Cozumel

El Cozumeleno Beach Resort Day Pass All Inclusive review in Cozumel, Mexico

In:
29Nov2018

One of the most popular ways to spend time in Cozumel is by going to an all-inclusive beach, and there is no shortage of choices.  So when I ran across the El Cozumeleno resort offering day passes, I had to check it out for myself.

Photo by Cruise Life Rick

El Cozumeleno is an all-inclusive resort that offers day passes for purchase, which grant access to the hotel grounds.  This includes the beach, pool, dining facilities, snorkeling, mini-golf and more.  It looks like the total package, but how would it stack up to the many other all-inclusives in Cozumel?

Description

Located on the north end of Cozumel, El Cozumeleno is not in the usual area where you find the most popular all-inclusives.  El Cozumeleno is one of many hotel resorts on the north side that cater primarily to guests who are staying in Cozumel multiple nights.

 

The resort advertises itself as offering a lot for your time and money. There is a huge selection of activities, options and ways to spend your day while on a cruise in Cozumel. Note that this is not a Royal Caribbean excursion, and can be booked via one of many third-party websites that sell day passes.

Checking in at the front desk, you are greeted with a welcome drink and explanation of what's included with your stay.  Essentially, you have access to anything a hotel guest would have, minus pool towels.

Here is exactly what is included with your day pass:

  • All food and open bar
  • Snorkel gear
  • 5 swimming pools, Jacuzzis and wading pools
  • Restaurant a la carte and buffet style right on the beach
  • Restaurant a la carte (air conditioned)
  • 5 Bars
  • Diving class in the pool
  • Mini golf & tennis court
  • Game room - pool table, table games, table tennis, table soccer
  • Fitness Center
  • Beach chairs
  • Swimming pool lounges
  • Sandy beach and great snorkel area
  • Kids club activities program in a special designed kids club
  • Wi-Fi in lobby area

As is the case with many all-inclusive resorts, you head outside and pick a few chairs to be "your spot" for the day.  There is ample seating along the beach, or in one of the pool areas. 

There are two main beach areas at El Cozumeleno, with one being primarily for enjoying the sun and surf, and the other beach used more for snorkeling (although there is plenty of seating there as well).

In addition, El Cozumeleno has a sprawling pool complex, which is also split up into two areas. The main pool is massive, with various depths and even part of the pool completely under a shaded area for those that want refuge from the sun.

There is a swim-up bar, as well as roaming waiter service.  The wait staff will consistently stop by to bring you any food or drink you would want.

If you prefer, there is a buffet restaurant between the two pools that is convenient to the beach or the pools.  

Speaking of food, there is a lot of it with a good mix of Mexican favorites and more familiar American fare.

El Cozumeleno offers programming and services beyond the usual beach and pool activities.  There is a child care facility adjacent to the pool, such as programming for all guests (Spanish language lessons, water aerobics, etc).

There is also a mini-golf course and playground near the pools.  The pools, beach and facilities mentioned are all relatively close to each other, which keeps things manageable in terms of not venturing off too far from anyone.

Comments

In my opinion, there are four components that make a great all-inclusive beach experience:

  1. Well-kept and appealing aquatic facilities
  2. Excellent waiter service
  3. Freshly made and tasty food
  4. Fair price

Having visited a number of all-inclusive resorts in Cozumel, often there is one or two of those components that a resort struggles with and it ends up dampening the experience.  I was pleasantly surprised to find El Cozumeleno bucked that trend and hit all four targets.

First and foremost, the resort is quite lovely.  It is large without feeling overwhelming, and offers plenty of space on the beach and by the pool.  Their pool facility is particularly impressive, with a large amount of space and nicely set up.  We found ample seating, both in the shade or in the sun. 

The beach offers palapas, hammocks, beach chairs and like the pool, there is lots of seating.  Between the two beaches, you should find a spot to enjoy the day.

Equally impressive was the food and service at El Cozumeleno.  We had a team of two waiters who were essentially "assigned" to our group and would regularly come around to see if we needed anything.  In my opinion, you want waiter service that is borderline annoying just so that you are not the one hunting them down to make a request. The waiter team was quite attentive and always had a smile when taking a new drink order, or bringing us our fifth order of chips and salsa.

Speaking of chips and salsa, the food came out fresh and tasted great.  Being in Mexico, I expect a certain level of authentic fare that should exceed the kind of Mexican food we can get in the United States. Their ceviche and fish tacos were excellent, along with fresh salsa.  They offer food like pizza or burgers, which were nothing special but certainly not inedible either.

After spending a day at El Cozumeleno, I believe I have found the new gold standard of all-inclusive beach days in Cozumel.  Their facility was superior to Nachi Cocum, and their service definitely equaled it.  The food offered rivaled any other all-inclusive beach in Cozumel, and I was all too willing to order multiple dishes while there.

At the time of our visit, the price was $54.99 per adult and $25.99 for children aged 3-11 years old (2 and under are free). The price mirrors most other all-inclusive beaches in Cozumel, and is an excellent value.

