Cozumel Beach Clubs

Cozumel Beaches vs Beach Clubs

Cozumel Mexico image

This is how it works here: All Cozumel’s beaches are federal property and required by law to be open to the public and provide public access. If you rent a car and drive the east and west coastlines, you will pass numerous spots where you can park your car, hop out and either snorkel or take a swim, depending on the beach.

This is free. But it has the downside that there are no facilities. No shade or chairs is the biggie because the tropical sun is extremely harsh and you need to stay out of it when you’re not actually in the water.

These places also won’t have restrooms, places where you can rent snorkel gear if you wish to (Although we advise you bring your own if you think you’ll do this activity more than once.)

In short, if you just want to stop the car and rush in for a short, glorious swim on a deserted beach, there are plenty of places to do this — particularly on the island’s wild “east side”.

Although the shorelines of Cozumel are public property, the government rents “concessions” to private businesses. The businesses create beachfront environments, “beach clubs” with varying amenities. A few have coverage charges. But most simply expect you to order drinks and/or snacks/lunch as the price of monopolizing a table and lounge chairs in the shade and using the showers and bathrooms.

These “Beach Clubs” are Cozumel’s answer to providing inexpensive and comfortable oceanfront facilities to all comers — from Mayan families on their Sunday outing to cruise ship passengers and “land visitors” spending a week or more on the island. They provide an excellent way for visitors to sample a variety of beachfront experiences at reasonable prices.

If your goal is snorkeling, you can find places to get in without using going to a “club.” But if you do this be sure to bring surf booties. Also be sure to check out our in-depth Snorkeling article.

Beach Clubs

Below you’ll find our recommendations for best beach clubs. (The wild side beaches and bars you can find on your own. Just rent a car and drive south on the coastal highways.)

Rule of thumb is that all open at 8 AM and close at 5 PM. We have divided them into categories based on the kind of activity you are interested in. This is not an exhaustive list of every beach club on the island — just the ones we especially like.

TIP: If you’re a cruise passenger doing research, beware of ship tours to beaches and clubs you don’t see listed here. Suffice it to say that If a beach club doesn’t make this listing, there’s a reason.

BEST SNORKELING CLUBS

Cozumel snorkel gearNote: All the clubs listed here are close enough to downtown and the international cruise ship piers that its as economical to get there by taxi as it is to rent a car.

The Money Bar

Location: On the old beach road about 1/2 mile past the entrance to El Presidente Hotel . 10 minutes from downtown by car or taxi, 6 minutes from the southern cruise ship piers.

Amenities: lockers, restrooms, outdoor shower,  and lounge chairs. They rent snorkel equipment if you want to try for the first time. Bar and moderately priced restaurant ($4 US for soft drinks and beer, sandwiches and tacos around $10). No cover charge but you’re expected to buy something for the use of the tables.

Corona Beach Club

Location: Also on the old beach road about 1/2 mile past the main entrance to Chankannab National Park.

Amenities: lockers, restrooms, outdoor shower, and lounge chairs. They rent snorkel equipment if you want to try for the first time. Bar and reasonably priced restaurant ($4 US for soft drinks and beer, sandwiches and tacos around $8). No cover charge but you’re expected to buy something for the use of the tables.

Sky Reef

Location: Also on the old beach road about 1 mile past the main entrance to Chankannab National Park.

Amenities: lockers, restrooms, outdoor shower, and lounge chairs. They rent snorkel equipment if you want to try for the first time. Bar and reasonably priced restaurant ($4 US for soft drinks and beer, sandwiches and tacos around $8). No cover charge but you’re expected to buy something for the use of the tables.

Tortuga’s Beach Club

Location: Also on the old beach road about 3/4 mile past the main entrance to Chankannab National Park.

Amenities: restrooms, outdoor shower, and lounge chairs. Bar and reasonably priced restaurant ($4 US for soft drinks and beer, sandwiches and tacos around $8). No cover charge but you’re expected to buy something for the use of the tables.

The listings below provide sand beaches with easy entrance to the water and also offer decent — if not great snorkeling.

