Located about 12 miles off the coast of mainland Mexico and opposite the city of Playa del Carmen, the island of Cozumel has been attracting beach bums and adventure seekers alike for a long time. Believed to be settled by the Mayans all the way back in the first century AD, this island getaway is today home to around 100,000 Cozumeleños, bustling balnerios or beachside resorts, and a wide range of exciting activities to enjoy.
For those looking to immerse themselves in the long history of life on the island, the Mayan ruins of San Gervasio are a must-see. Once the destination for many Mayan pilgrims to worship the jaguar goddess Ixchel, deity of childbirth and medicine, modern visitors to this northern part of the island can still find the remains of structures that date back well over a thousand years. The San Gervasio site also doubles as a wildlife refuge, where sightseers can spot abundant iguanas and even the exotic raccoon-like coati.
Of course, this is far from the only way to enjoy the outdoors on this island. Cozumel is surrounded by coral reefs that make this destination a dream for snorkeling and scuba enthusiasts looking to swap their flip-flops for flippers. Likewise, the inner island offers plenty of nature and wildlife to explore. You can catch a panorama of the island’s pristine forests in a flash while zip lining above the jungle floor, or take things a little slower as you peruse the orchids and more than 85 species of butterflies found at Cozumel Butterfly and Botanical Gardens.
If you’re looking for little more than some quality rest and relaxation, Cozumel presents many miles of inviting coastline where you can kick off your sandals and take in some sun. Head down to the playa and relax beside soothing, rhythmic waves. And when you need to escape the heat, you won’t have to head far to enjoy authentic Yucatecan cuisine. Here, local, Mayan-inspired dishes collide with Spanish Creole, French and Mexican influences to provide all comers with a culinary as well as cultural adventure that you won’t soon forget.