In short, El Cozumeleno is the best overall all-inclusive resort we have visited in Cozumel to date. Between the beach, pool, food and service, it is "the total package" and I instantly wanted to go back on a future visit to Cozumel. It offers enough for families to enjoy, while still retaining a sense of relaxation if you want to find a quiet corner of the resort.

Excursion Focus: Paradise Beach Cozumel

In:
25Jul2018

Spending the day in Cozumel, Mexico means time playing and relaxing by the ocean, and one of the most popular spots for cruise ship guests for many years has been Paradise Beach.

Unlike some other beaches in Cozumel, Paradise Beach offers an a la carte experience, where you only pay for the activities you want to enjoy.  This means a lower admission cost than some other popular beach options.

It had been eight years since our last visit, so on a recent Royal Caribbean cruise to Cozumel, we decided to see how Paradise Beach stacks up to the competition.

Description

Paradise Beach is about a 15 minute taxi ride ($15 one way) away from where Royal Caribbean docks their cruise ships in Cozumel, and easily accessible by taxi. It is located on the western side of Cozumel, one of many beaches that are popular with tourists.

Paradise Beach offers beach access, a large swimming pool, dining and drink service, and water toys in the ocean.  What makes Paradise Beach stand apart is that is not all-inclusive, which means you are charged for what you want to enjoy.

Admission to Paradise Beach is just $3 per person.  For that price, you can sit on the beach or go to the pool and enjoy the entire day.  Granted, that does not include anything other than facility access, but for some people that is all they really want. It is worth noting that a $10 minimum food order is kindly requested for pool access.

More realistically, you have the option of purchasing food, drink or activity access.  Paradise Beach prides itself on offering a low cost of entry and reasonable prices for the things to do there.  

Speaking of prices, Paradise Beach offers a Fun Pass that costs $18 and you can use the kayaks, snorkel gear, stand up paddle boards and access to the inflatable water toys, which include:

  • water trampolines
  • 14 ft. climbing iceberg
  • water slides
  • a floating multitier Jungle Joe climbing structure
  • Jungle Joe 2
  • Wibit Flipper
  • Aqua Glide blast bag
  • the Rock-it circular water rocker
  • Jungle Joe x1 aqua glide revolution
  • water mats
  • coconut tree climb
  • bungee-trampoline

As you arrive, the staff at Paradise Beach will escort you to any available chairs you prefer, either on the beach or near the pool. The staff roam the grounds of Paradise Beach regularly to take food or drink orders, and deliver it right to you.

Speaking of the pool, Paradise Beach has a massive pool area that offers shallow and deep(er) areas.  You can find chairs out in the sun, under a tree or somewhere inbetween.  

As its name implies, there is also a lovely beach that you can have access to while at Paradise Beach. It is indeed a large sandy beach and can accommodate quite a number of guests.

Food and drinks are available by ordering from the wait staff (copy of the menu.  There is certainly a large variety of alcoholic beverages you can enjoy, which is expected at any tourist beach spot in Cozumel.  In addition, the food is a mix of traditional Mexican fare and some American dishes

Comments

The appeal of Paradise Beach is quite simple, have a fun day by the beach or pool (or both) and pay just for what you want.  Unlike some other all-inclusive options, Paradise Beach does not include everything because they do not believe you need to have everything included.

Without a doubt, if you are looking to only spend part of your day at the beach or pool, Paradise Beach is the go to spot.  The opportunity to drop in and spend just a few dollars on admission is quite appealing.  Moreover, their prices for beer or cocktails are reasonable (definitely cheaper than the cruise ship prices).  Even if you drink quite a bit, you may still find yourself spending less overall than at an all-inclusive.

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of our visit to Paradise Beach was the service.  I was curious how attentive the wait staff would be, especially since our cruise ship had a late arrival (noon) and we did not arrive to Paradise Beach until well into the afternoon.  Despite the late arrival time, we never waited more than a few minutes to get an order in.  Some of the waiters had handheld tablets that they could put orders immediately into the system, and then be delivered later on by other waiters.  

Coming back to Paradise Beach after so many years, it definitely holds up as a premier spot for any cruise ship guest to enjoy.  Paradise Beach has been synonymous with recommendations for a good beach day in Cozumel for quite a long time.  If you happen to search the internet for recommendations, inevitably Paradise Beach will always be among the suggestions.  

Overall, Paradise Beach impressed us with its combination of large beach and pool area, along with very good service.  When you combine the low cost of admission, Paradise Beach is a great spot to enjoy being outdoors.  Unless you are planning on doing some serious drinking and/or eating, the value proposition of Paradise Beach is quite high.  Families especially are sure to find the low cost for kids (we were never charged for our two daughters on our visit) a welcome change.

How to book: No reservations required or available. Just show up. Website

Excursion Focus: Fury Catamaran in Cozumel, Mexico

In:
17Apr2018

Over the years I’ve visited Cozumel at least a dozen times and always find myself doing the same thing. On my most recent cruise to Cozumel, Mexico I decided to step outside of my comfort zone and try something new. So off to the cruise planner I went and I came across an excursion called, Fury Catamaran snorkel and beach break.

