The Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico has become a popular tourist destination over recent decades. It is a peninsula with a significant history dating back to the Mayans. It is also a place with a wonderful climate and stunning beaches.
Just off the coast in the Caribbean is the island of Cozumel. A small area, it attracts around two million tourists each year. Almost all of them come to enjoy the stunning beaches and crystal blue waters. Some just lie back and relax while others enjoy water sports or a spot of fishing.
The east coast is fairly rugged, its rocky coastline is largely undeveloped. Nevertheless, it is worth a visit. The west coast facing into the Mexican Mainland is much more sheltered, with calmer waters and marine life that provide a real splash of color.
Let’s have a look at the best beaches in Cozumel:
1. Punta Morena, East Coast
This beach in the midpoint of the east coast is a beautiful stretch of sand and the waves are not as wild as some other shorelines here.
It was hit by Hurricane Wilma just over a decade ago, and some of the damage caused is still obvious to this day.
However, it is clear that subsequent investment has made an impact.
There are loungers available, as well as refreshments at the local beach club, where there is also a small pool.
Visitors find that the east coast is quieter than the west; Punta Morena is never too busy and certainly merits some time.
2. Playa Bonita, East Coast
When you arrive at Playa Bonita, you are met by soft, powdery white sand in a lovely cove.
It is slightly sheltered, so the waves are manageable and swimming is no problem.
There isn’t any lifeguard support, however.
It is fairly remote, but there is a nice bar/restaurant catering to visitors.
Because of the effort involved in getting to Playa Bonita, it tends to remain quiet.
There is an ancient ruin nearby, dating from Mayan times; the Mayans believed this most easterly point on Cozumel was the end of civilization.
3. Playa Chen Rio, East Coast
The surf hitting this beach is broken up by a series of large rocks, as a result, there is fairly sheltered water at a depth of less than two meters.
Swimmers and snorkelers will enjoy the sea and lifeguards are in attendance.
A small, rocky island lies just offshore which is fun to explore.
As with all the east coast beaches, Playa Chen Rio is rarely busy.
Lie back and relax in relative tranquility, with only the crashing waves as your soundtrack.
You will find showers and lockers available, as well as a restaurant – El Pescador.
As the name suggests, it is worth looking at the seafood on the menu.
4. Playa San Juan, North West
San Juan is a family favorite, offering plenty of shade in the form of huts, umbrellas and palm trees.
There is a fair amount of coral, and snorkelers frequent this beach without the place ever getting too crowded.
The beach is sandy with a fair amount of coral pieces scattered around it.
You can buy anything you need for your day out at the local shops, including food and drink.
Windsurfing equipment is available for rent and there are a variety of popular water sports on offer too.
5. Playa Azul, North West
Tourists spending the day at Playa Azul can enjoy a variety of activities as an alternative to just relaxing.
Snorkeling is fantastic and there is plenty of marine life to check out.
You can take a single kayak at no charge and a double for a small fee.
Swimming is perfectly safe and the waves gentle.
There is no charge for using the beach and you can find snacks and a cold drink on hand – we recommend trying the shrimp.
You will find showers available, as well as a play area for children.
Local accommodation makes it a good choice to use as a base on the island.
6. Dzul Ha, West Coast
Sunset is a great time to be at Dzul Ha and you will definitely want your camera.
It is not a huge beach, but the offshore reef is accessible to divers and snorkelers without the need for a boat or guide.
The colors of the marine life and vegetation are beautiful.
The beach combines sand and pebbles.
With a few rocks around as well, you should have some casual footwear ready if you want to take a stroll.
Money Bar behind the beach offers drinks and food if you haven’t taken your own picnic.
7. Paradise Beach, West Coast
Paradise is a relatively sheltered beach and among the most popular on Cozumel.
Few are better for families with small children.
The calm waters lap against the soft sand, making this an ideal place for a day out.
With a pool and refreshments, there is a small admission charge to the beach club.
The club rents out kayaks, snorkeling equipment, and paddle boards, as well as selling inflatable water toys.
