Three American flamingos wading in shallow water along Mexican Coastline with mangroves in the background.

The Most Unique (and fun!) Things to Do in Cozumel, Mexico

Discover the Cozumel that most people miss! These unique and exciting things to do in Cozumel – from diving for pearls to communing with ancient Mayans – are not always in your common guidebooks, but are easy and fun to explore. 

Cozumel is a beautiful Caribbean island that’s perfectly chill and ideal if you’re just looking to belly up to a picturesque white sand beach bar and find pure beach-chair-and-blue-skies R&R. Always a good idea. 

But this small island is also full of unique experiences for the adventurous traveler.

Whether you’re arriving on a cruise ship, planning a day trip from Playa del Carmen, or will be in town for a dive trip or vacation with some time to experience a part of Cozumel you may have never seen before. 

There’s snorkeling and scuba-diving where you’ll encounter marine life in the underwater world.

Exploring archaeological sites with ancient Mayan ruins.

Enjoying historical festivals and cultural events depicting ancient traditions from the Yucatan Peninsula.

Cozumel has a great variety of unique activities for anyone craving new experiences and an exciting and memorable vacation.

Flamingos in Cozumel’s Punta Sur Ecological Park

Winter visitors to Cozumel can try their luck at sighting the American Flamingo, some of which have recently returned to the Punta Sur Eco Beach Park starting in November or December, after a general absence of nearly 10 years.

An incredible sight, these large wading birds feature vibrant reddish-pink plumage, that stands out in amazing and photogenic color contrast to the green mangroves and the bright blue water of the Caribbean.

Head to Punta Sur Eco Beach club, and you’ll get a chance to observe these birds in their natural habitat, especially if you take advantage of Punta Sur’s free pontoon boat tours of the mangroves.

And even if you don’t see a pink flamingo in Cozumel, you can still take in the biodiverse beauty of the park, which features a historic lighthouse, a small Mayan ruin, areas with crocodiles and coatis roaming around, and a huge white sandy beach that happens to be one of my favorites on the island. 

You’ll feel like you’re on the edge of the world in this park that’s chock full of wildlife and exotic plants, but also has nice amenities, full bathrooms and shower areas near the beach, snack bars, an observation deck, the lighthouse museum, and more.

It’s an amazing experience and one that you won’t soon forget. So, come and explore the park and have the chance to witness these majestic birds in flight. You won’t regret it!

two small coati animals (like raccoons) looking expectantly off camera.
Cute coati looking for food

I recommend touring Punta Sur on an electric bike tour, to stay close to the action.

Cozumel Punta Sur Eco Beach E-Bike Tour with Beach Club Meal 2023
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But if you’d prefer a little more creature comfort (no pun intended), read on and see our pick for booking a private van with driver – that is always a good option in Cozumel. (please see the Mayan Ruins tour section, below)

See Other Endemic Species in Cozumel

Cozumel is a unique and diverse slice of paradise located in the Caribbean Sea. For a small island, Cozumel is home to a variety of endemic species – meaning animals that are never or very rarely encountered anywhere else.

If you’re planning a visit to Cozumel, exploring its diverse wildlife is an absolute must if that’s your kind of attraction.

Here’s how to see the various endemic species in Cozumel:

Cozumel Coati: 

To spot these adorable little animals, head to any number of the Cozumel beach clubs on the western shore of the island, or just stay put at the Punta Sur beach park!

You’ll have a good chance at spotting coatis there, especially if you’re in an area where they’re now used to seeing humans, and looking for human food scraps (*see below for tips on safely observing local wildlife – feeding Coatis is definitely not recommended, but sadly it’s just the truth that they’ve come to expect it over the years). 

Keep a lookout as they are known to hang out in the trees and brush making them seem quite elusive, but spotting them in their natural habitat is worth the effort.

Cozumel Emerald Hummingbird: 

The Cozumel Emerald hummingbird is a rare and beautiful species that can only be found on the island. To see them, visit Cozumel any time of year and spend some time in the island’s many parks and gardens, such as Chankanaab National Park, where they can be spotted feeding on nectar.  

I’ve seen these beautiful little birds throughout downtown Cozumel, too, though so just keep your eyes peeled for them wherever you are across the island. 

Cozumel Splendid Toadfish exposing its bright yellow fins in this original photo by me/author.
Cozumel’s splendid toadfish, orig. photo by author

Dive with the Splendid Toadfish: 

This vibrant species of fish can be seen with regularity if you’re scuba diving in the coral reef off the coast of Cozumel. An unusual tropical fish that has brilliant colors of blue, grey, and bright yellow, the splendid toadfish (sanopus splendidus) is sort of our local diving mascot.

