Cozumel has been my most frequent port stop when on a cruise. I calculate I've been there four times -- and the first three daylong visits have ended with my party staggering back to the ship, drunk, laughing, nearly incoherent and providing legitimate arguments to those who would call us ugly Americans. That's what happens after a day at a beach or on a snorkel trip with much too much sun and tequila. Fair warning: On excursions in Mexico, guides continuously bring bottle around for another splash of fiery booze to keep the party festive. Each time -- as we crumple into our cabin beds for a long nap, often missing dinner -- we swear âNever again!â
Heading from the International Pier to the San Miguel old town area, we made several stops to check out how travelers might have a fun time on their own in Cozumel. Plenty of walking and swimming makes for a simple, cheap and revealing independent excursion.
The main road along the water between the ports offers tons to do. We found shopping in the forms of large market complexes, with stalls featuring handicrafts, jewelry and souvenirs, to the Royal Village Shopping Center, which is home to major brand name stores, right across from the International Pier.
At Tio Jose near the ferry terminal (which runs passengers to Playa del Carmen), we discovered our own little private beach area. The eatery has cheap beers and gives you delicious chips and salsa. We enjoyed an extended stay for a few cold ones and refreshing dips in the nearby water. In fact, nearly all the restaurants on the water side of the roadway offer access for a swim. Many spots also are homes to outfitters who will take you out for a day of snorkeling or scuba diving.
Also, nearby is a stingray encounter facility. We saw a group just heading into the water to get cozy with creatures as we walked past.
Thanks for reading and happy travels.