The price in the Royal Caribbean cruise planner is listed at $78 for adults and $59 for children. I happen to book during a weekend cruise planner sale and it was listed as 25% off.


 

I should mention you can book directly through their website and it’s the exactly the same excursion. In fact, I think half my boat booked through Royal and others through Fury directly. So I would check both options and see what’s the better price.

The meeting time for our excursion was 8:30AM, so we were up early to meet on the dock. In Cozumel, you have that pier you walk down to enter the shopping area, our catamaran was docked right before that. I would say no more than 100 yards from walking off the ship, so that was really convenient.

We didn’t end up leaving until 9:15AM because we were still waiting on some guest. They do handout soft drinks and water while you are waiting.

Our day was split into three different activities, which I really enjoyed. The first part was snorkeling for an hour, a beach break for an hour and a half, and ending with an hour ride back to the ship.

Stop one was snorkeling; we were only 5 minutes from the pier so it was a quick ride over. During the short ride they explain our day, what to expect, and all the safety tips. They provide you with snorkeling equipment when you board. We were here for an hour and it was actually a perfect amount of time. Beautiful coral and fish all over, I really enjoyed this snorkeling.




 

Our second stop was the beach break; they have a private beach, which is about 20 minutes away. During our cruise over they started serving rum punch, beers, or soft drinks, which are all included.

The beach was nice and everything on the beach was also included. They had beach chairs, aqua park, kayak’s, paddle boards, beach beds, and of course an open bar.



 

The bar served the same thing as the catamaran so rum punch or beer. If you are hungry they also serve hamburgers for $10 and that was the only upcharge option for the day.

The final part to our excursion was the one-hour ride back. During the ride back they keep bringing you drinks and asking if you need anything. I laughed that they don’t let you go 5 minutes without checking in on you, really outstanding service the whole day.


 

They also have some fun line-dancing going on during the ride back, but you can also just sit and enjoy the views.

The excursion lasted 4 hours and I found that to be a perfect amount of time. And since we started early in the morning we had the whole afternoon open in Cozumel. This excursion would be perfect for someone who doesn’t like to sit and do the same thing all day or just looking for something totally different.


 

I was so happy I tried the Fury Catamaran and I plan to return again soon! Feel free to leave any questions below or if you have tried Fury and what you thought.

Excursion Focus: Iberostar Cozumel all-inclusive day pass at Cozumel, Mexico

In:
04Apr2018

If you are looking for a relaxing day in Cozumel, Mexico that offers fun in the water and much (if not all) included in your price, there are plenty of resorts to consider.

If you were to ask me, the gold standard for all-inclusive day pass spots in Cozumel has been Nachi Cocom, but on a recent Royal Caribbean cruise stop in Cozumel, our family tried to make a last-minute reservation and Nachi was sold out.  After spending some time researching our options, we decided to give Iberostar Cozumel a try.

Description

Iberostar Cozumel is a five star family friendly all-inclusive resort, located on the western side of Cozumel in the same area many resorts (like Nachi) are found. A taxi ride will take about 10-15 minutes to reach Iberostar Cozumel.

Iberostar is a family of all-inclusive resorts that you can find around the world.  In fact, most of the guests you are likely to encounter at Iberostar Cozumel are resort guests, rather than cruise ship guests. 

The resort itself is a large, sprawling retreat.  The lobby area is located in an enormous open air atrium, where you receive wristbands to identify yourself to staff around the resort.  Despite the fact you are a day guest at a hotel resort, admission to Iberostar Cozumel gets you access to essentially everything and anything a resort guest would get, minus a hotel room.

The grounds at Iberostar are immaculate and sprawling.  Not only is there a beautiful collection of flora to see anywhere you walk, you will also find flamingos, peacocks, and other beautiful animals along the way.

Your day pass includes:

  • Access to Iberostar from 8am to 6pm.
  • Unlimited meals & snacks at your choice of open establishments. This includes breakfast and lunch.
  • Unlimited drinks (alcohol & non alcohol)
  • Full access to beach
  • "Lake style" pool and separate kiddies pool
  • Lounge chairs and towels
  • Kids Club with supervised activities for ages 4-12
  • 3 Lit Tennis Courts plus 1 multi-purpose court for basketball or volleyball
  • Activities program by the pool and beach.
  • Use of snorkeling equipment ($2 USD fee for Marine Park not included)
  • Kayaking and catamarans
  • Fitness Center
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi

If that sounds like a lot, that is a lot to be included with a day pass. While I think most cruise passengers are primarily interested in beach or pool time, coupled with drinks and meals, there are lots of activities you can take advantage of as well. 

Iberostar describes its pool as "lake style" and it is indeed massive.  It is essentially three main pools, along with a rather large kiddie (shallow) pool that all intertwine.  The result is one of the loveliest resort pools I may have ever been to at any resort in the Caribbean.  

There is a swim-up bar in the middle, lounge chairs in the shallow end of the pool, basketball hoops, and plenty of room to relax. In short, it is an impressive pool.