Learn more about this quirky Cozumel marine-life species right here

To see them up close, you’ll probably need to book a diving excursion, and ask for a dive guide who can take you to try and find their best hiding spots. 

Upside-Down Blue Jellyfish: 

These unique jellyfish can only be found in the northern mangroves of Cozumel. To see them, take a guided tour of the mangroves via Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP), where you’ll have the chance to spot these fascinating creatures floating upside down in the water. 

Here’s the only place to set up the SUP tour right here

My original photo of an Upside down jellyfish species in Cozumel's northern mangroves.
Author’s photo from the DeLille SUP excursion

Observing Cozumel’s Wildlife

When exploring the island’s wildlife, it’s important to remember to respect their natural habitat and not disturb them. Avoid feeding or touching any of the animals, and always follow the guidance of local guides and park rangers.

Cozumel’s endemic species offer a chance to witness the wonders of nature and appreciate the island’s diverse ecosystem. With a little patience and the right guidance, you can discover the unique beauty of Cozumel’s wildlife.

A Cozumel crocodile hanging out in the marshy area of Punta Sur Eco Beach Park.
You can spot local crocs at Punta Sur, too!

Discover Cozumel’s Jade Cavern Cenote Hidden Gem

Escape to Cozumel’s hidden gem, the Jade Cavern cenote, and explore a world of ancient Maya traditions, mesmerizingly blue-green water, and unforgettable cliff-jumping experiences!

Located at the end of a winding dirt road, the cenote is an awe-inspiring sight. As you step inside, you’ll be struck by the beauty of the stalactites, the blue-green jade water, and the 20-foot cliff perfect for jumping off of.

The staff at Jade Cavern are passionate about sharing Cozumel’s culture with visitors from around the world. Outdoors showers are available after your exploration, so you can rinse off and relax in the peaceful atmosphere.

Visit this unique spot and create lasting memories of your time in Mexico.

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Cozumel's Jade Caverns w/Lunch and Snorkeling
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Meet Goddess Ixchtel at the San Gervasio Mayan Ruins Site

Immerse yourself in the ancient Mayan culture and take a journey to visit the revered goddess Ixchel at the San Gervasio ruins site – an unforgettable experience!

The ruins of San Gervasio were once a hub of worship of the goddess Ix Chel, an aged deity of childbirth, fertility, medicine, and weaving. For centuries, pre-Columbian Maya women would try to travel to San Gervasio and make offerings at least once in their lives.

Statue reproduction of Mayan goddess, with a backdrop of lush green jungle trees.
Mayan ruins are found in Cozumel

Now, you too can be part of this ancient tradition and explore the ancient stone structures, many of which have been reconstructed to give us an idea of what it was like in its heyday.

As you wander among the ruins, you can admire the wildlife, including the local iguanas that have become quite habituated to humans.

It’s a truly unique and spiritual experience that will leave you with a newfound appreciation for the rich culture and history of Cozumel.

You can book a special tour package to go to San Gervasio as well as additional stops and lunch included.

However, I like to recommend just getting an open-ended private taxi and driver for the day, so you can explore at your own pace.

Most taxi drivers in Cozumel are also certified tour guides! Just arrange it here, and then sit back, relax, and take in the views.

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Private Driver & Van: Safely Explore Island and Relax

5-Hour tour time. Book online and securely pay via Viator!

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View of Atlantis Submarine in Cozumel from a diver (me/author) diving right outside the C-53 Wreck dive site, just off the shores of Chankanaab beach park.
The Cozumel Atlantis submarine

Change Of Atmosphere in the Atlantis Submarine Adventure in Cozumel

Dive deep into an aquatic wonderland and explore the mesmerizing coral formations, sunken shipwrecks, and sheer drop-offs of Cozumel’s underwater paradise.

On the Atlantis Submarine adventure, you can take an unforgettable journey through the depths of the Caribbean Sea.

From the safety of a nice dry submarine, you’ll plunge into an awe-inspiring new world, where you can:

  1. Marvel at the coral formations that dance below your window
  2. Discover the sunken ship Felipe Xicotencatl (a.k.a. “the C-53” – read more here) in all its glory – where you’ll also likely see live Cozumel scuba divers in their natural habitat…
  3. Explore the feeling of looking out over a 1800 foot sheer drop-off into the abyss
  4. Feel the tranquility of the submarine ride

The Atlantis Submarine Adventure offers a unique way to experience Cozumel’s underwater paradise.

