Cozumel is Mexico's
largest island, nestled just 12 miles off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. Cozumel measures 28 miles
long & 10 miles wide, and is world renown for it's dazzling white sandy beaches and the remarkable clarity of the multi-hued
azure Caribbean ocean in which it rests. The climate is subtropical & the people native to Cozumel are of Mayan
descent. The Maya were a great culture of farmers, fisherman & warriors who ruled from
Campeche to Guatamala for over 2000 years before the arrival of the Spanish Explorers in the 15th Century. They were
quite an advanced civilazation, and the legacy of their culture survives in the vestiges of the huge cities that they built
during their reign. One of the lesser known, but very interesting sites is here on the island and is called San Gervacio.
Now a park with a resoration project to study the Mayan culture, this was once a sacred site where Mayan women journeyed to
worship the goddess Ixchel, the goddess of fertility. Other facinating sites such as Chichen Itza with its massive pyramids that rival those at Cheops, and Tulum, the only Mayan city built overlooking the sea, and even Tikal in its lush jungle settings where wild monkeys still can be seen, each are
an easy one day excursion from Cozumel.
Cozumel itself was a sleepy little fishing community until 1961, when a Frenchman by the name
of Jacques Cousteau declared us one of the most beautiful scuba diving areas of the world. Since that time Cozumel has
become an underwater marine park to protect the delicate balance of it's dazzling coral reefs & abundant variety of tropical
fish. The underwater wildlife is absolutely amazing here & due to the clarity of the water (100 - 200' visibility, depending
on the season).
In addition to the
spectacular open water diving, the region of Cozumel and Akumal are well-known for the underground rivers that
honycomb the porous limestone of the Yucatan which provide some of the most beautiful cave and cavern or "cenote" diving in
the world. Many of these caves are very highly decorated and are like floating through the finest dry cave you have
ever seen, simply filled with water that is as clear as air. Because they are supported and protected by their water
filled enviornment, they are pristine and each has its own particular marine life, unique to a waterfilled cave environment.
Orientation & Location
Isla Cozumel, in the Mexican state
of Quintana Roo, measures 53km (33mi) by 14km (9mi) and sits 71km (44mi) south of Cancún. It's 19km (12mi)
off of the Yucatán Peninsula's east coast. The island's only town, San
Miguel de Cozumel, is easily traversed by foot. Its waterfront boulevard is Avenida
Rafael Melgar; along Melgar south of the main ferry dock (the 'Muelle Fiscal') is a narrow sand beach. The
main plaza, Plaza del Sol, is just opposite the dock.
Ancient Mayan ruins worth visiting lie in the north and south parts of the island. The
nicest beaches, Playas San Francisco and Palancar,
start 14km (9mi) south of San Miguel, while the world-famous coral reefs are off the island's
southern shores. Much of the east and northeast region of the island is 4WD territory - and provides great opportunity
for peaceful escape.