FAQ’s About Visiting Cozumel
The Cozumel FAQ page includes is a list of questions that are frequently asked on our Facebook group discussion. If you don’t see the answer you’re looking for on this page, post your question and we’ll all try to help you out over that-a-way. Money Matters and Health & Safety Questions have their own articles.
What’s the Best Time of Year to Visit? And is it going to be mobbed like Cancun during Spring Break?
When to visit depends on what you like to do as well as the kind of weather you desire. The winter which runs from early December through March is many people’s favorite time to visit hence the higher prices and busier conditions at this time of the year The temperatures in high season are moderate (70 degrees at night to around 85 during the day).
As little as 10 years ago, winters here tended to be very dry. But the weather is changing world-wide and the strong winter storms in Canada and the NE US states impact Cozumel as well. It seldom if ever goes below 70 during a ‘norte’ as they call them here. However, there can be several days of windy, rainy weather every time there is a storm to the north. So plan accordingly.
By April things are warming up smartly and with less rain. May through August is summer here with temps ranging from lows of 80 at night to highs of 90ish during the day and with typically high humidity. But there is almost always a stiff breeze and, of course, the ocean, to cool you off.
Advantages of this time of the year? Cheaper rates on everything from vacation rentals to airfares. Less people. And divers say that the visibility in the summer is the best it is all year.
September-November is the rainy season. Expect high humidity and the chance of rain any day — although weeks at a time will go by without a drop of rain so you really can’t predict this. Fall is also the prime hurricane season for this part of the Caribbean so travel insurance is suggested unless you can afford to take the chance on getting stormed out of your vacation. On the plus side, this is the cheapest time of year to visit the island and conditions will be so uncrowded that you can wait until the last minute to book car rentals, dive ops, etc.
Spring Break isn’t an issue on Cozumel. The college crowds seem to prefer easier-to-reach, wilder Cancun and, to a lesser extent, Playa del Carmen.
Is Cozumel good for a person who needs Handicap access?
Wheel chair access can be a problem downtown. Although because of the number of locals who ride bicycles, there are many curb ramps that go from the sidewalk into the street, the sidewalks tend to be very uneven with many breaks and obstructions of one sort or the other. We have seen several folks in wheelchairs wheeling happily down the edge of the street itself instead of on the sidewalk.
As far as getting in and out of taxis, diving and snorkeling, labor is very cheap here and the people are extremely sweet and accommodating. Wheelchair rentals are also available at several of the island’s pharmacies including the Dori Farmacia on Rosada Salas between Avenida 15 and Avenida 20 South. (All the taxi drivers know where it is.) If you or a friend speaks decent Spanish, you can call directly to make a reservation: 52 987 872 0559. Here is an excellent and up to date article written by a wheel-chair user visiting Cozumel.
What is Cozumel’s Time Zone?
Cozumel was on CST for many years. On Feb 1, 2015, however, the time switched to EST. DST is NOT be observed. Which does tend to make things a mite confusing but there you have it. Basically, EST from October to March and CST from March to October.
What can you do at Night on Cozumel?
Like all of Latin-America, Cozumel is a town that lights up late at night when locals, who often take siestas during the heat of the day if their schedule allows, come out in the cool of the evening to shop, eat and socialize.
Shops typically stay open and busy until around 9 PM. Restaurants often don’t even get really rolling until at least that time. And its not at all unusual to see large groups eating a big restaurant meal at 1 AM in the morning. Or later. There are several live music venues including Woody’s, Wet Wendys, La Rumba and The Money Bar. If you are interested in salsa dancing or lessons and more info on live salsa music, check out Laura’s Salsa Page.
I’m bringing my kids along. What kind of entertainment can I expect to find for them?
Cozumel is a wonderfully family friendly vacation destination. We’ve put together an in-depth essay on Kids and Cozumel which addresses the interests of different age groups and types of activities. And there’s even a business now that rents out equipment at quite reasonable prices so you don’t have to drag it all with you!
How do I deal with the money situation? What should I bring? How should I pay for things?
Currency is pesos, of course. Check the conversion rate before you leave so you’ll have a general idea of what things cost. For a long time the rule of thumb was that one US dollar equaled approximately 10 pesos. As of this writing in June 2017, a dollar is worth nearly 19 pesos! Real good time to be visiting Mexico. Read our Money Matters for lots of advice on what to bring and how to manage your funds while you’re on the island.
What Should I Pack?
We believe in traveling light. Cozumel is a tropical environment and informality is the rule. So you don’t need much in the way of clothes. Most items you need — like sun screens, coolers, disposable diapers, etc — can now be bought locally. Usually the price will be higher than you’ll pay in the states. But particularly for heavy or bulky items, you might be better off purchasing them locally. Here’s our Packing List.
