The Most Beautiful Beaches on Cozumel, Mexico
An iguana on the rocks of a beach in Cozumel | © henigede / Pixabay
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.
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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
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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
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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
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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.
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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.
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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
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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.
These recommendations were updated on August 6, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.