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Cozumel

Mexico’s Isla Cozumel (or Cozumel Island) derives its name from the Mayans who believed the island to be a sacred shrine. In Maya, Cuzamil translates to “land of the swallows,” a reflection of the indigenous birds that grace the landscape.

Jacques Cousteau’s declarations in 1960 about the richness of the coral reef surrounding the island made underwater enthusiasts aware of Cozumel’s existence. By 1970, Cozumel’s population quickly growth to 10,000 and today the island boasts a population of more than 75,000.

Things to See and Do in Cozumel

Cozumel is habitat to many nature reserves: the Cozumel Marine Reef National Park, Chankanaab Park, and Lagoon, and Punta Sur. Botanical gardens at Chankanaab Park display 350 different types of tropical plants from more than 20 countries.

“Pier in Cozumel”

“Lagoon at Ecological Park in Cozumel”

Another attraction is the dolphin aquarium, treating visitors to a close-encounter with playful dolphins. Punta Sur is a new eco-tourism park for visitors interested in learning about the Island’s native flora and fauna. Encircling a region known as Colombia Lagoon, Punta Sur is a unique setting of mangrove jungles, white sandy beaches, and reef formations.

The Park’s information center allows visitors to watch a 20-minute video and learn about different eco-systems, environment, and native birds, turtles, alligators, fish and coral in the Park. At the information center, visitors can rent electric bikes to explore Punta Sur on their own. The only town on the Island is San Miguel, where two popular landmarks stand: the Plaza del Sol or Zocalo (town square) and the downtown pier. Sundays are times for afternoon strolls, music, and dancing.

While diving and snorkeling are the main draws, the town square is a pleasant place to spend the afternoon, and it’s highly gratifying to explore the less-visited parts of the island on a rented scooter or in a convertible car. The coastal road leads to small Maya ruins, a marine park and cliffside bars, passing captivating scenery along the unforgettable windswept shore. And while the nightlife has nothing on Playa del Carmen’s or Cancún’s, there’s plenty to do after the sun goes down.

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