Feel the freedom of exploration and see the awe at the beauty and tranquility of the underwater atmosphere, without needing to dive. This one-of-a-kind experience will stay with your kids forever.

Cozumel Submarine Experience

Unique and fun experience. See the sea in a new way. Great for kids and families!

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Plate of traditional cochinita pibil from the Yucatan peninsula with a side of black beans, rice, and pickled red onion.
Cochinita Pibil, Mexican pit-roasted pork dish from Yucatan peninsula

Sample Spicy And Sweet Local Cuisine On a San Miguel Food Tour

You don’t have to be an adventurous eater to feel at home in Cozumel. But if you are one? You’ve got some good eats coming your way.

Why not explore Cozumel’s delicious local cuisine on a food tour?

After experiencing the thrilling nature tours, you can now take a leisurely journey through the very human streets of Cozumel and sample some of the island’s most delicious treats.

With my favorite local chef’s experience, you’ll get to explore the local public food market, namely the main Municipal Mercado.

There, your chef guide will show you various ingredients, explain about the different flavors used in Mexican cuisine throughout the country, and look for some of the distinct flavors in traditional Mexican dishes.

From nopales to cochinita pibíl and cilantro to fresh fruit, you’ll get to try it all!

You’ll also get to hear stories from local cooks, share their own favorite recipes, and get hands-on making your own delicious Mexican dishes.

Including some fresh juice drinks like a potent margarita or a tropical fruit NA juice drink– totally up to you. 

The food in Cozumel is incredibly good, so once you’re done here, please read some of my other posts on the best restaurants in Cozumel, or maybe how to order up some of the island’s most mouth-watering local tacos. 

Come hungry! 

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Cozumel Food Tour - Delicious!

Try a variety of dishes in a variety of local cafes and restaurants. Cozumel foodies, unite! Reserve your spot with Viator.

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Remote Beach Treasure at the Cozumel Pearl Farm

An excursion to this private beach with a working pearl farm is one of the best things to do around the island. 

At the Cozumel Pearl Farm, you can explore the depths of the Caribbean Sea and discover something truly special – pearls!

Here, you can learn about the process of harvesting, sorting, and grading these precious gems, as well as witness how they are transformed into beautiful jewelry pieces. Plus, you can even take home your very own pearl necklace or bracelet as a souvenir.

Sea shell full of unique Cozumel Pearl Farm pearls taken by author during a Pearl Farm visit.
Loose pearls from one visit to the CZM Pearl Farm (by author)

And not just any pearls, but another truly one-of-a-kind species of pearl not found anywhere else in the world. 

The Cozumel Pearl Farm is more than just an educational experience; it’s an opportunity to dive deep into the history and culture. As you admire these unique treasures, you will be amazed by the stories and legends that surround them. 

Beach lovers will also enjoy this experience since the Pearl Farm is located in one of the more remote coastal spots on the island of Cozumel.

You’ll feel like you’ve been dropped off on your own private island. 

Its a serene, beautiful beach and you’ll have plenty of time to stroll, swim, nap in a hammock, and eventually enjoy their signature lunch and plentiful cold drinks. 

From generations of pearl divers to ancient Mayan beliefs, this is one of the top unique things to do in Cozumel, and the experience of the place will leave you with unforgettable memories that will last a lifetime.

So come and explore this remote treasure for yourself – you won’t regret it! Here are three reasons why:

  • Get up close and personal with the unique process of cultivating, harvesting, sorting, and grading pearls.
  • Learn about the stories and legends that surround these precious gems, and this incredible family-run place that has some stories of its own! 
  • The chance to directly purchase your very own pearl necklace or bracelet as a souvenir (inventory varies by year/season)

Book with the Pearl Farm directly, right here.

Go Camping in the Cozumel Jungle

Yes, you heard that right!

Thanks to the incredible folks behind the special Villa Maya natural reserve at Expeditions Cozumel, you can now reserve a “glamping” experience in the heart of this private nature reserve in the north end of the island.

Stay in one of their unique cabañas in the jungle, and experience a truly unique overnight experience.

Photo of small thatched-roof cabin accommodations, courtesy of Villa Maya nature reserve in Cozumel.
Cabaña at Villa Maya Nature Reserve

In addition to the eco-friendly accommodations, you can arrange to go on nature hikes, do some world-class bird watching, and even reserve time in their own Temazcal Mayan sweat lodge experience.

You’ll come back to civilization with a whole new perspective.

But while you’re out there, you’ll still have bathrooms, showers, solar-powered electricity and WiFi, so it’s not tooooo much like Survivor!