Naturally, Iberostar offers a large white sand beach area.  The pool is close enough to the beach that you can fairly easily walk between the two areas.

Admission to Iberostar Cozumel gets you unlimited food and drink during your stay.  There are a few restaurants around the resort that you may visit and enjoy.  Something that distinguishes Iberostar is the fact breakfast is served along with lunch later in the day. The food is served at any of the buffet-style restaurants, with one large restaurant and a grill located within steps of the pool and beach.

Much of the food offered is American fare, with a few Mexican dishes thrown in.  The menu at Iberostar rotates on a daily basis, with the idea that resort guests will be there for a week or so, and thus, get different choices each day to mix things up. As a result, the exact menu you get may differ depending on the day.

Unlimited alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks are available as part of admission.  There are roaming waiters around the pool and beach area, along with the aforementioned swim-up bar, and some bars around the resort you can visit.

Comments

For a family looking to enjoy a relaxing day at a beautiful resort, Iberostar Cozumel fits the bill nearly perfectly.  It is an impressive resort that rivals many all inclusive experiences we have had in the region.

In general, we enjoyed our time at Iberostar and had a fun day splashing, eating, and drinking. I was truly impressed by the resort grounds and what they offered.  In fact, I found the assortment of activities very impressive.  Yoga, aquatic aerobics, archery, tennis, skeet shooting, snorkeling, etc.  Where most day pass resorts are limited to a beach, pool and snorkeling equipment, Iberostar shines with its rich array of things to do.

I had two gripes about my visit to Iberostar that prevent it from being my top choice for a day pass option in Cozumel. 

We arrived right around 9am or so, and already 65-75% of the pool chairs had been reserved.  There were not people actually there, but the "chair hog" situation was worse than anything I have seen on a Royal Caribbean ship.

Second, the lunch offered was fine, but lacked Mexican cuisine that I think many (including myself) look to enjoy while in Cozumel.  The lunch offered consisted mostly of American food, with a taco making station that was sufficient.  There were no quesadillas, guacamole, chips, or salsa to enjoy during our visit.  The flip side to this issue is my children had no problem chomping down on burgers and hot dogs all day long.

The level of service in terms of getting drinks while lounging was more than acceptable.  Roaming waiters took drink orders and once the initial surge of drink orders subsided, it was quite easy to get refills.  Of course, the assortment of bars around the resort means getting one on your own is easy enough.

Inevitably, I have to compare Iberostar Cozumel to Nachi Cocom resort, because Nachi has been my go-to recommendation for a while.  Iberostar's grounds and range of activities exceed what Nachi offers.  The quality and variety of food is better at Nachi, and Nachi's personalized waiter approach is still a preferred method in my opinion.

In terms of cost, Iberostar Cozumel cost us just about the same as most other all-inclusive day pass resorts in Cozumel. We paid $72 per adult and $36 for kids 3-12.

Overall, Iberostar Cozumel is a beautiful resort that is a good choice for groups that are looking for a phenomenal pool day, and/or lots to do around the resort, in addition to all the food and drink they care to enjoy. The reserving of chairs and food selection may or may not be an issue during your visit.  Our family certainly had a fun day at Iberostar and would love to return again just for that pool.

Things to do in Cozumel on your Royal Caribbean cruise

In:
Category: 
18Jan2018

If your Royal Caribbean cruise has a scheduled stop in Cozumel, Mexico, you might be wondering what there is to see and do in this popular Caribbean cruise port. 

Cozumel is the fourth busiest cruise port in the world (by passengers), with many cruise lines offering stops in this eastern Mexico destination.

Many Royal Caribbean ships call on Cozumel as part of their Western Caribbean itineraries. Most Royal Caribbean stops at Cozumel are for part of the day, and if you are trying to decide what to do in Cozumel, here is your guide.

Cozumel Overview & Strategy

Cozumel is an island off the eastern main land of Mexico.  It's a large island with a main city of San Miguel. Cozumel is well known for its beaches, scuba diving and shopping.

Cozumel is located in the tropics and has an average high of 85°F (29°C). Spanish is the official language, although you will find anyone working in the tourist areas to speak enough English to make communicating simple enough. Taxi drivers can sometimes struggle with English, but they know enough keywords to understand where you want to go.

If you are new to Cozumel, you will find no shortage of things to do in Cozumel.  Since Cozumel is an established and old cruise port, the variety of choices over the years have swelled to offer cruise guests a lot to consider.

When trying to figure out what to do, here are a few things to think about.

Weather

Depending on the time of year, the temperature and humidity may play a major factor into what you choose to do.  Temperatures remain constant throughout the year.  Daytime highs are in the 80s in every season and nighttime lows will range from the high 60s to mid-70s. With the exception of a few cold fronts in December and January, plan on a warm day in Cozumel.

The months of November through March will see the most temperate and comfortable temperatures, which means ideal conditions for doing lots of walking, touring and generally being outdoors.  These are the best months for seeing Mayan ruins and walking around downtown.

