Our air-conditioned motor coach whisks us off to the edge of the sea by the dramatic El Mirador. This coastal walk along the rugged eastern shoreline of Cozumel offers a popular lookout from a sea-carved rock arch. The selfie crowd deals with their selfie sticks to take photos of the unusual natural limestone formations as we carry on our coastal tour to other sandy stretches.
For cruisers, in winter the unspoiled blue waters, untamed beaches and the freshest seafood dishes are ready to tantalize any taste bud on the compact island of tropical Cozumel. The most important cruise destination in Mexico, Cozumel ensures sun-seeking vacationers who want to kick back get to sample a full spectrum of activities, dining and entertainment.
Visitors will find evidence of a rich history of the great Maya civilization at the ruins of San Gervasio and the fertility temple of El Cedral, considered the island’s first Maya sacred site. Located in the state of Quintana Roo, this island swath of white-sand beaches earns the accolades of the Mexico Tourism Board as “the place in Mexico to receive the first sunrays.”
Blessed with a great marine biodiversity ideal for diving, Cozumel boasts a ribbon of coral reef framed by white-powder beaches. The setting offers a slice of marine paradise: Think dreamy, undulating landscapes framed by warm azure waters and rich tropical foliage that add endless ecotourism opportunities by both land and sea to this sun-kissed tropical mix.
Off the coast of Mexico’s Riviera Maya, by the water’s edge in a shallow, submerged platform, a pod of dolphins performs tricks, smacking their fins in the water and squealing with sounds like laughter. It is time for my dolphin encounter. I exchange looks with my other half as I take my instructions and wait for my cool dolphin moment.
“When they come at you, assume the dead man float and let the dolphins push you straight up in the air,” says our instructor. On cue, tickling sensations from a pair of them hit my heels, thrusting me fast and furious across the warm water. Before you know it, I’m flying up, up and away, standing above the sea with arms stretching spread- eagled like Leonardo DiCaprio’s in the film Titanic. It was an unforgettable experience. For the wet and wild encounter, it’s best to wear a swimsuit under cover-ups and sun protection and bring a change of clothes.
On cruise days the island’s main city of San Miguel morphs into cruise central. With the arrival of cruise passengers, expect downtown to get busy. Diners head to the restaurants. Shoppers explore the scads of souvenir shops. The atmosphere turns electric as local musicians play impromptu Mexican tunes and pedestrians stroll through the square and marina.
At Playa Mia Grand Beach Park, cruise guests strut to lively salsa music at a dance class and later refresh by the crystal-clear waters in this classic Caribbean moment. Families seek out the Buccaneer’s Bay area helmed by a pirate ship, where water sprays and animal slides await. Other families venture off to the natural wonders of Faro Celerain Eco Park, aka Punta Sur Eco Beach Park, the largest ecological reserve in Cozumel. Home to coastal dunes, mangroves, reefs, lagoons and its historic lighthouse museum, the favorite pastimes here are snorkeling and relaxing.
For more sand and surf time, cruisers snag the all-inclusive day pass, Resort for a Day, to one of seven resorts in Cozumel. It’s the easiest way to eat, drink, play and relax on limited time. Spot sun worshippers sprawling on a beach with a refreshing drink, sampling seasonal menu items as their significant others sport snorkeling gear and dip into the azure sea while the kids find Nemo at one of the resort pools.
Other cruise passengers head along the Riviera Maya to the mainland city of Playa del Carmen, a charming beach town of shops, beach and more fun. The famous pedestrian boulevard dubbed Fifth Avenue (Quinta Avenida) runs parallel to the sea. Meanwhile, we join other outdoor adventure seekers donning wet suits for a spectacular cenote encounter. A massive cavern of fresh turquoise water drips in sharp skewers of stalagmites and stalactites through a secret subterranean river. We push further and further, deeper and deeper, swimming between tight crevices accompanied only by the deep snorkel sounds to keep us company during this underwater quest. Later, by a stunning beach, we join a group of snorkelers directing their masks into the coral reef, seeking colorful fish and turtles.
But it’s back at Cozumel where the world of Jacques Cousteau awaits. The renowned oceanographer once described Cozumel as the best place in the world for scuba diving, and it continues to rank among the world’s best. Deepblu, a dive trip booking platform and the fastest-growing social network for divers and ocean enthusiasts, organizes a quad of amazing dive tours for cruisers in Cozumel. A host of other dive tour companies offer classes and tours in the clear waters and amid abundant sea life.