Very close to the San Gervasio Mayan archaeological site, the Villa Maya is a really special place that not many people know about. Why not give it a try?

And Expeditions Cozumel is also in the diving business, so you can book scuba instruction or 2-tank dives with them, as well.

For more info, visit their full website here.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best way to get around Cozumel?

The easiest way to get to the island is by plane, with the Cozumel International Airport located just a few miles from the city’s center. If you’re looking to save money, you could also take a ferry from Playa del Carmen, which takes around 45 minutes.

This is the way you’ll arrive if you fly into nearby Cancun International Airport – easy as pie, just takes time. Read about all you need to know to take the Cozumel ferry from Playa, right here.

Once you’re here, I recommend taking one of the numerous Cozumel taxis on the island.  For a guide to taxis in Cozumel, read this post next.

And, since you’re reading up on unique things to do in Cozumel, you might also want to consider some of the more quirky ways to get around Cozumel

Street sign in Cozumel reminding people not to purchase souvenirs made from dead marine life like sea stars and shells.
Signs reminding visitors NOT to buy wildlife souvenirs. Period.

Are there any restrictions on what items are allowed to be brought to the island?

Be sure to check with the Mexican customs agency on what items are allowed to be brought into the island. 

Certain items such as firearms, ammunition, and drugs are, of course, strictly prohibited. 

When packing your bags, make sure to check the full (and maybe less obvious) list of prohibited items – think things like raw foods, certain medications like sudafed, seeds, over certain amounts of money in cash, etc. – as some items may be allowed with the right paperwork.

Additionally, there are restrictions on things you cannot bring OUT of Cozumel on your return trip, as well, so take care when you’re shopping for souvenirs in Cozumel.

This list includes souvenirs you might be tempted by but should definitely avoid: items made from coral, sea shells, or other natural materials.  Collecting these is strictly prohibited for the good of the island’s precious ecosystems, so traveling with them would be even worse. 

Read more about that here in our post about authentic and cool things to buy in Cozumel

What is the cost of accommodations on the island?

Accommodations on Cozumel can range from budget-friendly to luxurious, offering something for everyone. Whether you’re looking for a beachfront resort with all the amenities or a cozy bed and breakfast, you can find accommodations to suit your needs.

Prices range from $50 per night for a basic hotel room to over $250 per night for a luxury suite. 

Check out some of our other posts on Cozumel accommodations, like: 

  1. Choosing the right area of Cozumel to stay in for you and your family
  2. Picking a nice boutique hotel in Cozumel
  3. Travel on the cheap (but cheerful) with Cozumel’s many cute hostels
  4. The best dive-friendly hotels on Cozumel island 

Is Cozumel good for families?

Yes, there are plenty of activities and fun things for children on Cozumel.

From snorkeling, swimming, watching cultural shows, and exploring the island’s various natural environments – we have sandy beaches, jungles, rocky coral coasts, and the downtown San Miguel de Cozumel area for tons of options – there’s something for everyone.

Read our full A-Z list of 26+ ideas that are perfect for kids and family activities in Cozumel

With so many options, including the ones above! Cozumel is sure to provide an unforgettable experience for the whole family.

Are there any fitness or wellness facilities around Cozumel?

If you’re looking for a place to stay fit and healthy during your vacation in Cozumel, you’re in luck! The island has plenty of fitness and wellness facilities to choose from – from yoga classes to gyms and even personal trainers.

You can get your heart pumping with a nice long walk along one of these excellent waterfront walking routes, hit one of several modern gyms with easy day-passes for tourists, or find a nice yoga class.

There are also several spas and wellness centers where you can relax and unwind after a day of exploring the island. Read this post next for a full run-down.

Whether you’re looking for a challenging workout or a peaceful retreat, Cozumel has something to offer everyone.

Cozumel has Adventure and Pure Relaxation – it’s YOUR Call

You’ll have a fantastic journey exploring Cozumel, Mexico.

From spotting flamingos in Punta Sur Eco Beach Park to diving in the Atlantis Submarine Adventure, you’ve experienced some of the top things, and most unusual things, to do in Cozumel.

As you end your trip, be sure to live the island life and sample the local cuisine, drive to the east coast of Cozumel, visit the Mayan ruins, and take home a pearl from the Pearl Farm

You’ll leave with a newfound appreciation for the beauty of Cozumel and all the amazing things it has to offer.

So don’t forget to take lots of photos and share them with your friends and family back home.

They’ll be jealous of your social media feed! Not to mention all the amazing experiences you’ve had on isla Cozumel. 

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