The admission charge covers a chair for the beach, so parents can just sit back and watch their children have fun.
8. Playa Uva Norte and Uva Sur, West Coast
Locals come to these two connected beaches en masse, while cruise ship passengers often take a kayak tour which brings them here.
As a result, these beaches can get crowded at times.
Norte has limited shade and few amenities but plenty of sand.
Sur has more development and a beach club – one of many on Cozumel.
There are sunbeds below palm trees and rockers that will send you to sleep if all you want to do is relax.
Kayaks have clear bottoms so you can see into the pristine water and marvel at the marine life below.
Food and drink are on hand throughout the day.
9. Mr. Sanchos Beach, West Coast
This is Cozumel’s largest private beach and suits people of all ages.
It is a 15-minute drive south of San Miguel.
There is no charge for entry, but there is a day pass that gives you access to a number of facilities, including large pools with bars where you can swim up and order your drink.
You can sit in a swing seat close to the bar while enjoying the drink of your choice and taking in the view of the Caribbean.
The food on sale is excellent, with seafood the perfect choice.
10. Playa Corona, West Coast
One of the first beaches on Cozumel to attract tourists, Playa Corona’s popularity comes about because of the excellent snorkeling and scuba diving opportunities.
Chankanaab Reef is just offshore and full of colorful, exotic marine life.
Swimming is perfectly safe.
Alternatively, just stretch out on the sand and take in the sun’s rays.
Beach huts provide good shade if you need a break from the heat of the day to enjoy a cold drink.
The beach is fairly narrow and at times crowded – especially at weekends – so be prepared or go elsewhere if it gets too crazy.
11. Stingray Beach, West Coast
This beach close to San Miguel – Cozumel’s main city – gets its name from the stingrays commonly found offshore.
If you want to swim in their company, go ahead – they are not dangerous.
They gather because they know they will get fed by locals and tourists.
Among the other things to enjoy here are paddle boarding, wine tasting, or getting a lesson in making papier mache piñatas.
There’s a bar serving cold drinks and great snacks such as shrimp tacos.
There is an entrance charge to the beach, so get value for your money and stay for the whole day.
12. Playa Mia Grand Beach Park
The largest of Cozumel’s beaches, Playa Mia has a wide range of activities for the crowds which patronize it.
They include day-trippers from cruise ships as well as those holidaying on Cozumel.
Locals join in at weekends, making this a busy beach.
Snorkelers head for an underwater attraction – a ‘’Mayan City’’ – and marine tours are readily available.
Wheelchair access is an added feature, so extended families often head here.
Children will find plenty to do in the water park and play area under the watchful eyes of the professional staff.
13. Playa La Palapita Den Medio, West Coast
Few beaches on Cozumel’s west coast are in a better location for tourists – halfway between the southern piers and the center of town.
La Palapita – a small beach club – remains open night and day, a rarity among the island’s clubs.
Downtown is a three-minute drive away.
It rarely gets crowded here, with cruise passengers generally visiting beaches further south.
Playa La Palapita Dan Medio is a tranquil place compared to many on the west coast, so it is a perfect spot to relax.
There are refreshments on hand, so all you need to do is turn up and enjoy the day.
14. Playa Palancar, West Coast
When it comes to luxury, Cozumel’s most over the top offering is Playa Palancar.
The powdery sand compliments the warm, clear water perfectly.
It is a little over one kilometer long and has all the facilities anyone would hope to find on a beach.
There are umbrellas offering shade on the sand and a large open dining area – also in shade – with cold drinks and fish tacos for sale.
It is the most southerly of Cozumel’s west coast beaches, but such is its quality, many are happy to travel a little further to enjoy a day here.
15. Passion Island, North
Passion Island is located just a short distance off Cozumel’s north coast.
The beaches are well-sheltered, with great swimming.
You can take an all-included day trip out to Passion Island.
Food and drink is available there and if you want to see more of the island, hire a jeep and head off.
However, the best break from the sand and the palms swaying in the gentle breeze is simply out into the lovely, clear waters.