The rest of the year will see higher temperatures and humidity levels, which makes them an ideal time for swimming and diving.  You can still work in the ruins and other cultural experiences, but a swim break in the afternoon makes a lot of sense. April and May are warmer months, but still part of the dry season.  June through October constitute hurricane season in the Caribbean, which means the wet season arrives in Cozumel.  Expect sunny starts to the day, with increasing heat and humidity into the afternoon.  Pop up showers and/or thunderstorms will appear and disappear quickly.  Rain is short lived in the wet season in Cozumel, but can be heavy at times.

Trying a couple of things

Since there are so many things to do in Cozumel and the island is so small, consider multiple activities during your day in Cozumel.

Most Royal Caribbean stops in Cozumel are generally 8-12 hours in duration.  This leaves plenty of time to do a few activities while in port.  

In the warmer months of the year, you might try doing some sort of activity in the morning hours, and then head to a beach for lunch and swimming.  Taxi service in Cozumel is so plentiful, that getting around is not only simple, it is also economical.

If you choose to go to the mainland, there are beaches and shopping in Playa del Carmen in close proximity to the ferry.

Where you dock

Photo by DunkelBierJay

There are two main docks in Cozumel, and Royal Caribbean ships will dock at the International Pier, which is located south of San Miguel and is about a 5 minute taxi ride away.

As you disembark your ship, you will walk through a shopping plaza that offers a variety of shops, bars and restaurants.  This is an enclosed area that was created exclusively for cruise ship guests.  The shops, restaurants and bars in the port area are open when ships are present in port and offer many souvenirs that can be found around the island. Your best bet is to save this area for when you return, as much of the shopping is similar to what you may find elsewhere in Cozumel, and prices tend to be higher than in San Miguel.

If you booked an excursion with Royal Caribbean, you will see a meeting area set up for tours past the dock, but before the shopping plaza. You will be escorted from this area to your shore excursions.

You can tour the port area as you see fit, or walk through it to get to the exit and gain access to other things to do in Cozumel.

Getting around Cozumel

As you exit the port area, you have a variety of options to consider for the day. A taxi stand is located at the exit of the port area, where you can take a taxi to anywhere in Cozumel.

Rates for the taxis are posted on a sign, with most rates being flat fees that depend on the destination.  Taxis are plentiful and relatively inexpensive in Cozumel.  Even at the most remote areas of Cozumel, vendors are happy to summon a taxi for tourists when needed.  Most often, you can simply walk to the street and find a taxi passing by eventually.

A taxi ride to downtown San Miguel will cost about $8.  Once in San Miguel, it is an easy city to walk around without need of public transportation.

Popular things to do in Cozumel

Beaches

Perhaps no activity is more popular in Cozumel than going to the beach.  Activities such as swimming, snorkeling and especially scuba diving are very popular choices for activities in Cozumel.

There are many beaches in Cozumel to consider, with Royal Caribbean offering shore excursions to some and many more available to try on your own. If you want to swim, you want to stick to the west side of Cozumel. The eastern side of Cozumel is far too rough for swimming (and in general is quite rural and undeveloped).

A taxi can take you to any beaches on the island.  Here are a few of the more popular beach choices

Cozumel became a tourist destination in the 1960s when Jacques Cousteau highlighted the area as a great spot for scuba diving.  Ever since then, Cozumel has been a highlight for anyone looking to dive. If you are looking for scuba diving or snorkeling, try the Cozumel Reefs National Marine Park.

Culture

Cozumel is rich in history and Mayan culture.  The island was once a central part of the Mayan Empire.

Mayan ruins dot the island and the mainland.  Visiting these Mayan ruins is a premier shore excursion for those looking to see the history of this island.  

You can visit any of the Mayan ruins by booking through Royal Caribbean or on your own via a third party. If you are looking to visit the Mayan ruins on the Mexican mainland, such as Chichtzen Itza or Tulum, we recommend to book the tour with Royal Caribbean directly because of the long commute times to these sites.

Speaking of shore excursions to the mainland, a high-speed ferry transports guests from Cozumel to Playa del Carmen and it has a reputation of inducing sea sickness.  Be sure to take motion sickness medicine as a precaution. We recommend Bonine as a great once-a-day choice for preventing and/or treating sea sickness.

Our recommendations for Mayan ruins include:

Cozumel also features a number of resorts that combine Mexican culture and heritage with recreation.  These eco-parks are just as much about Mexico's vibrant fauna and flora as it is about enjoying some time in the ocean.  

In fact, many of these shore excursions allow guests

There are lots of other things to see and do in Cozumel that can give you a glimpse beyond tiki bars and margaritas, for a look at the real Cozumel. 

Shopping

A simple and robust choice is to go to downtown San Miguel to peruse the many shops in town.  Shopping in downtown Cozumel offers plenty of touristy gifts, along with some authentic Mexican goods.

For about $8 per taxi, you can reach downtown San Miguel in perhaps five minutes.  Once you arrive in San Miguel, there are a number of streets that intersect in a pseudo-grid layout. The main thoroughfare, Av. General Rafael E Melgar, runs along the ocean and is where a bulk of the shopping takes place.

