Located 12 miles off the northeastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, Cozumel is Mexico’s largest inhabited island.
The island is rated one of the top diving destinations in the world thanks to the second largest coral reef in the world.
In addition to spectacular diving, Cozumel is also known for their white powdery beaches, thriving markets and restaurants and proximity to popular visitor sites like the Mayan (San Gervasio) and Tulum Ruins.
Cozumel is a very popular port of call for Western Caribbean cruise itineraries.
There are over 3 million cruise ship passengers that visit Cozumel each year.
Currency: Mexican Peso, US Dollar
Primary Language Spoken: Spanish, English
Where Do Cruise Ships Dock?
There are 3 cruise ship piers in Cozumel – all of which are on west side of the island.
Punta Langosta is located in downtown Cozumel. Cruise passengers walk off their ship, cross over a pedestrian bridge into a shopping plaza which then leads out into the city (San Miguel).
The tourist information office is located at the end of the pier by the Punta Langosta shopping plaza.
International Pier is the island’s oldest pier and a 10-minute taxi ride from downtown San Miguel. The walk to downtown San Miguel is a pretty one as it’s along the coast line but it is a lengthy one – approximately 30 minutes.
Puerta Maya is 1/2 mile south of International Pier. Carnival Cruise Lines built this pier and is touted by some as a superficial replica of the real Mexico. Store and restaurant prices are inflated here to reflect the commissions the businesses pay cruise lines to be in this area.
When there are many ships in port, some will anchor outside Punta Langosta pier with tenders taking cruise passengers into Cozumel.
Getting Around Cozumel
Taxi / Taxi Van– There is no shortage of taxis around the three cruise docks. It’s the most economical way to get around Cozumel and many make multiple trips from the piers to popular tourist spots like Chankannab Park and the beach clubs that offer all-day resort/activity passes for cruisers. Just be sure to agree on a price before getting into the vehicle. All drivers are required show a rate card to show fares from the pier to popular tourist spots.
Car Rental – Car seats are not available in taxis or taxi vans so if you require one for your child, your only option is to rent a car and request a car seat. Most attractions and points of interest are close to all three cruise ship piers so if you are OK with holding your children in your lap like the locals do, it might be easier to take a taxi than renting a car.
Walking – If you’re not interested in visiting a tourist attraction or the beaches, you won’t need transportation to explore downtown San Miguel or the area around the three piers. There are plenty of shops, cafés and restaurants within walking distance of each of them.
Kid Friendly Beaches in Cozumel
Swimming, snorkeling and lounging on a beach chair is a very popular way to spend the day in Cozumel.
If you’re driving along the east or west coastlines, you’ll find many spot snorkel, swim or play in the sand. This can be done with no additional cost other than your taxi fare or rental car cost however there are no washrooms or change rooms, beach chairs or umbrellas to protect you from the sun.
For a small fee, check out these popular kid-friendly beaches near Cozumel’s cruise ports.
Paradise Beach – For a budget friendly beach day head to Paradise Beach – only a 10 minute cab ride from the Puerta Maya and International Pier cruise ports. Expect to pay $4-5/person for a one way cab ride to the beach. ($4-5 USD/person one way).
Entrance to Paradise Beach is $3 with a $10 minimum food purchase (kids under 6 are exempt) and includes a beach chair, access to the swimming pool and of course the beach. For an additional fee guest can access the inflatable water park and water sports equipment. Bathrooms, showers, taxi stand, life vests and locker rentals ($4 USD/day) are other amenities available at Paradise Beach. The beach is a bit rocky in some areas so bring water shoes if you have them. Advance reservations are not required but this beach fills up quickly when there are several cruise ships in port.
Punta Sur Eco Beach Park – Located on the southern tip of the island, Punta Sur is the largest ecological reserve in Cozumel. Families can combine a beach day with some time exploring Cozumel’s wilder habitats. Families can climb to the top of the lighthouse for a bird’s-eye view of the island or visit the lagoon to learn about crocodiles, iguanas, fish and birds.
Punta Sur Eco Beach Park is open Monday to Saturday from 9AM to 4PM and admission ($14 USD/adult, $8 USD/child 3 to 11 years old) includes access to the lighthouse, beach and a museum. Onsite amenities include restrooms, outdoor showers, restaurants, snack bars, on duty lifeguard, beach chairs, hammocks and snorkeling equipment.
