After a few days of 24/7, noisy, whistle-blowing directors at our hotel pool in Cancun, we were looking for a change of scenery. A day trip to Cozumel was just what we needed. Our hotel staff advised us about the water ferry that runs to Cozumel a few times a day from Cancun. The water ferry was quite a lot cheaper than taking a flight from Cancun to Cozumel! The water ferry cost was about $12 per person.
The next morning, we took a taxi over to the ferry and left on schedule with virtually no waiting. This boat was a lot larger than I expected, air conditioned, and very comfortable. It easily accommodated a few hundred people. It was a much shorter, comfortable ferry ride than I expected - only taking about 45 minutes to get to Cozumel from Cancun.
Upon arrival in Cozumel, we exited the vessel and headed immediately for the cluster of retail shops and restaurants so that we could find someone to ask about moped rentals. We had heard that the best way to enjoy a Cozumel day trip was by moped. We had heard right. After approaching the third local, and asking "Donde esta la moped?" We were pointed in the right direction and given brief verbal directions. Just a few blocks away from the port where we entered, we saw red mopeds parked in front of one of the shops and now knew where to go to rent them.
I asked the moped shop attendant "Cuanto es esta?" (How much is it?). He replied "viente cinco" ($25). I surmised that the $25 was a per hour rate, but soon realized upon looking at the release form and contract I had to sign that it was $25 for the whole day and included insurance!
By the time we got onto the mopeds, we were hot and feeling suffocated by the 110° F heat that day. I couldn't wait to fire it up and hit the gas just so that I could get some wind on my face to cool off. There was NO breeze the day we were there. It's a smallish island and you would expect some trade winds, but not that day!
Prior to finding the moped rental shop, we had walked in and out of many of the UN-AIRCONDITIONED shops lining the port area. So yes, I was thankful that I was wearing only a bathing suit, a thin cotton tank shirt and shorts. Bring lots of sunscreen and wear thin, comfortable cotton clothing. The sun here was as intense as I have ever felt it.
Navigating our way out of the port area was tricky. This was the hardest part of our day. Traffic in this small port area is surprisingly nasty - drivers here drive wildly and often pay no attention to stop signs. Hence, be VERY careful getting out of the port area on a moped! Upside: we really only had about 1/4 mile of the driver craziness and traffic. Once past that, we were home free!
After that first 1/4 mile or so of driving down the main road, which winds all the way around the edge of the island, I was pleasantly surprised to see shockingly beautiful beaches and ocean; naturally postcard perfect, not man made.
Once I had a chance to cool off, I pulled over, stopped, put the kickstand down, grabbed my bike key and walked toward this awe-inspiring ocean and beach. It was beckoning me. The water, crystal clear with light azure and turquoise blended in as the ocean deepens...You can see the reefs just below the surface of the clear, turquoise ocean. Natural, tropical plants, shrubs, and trees set off the striking appearance of the ocean (see pictures below).
Once past the port area, there is a fairly long stretch where there is nothing but ocean, white sand beaches (with few or no people on them), white coral, and a few small restaurants sporadically dotting the landscape here and there.
I had wanted to drive around the entire perimeter of the island, but my husband insisted on stopping when we saw the signs for CHANKANAAB NATIONAL PARK (yes, he wanted a beer). We decide to pay the $10 or so to gain entry into the park since they offered a beach area, snorkeling, and other activities.
I pulled my tank shirt and shorts off and parked my swimsuit clad, thrity-something bod underneath one of the lovely Palapas providing shade. I chose a good spot since this Palapa was surrounded by lovely ivy-looking tropical shrubs, which are obviously indigenous to this island (they grow wild all over the island). As I enjoy cooling off under the Palapa hut, I notice a sign that says, "No Sunscreen allowed if swimming in the lagoon." Well, I guess that means I'm not swimming unless I shower off first since I had covered myself in sunscreen twice in the previous three hours.
The beach here is lovely and it’s easy to see that it is a great place for families to enjoy. There were a lot of people at the park on the beach but it wasn’t so crowded that you couldn’t find a spot. Personally, I would have preferred to have stopped, at least for a short while, on one of the incredible beaches we passed on the way here. Those beaches were not crowded at all and, in many cases, abandoned. Not to mention that the natural beauty of these beaches en route to Chankanaab were as beautiful, or more so, as the gorgeous beach at Chankanaab. We spent a few hours lounging at this park and had lunch at at the beach/ocean view Chankanaab Park restaurant (see pics below). The cool drinks at the park restaurant were a Godsend! After a satisfying snack and cool drinks at the restaurant, we were back on the mopeds with the wind in our faces, absorbing and memorizing the beauty of this island.
Once back in port, we had a few hours to wait before our ferry arrived to pick us up, so we headed into one of the few air conditioned places within the cluster of port shops - The Hard Rock Cafe. It was late afternoon, about 4:45pm, but we had a about a 45-minute wait before we were seated. I expected more in the way of rock memorabilia here. There wasn't much to see really. However, I cared more about having air conditioning at that point than anything else. The food was along the same lines of what you would find at Hard Rock Cafes here in the US - it was mediocre at best and overpriced. But again, the AC was worth it!
Most people expect to find bargains at shops in Mexico and, in some places, you will, but don't expect to find very many good bargains in the port area of Cozumel. I looked in several apparel and jewelry shops and even after haggling, prices were too high in my opinion. I decided that if I wanted a bargain, it would be best to look in downtown Cancun.
There is no air-conditioned waiting area in the port area where the ferry picks you up. However, there is a small, nice-looking covered area providing shade while you wait. Also, if you take the ferry back in the early evening, it will be much cooler and more likely that you will get a little shady breeze while you wait.
Overall, the natural beauty of this island is well worth a day/half-day away from Playa Del Carmen or Cancun.
Note: It is my understanding that the water ferry from Cancun is no longer available. The fastest way to get to Cozumel from Cancun is now to take a taxi to Playa Del Carmen (45 minutes) and then board the water ferry at Playa Del Carmen (approximately $17 per person). The most economical way to get to the water ferry at Playa Del Carmen is by bus or van. Inquire at the activities desk of your hotel. Be aware that if you take a bus or van to Playa Del Carmen, you can expect more delays than you would with a taxi ride there. If staying in Playa Del Carmen, obviously you can take your ferry directly from there over to Cozumel.