There are many shops up and down each street, and you should explore the side streets extending away from the ocean.  In general, the touristy shops tend to be closer to the ocean.  As you walk into the city and away from the ocean, the shopping opportunities become more authentic and expand in variety considerably. Going three to four blocks away from the ocean is a great strategy for finding some lesser-frequented shopping choices.

Cozumel is known for jewelry, Mexican artisanal handicrafts, leather goods, and plenty of tourist souvenirs (T-shirts, towels, bags, etc). You can also find Mexican vanilla and tequila around the island. Royal Caribbean will confiscate any liquor you purchase in Cozumel, but return it to you on the last evening of the cruise.

While the Mexican Peso is the official currency of Mexico, all shop owners happily accept the U.S. Dollar.

Food and dining

There are lots of great dining choices all over Cozumel.  You will find familiar restaurant chains, alongside local restaurants that serve up more authentic Mexican cuisine.  

As you might imagine, Cozumel restaurants offer mostly Mexican cuisine although there is a heavy amount of Tex-Mex food that caters to the American visitor.

If you are looking for local cuisine, try some of these restaurants:

Bars and all-inclusive resorts

If you want to enjoy a few cocktails or cervezas, you will find no shortage of them in Cozumel.  In fact, as soon as you leave your ship you will run into many bars.

Many of the touristy bars in Cozumel have a party atmosphere and you may hear lots of stories about some of them.  Most of the bars located in close proximity to the ships cater exclusively to tourists who often are looking to consume a lot drinks.

Popular spots to get your drink on are

You will also find a variety of bars and restaurants in San Miguel.  In short, you will never have to go very far to get a margarita, beer or other frozen concoction while in Cozumel.  Moreover, the price of these drinks should be significantly cheaper than Royal Caribbean's onboard prices.

If you would prefer to lock in your drinking cost, there are a few all-inclusive resorts.

These resorts offer day passes, where guests can purchase passes and have access to everything the resort offers, including drinks, food and entertainment.

Swimming with Dolphins

Another very popular activity on Cozumel is swimming with Dolphins.  Excursions involving dolphins is a very popular Caribbean excursion, and Cozumel offers a few different choices.

A number of businesses offer the chance to swim with dolphins in an event many consider to be a once-in-a-lifetime.

If you have been to Cozumel, share with us in the comments what you enjoyed doing there!

Excursion Focus: Nachi Cocom Beach Break review in Cozumel, Mexico

In:
29Nov2017

For years, I have read so many glowing reviews of Nachi Cocom Beach Club in Cozumel, Mexico that I just had to try it out for myself to see what all the clamor was all about.

Nachi Cocom is an all-inclusive resort that offers guests a day pass experience, where they can enjoy unlimited refreshments, food, and access to pristine water on the beach and pool.  It also distinguishes itself by advertising it limits the amount of guests that may visit on any given day to ensure no crowds.

While in Cozumel on a recent Independence of the Seas cruise, I decided to bring the family and experience Nachi for myself.

Description

Nachi Cocom is an all-inclusive beach resort minutes away by taxi to where Royal Caribbean docks its ships.  It is a private beach that is roughly 1980 square feet in size, that features a number of amenities including:

  • Outdoor Jacuzzi
  • Outdoor swimming pool
  • 1 swim up bar
  • 1 beach bar
  • Restrooms
  • Fresh water Showers (outdoor)
  • Hammocks
  • Palapas "Natural umbrellas" (first come, first serve).
  • English speaking staff
  • On site accessible self- parking
  • Private Dock
  • Lounge chairs
  • Free Wireless internet Service

Getting to Nachi means likely taking a taxi.  On our trip, it cost $17 each way for the taxi (total, not per person) from where our Royal Caribbean ship docks.  The drive is maybe 10-15 minutes, and is in an area of Cozumel that is does not have much except for beaches and natural vegetation.  There is a parking lot that you can park at, if you choose to rent your own car.

Upon arrival, you are greeted by a staff member who will welcome you and take your group photo (which will later be offered to sell to you).  Afterwards, you check-in at the kiosk to confirm your reservation.

Reservations are strongly encouraged, and can be made via the website.  Reservations require a small deposit to secure your spot, with the remainder of the cost paid at check-in.  They take cash or credit cards (Visa or Master Card). Be sure to bring a print out of your confirmation.

At the time of this review, the cost of admission was as follows:

  • Adult (16 years old and over): $55 per person
  • Child 12-15 years old: $39 per person
  • Child 04-11 years old: $19 per person
  • Infant 3 and under: $0

After you are checked-in, you will be assigned a waiter who will allow you to pick a spot on the beach.  The spots, which are palapas that have lounge chairs underneath, are first-come, first served.

Once you pick a spot, you are free to explore the grounds.  There is a large beachfront access, along with private pool and hot tub.  Towards the back of Nachi are some hammocks.

Your waiter is your go-to representative while at Nachi.  He will take your drink and food orders, and deliver them right to your palapa.  You do have the option of going to the swim up bar at the pool, or the beach pool if you prefer.  There are seats at both bars to enjoy drinks.

