By Joanne Forkin

If you’re looking for something to do and want to get out of town, visiting Cozumel Island, pronunciation [kosu’mel] is a great excursion. The name Cozumel was derived from the Mayan “Cusamil” or “Ah Cuzamil Peten” in full, which means “the island of swallows”. Located in Playa del Carmen you will find the Ferry terminal that takes you over to the Island. There are two Ferry companies that transport back and forth from Playa del Carmen and Cozumel. Winjet and Ultramar. Between the two, the earliest is at 5:45 am to Cozumel and 10 pm from Cozumel. Prices for the Ferry ride is Winjet, 135 pesos Adults and 69 pesos for children. Ultramar, 200 pesos Adults and 130 Children. These prices are one way. There is also a Car Ferry called Transcaribe, visit their website for schedules and rates.

Once you purchase your ticket, depending on how much time you have before boarding, there are several restaurants located around the terminal. Senior Frogs is right by the stairs that takes you up to they dock and there is a nice little Mexican Restaurant a couple of buildings up the way. You can also find a Starbucks inside up in the waiting area. It’s good to get in line a little early. If you want a good seat on the boat inside, those go quickly. The ride is about 30 minutes and if sitting outside, it can get toasty in the sun. Once you get on the boat and everyone is settled, they take off. If you are a person that gets motion sickness, make sure to take your motion sickness medicine plenty of time before boarding.

Once on the water, there will be tour guides walking around asking if you want to book an excursion for the Island. There is also entertainment. Musicians or a talker. There is also a small bar to purchase a drink or snacks. The seating inside the boat is very comfortable. The lower level has leather seats that reline slightly and there is Air Conditioning there. There is the middle level that is covered, but open air. Then the top deck is all wind in the face, soaking up the Sun.

The island is about 48 km (30 mi) long and 16 km 99.9 MI) WIDE. With a total area of 477.961 km2 (184.542 sq mi). It is Mexico’s largest Caribbean island, largest permanently inhabited island and Mexicos’s third-largest island, following Tiburon Island and Isla Angel de la Guarda. The majority of the island’s population lives in the town of San Miguel, which is on the island’s western shore. Large parts of the island are covered with mangrove forest and it is a flat island based on limestone. The highest natural point on the island is less than 15 m (49 ft) above sea level. There are many cenotes on the island, but the are restricted to qualified cave divers with appropriate credentials.

Once you depart from the boat, there will be excursion booths and car or scooter rental booths. When we go there, we rent scooters.
Once you get your car or scooter, you will travel south. All along the road there will be places to stop to snorkel or just sit and enjoy a beer and the beauty of the ocean. On the opposite side of the Island, the ocean is a lot rougher and not swimmable. There is several restaurants to stop at. One of my favorites is the Bob Marley Restaurant. There is also a Light House you can stop and see. There is scuba diving there too. Although certified, I have never done the scuba diving there, but heard it is amazing.

There is also a section of Cozumel called Isla Passion. Passion Island. This part of the Island is amazing. You must book the excursion to see it. It is usually 65.00 USD per person. This includes the car transportation to the dock where the boat picks you up at and boat transportation to get to the Island. Once there, it is all-inclusive. All beverage and food. The excursion last about 3 1-2 hours. There is beautiful white sandy beach and pristine blue water. There is a water playground right off the shore for those who like that kind of water activity. There are hammocks that hang out over the water and lots of lounge chairs on the beach.

Other popular attractions are as follows. The shrine at San Gervasio Ruins were visited by Mayan to pay tribute to their goddess of love and fertility, Ixchel. At $9.50 to access the park, some say it is best to visit larger ancient Mayan sites on the Yucatan mainland. Without a doubt, chartering a boat excursion around the island’s perfect blue waters is a must do. The island hosts several top rated scuba providers. One is ScubaTony Cozumel which is great at taking small groups on scuba diving trips to the reefs. Prices are typically $90 per person for a four-to five-hour round-trip. Included are snacks, drinks, marine park taxes and fees. Renting scuba gear is extra. Another popular company is Chili Charters. A three hour snorkel trip, including equipment rental, water and soda is under $60. Scuba trips are also $90. For those interested in wildlife, Faro Celerain, also known as Punta Sur Eco Park should be on your list. At the southern end of Cozumel, its 2,500 acres include exotic birds, crocodiles and turtles. One of the park’s lighthouse dates from the pre-Hispanic era and a museum tells the history of the Maya, pirates and corsairs of the area. The Faro Celerain Eco Park is open 9 to 4 Monday through Saturday. Admission is $14 for adults and $8 for children. The park is 20 miles south of San Miguel de Cozumel and is easily reached by taxi. Palancar Beach is considered the best all-around beach spots providing kayaking, snorkeling, sailing and diving. Dive charters are available and there are restaurants and bars.

On the west side of the Island, Paradise Beach is crowded, party due to the passengers from the cruise ships. The sand is soft and the water is turquoise. Beach gear is available at its three stores. Rental chairs are available for $3. Stingray Beach in San Miguel allows one to swim with stingrays whose barbs have been clipped. Chankanaab in Mayan means small sea. This park has nature trails, a cenote, snorkeling, dolphins, zip lining and a pleasant beach. In summary, a boat ride to Cozumel Island is highly recommended. The ocean is pristine and experienced scuba divers consider its reefs to be among the top 3 in the world.

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