The Most Beautiful Beaches on Cozumel, Mexico

An iguana on the rocks of a beach in Cozumel | © henigede / Pixabay
An iguana on the rocks of a beach in Cozumel | © henigede / Pixabay
Photo of Leon Beckenham
6 August 2021

Relax on your next vacation to this chilled-out Caribbean island, with our guide to the best playas and sandy stretches, lined with snorkeling spots, scuba-dive sites, beach bars and spas.

Silky white shores, swaying palms and sapphire waters – there’s a good reason why so many are drawn to the idyllic beaches of the Mexican Caribbean. With a sandy coastline skirting practically the whole island of Cozumel, just offshore from the Yucatán Peninsula, a surfeit of gorgeous beaches here is a given. Whether you’re happy hammocking at a beachfront bar or would rather be snorkeling among the dizzying abundance of marine life (hello, dolphins, manatees and sea turtles), these are the best beaches on Cozumel to covet.

Punta Sur

Natural Feature
The cliffs of Punta Sur, Isla Mujeres, Mexico
© Matthiola / Alamy Stock Photo
As the same suggests, Punta Sur marks the island’s southernmost point, and the beach here is a wonderful long sweep of white powder and turquoise sea. It’s also part of Arrecifes de Cozumel National Park, encompassing a broad swathe of dense forest, lagoon systems and coral reef that forms part of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, the second-largest coral reef system in the world. While mostly protected, there’s a handful of low-key bars, as well as the swanky Anémona De Mar Beach Club at one end, where you can arrange a tour of the ecopark or just unwind with a massage.

Playa El Cielo

Natural Feature
Cozumel, Mexico - Group of friends relaxing together on a party boat tour of the Carribean Sea
©Solarysys / Alamy Stock Photo
Just around the cape from Punta Sur, this aptly named ‘heaven’ beach really does feel like a slice of Eden. El Cielo is actually a shallow sandbank located just offshore, which makes it a real paradise for snorkelers of all levels. Its gin-clear waters are teeming with all kinds of sea life, with starfish being particularly prevalent. There’s no real access by road to the beach, so visiting by boat is recommended.

Isla de la Pasión

Natural Feature
Isla de la Pasion (Holbox, Quintana Roo), Mexico: view of the little island of Passion in the Yum Balam nature reserve.
©Giongi63 / Alamy Stock Photo
The beach at Isla de la Pasión is certainly the most exclusive on Cozumel, being part of a private island on the northern coast. From Downtown Cozumel, it’s a (rather bumpy) 20-minute drive followed by a 10-minute boat ride, with organized tours usually including the entry fee plus food and drink. You’ll find a blissfully secluded sweep of white sand scattered with palm trees, swinging hammocks and palapas, as well as a few resident raccoons. If you get lucky, you might even get the whole island to yourself.

Playa San Francisco

Natural Feature
Aerial view of landscape, sand, sea in San Francisco tourist beach in San Carlos Nuevo Guaymas in Sonora, Mexico. San Carlos Bay in the Gulf of California, Sea of ??Cortez or Bermejo Sea, which is located between the Baja California peninsula. sand on a s
©Luis Gutierrez/ / Alamy Stock Photo
Occupying one of the more developed stretches of coastline on Cozumel, Playa San Francisco still has all the hallmarks of a Caribbean paradise but with plenty of beach life, too. Lined with bars and beach clubs, there’s no shortage of spots to kick back with a piña colada under the shade of a palm tree. It’s one of the best beaches for watersports, too, with everything from banana boats to jet skis for hire. Inflatable floating playgrounds are perfect for keeping the kids happy, too.

Playa Palancar

Natural Feature
Playa Palancar, Mexico - April 24, 2019: People relax on the Palancar beach in Playa Palancar, Quintana Roo, Mexico.
©byvalet / Alamy Stock Photo
A finely tuned balance of soft white sand, impossibly turquoise water and just enough beachfront facilities to ensure total comfort, Playa Palancar is the perfect all-rounder. Just a 20-minute drive from the port, it’s a cinch to get to as well, while still achieving that blissful sense of seclusion. As if that wasn’t enough, just off-shore is Palancar Gardens, one of the most impressive and accessible coral reefs on the island – and a must-dive spot for scuba fans.

Chen Rio

Natural Feature
The deceptively named Chen Rio did once have a river running through it, but is now a popular beach destination located on the island’s east coast. It stands out for its collection of boulders and long rock formations that create a big natural pool, perfect for swimming. A neighboring lush swathe of vegetation forms part of a protected nature reserve, while off-shore coral reefs provide first-rate fish-watching opportunities. There’s a decent seafood restaurant here, too, if you get peckish.

Chankanaab Beach Adventure Park

Amusement Park
Chankanaab adventure beach park Cozumel, Mexico
©All4Art / Alamy Stock Photo
If you like your beach time brimming with fun-filled activities, then this family-friendly adventure park is the place to come. As well as all the usual water-based shenanigans (snorkeling, scuba and swimming with manatees), there’s loads to do on land, like zip-lining and spa experiences. Of course, if you do want to just recline on a sun lounger, there’s a lovely stretch of beach where you can do that, too.

Looking for somewhere to stay? Book into one of the best hotels on 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. And, for a different taste of this Mexican island, try one of its best seafood restaurants or best bars.

These recommendations were updated on August 6, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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