Nachi does not offer activities, but they do partner with a third-party company that offers beach massages, water sport rentals, parasailing and more.  The representatives for this company can be found roaming the beach, if you so choose.

Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages are included with the price of admission, and you can order as much of each as you like.  On our visit, the kitchen did not open until 10:30am, but once it opened, we could order as much as we liked throughout the day.  Likewise, the drink service is available as soon as Nachi opens, and offers beer, cocktails, shots, and pretty much anything else you would expect to find at a bar.

Comments

On an island that offers so many beach experiences, Nachi Cocom has built a reputation on offering great service, and low crowds.  After my visit, I can see why Nachi stands out among the choices.

We tried Nachi Cocom based on reputation, and for a relaxing day for kids and adults.  At its heart, Nachi is all about relaxing and lounging on the beach, by the pool, or both.  Nachi intentionally does not offer tons of activities, because it wants a low-key experience for its guests.  For some, that may be a problem but we enjoyed taking it easy.  For us (and especially the kids), it was about enjoying time in the water.

The food was pretty good, and certainly indicative of the kind of freshly made Mexican cuisine that we have always enjoyed.  While it may not be the best local food in Cozumel, it does offer some good choices across a good-sized menu.  If you are looking for truly authentic Mexican cuisine, you may not find it here, but the food at Nachi is still better than some overly touristy spots downtown.

Overall, Nachi Cocom is the kind of place families and friends can go for a relaxing day by the beach, with plenty of food and drink to go around. The admission price for Nachi is quite reasonable, especially for those that plan to drink a lot.  We found the cost for our young children to be extremely good.  The level of service and terrific atmosphere at Nachi make it clear why so many people have been a fan of Nachi Cocom for so long.

Excursion Focus: Cozumel Food Tour

In:
04Oct2016

Thanks to Christie McLarty for joining us once again to share her review of the Cozumel Food Tour while on a recent Freedom of the Seas cruise to Cozumel!

If you are looking for something unique to do in Cozumel, you should definitely check out the food tour offered by Cozumel Chef. This two to three hour tour takes you deep into Cozumel with a couple stops at local favorite food establishments. We decided to book this tour to get a “taste” of the real Cozumel after reading great reviews online. Communication with Emily, the owner, was great and she was able to customize the tour to our particular likings.

We met Jerry, one of the tour guides, at Mega near the shopping area in Cozumel. Depending on where you dock, this could be walking distance or may require an $8 cab ride. While waiting for our transportation, Jerry talked to us about some of the local culture and the types of foods we would be trying. We wound up being the only two people that booked the tour that day, so we were able to move at our own pace. We had a cab driver who stuck with us all day.

Our first stop was to a local quesadilla place. He explained to us beforehand the two types of quesadillas we would be trying- cactus and huitlacoche. Huitlachoche is actually the fungus that grows on the outside of corn and tastes like a mushroom. Both were delicious and paired great with the home-made tomatillo sauce. Interestingly, the quesadillas were served on a corn tortilla instead of the flour tortillas that we are used to in America. We also had the option of hibiscus water, horchata, or Mexican coke to drink. My husband chose the hibiscus water, which was lightly sweet and refreshing. I chose the horchata, which was the best horchata I have ever drank. After we ate, Jerry took us to see how the food was prepared.

Our next stop was for a pulled pork taco. On the way to the restaurant, Jerry explained to us that they marinate the pork in a sour orange marinade with some sort of red paste, wrapped it in banana leaves and left it to cook all night. The pork was incredibly tender and was served with a spicy salsa, which was cut by the fresh pickled cabbage on top. We had the option of lemonade with chia seeds or several different types of beer to drink.

As we let the initial food settle, Jerry took us to a local market and showed us many of the different types of ingredients they cook with. He explained that most people go to the market every day because they do not have the means to keep food for very long or the money to buy in bulk. On the way back to the van, we picked up some tortillas that were freshly made and sprinkled them with salt. They were delicious.

The next restaurant Jerry took us to was for a very popular chicken soup with lime. He said this is the type of soup that most people would eat if they were sick. He had us taste the soup first and then mash the lime inside and taste the difference. He paired this with a local apple soda, which was very refreshing. Unfortunately, it had just started raining so it was incredibly hot and humid in the restaurant, so the hot soup really warmed me up too much. It would have been wonderful in the winter months.

The last main course stop is usually a place for a whole fried fish. This is the part of the tour that I contacted Emily about changing. We are not really fish people, and I especially did not want to eat one with the head still attached. She said it was no big deal and brought us to a shrimp taco place instead. The shrimp taco was great, but the better part came after when Jerry told us to pick out another taco on our own. My husband settled for another fried shrimp taco, but I chose the conch ceviche taco. This was easily the best thing I ate all day. The conch was fresh, not fishy, and as Jerry said “delicate”.

For dessert, the tour usually stops at a bakery. Because it was just the two of us, he gave us the option of going to the bakery or to a chocolate factory. We chose the chocolate factory and were really pleased with the decision. It appears as if this is actually a place that people pay to tour and it was included in our tour. They make all of their chocolate in house and even had us wash our hands with chocolate soap. We were brought into the gift shop where one of the employees gave us little nuggets to taste of about 15 different chocolates. The chocolate was delicious so we of course picked up some from the gift shop as souvenirs for friends and family.