Ready to tackle the second-largest coral reef system on the planet, scuba divers off Punta Sur plunge into a marine biosphere paradise at Arrecifes de Cozumel National Park, diving past schools of eagle rays, barracuda and toadfish swimming in clusters in a stunning chamber known as the Cathedral.
In Cozumel, the riveting scenes are bound to leave you breathless.
Each of this all-inclusive resort’s 169 guestrooms boasts ocean views and a double whirlpool bath. Snorkel right off the hotel dock with provided gear and enjoy nightly shows, four restaurants and the Awe Spa.
Sur Ave. Rafael E. Melgar Km. 1.5.55, San Miguel de Cozumel
Presidente InterContinental Cozumel Resort & Spa
In addition to its private beach, a spa and four on-site restaurants, guests enjoy access to the resort’s own dive center offering reef diving and snorkeling trips with expert instructors.
Carretera A Chankanaab Km. 6.5, Cozumel
Thompson Beach House
Experience an upscale bohemian vibe in relaxing Mexican surrounds at this luxury boutique beachfront property on the fabled Riviera Maya, a short walk from Playa del Carmen’s bustling Quinta Avenida.
Calle 82, Playa del Carmen
Dining by candlelight at this colonial-style hacienda is a favorite pastime; the other is dining on the Mexican and seafood dishes with a musical trio performing Mexican classics.
Av. 55 between Av. Juárez and Calle 1 Sur, San Miguel de Cozumel
La Choza Cozumel
A favorite hole-in-the-wall frequented by locals and tourists located near San Miguel’s central square, this popular restaurant is known for its traditional Maya flavors and seafood.
Calle 10 Norte 216, San Miguel de Cozumel
El Muellecito, Cantina Marisquería
This sports bar/brewery features sunset dining in a casual atmosphere, located on the upper level of this popular oceanside strip mall.
Melgar & 11th Avenue, San Miguel de Cozumel
INFO TO GO
A number of major airlines offer direct flights between Cozumel International Airport and Mexico City and other North American cities, and air shuttles conveniently connect Cozumel to Cancún on the mainland. The airport lies just 3.5 miles from the hotel zone. Hotel guests can prearrange transfers with their accommodations. Other options include taxis (prepare to pay in cash — pesos or U.S. dollars are accepted — as few accept credit cards), car rentals or shuttles. Tickets for these may be purchased beyond customs.
Most major cruise lines, including luxury Crystal Cruises and global cruise company Royal Caribbean International, call here and offer enriching shore excursions with authentic, local experiences in and around Cozumel.
A handful of historic towns in Texas Hill Country reinvented themselves as upscale food, wine and culture destinations. Fredericksburg is the shining star among them, transcending its historic German underpinnings to the point where it’s drawing a more cosmopolitan group of visitors, including many from outside Texas.
The Sports Industry Awards returned with a bang last night as 200 guests packed the W Hotel Great Ball Room for the gala ceremony.
In an exclusive partnership, Lufthansa Group teams with Viking Cruises to offer the cruise line’s travelers direct, non-stop flights from the New York City area to Malta (MLA), beginning June 30. Flights will operate three times weekly on Lufthansa’s Airbus A350-900, departing from Newark Liberty International Airport.
Indianapolis International Airport officially opened its first-ever art gallery, The KIND Gallery, named after the airport’s international airport code. It is initially featuring artists from Harrison Center for the Arts.
The biggest names in the Middle East sporting community will gather for the Sports Industry Awards as the event returns for its eighth edition. SPIA recognizes the achievements of individuals, organizations, facilities and campaigns that contributed to the development of sport in the region.
Allianz Partners USA’s 13th annual Vacation Confidence Index estimates Americans’ total spend for summer vacation travel will cross the $150 billion mark for the first time in the Index’s 10-year history, a 160 percent increase over spend in summer 2020 and 50 percent over spend in a robust 2019.
Tripadvisor launched Tripadvisor Plus, an annual subscription that helps members become better travelers by saving them money so they can get more from their trips. For $99 per year, Tripadvisor Plus unlocks travel savings with one membership, including:
Princess Cruises introduced a new on-demand service allowing cruise guests to call a crew member to their exact location to make an in-person assistance request. CrewCall is available on stateroom TVs, as well as the MedallionClass app, leveraging the OceanMedallion wearable to help the crew member locate the guest and be of service.