Do I Need to Bring Baby Gear
There are LOTS of babies and young children here. You can purchase anything you need. Formula could be a problem as they only carry a few brands. But there are plenty of toys, strollers, clothing, hats and disposable diapers available at the big grocery stores here. Bring your own car seats if you plan to rent a car, however.
Who Should I Tip and How Much?
If you are staying in a hotel, leaving $2/day per person on the bed for the maid is a nice tip. Leave this daily instead of waiting until the end of your visit and you’ll get a lot of extra service along the way — such as more bottled water. The better rental villas recommend a tip at the end of the week of around $15 US/person.
If you dive or take other types of tours a tip is always much appreciated. And it’s expected if you liked the service. Ask your dive op in advance what is a reasonable amount. Tips are usually given to the captain or the dive master and split up among all the crew.
Taxi drivers don’t need to be tipped unless they give you excellent and special service. Good waiters should be tipped what you would in your home country. We tip 15-20% depending on the level of service we receive. (And nothing if we get lousy service. But that very seldom happens here.)
People ask about bringing something special for the maids instead of money. Money is most appreciated in a country where cash is king and there’s not a lot extra. If you want to give something to the children on the plaza on Sunday night, please don’t make it candy (!) Go for little plastic toys instead — like those bags of plastic figurines you can pick up at Wal-Mart, balloons, those party favor things you can blow and they unroll, neon twisters. Those kinds of things are hard to come by here and the kids love them. Plus it won’t rot their teeth.
Cozumel has come a long way in the last 10 years and there is fairly high speed internet available everywhere in town and at the resorts. Villa rentals will almost always have WiFi and there are also numerous internet cafes around town. We note that crew members from the cruise ships like to hang out at the little deli restaurant at the front of the Mega grocery store on the waterfront. They all have laptops so that would be one place for free WiFi.
Same as in the US–plugs and everything. So if you’ve got to lug down that hairdryer you may never use, you can crank it right up wherever you are on the island.
How safe is it to drive here?
First of all, it’s impossible to get lost. There is only one road that goes to the south end of the island, curves around the end, meanders along the east coast and then cuts back across the center of the island to downtown. So if you are heading to the beaches or the wild side from either town or one of the cruise ship piers, you can breeze right through on roads that are in quite good shape.
Be prepared for some congestion right in the heart of the downtown shopping district/waterfront area with bicycles and mopeds sharing the street with you and lots of taxis.. Just go slowly, use common sense and you’ll be fine. No one is driving fast in town. Be aware of mopeds which will often try to come up on the “wrong side”. Just keep your eyes open and drive and don’t take the car above second gear in town and you’ll be fine.
We suggest avoiding the waterfront drag in town and using one of the parallel streets. Not much traffic just a few blocks back from the water and it makes things a little easier for new drivers here until you get your bearings.
Alto means stop. And if you are going cross island in town, be prepared to stop at virtually every intersection. If you are going north to south (parallel to the ocean) you will generally have the right of way unless you see a stop sign or stop light.
Rule of thumb in town is to take your half out of the middle so that taxis can’t pass you. Parking downtown can be a problem….just look for the parking lots. If you’re staying in town, this is not a worry. You may turn right on red lights after a stop as long as you see a sign with a little arrow pointing to the right on the right side of the road at the intersection in question.
Resist the temptation to rent a moped despite how cheap they are. We see accidents all the time and many involve tourists who don’t know where the potholes are etc.. It’s also worth mentioning that mopeds have a different wheelbase than you motorcycle or US scooter riders are used to. There’s a learning curve and we wouldn’t advise undertaking this in a strange location.
If you rent a car, be sure to take a look at what you’re getting before you sign up. Your credit card company back home may cover you for collision insurance. But be sure you take the personal liability insurance that is sometimes extra, sometimes included in the rate. If you happen to injure a third party, US insurance and credit cards won’t cut it and you will find yourself in the police station trying to figure out how to pay cash for the other person’s hospital bills (!)
And, a final tip, during high season there are sometimes traffic checks as you leave San Miguel to go to northern, southern or eastern beach areas. So wear you helmets if you were fool enough to rent a moped and be sure to put on those seat belts — back and front seats!
There are several good Laundromats in town. At Margaritas on Calle 11 two blocks in from the waterfront you can drop off a load of clothes in the AM and it will be washed, dried, folded, bagged and ready for you around 2 and at a cost of $10-15 US. Or you can do it yourself. There’s another Margaritas on Avenida 20 South (Sur) between Rosada Salas and Morelos.
Where to Stay
Check out our Accommodations Guide for an overview. Personally we think you’ll have the most fun and get the most bounce for your vacation dollar staying downtown and using the extra money on a rental car. But read this article to get a better idea of what’s right for YOU.