The tour took just over two hours and was a really interesting way to see the “real” Cozumel beyond the tourist areas. Jerry was an excellent tour guide, spoke great English, and was an all-around great guy. Our cab driver drove us back to our cruise ship for the normal fare, which worked out perfect because we were stuffed. I would definitely recommend this tour to anyone.   

Paradise Beach guest shore excursion review

In:
05Dec2015

Paradise Beach is a popular beach excursion for Royal Caribbean guests visiting Cozumel, Mexico and today we have a great overview of what to expect here.

Royal Caribbean Blog reader Keith Davis recently visited Paradise Beach, and shared his thoughts with us!

Description

Paradise Beach is a beach club that is open to the public for $3 per person. 

Once you arrive at Paradise Beach, here is what is available to all guests

  • Beach with chairs, loungers and umbrellas
  • Freshwater pool with lounge chairs
  • Two bars, one at the beach and one at the pool
  • Two bathrooms and changing areas, one at the entrance the other behind the bar

For an extra fees there are the following available:

  • Paddle boards
  • Kayaks
  • Water toys that include trampolines, slides, climbing iceberg, launch bags, water rocker & water mats
  •  Snorkel Equipment (Additional fee)
  • Massage tent adjacent to beach
  • Jet skis (separate vendor)
  • Paragliding (separate vendor)

​Guests can purchase a Fun Pass for $15, which gets them use of the paddleboards, kayaks, water mats and water toys.

All food & drink are available a la carte.  

Beers are $4.50. Tropical drinks $8.50/$14.75 for a souvenir yard glass. Burgers $11.25-$13.25, Chips and salsa $6.00, Nachos $9.25.

There is no all-inclusive option available.

Paradise Beach is located about 6 miles south of the International Pier, which will cost guests about a $15 taxi ride roundtrip.

Comments

The entrance into the water does have several areas where there are rocks, the best place to enter the water is the north end (far right) there are no rocks in this area.

Generally when there are several ships in port the beach can get crowded.  This last trip there was the Brilliance of the Seas, Independence of the Seas & Carnival Freedom but the beach remained fairly empty.  I think the threat of rain definitely came into play there.

It did rain twice, once we went into the roofed bar area and second we just stayed under the umbrella.  As is typical the showers passed in 10-15 minutes.

Cabs are plentiful for the return trip back to the ship.

Have you been to Paradise Beach? Share your thoughts on this excursion in our comments below!

Excursion Focus: Nachi Cocom Beach Break in Cozumel, Mexico

In:
04Nov2015

If you have an upcoming western Caribbean cruise, chances are you are visiting Cozumel, Mexico. 

 Royal Caribbean has been coming to Cozumel for decades and it has recently become one of my favorite stops.  There are so many options for beach days, excursions, and hotel’s for the day; it can be a little overwhelming.  

I’m going to share with you about my recent experience at Nachi Cocom. 

What is Nachi Cocom?

If you have never heard about Nachi Cocom, it’s an all-inclusive beach day that you can reserve online prior to your next Royal Caribbean cruise.  

The cost for the day is $55 per adult/$35 per child. When you make the reservation, you are required to put down a $11 deposit per person and the balance is due on check-in which is cash only.  

If you are interested in booking you will need to book direct through their website, as it’s not offered through Royal Caribbean.

Why book Nachi Cocom?

One thing that makes Nachi Cocom stand out compared to other local beach break places is they only let 100 people per day visit.  

With that being said, once they have 100 reservations they are sold out for the day.  To me if gives you more of the exclusive feel when you are here, because it never feels busy.  

I’ve been here three times now and the one thing that just keeps me coming back is their customer service is always outstanding.  

I have seen the bar staff running drinks over to ensure their guest don’t have to wait too long. 

What’s included in the price?

They provide each guest with a nice beach lounger and an umbrella as soon as you arrive, in fact they walk you over to it.  They also include unlimited alcohol and bottled water in the cover charge, which always makes for a fun day.  

Lastly, they include menu service delivered right to you on the beach, or they have sitting area.

I’ll mention most beach break places I’ve seen before are buffet style lunch, but at Nachi you get everything fresh and made to order.

And the food is absolutely outstanding; I usually order a couple of rounds of their fresh guacamole!  

Some other things that are included in the price are cabana’s poolside, hammocks, swimming pool, and swim up bar hot tub. 

What’s not included in the price?

Transportation is on your own when visiting Nachi, but not to worry taxi’s are $16-$18 each way.  Most of the time I take one alone going there, but have found new friends and split the ride going back.  

When you arrive a lady will take a picture of you and the group and later bring it to you for $12, I usually say no thank you since it’s just me.  

They also offer snorkel equipment, and beach massages for an extra charge.  I have not done either; so I don’t have any feedback, I’m always just looking for a lazy beach day. 

Have you ever visited Nachi Cocom before?  If so, please comment below and let us know what you thought.  

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