If you’ve ever been on a cruise to the Caribbean, there’s a good chance you’ve stopped at Cozumel at least once or twice. Made up of multiple cruise ship piers, including Punta Langosta, the International Pier and Puerta Maya, Cozumel is not lacking in commercial entities catering to the cruise ship industry. In particular, Puerta Maya was created by Carnival as a little shopping oasis right off of the pier, forcing cruise ship passengers to wade through t-shirt stands and tequila merchants before reaching any part of the city. Also keep in mind, the downtown part of San Miguel is another couple miles down the road from the Puerta Maya pier, so if you want to see a portion of the authentic part of the island, a trek or a cab ride is necessary.
If shopping is on the top of your to do list, Cozumel is a great place to stop, but there are many other attractive qualities that make Cozumel a top cruise ship destination. Cozumel is also known for great scuba diving and pristine beaches. For instance, places such as Punta Sur Ecological Park provide an amazing backdrop, where the crystal blue water meets the white sand beaches.
This last trip to Cozumel on the Carnival Conquest, we opted to visit Chankanaab Beach Adventure Park; another beautiful area that provides a myriad of outdoor activities, from lounging at the beach to snorkeling to kayaking to walking through a botanical garden. It was a great place to take it easy and escape from the ship for a bit. If you do decide to visit Chankanaab, make sure to visit their website and print a coupon off before reaching Cozumel for a few dollars off. There is no need to do an excursion through the ship. Instead, take a short cab ride as soon as you exit the port area over to the park.
At Chankanaab, there are palapas to lounge under and hammocks to swing under the trees in. Locker, snorkeling and other equipment rentals are also available for a small fee. Steps lead down over the rocky shoreline to inlets that serve as a nice place to snorkel. After settling into a lounger, we grabbed our snorkel gear and headed into the water. Although the sea floor wasn’t particularly vibrant, there were schools of fish congregating near the shoreline and a few colorful fish here and there.
At the end of the day, we headed over to watch the dolphins a bit in another portion of the park before heading back to port via taxi. It was a laid back day, exactly the way we had planned it.
Although once in a while it’s a good idea, Cozumel is certainly one place that you don’t need to take an excursion through the cruise ship. It is very commercialized and easy to navigate. It’s a great place to explore, no matter if you’re shopping the entire day or lounging at the beach.