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All-Inclusive Island Vacations on Cozumel
The island of Cozumel, off the east coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, is known for what’s under the water, not what’s on the land. The scuba diving and snorkeling capital lies near one of the world’s best coral reef systems, the Mesoamerican Reef, home to a diverse population of colorful fish, dolphins, manatees and sea turtles. Although the island itself is relatively undeveloped, it does have some luxury resorts suitable for a fabulous all-inclusive Mexican vacation.
All-inclusive resorts along the western side of Cozumel face the calm, leeward waters of the protected channel. Beaches are clean and pretty, with the clear turquoise water of the Caribbean and neat rows of palm trees. The resorts include Westin, Sunscape, Secrets, Iberostar, Inter-Continental and Melia brands, along with many independent resorts. They share some characteristics, including dining options, pools, bar service and beach loungers. The all-inclusive option is available at most of them.
The City of San Miguel
Cozumel’s only major city is San Miguel, located on the island’s western shore facing the beaches of Playa del Carmen. The mainland is just 12 miles away across the Cozumel channel. Since the water around Cancun and Playa del Carmen is very shallow, they do not have cruise ship ports. Cozumel’s port at San Miguel, built in the 1990s, is the only deep water port in the area.
The city is central to the resorts, the cruise port and some incredible beaches just to the south along the coast. Punta Sur Beach is the most famous, surrounded by an ecological park. North of that, you’ll find Chankanaab Beach with a fun adventure park where you can snorkel or swim with dolphins. Aquarium Beach offers snorkeling, jet ski rentals, a pool, bars and restaurants along with souvenir shops. In town, it’s easy to find your way around. Streets are numbered and laid out in a grid around a central square.
San Miguel hosts many restaurants and an astonishing variety of cuisines, from Indian to Caribbean to Asian. The local food sources include fresh seafood such as snapper and grouper, handmade corn tortillas and a tropical citrus fruit called “limones,” which are like key limes. Fish is often cooked in Mojo de ajo, a butter and garlic sauce, or rubbed with achiote paste made from the seeds of a local bush called annatto.
The Wild Side of Cozumel
Nearly all of Cozumel’s resorts are located on the western side of the island. One might wonder why there are no resorts on the east, facing the Caribbean Sea. This is simply known as “the wild side,” but it is popular with surfers and beachgoers. There are places to see wild crocodiles on the windward shore, and in some seasons, you might find giant turtles who have come ashore to lay their eggs.
Most tourists rent a scooter or car to get around the island, and the scenery on the wild side is worth a look. Because of rocks, high waves and strong currents, beginners should not attempt to surf or snorkel here. But for star gazing, enjoying the sound of the surf, or just getting away from the crowds, this side of Cozumel is perfect.
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