Cozumel (Mayan: Island of the Swallows) is an island in the Caribbean Sea off the eastern coast of Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula, opposite Playa del Carmen. It is one of the eight municipalities (municipios) of the state of Quintana Roo. Cozumel is a popular tourist destination renowned for its scuba diving. The main town on the island is San Miguel de Cozumel.
The island is about 48 km (30 miles) north-south and 16 km (10 miles) east-west, and is the largest Atlantic island of Mexico. It is about 20 km (12 miles) from the mainland, and some 60 km (36 miles) south of Cancún. The vast majority of the population of Cozumel lives in the town of San Miguel, which is on the western shore. The rest of the island is low, flat, and densely vegetated.
There is a small international airport on Cozumel and there several airlines that provide direct flights to the island, you can fly directly into Cozumel, or take the ferry from Playa del Carmen. If you are in Cancun you could take a bus from Cancun to Playa del Carmen and get the ferry to the island.
The Ferry ride time from Playa del Carmen to Cozumel is 25 minutes, with continuous departures from 8:00 AM to 9:00 PM
In Cozumel island you can explore several archaeological sites, small but very interesting, they are all scattered through the Island, but you cannot miss a tour to the shrine dedicated to Ixchel (Goddess of Love and Fertility) at San Gervasio, Santa Rita, Ixpal Boat, Xhanan, El Castillo Real, as well as La Tumba del Caracol and El Cedral are some of the important remnants left by the Mayas when they owned the Island.
In order to visit these sites you have to make the proper arrangements through a local travel agency or rent a car and make your own exploring of these important chapters of the Ancient Maya Culture.
The Maya are believed to have first settled Cozumel by the early part of the 1st millennium AD, and older Preclassic Olmec artifacts have been found on the island as well. The island was sacred to Ix Chel, the Maya Moon Goddess, and the temples here were a place of pilgrimage, especially by women desiring fertility. There are a number of ruins on the island, most from the Post-Classic period. The largest Maya ruins on the island were bulldozed to make way for an airplane runway during World War II. The ruins of San Gervasio are located approximately at the center of the island and are the largest remaining ruins.
The first Spanish visitor was Juan de Grijalva in 1518 , and in the following year Hernán Cortés came with a fleet and destroyed many Maya temples. Some 40,000 Maya lived on the island then, but smallpox devastated them and by 1570 only 30 were left alive. In the ensuing years Cozumel was nearly deserted, used as a hideout by pirates from time to time. In 1848 , the Caste War of Yucatán resulted in resettlement by refugees escaping the tumult. A plaque at the Museo Cozumel states Abraham Lincoln as U.S. president was close to purchasing the island of Cozumel as a place to send the freed slaves. The continued war in the Yucatan forced him to change his mind
The beautiful island of Cozumel, the largest inhabited island in Mexico, is a paradise for divers from all over the world.
The island is surrounded by more than 25 reef formations where divers of all ages and skills can enter into a completely fascinating and different world: endless coral inhabited by immense shoals of colorful fish. The possibilities are interminable for both beginners and experts.
Cozumel is the diving capital of the Mexican Caribbean. World-famous, this island presents spectacular coral reefs with large walls that form one of the most privileged diving sites around.
Flora & Fauna:
The Island of Cozumel measures 48 km from north to south but only 16 from east to west. On either side of the island, beaches form a long, white sandy coast. Gentle waves and transparent waters wash the western side of the island, while huge waves crash against the eastern side. Its flora and fauna have a number of unusual features and include certain endemic species, such as the dwarf raccoon and the Cozumel wren. Cozumel's greatest wealth, however, lies underwater.
Cozumel has many attraction to offer to enjoy nature at its most, among them the newly park created at the Punta Sur Ecological Reserve has open its doors to the public. The main attraction in this park are de 52 endemic bird species, only seen in this part of the world, in other words Bird Watchers Nirvana. This Park has guided tours to all the place of interest, including the centenary Lighthouse, the crocodile habitat and the small archaeological Maya vestiges contained within its boundaries.
The Chankanaab Park is very likely the best known place in Cozumel. Its crystal clear water, the reef just under the water level a few steps makes Chankanaab one of the finest places in the world for snorkeling. It is also the best place for you who haven't practiced your scuba diving skills for a long time and want to get in shape again. Cozumel Natural Reserves let you explore the marvelous ecological reserve PUNTA SUR, and snorkel at the CHANKANAAB Park, includes a visit to know the Island´s history at the Cozumel MUSEUM
More about Cozumel:
The Cozumel Country Club boasts an 18-hole par 72 golf course, nested in de heart of Cozumel´s Hotel Zone, designed by Nicklaus Design Group, this enviromental showcase of golf in Mexico has been carefully sculpted from the Mayan Jungle that offer a challenging experience to golfers of all skill levels. Since Cozumel is a world famous Port of Call in the Caribbean, innumerous Duty Free Shops have established in this island, providing its visitors a unique opportunity to buy silver, gold, gem stones, perfumes and more, all kinds of handcrafts can be found in this amazing island of Cozumel.
In downtown San Miguel, on the Rafael E. Melgar coastal boulevard, numerous stores and jewerlies can be found.
Since Cozumel is a member of the Caribbean's international jeweler's web, many international prestigious jewelry chains and stores had been established on the island.