and traditional) or nylon (light and durable, especially for outdoor use). Mayan hammocks are some of the best things to buy in Cozumel, and they make great gifts.
The Mayan hammocks you’ll find in Cozumel are relatively small and wonderfully colorful, very light to pack, and pretty easy to hand wash and line dry from time to time.
By the way, if you’re interested in other deep traditions and roots of Mayan culture here, be sure to visit Cozumel’s Mayan ruins and the newly renovated Museum of the Isla.
Talavera Pottery when Shopping in Cozumel
Talavera pottery from this general region of Mexico is gorgeous and colorful, and a nice gift to lend some color to someone else’s home decor. I like to look for fun pieces as gifts like house numbers, or maybe a lightswitch plate, since these can be incorporated into collections as a nod to Mexico, without necessarily competing with someone’s other pieces.
Mexican Baskets Sold in Cozumel
I also have several locally woven baskets in many sizes, but find the very common “tortilla warmer” basket size (about 6”/15cm in diameter, and 3”/7cm high) to be super useful around the house.
They come in neutrals or in colors, have matching lids, and beyond using them for actual tortillas in the kitchen, these handy baskets are perfect and interesting little containers for things like headphones and USB drives on your desk, lip balm and charging cables on your bedside table, and small items in the bathroom.
Small baskets are inexpensive and add virtually no weight to your suitcase on your return trip.
Where to buy them in Cozumel:
The Municipal Market in Centro – Av 20-25 at Calle Rodolfo Salas.
There are lots of stores to find baskets, shirts, hammocks, and some other typical local treasures around the island, but to start with, try the Mercado Municipal, or municipal market – Cozumel’s central daily market.
A trip to the Mercado is just cool and memorable anyway.
Be sure to poke around for other finds, like typical daily-use Mexican pottery, inexpensive woven market bags (great souvenirs in and of themselves!), and maybe take a break for a fresh-squeezed juice to keep your shopping energy up, while you’re there.
You’ll get bonus points if you arrive ready to eat, and take the opportunity to have some of San Miguel’s most popular awesome local tacos at one of the bustling lunch counters in the Mercado.
Try the ever-popular Taqueria Molina and order whatever looks good that day.
Municipal Mercado in Cozumel: Av. 20 – 25, and Calle Rodolfo Salas
5-Hour tour time. Book online and securely pay via Viator!
2. Shopping in Cozumel for Fashionable Accessories
All around San Miguel you’ll encounter family-run leather and textiles shops, where many of the beautifully crafted items are made by family members on the mainland and brought to market, in a sense, to the busier streets of Cozumel.
Some have workshops right on-site, as well, speaking to the authenticity, traditions, and care put into the local craft traditions of the region.
Be on the lookout for some of the best things to buy in Cozumel, including hand-woven textiles, one-of-a-kind needlework via embroidered blouses, wallets, and accessories, and various types of macrame-style accessories for the home, or your next outfit!
Who they’re perfect for:
I’m particularly fond of embroidered goods for myself and as gifts and have had great reactions from my sisters, nieces, and (primarily) female friends.
A small pouch or change purse always comes in handy, and the beautiful ones you’ll find made in Cozumel will add a level of color and meaning.
These also weigh nothing, are easy to pack, and non-breakable!
Leather items are a staple of shopping in Cozumel and depending on your taste and style, you could score intricately constructed cowboy boots, a uniquely beautiful and long-wearing leather handbag, a handsome belt trimmed and finished to size, or a simple wallet or bracelet cuff.
Macrame is not for everyone, and I didn’t think it was for me until I came here and started seeing these fun and useful woven belts around town that grabbed my attention.
They can be used for everything from decorative waistbands to cinch a dress, guitar straps, a spare strap for a tote or dive bag, and of course for holding my jeans up! (this is especially great when traveling since they have no metal buckle for the airport metal detectors)
Now, I not only have several of these cool belts in interesting colorways, but I also picked up a lovely macrame clutch bag at one of the neat indie boutiques listed in the next section, below.
Where to buy them in Cozumel:
Look for beautifully made leather goods, silver, and hammocks at Deja Vu boutique (see below) on Melgar Avenue, a few blocks south of Punta Langosta cruise pier (and diagonally across the street from Mega supermarket).
For embroidery and macrame, and more leather, stroll the various artisan stands in the yellow open marketplace area called “Plaza del Sol” just behind the iconic orange clock tower in downtown Cozumel’s central plaza park, a.k.a. Parque Benito Juarez.
Continue in concentric circles if you still have energy, hopefully finding another of my favorite gift stores:
- El Unicornio gift shop, located on one of the plaza’s southern side alleys, next to the small Hotel Mary Carmen.
The Unicorn has a great selection of embroidered goods, Talavera pottery, delightful wooden painted alebrijes figures (read a little more about those in our A-Z Guide to Kid-Friendly activities), and small collections of interesting and affordable works by local artists and artisans in a side room of the shop.
