Written by: Alexandra Grgas-Sorge, Travel Blogger, and Student at Humber College
Submitted: October 6, 2015
Have you ever been swimming with sharks, watched baby sea turtles hatch from their eggs, or eaten a freshly caught lion fish?
If your answer is no to this question, then I suggest you visit the Island of Cozumel, Mexico for your next holiday destination.
Cozumel is Mexico’s largest island. Located south of the spring-break capital Cancun, the temperature rarely drops under 17 °C, and usually stays between a warm 22-34 °C. This island provides a relaxing oasis for anyone who seeks adventure and a culturally enriching escape.
Cozumel is home to incredible underwater sights. The Cozumel reef system is part of the Mesoamerian Barrier Reef System, the second largest coral reef system in the world. I am lucky to have visited this reef; I’ve seen nurse sharks, sea turtles, eagle rays, and even dolphins. Many of the locals laugh at my excitement. It would be like them seeing a squirrel if they were to visit Toronto. The diving professionals that tour you on the many reefs off Cozumel look for rare sea life, such as whales, hammerhead sharks and bull sharks. Though, funny enough, the most celebrated fish found on the these famous reefs is the splendid toadfish, which is endemic to Cozumel. Many guides joke that you can hear this fish croak while you are diving.
The reef is snorkel friendly as well. Just grab a pair of fins and swim a few feet from the island’s white sand beaches. There, you will find an abundance of tropical fish, whose bright colours shine through the crystal blue water.
The reef off of Cozumel is a designated National Marine Park, which is protected by the Mexican government. This began as a campaign started by the famous Jacques Cousteau in 1961. Thus, no one can take anything from the reef, whether it living or not.
Other activities, such as beach volleyball, sailing, canoeing, and my favourite, Jet Skiing are offered at every resort and will guarantee you a fun experience. Many resorts also provide spa services on the beach, such as massages, facials and pedicures for those who prefer relaxing amenities.
If you are looking to escape resort life, swimming with dolphins and jeeps tours of the island are two of the best day trips that Cozumel offers. If you are itching to leave the island, a short 45-minute ferry ride will take you over to the city of Playa Del Carmen, where you can tour the famous 2,000-year-old Mayan ruins. The ruins are great pyramids and cities that tell stories about the history of Mexico and the mysterious Mayans. My best experiences in Cozumel have been off the resort because it allowed me to understand the Mexican culture, and meet people that I now consider my good friends.
The restaurants and bars that line the streets of downtown San Miguel (the main town of Cozumel) do not disappoint. Live bands and a sunset view can be found at the popular Margaritaville. This restaurant holds true to its name and gives tourists and locals a place to mingle over a rocking dance floor, and food with a splash of Mexican influence. Just next door is Muellecito, famous for their 10 peso beers (that is less than one Canadian dollar). This restaurant also provides an amazing ocean side view with a more relaxed environment. The perfect place for drinks and dinner for two.
Looking to satisfy your inner foodie? The low key restaurant, Fisherman Cooperative, is the perfect spot to enjoy some freshly caught lionfish. The lionfish has no predator, due to its venomous spines. This is causing a serious issue of overpopulation in the reefs ecosystem and creating a need to hunt the species. The people of Cozumel have used this to their advantage by creating one-of-a-kind lionfish dishes that are absolutely delish! This eatery offers you everything from simple grilled lionfish to lionfish soup, salsa, tacos and much more! These innovators have sparked a lionfish trend that has made them one of the most famous restaurants on the island.
I have been to Cozumel five times and always regret getting on the plane to come back to the hustle and bustle of city life. It is not only the physical beauty of the beaches and palm trees that make me want to stay, but the way of life. It can truly not be appreciated until it is experienced.