Situated a few kilometers offshore from Playa del Carmen and just south of Cancun in the warm waters of the Mexican Caribbean Sea, the island of Cozumel is home to some of the world’s most beautiful beaches. At just 30 miles long and nearly 10 miles wide, it is also easy to get around and visit the island’s various sites, including the ones along its coastline.
“Cozumel has numerous beaches, from white-sand strands with calm water and all the amenities, to rocky, limestone shorelines offering prime snorkeling and scuba conditions,” writes USA Today, which recently compiled a list of four must-see beaches of Cozumel.
Beaches throughout Mexico are open to the public, but portions of Cozumel’s considerable beachfront real estate has been leased by the Mexican government to private operators, who charge a small fee in return for access to comfortable lounge-style seating, clean restrooms with showers, traditional thatch-roofed palapa-style shade, and a variety of food and drink options.
In addition, numerous water sport rentals are typically available at these beach clubs, where a one-day membership pass only requires a small, one-time fee. Another benefit to the beaches of Cozumel, and in fact those in many other parts of the region, is that visitors, locals and ex-pats get to share the sand. This experience often equates to a multicultural experience in the Riviera Maya, since a wide variety of nationalities have discovered its beauty, safety, luxury and affordability. But if the pampered route isn’t your thing, don’t worry – there are also plenty of beaches that are free and perfect for an impromptu swim! Regardless of where you ultimately decide to lay your towel, here are the four beaches USA Today chose to feature:
Playa San Francisco
Located on the island’s west coast, this beach – or playa, as it is called in Spanish – lies on the island’s western coast and is one of the first to be designated a dedicated tourist destination. Here, a beach club offers nearly three miles of pristine, white-sand coastline and the membership fee can be used toward a food purchase from one of its two restaurants. In addition, the club offers a full bar, changing rooms, comfortable lounge-style seating, massage and a variety of different water sport rentals.
Also situated along the island’s western coast, the beach club at Playa Mia is a favorite among locals and visitors alike – especially cruise ship passengers who often dock nearby for a day or two. Here, a resort-like atmosphere prevails, with a large playground for children, a giant trampoline, a swimming pool and free use of non-motorized water sports, such as kayaks and sailboats, for all members. Wave runners, water ski packages and banana boat rides are also available for a small additional fee and all areas are wheelchair accessible.
For a $10 food credit and $2 entrance fee, the club at Paradise beach provides lounge chairs and shade, but for only $12 more you can also enjoy access to a variety of water sports and other amenities, including snorkeling, kayaking and a large swimming pool. If that’s not enough, for just a little bit more money parasailing and Jet Skis are also available.
If a more typical Mexican beach scene is what you crave,Playa Casitas will provide the ideal experience. Here, you’ll likely find locals hanging out on the weekends, enjoying a few beers and eating traditional Yucatecan fare. The warm, crystal clear turquoise waters are almost always calm, making it the ideal destination for families with children. In addition, a restaurant, shower facilities and palapas are available.