They also have a good array of Cozumel t-shirts, Mexican toys, and other fun little souvenirs.
Other special local boutiques worth the trip to shop for pretty and fashionable accessories by local makers:
- Here’s My Heart Gallery, Calle 2, between Avs. 10 – 15, Centro San Miguel
- Villas Encanto’s Gift Shop, at #44 Calle 21 between Melgar and Av. 5, in Corpus Chrisie colonia
3. Cozumel Shopping for Artworks – Paintings, Glasswork, and Huichol Beading
When my S.O. and I travel now, we always look for at least one special piece of art we can bring home and hang or place somewhere in our home.
It’s such a fun vacation activity while we’re exploring a new place, and it adds even more memories and stories to our home and our shared history of travel.
You should try that here!
Cozumel is bursting with creativity – you can see that simply by taking walks throughout downtown San Miguel and seeing the various street art, large scale Sea Walls murals, and photos, paintings, crafts, and textile work throughout of all the homes, hotels, shops, and restaurants around town.
Whether you want to just enjoy some art, or consider adding to your personal collection, I encourage you to add a few of these stops to your list:
Fun Local Cozumel Marine Life Paintings
This is my sentimental favorite these days, by far!
If you’re into scuba diving in Cozumel, I think these will be right up your alley, as well.
In the last few years, these delightful paintings of Cozumel’s marine life (all on upcycled substrates) are some of the freshest and most unique items I’ve seen in a while, and became one of my favorite things to buy in Cozumel.
I was instantly crushing on the pieces from RecyArt Cozumel, and have sent several diver friends to go take a look – and they seem to agree, as a few of these folk-art masterpieces have already headed back to various homes as gifts and keepsakes.
Bonus: they are extremely affordable!
Double bonus: You can browse these and let your favorite make itself known to you while also enjoying one of the island’s best new restaurants and only craft brewery.
Where to buy them in Cozumel:
- Punta Sur Cerveseria on 10th Av. between Calles 2 and Salas has been displaying Recycle Art’s work for a little over a year, now, and the pairing seems perfect.
Check out the art while eating some lionfish pizza at one of our favorite Cozumel pizza joints. (And maybe pick up one of their T-Shirts, too, for another real souvenir.)
Other Art Galleries for San Miguel de Cozumel Shopping
There are many other resident artists in Cozumel, as you’ll see once you start walking around town.
You’ll likely stumble on your own favorite gallery or vendor, too, as you stroll around – in addition to fun and surprising street murals, the perfect backdrops to take some cool (and free) street-art vacation selfies.
To get you going on your Cozumel art studios treasure hunt, try these:
Galleria Azul on 15th Av. between 8th and 10th streets
4. Shopping in Cozumel is a Jewelry Lover’s Paradise
Full of jewelry of all sorts, the local Cozumel jewelry and gem stores and shops can be overwhelming in their sheer number and variety.
In addition to the many large cruise-sponsored gemstone/diamond/high-end watch emporiums, there are loads of nice Cozumel jewelry shops with pretty pieces made from Mexican silver, various gems, pearls, and beads, and specialty shops with baubles made from old silver coins.
The jewelry and silver shopping in Cozumel is suitable for everything from your engagement rings to simple stocking stuffers.
5. Best-Quality Silver Jewelry to Buy in Cozumel
Handcrafted silver jewelry is among the best things to buy in Cozumel.
If you’re primarily interested in the best Mexican silver and silver craftsmanship on the island, please be sure to review our fully detailed companion post on the best Cozumel silver jewelry HERE.
But jewelry is often something that needs to speak out to you, so browsing through many of the plaza’s shops and small boutiques on the local side streets is time well spent.
Plus, it’s a fun and fascinating way to spend the day.
Who it’s perfect for:
I’ve brought numerous happy friends to shop for small gifts of stud earrings, ocean-inspired silver charms, beaded bracelets, and more.
I’ve also visited a couple of favorite jewelers on the island to have custom pieces made for me, including some I had made from my mother’s sterling silverware (in this case, Deja Vu did an incredible job).
Some stalls in the plaza also have lots of pretty but perhaps more wallet-friendly items to shop for, like leather wrist cuffs, woven personalized friendship bracelets, semi-precious gem earrings, glass and crystal pieces, and more.
Where to buy in Cozumel:
For fine silver:
- Sergios Silver in the plaza on Juarez between Avs 5 and 10, just next to Woody’s restaurant
- Deja Vu fine silver and leather goods, on Melgar a few blocks south of the Punta Langosta cruise pier
*Again, please be sure to also visit this companion post, for more detailed information on each of these shops, and about shopping (smartly) for silver in Mexico.
Side Note: Semi-Aggressive Sales when Cozumel Shopping
Tourist towns in Mexico are sometimes known for shop workers that shout out and encourage you to enter and shop in their stores. This is worse on the mainland, but it can still happen when you’re shopping in Cozumel.
Of course, this is quite different from the cultural norms we’re used to in some other countries like the United States, Canada, etc.
