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Like A Local: Cozumel

Cozumel Travel Guide

Close the guidebooks and let a local lead the way.

By Kandy Stahl

In 2010, I retired from the life of a university professor and administrator, sold everything I owned in Texas, made the move to Cozumel, and never looked back. The relaxed pace of life and the beautiful waters surrounding the island are unrivaled and the people are genuine. Here are my tips on how to enjoy your time on our diverse island.

Top Tip

One of the most memorable experiences is found at Chankanaab Park. Start with a traditional Mayan steam bath (reservations required), which you’ll leave spiritually relaxed with a sense of well-being. Swim with dolphins, stroll through Pre-Hispanic ruin replicas, walk through botanical gardens, and swim or snorkel in the ocean.
The east side of Cozumel is more primitive, with no electricity. A nice day at the beach can be had at one of the local beach bars. Chen Rio is very popular among residents because it has some large, protected inlets for swimming in the ocean with no worries of riptides or dangerous currents, and the restaurant serves a nice variety of dishes.

Off the Beaten Path

In July 2015, Cozumel hosted artists from around the world who participated in Sea Walls: Murals for Oceans, for which 36 murals were painted on buildings around the island. See the real Cozumel while viewing some of these magnificent paintings; maps are available to guide you.
Alternatively, sign up for the Cozumel Bar Hop to get a guided tour of island history as you travel from the west to the east side. Stop at four different beach clubs and have a free shot of their signature drink. If you don’t feel like consuming alcohol, each has a nice food menu to sample as well. It’s a nice way to see the “wild side” of the island.

How Not to Look Like a Tourist

Do not walk around with a balloon hat on your head from a popular bar! We call that the “tag and release program;” you’re tagged with balloons so all the shops you pass spot the tourist. The other dead giveaway, especially for women, is walking around town wearing your bathing suit and cover-up. The same goes for men in…

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