With its location off the coast of the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico – home to one of the largest coral reefs in the world – it’s no surprise that the island of Cozumel is a sought-after scuba and snorkeling spot. With tropical waters teeming with life, the region also offers an abundance of incredible seafood. Here’s our pick of the best places to dine on delicacies of the deep.
Making its home in the backstreets of San Miguel, away from the usual tourist trail, La Perlita (the little pearl) truly is a hidden gem. It specializes in lionfish, an invasive – and delicious – species, and by eating it, you’re actually helping out the local marine environment. The win-win menu is practically all seafood, from coconut shrimp to grilled octopus, while a friendly and unpretentious atmosphere makes it an understandably popular spot for residents, too.
No prizes for guessing what this family-run, palapa-style restaurant’s specialty is. Opened in the 1970s, the Lobster House is one of the longest established dining spots on the island, so it knows a thing or two about cooking seafood. Of course, the grilled lobster is a highlight, and if you’re ravenous, you can add a T-bone steak. As night falls, numerous lanterns and hanging lights make for a wonderfully atmospheric dining experience, helped along by live tableside music.
A little off the beaten track, but worth the extra legwork, El Sazón del Camarón is known for its grilled shrimp tacos. The fish tortas (a type of sandwich) are also worthy of a mention, and its prawn cocktail and ceviche are popular picks as well. Portions are on the generous side, so you won’t leave hungry, either. It serves proper Mexican fare at local prices.
This unpretentious seafood coctelería (cocktail bar) off of the main drag offers some of the best value on the island. You’ll want to bring your appetite, as it serves huge portions at pocket-friendly prices. For example, the seafood platter features six types of seafood, including grilled lobster, and is enough for two. It’s little wonder it’s super popular with local residents as well as a trickle of savvy travelers (like you) who seek it out.
Just one block from the port, Mariscos Camilo’s is a great pick if you’re hungry for fresh-off-the-boat seafood. It’s a small restaurant with some big flavors, especially in the form of its home-made guajillo chili sauce. The menu at this family-run eatery includes dishes such as whole grilled fish, tuna steak and crab-claw broth, as well as plenty of traditional Mexican options. It makes an excellent margarita, too.
If you don’t mind paying a little more for top-quality cuisine, Kondesa offers a foodie-friendly menu of genuinely creative flavors. The angle is modern Mexican cuisine, with seafood at its heart and an emphasis on local ingredients. Though anchored in the center of town, you dine in a secluded jungle-like environment that turns twinkly by night. Its lionfish cakes with coconut milk are an inspired opener, while the bao lobster buns are outrageously good.
Looking for somewhere to stay? Book into one of the best hotels in Isla Cozumel, or for something a little different, how about one of the top resorts? For more inspiration for your itinerary, don’t miss out on all the top things to do while you’re here, including the best beaches. And for a different taste of this Mexican island, try one of the best bars.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.