But just try to remember that this is a typical strategy, and not that unusual around the globe. Plus, it sometimes works among other visiting tourists!
If it’s not your style or makes you uncomfortable, just move on – try not to let it sour your opinion of the place.
A friendly and polite “no gracias” usually keeps any salespeople at bay, and unless the individual person really can’t take the hint, they’ll leave you alone quickly and let you go about your Cozumel shopping day in peace.
And if you really need a break, that’s easy – just sidle up to any one of our best local watering holes for a cold beer or frosty cocktail.
When out walking or shopping Cozumel, this is not nearly as big a problem as you might experience in Playa del Carmen, Cancun, or other larger tourist areas.
Again, just try to let it go and continue to shop for those things that catch your eye, and politely move on from those that don’t – or anyone who feels overly pushy or insistent.
Most of the time it’s all done with a wink and a nod – and again, there are those that get a kick out of it (believe it or not…it’s not my thing, either, trust me.)
In the end, most higher quality shops with pride in their work do not do this, to a large extent, so those might be the ones you will be drawn to, instead.
6. Shopping in Cozumel for Dive Gear
If you’ve forgotten some dive gear, or need a back up SCUBA accessory, head on over to this post about local diving equipment stores on the island that can get you back underwater, pronto.
7. What Not to Buy When Shopping in Cozumel, Mexico
Clearly, there’s a lot of great shopping in Cozumel, and plenty of cool Cozumel souvenirs you could purchase as keepsakes.
So please, please take a moment to consider things not to buy in Cozumel.
The items below are either harmful to the environment, create problems for the local people living in Cozumel, or are just not the most thoughtful or mindful ways to spend you money in Cozumel, if you want to support the local economy.
- Jewelry items where the gemstone is really a coral, especially black coral. All corals are live animals, and coral reefs are under severe threat as it is, due to ocean acidification, over-fishing, over-diving, and pollutants. So perpetuating a decorative jewelry market for them is problematic, as it may encourage active harvesting. It’s really no different than buying and wearing ivory or real tortoise shell accessories. Consider more ethical and locally crafted jewelry options, like these.
- Novelty license plate signs (that spell words using old license plates, kinda like old-school ransom notes). They look pretty cool, but for a long time, those signs here on the island were made with…stolen license plates from residents’ cars! Especially a few years back, when Cozumel Quintana Roo Mexico plates had a whaleshark design on them. The problem has eased, but still – don’t encourage this one, lol.
- Conch shell home decor. Again, it may seem harmless, as the conchs do have seasons where they can be harvested by individual fishermen, so their shells will just go to waste otherwise, right? Not so fast. First off, it just encourages over-harvesting and catching them out of season (see our post all about Conchs to find out the proper fishing and consuming seasons), and it might encourage harvesting for the sake of the shell, rather than the other way around. Just admire them, but move on.
- Anything with turtle shells, of course. Read more about threats to our beloved sea turtles – as well as their hopeful nesting rates in Cozumel – right here.
- Balloons, balloon animals (famously handed out by Señor Frogs, and others), and single-use plastic bottles, cups, drink glasses, straws, bags, etc. Just think a second before you accept this stuff, and you’ll realize you don’t need it, and we’re steps away from the national marine park. Let’s cut back and keep the place clean.
- Pre-boxed tequila and mezcal. There are tons of reputable tequila shops and mezcal pros in this region, and you can find some delicious and smooth spirits to sample. Just ask them to bottle up one of the ones you’re sampling, rather than a potentially cheaper version that’s already in a nice tidy box. The unethical “swap out” has been known to happen here and there, so just make sure. Politely, of course! Most vendors are on the up-and-up.
8. Let’s Do Some Cozumel Souvenir Shopping
Now you’re ready (for day 1…) Bookmark this list and narrow down your best things to buy in Cozumel. Then put on some comfortable walking shoes, hit the closest excellent Cozumel coffee joint, and get out there to find some good buys.
If you’re visiting Cozumel as a port day on a cruise ship, review this full Cozumel Cruise Piers walking distance guide to various amenities, including good shops and places to eat near each of the three cruise terminals.
If you’d rather maximize your time and go easy on your feet (or get out of the hot sun), consider hiring a driver for a few hours so you can hit all the hot spots.
5-Hour tour time. Book online and securely pay via Viator!
Cozumel Shopping Pro Tip:
You’ll be in and out of all these fun little stores, but the sun is strong here in the Caribbean. Be sure to wear a hat, shades, and use some reef-safe sunscreen to keep you safe, and keep our famous (but fragile) reefs safe, too.
**Come prepared: check out this related post on great walks to take in Cozumel for a full lineup of simple but good quality walking gear to pack.
If you’re in the market for some reef-safe sunscreen, etc. try Stream2Sea – it’s really nice stuff, and gets a lot of good press for being legit, and a smart woman-owned company. I’m an affiliate “ambassador” for them, so you can use promo code “COZINFO” at checkout for 10% off.
CozInfo’s Cozumel Packing Essentials: