We definitely fell in love with the Riviera Maya. So much that we decided to extend our staying a bit more. To change settings just a bit, we moved to an island: Cozumel.
To get to the island, we first took a bus from Tulum to Playa del Carmen. From there, we took the ferry to Cozumel. During the whole ride you can enjoy a beautiful view of the spectacular Caribbean sea and all its colors. The water takes all the shades of blue and green, already from the harbor!
There is only one village on the island: San Miguel. Here you can find all the services: hotels, restaurants, travel agencies, and rentals. The best way to move around the island is indeed by renting a car. There is only one main road. It follows the coast and can bring you to most of the local attractions.
Diving and snorkeling in Cozumel
The coast of Cozumel can be basically divided in two: the eastern and western part. The eastern coast is wilder. Even though some parts of it are rocky, there are a few open beaches. But you must be careful: the current is quite strong, and there is quite a lot of undertow that might take you away!
Along the western coast of Cozumel, closer to Playa del Carmen, the sea is generally calmer, and you can find more beaches. This is the best place to snorkel. It is also where you can find most of the bars. We spent one afternoon in the Money bar: at the cost of a drink you can use one of their sunbeds and snorkel just in front of it. The drink is quite expensive, but worth the price: just by entering the water you will be able to see plenty of fish, all trying to swim against the current.
Nevertheless, to have the most impressive underwater view of Cozumel, you should really book a dive. Just in front of the coast, there is a coral reef that you can fully appreciate only with an air tank on your back. We had therefore another opportunity to use the certification we got in Peru.
The dive was a drift: we let the current bring us around, so we could just relax and enjoy the view. We saw gigantic crabs, barracudas, and a huge amount of different fishes. The colors of the corals are incredible: the purples and yellows are spectaculars! We also passed by some small underwater caves and canyons. We saw a coral reef shark sharing a hole with a big moray eel, and later a turtle wandering the area. The only downside of the drift dive is that it’s too complicated to come back on your steps to take some photos! It’s kind of a hit or miss!
Crocodiles and beaches
At the southern extremity of Cozumel lies a beautiful natural reserve: the Punta Sur Eco Beach Park. It is quite big and, considering also the distance from the city, it is better to go there by car. Soon after entering, you can walk on a pontoon and up an observation tower, built over a lagoon. Look carefully around you, as not all the logs in the water are wood: some of them are indeed crocodiles! They are so good at camouflaging that we had to double check a couple of times.
Not far from there, you’ll be able to park by a lighthouse. If you are not suffering from vertigo, you should really climb until the top to enjoy the most amazing view of the whole park and surrounding areas. Some say that you can see as far as Cuba when the visibility is perfect, although we have some doubts… The building underneath is instead a small museum about the sea and navigation.
Right from under the lighthouse, a path starts. It leads to another observation tower in the jungle. We were not so convinced about our choice when we got there: the view from the tower was not adding much to the one of the lighthouse. Furthermore, mosquitoes ate us alive the whole way through!
At the very end of the road in the park, you can find the playa mas hermosa, the most beautiful beach. We don’t know if it is really the most beautiful in the world, but it is indeed a paradise. By arriving early in the morning, we could choose any sunbed we want. They are all free, and we were almost completely alone, except for a couple of other people and some raccoons. The water is crystal clear, with incredible shades of blue, and the coral reef starts right in front of the beach. Unfortunately, at the time of our visit it was forbidden to swim in it. The prohibition was put in place to allow the reef to regenerate after years of intense tourism. Even though it was frustrating at the moment, we appreciate the fact that, at least sometimes, nature comes before business.
We stayed only a few days, but we really enjoyed the charm and calm of the island. It was the perfect conclusion of our exploration of the Riviera Maya.
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