Playa Azul Beach Club

Location: 3 miles north of downtown directly next door to the Playa Azul Hotel and across the street from the well-known restaurant, The Lobster House.

Amenities: restrooms, outdoor shower, lounge chairs. Bar and moderately priced restaurant. ($4 US for soft drinks and beer, sandwiches and tacos around $10)

Comments: Playa Azul has a small but picturesque sand beach and there is some decent snorkeling to the left and right of this along the shoreline. Watch out for strong currents on some days, however. This club used to be packed on Sunday afternoons as it is a favorite with locals. If you want to be part of the local Mexican scene, hit this club around 10 AM on Sunday morning to stake out a place and people watch. You may be one of the few gringo faces on the beach but we can assure you that people will be very friendly.

There are clean bathroom/changing rooms/showers. You can rent snorkel gear if you like. Snorkeling can be okay but won’t be great. Still it’s such a pretty place to spend half a day. And if you’re staying in town, this is a close nice lounging beach, just a short cab ride from centro.

Club Cozumel Caribe

Location: 2.5 miles north of downtown.

Amenities: restrooms, outdoor shower, lounge chairs. They rent snorkel equipment if you want to try for the first time. Bar and reasonably priced restaurant ($4 US for soft drinks and beer, sandwiches and tacos around $8). There is a small per person cover charge at the entrance. But save your receipt and they will deduct it from your tab at the end of the day.

There are super clean bathroom/changing rooms/showers. You can rent snorkel gear if you like. Snorkeling can be okay but won’t be great. Still it’s such a pretty place to spend half a day. And if you’re staying in town, this is a close nice lounging beach, just a short cab ride from centro.

The listings below provide long stretch of natural, white sand beach. Snorkeling will be nonexistent here but you can’t beat ’em for pretty.

San Francisco Beach Club

Location: Approximately 8 miles south of downtown where the old island road intersections with the new, faster road.

Amenities: showers, changing rooms, chaise lounges and palapas, pretty restaurant and bar with swings, beach toys, snorkel rentals.

Comments: More than half the sand beaches found on the west side of the island are artificially created with white sand trucked in to cover the natural, rocky iron shore. San Francisco is the first of several real natural white sand beaches that you’ll come to if you travel south from the direction of downtown San Miguel. This club lost some of its beach but it had extra to spare. No cover charge. It’s adjacent to Paradise Beach Club listed below so you can check out both these clubs in one fell swoop.

Paradise Beach Club

Location: Approximately 8 miles south of downtown and right next door to San Francisco Beach (Listed directly above.)

Amenities: restaurant and bar, clean restrooms, lots of water toys including some floating mattresses, a water tramp and a floating iceberg, etc. Entrance is free but there is a fee for use of the toys.

Palancar Beach Club

Location: Approximately 15 miles south of downtown along the new island road.

Amenities: outdoor shower, changing rooms/bathrooms, chaise lounges, swings, lots of hammocks, especially pretty restaurant. Many birds on the grounds — parrots on perches, cages of smaller birds, peacocks

Comments: This beach club is our personal favorite because it is so laid back and will tend to be much less crowded than anywhere else on the west side of the island. This due to the fact that it’s so far from everything that the most practical way to get here is via rental car. Not a lot of fancy water toys to rent here. Instead, you get the old fashioned, Mexican kind. We like them better. And we recommend this beach club if you want Mellow and Uncrowded at just about any time of the year. During high season, however, as with all beach facilities, we recommend arriving by 10:30 AM to get the best choice of where to stake your claim.

WILD SIDE BEACH CLUBS

Cozumel beachesThe island’s wild side has had no electricity and hence no development since Hurricane Wilma trounced the island several years ago. It is a lovely place for a drive and to stop in at one or more of the little beach bars along this coast line.

We would urge you not to swim on this side of the island, however. There are dangerous rip tides and we personally know of 3 experienced local swimmers who have died over there in the past year alone.

Other pages you should check out
Getting around on Cozumel
How to be more than just a tourist