Chankanaab National Park – Many cruise lines offer excursions to Chankanaab National Park and there’s a good reason for it. This national park packs a lot activities and entertainment in one space. It is open Monday to Saturday from 8AM to 4PM and admission is $21 for adults and $14 for kids (3 to 11 years old) . Guests get access to a beautiful man-made sand beach and can spend a few hours relaxing in a beach lounger, hammock or under the palapas. They also can spend some time exploring the reef, lagoon or botanical garden, watch the sea lion show or visit the crocodile exhibit.
There are bathrooms, change rooms and showers here for guests to use. Spa treatments, water sports and zip lines, and animal encounters with dolphins and manatees are also available for an additional fee. Restaurants, lockers and snack bars are other amenities offered here so make sure you remember to bring some extra cash with you. It is recommended you arrive before 11:30AM as beach chairs and hammocks go very quickly here.
Beach Clubs are Cozumel’s answer to providing a beach experience with extra amenities – think aquatic parks, splash pads for kids, all you can drink and eat packages, water sports and horseback riding tours. You’ll find many of them lining the oceanfront and almost all taxi drivers can recommend which one would be best for your family. The most popular family-friendly beach clubs are:
Top Attractions & Activities in Cozumel for Families
Along with beautiful beaches and beach clubs, there are countless kid-friendly activities and attractions in Cozumel. Because of the limited time you have in port, here are five popular places that the entire family will enjoy:
Chankanaab Beach Adventure Park – For families looking for a bit of everything – walking trails, zip lines, aerial obstacle course, sea lion and dolphin shows, snorkeling, learning about Mexican and Mayan culture and time at the beach – Chankanaab Park may be worth a visit. Admission is $21 for adults and $14 for kids (3 to 11 years) and includes complimentary use of life vests, access to the reef, lagoon, botanical garden, eco-arqueologicial tour, crocodile exhibit and sea lion show. Fees apply for additional water sports and animal encounters. The 10 minute taxi ride from port to Chankanaab is approximately $15 one way for a family of four. Recommended length of visit – 3 to 4 hours
San Gervasio Ruins – Learn about the Mayan goddess Ixchel and explore Cozumel’s only archaeological site at San Gervasio. Located about a 30 minute drive from the cruise ports, San Gervasio is populated with iguanas, lush flowers and foliage. It is generally very hot here so make sure you pack your sunglasses, hat and sunscreen in your day bag as well as a bottle of water. Visitors can buy purified water at the entrance of the ruins. Recommended length of visit – 1 to 2.5 hours
Atlantis Submarine – Perfect for non-swimmers, the Atlantis Submarine allows visitors to experience Cozumel’s incredible coral reef without getting wet. Learn about tropical fish, sting rays and other aquatic life during your tour. Royal Caribbean and Celebrity cruise passengers are eligible for a special rate and other cruisers who book online in advance receive a 20% discount. Recommended length of visit – 1 to 1.5 hours
Chocolate Factory Tour – For an educational and fun tour, head to the Kaokao Chocolate Factory (approximately 10 minute cab ride from port) and sample and learn how to make chocolate from scratch. Tours run 6 times a day with a limit of 12 people per tour. Tours are approximately one hour long and cost $15 per person. Be sure to book your tour in advance and if you’re interested in a private tour with just your family, that can be arranged as well. Recommended length of visit – 1 to 1.5 hours
Explore San Miguel On Your Own – Walking around Cozumel’s largest town is a great family activity when you don’t want to head to the beach or book a tour. It’s very safe explore on your own and Plaza Central and Plaza del Sol (the town square) offers opportunities to learn about the history and culture of the island. Grab some ice cream or head to one of the many restaurants near the cruise port. Shop for souvenirs, Mayan handicrafts or silver jewelry.
Where to Get Free WiFi in Cozumel
There are several restaurants and cafes in Cozumel that offer free WiFi for paying customers – including Starbucks near the Punta Lagosta cruise port and Margaritaville near the International Pier.
Paradise Beach and several beach clubs – Mr. Sanchos and Playa Mia for example – offer free WiFi connection.
Read More About Caribbean Cruises with Kids:
- Best Water Shoes for Toddlers and Kids
- Cruise Port Guide – Falmouth, Jamaica with Kids
- Cruise Port Guide – Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands with Kids
- Which Caribbean Itinerary is Best – Eastern, Western or Southern?