Cozumel, Mexico- February, 2016. For many years I could not fathom why some people return to the same vacation spot year after year. There were, and still are, so many places in the world I want to see I couldn’t understand why anyone would visit the same one more than once, let alone over and over. That was until I discovered Cozumel!
Cozumel is a perfect little island just east of Cancun on Mexico’s mainland. It has some of the best scuba diving in the world. The people are friendly and we feel very safe there. Best of all, and what keeps us coming back, is that it is so inexpensive. It is one of the cheapest destinations in the Caribbean period. But when compared to other locations that have outstanding diving its value is off the charts.
We made the plan more than a year ago to meet three other couples there in February 2016. We were able to shop for airfare way in advance and found a great fare on a direct flight from Houston. With the savings on airfare and a good rate on the room from Travelocity we were able to book 2 weeks for what we usually pay for just one week with airfare from Missouri. We set the money aside for this splurge from the sale of our home last summer.
This is our 7th trip to Cozumel. It’s fun to return to a place that’s somewhat familiar. We know what to expect from the hotel, where to get supplies, and how to get around town. But we’ve only scratched the surface of what this island has to offer. There is so much left to discover.
This was hands down one of the most enjoyable trips of our life. I would have thought that traveling with such a large group would have made it less likely we would make new friends. Instead it seemed to have the opposite effect. We became acquainted with tons of new people and felt like we were part of a small community.
While RVing people often just call us Missouri so we took to calling everyone whether single or a couple by their place of origin. We met Iowa and Wisconsin on the dive boats and Minnesota and Kentucky while playing pool volleyball each afternoon. There were newlyweds from a small town very near our hometown, so we called them Branson. Someone would walk by and one our friends would call out “Canada” or “Ohio” and someone they met in line at the bar or who knows where would join our tribe.
Each time we visit Cozumel we spend one day on what is called the wild side of the island. The water is rough on the east side so the opportunities to swim are limited to a few spots. But the surf is incredible and the beaches are stunning.
There is no electricity to this side of the island so there is very little development. Every few miles there is another beautiful location and its obligatory beach bar and often a little hut offering some gifts in the vicinity.
As usual this was one of the best days of the entire vacation. Some of our favorite places on the wild side are the blowholes near the Rasta Bar on the southeast corner of the island.
The twin natural coral bridges at El Mirador are not to be missed.
Then there is the great little protected cove where it is safe to swim and many locals bring their families.
The most popular bar on the wild side is Coconuts. It has fun birds to look at and sometimes pet. And a million profound signs like this one.
We generally rent a jeep to make the trip around the island and whether there are 2 or 4 of us it costs about $100 with fuel. We looked for alternatives for the 8 of us and finally decided to hire a large taxi for 6 hours to make the loop. We talked them into doing this for $25 per person. So including tip each couple paid $60 and no one had to drive.
Our favorite place to stay on the island is Hotel Cozumel. It is not a five star resort but it is clean, friendly, and very reasonably priced. Even though they have a couple hundred rooms it doesn’t feel large or crowded.
One of our favorite pastimes is watching for iguanas that gather on the wall out back of the hotel. This fellow was apparently tired of being relegated to the back yard and chose to wrap himself around a lamppost out front.
The hotel claims to have the largest pool on the island.
But our favorite spot in the resort is the small man made beach across the street. There is a pool carved from the coral where fish are free to come in and out and there is great snorkeling just off the wall.
We always choose the all-inclusive option with the room so our drinks are included and there is a buffet somewhere from 6:30 am to long after we ever stay awake (I think 11pm). The food is not fancy but always good and there is a large enough variety that we can always find something we like. Most years we eat dinner out one or two times.
One of our friends was celebrating a birthday so we decided to try a restaurant we had not visited before called Casa Mission. It turned out to be a great choice. They made a birthday cake and had the mariachi band sing happy birthday. The service wasn’t great but the food more than made up for it and they served amazing margaritas.
We went downtown a couple times with different friends to look around and shop for this or that. The square is a fun and colorful place to walk around if you can ignore the sometimes pushy salespeople. I don’t enjoy haggling but if you do this is your place.
The locals are some of the friendliest people we have ever met. They always seem so happy despite working so hard for the little they have. Many families rely on scooters for transportation here. It is not uncommon to see a family of three or four riding a scooter.
One time we saw a family of 5. Mom sat on a 2×6 with a child perched on each side and then held a baby in her lap while dad concentrated on keeping the whole ensemble on the road.
I am looking forward to telling you about the beautiful world underneath the waters of Cozumel in my next post.