Situated just a quick ferry ride through the Caribbean away from Playa del Carmen on the mainland in Mexico’s Riviera Maya,the island of Cozumel is most often recognized as a cruise ship port,or as a fun day trip from Playa. But in reality,this gem of the Mexican Caribbean is so much more than a bustling tourist port or Playa del Carmen’s sidekick!
As two recent TravelPulse articles illustrate quite clearly,this small island is brimming with activities and Cozumel’s lesser-known offerings go way beyond the tequila-sodden revelers and t-shirt vendors you might see hanging around the port.
“That was exactly my experience the last time I was in Cozumel,but that was because I had never reached el otro lado – the undeveloped east side of [the island],” wrote Rosalind Cummings-Yeates for TravelPulse.
During a recent trip,Yeates did just that,taking the time to really explore this 20-mile stretch of pristine Caribbean coastline,which is known for its impressive waves,soft white-sand beaches and gorgeous exposed coral shelves. She also spent a day aboard a Cozumel pirate ship – which,back in the 17th century when the island was a known hideout for swashbucklers would have been normal… Although probably not nearly as fun!
“I had no intention of journeying to Mexico to hang out with pirates,” wrote Yeates. “So when I gazed at the Jean Lafitte floating slowly toward the Cozumel dock,I didn’t know what to think.”
With dark burnished wood and a skull with crossbones painted on the side,the boat appears like an apparition from the past. And when passengers get a glimpse of El Capitan in a dark headscarf,flowing shirt and dangerous expression,the experience takes on a new sense of excitement.
“El Capitan peered down from the ship’s mast like he was sizing up people to loot,” wrote Yeates. “Then the whole motley crew descended upon us.”
The pirates make a big show out of going through the passengers’ belongings,eyeing their jewels and flirting with the women,but despite the thievery guests soon warm up to the experience,which also includes singing,jokes and dancing. The pirates also cook for the “hostages,” serving up a meal of perfectly prepared lobster,steak and chicken.
“We feasted until we forgot we were on a ship,in the middle of the sea,surrounded by pirates,” Yeates shared. “Perhaps it was the gallons of rum punch,margaritas and beers that they steadily pushed at us,but after three hours,I felt like we were all friends.”
And what better way to relax after a raucous day with pirates than retiring to the gorgeous Playa Punta Morena,a beach on the island’s undeveloped east side? Here,swaying palms and iridescent white sand frame the stunning turquoise blue of the Caribbean Sea. Each weekend,locals call the dolphins over to their boats by tapping on the sides and the gentle creatures swim along. These are wild dolphins,mind you,not the trained variety you might catch in a fenced in area that are forced to perform for tourists. Here,the dolphins swim happily along with surfers and boaters in the sea by Punta Playa Morena,which is one of the most peaceful beaches of Cozumel.
Rent a beach cabana and kick back,or sample the amenities,which includes a restaurant that serves up fresh lobster pizza,freshly caught snapper and shrimp fajitas. Although the shoreline here is a bit rocky,the small cove offers a serene experience.
Want to know more about Cozumel?
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