Laura, the Map Chick Suggested Packing List for a First Trip to Cozumel
We’ve seen incredibly long and comprehensive packing lists on other Cozumel travel sites. But, since we live here and shop weekly at the groceries and other stores, we can tell you with considerable authority that most of the stuff on those lists can be bought easily right here on the island. So we suggest buying things as you need them. And bring as little as possible.
We just can’t emphasize enough how happy you’ll be if you don’t bring anything more than what is truly necessary. Take our advice to heart and only pack what you see on this list and you’ll be glad you did. Also if you find we’ve missed something, please let us know and we’ll add it to this page! Our list includes items that are either hard to find here or far more expensive than they would be if you brought them with you.
Clothing for Cozumel
Unless you plan to eat at the best dining room at one of the fanciest resorts like Iberostar or El Presidente, you will have little if any need for fancy duds. So pack light. And think hand wash and fast air dry.
Bring the very lightest weight material you can find. Mid-weight cotton polo shirts are going to be too hot except for in the evenings in the winter.
For men we suggest very light-weight cotton lawn or Rayon Hawaiian type shirts if you can find them. Put this together with two pairs of quick dry mesh lined swim trunks, a pair of Teva type sandals and a sun/rain hat and that will do it for clothing.
For women, two swimsuits and a cover-up (which you can also buy cheap locally). A pair of shorts and a very light-weight short-sleeved shirt for evenings in the winter or to protect you if you get sunburned. One cool, sleeveless sundress. Tevas and comfortable walking sandals. A sun hat is awfully nice. But, you can buy them here, too. Again, steer away from mid weight cotton. Best bets are rayon, cotton lawn or voile, linen or breathable silk. Oh, and sleeveless blouses and dresses are excellent for dealing with the tropics also.
You’ll need a current passport, of course. Check expiration dates plenty of time ahead so you can renew if necessary. If you’re getting your first passport, allow 6 weeks for the whole process. It’s a good idea to make a copy of the pertinent pages of your passport. That way in the unlikely but possible event of loss or theft, it will be faster and easier to get the replacement you’ll need to return state side.
When you enter the country you’ll fill out an immigration form. This will be stamped on entry and the square little document portion that will be ripped off the bottom and returned to you is your visa. It is very important to put this somewhere safe. You will be required to hand it over when you leave the country. If you lose it, there may be delays!
Bring a credit card for back ups, an ATM card cleared with your bank for international debit withdrawals and $100-$200 in $1’s and $5’s for tipping. There’s much more detail on this on our Money Matters page.
Highly recommended accessories
Cozumel map. Purchase one ahead of time from the Laura, the Map Chick.
Your own Snorkeling Equipment. If you plan to do much snorkeling you might want to haul in your own mask, snorkel and fins. We also recommend bringing along a lightweight tee shirt (silk is great) to wear while snorkeling to protect your back. Booties to protect your feet as you walk out over the iron shore to get in the water are a great idea. And if you can find a pair that will slip under your fins, you’ve got it made in the shade.
Mosquito repellent. Sometimes hard to find the good stuff here.
Meds. Ibuprofen, Imodium AD, Pepto-Bismal, etc. are available locally but at surprisingly expensive prices. We suggest bringing a supply of anything like this you use. We would also suggest you get your doc to write a scrip for the antibiotic Cephalexin. Chances are really low you’ll need to use this but in the unlikely but possible case of a stomach upset that doesn’t go away in 24 hours, this saves time as you can just take it to any local farmacia and get it filled. See Health and Safety for dosage details.
Books. If you like to read, bring plenty. English language paperbacks are available here but they are expensive and can only be found at the airport shops. Since the advent of e-books, you can just load ’em on your tablet! Some hotels and vacation rentals will have used books but don’t count on it. The best source for buying used books cheaply locally is at the restaurant Rock ‘n Java on the waterfront half a block north of the Mega Grocery.
Soft-side cooler. If you can find a good deal on a cooler that folds up and can be packed in your suitcase and you have the room, this is a handy thing to bring. All sorts of coolers are available locally, however. But even the cheapest styrofoam ones may run you $20 US or more.
TIP: Purchase one of those large plaid, plastic weave bags with handles and zippered top at the mercado . They are extremely strong and perfect for carting back non-fragile extra presents you may acquire during your trip.
Ziploc bags. These are now readily available at the big groceries here but if have them on hand at home, the big sizes are excellent for carting home the dirty clothes or wet suit you didn’t quite get to.
Batteries. Specialized batteries such as the small ones for hearing aides and some digital cameras can be hard to find and/or expensive here. So this is a good thing to pop in if you think you might need them.
Cord and Clothesline. We’ve seen this tip on other people’s packing lists. And it’s a good idea if you’re staying somewhere that turns out not to provide you with a convenient place to hang out your wet and hand-washed clothing to dry. However, little bags that contain a length of line and clothespins are available at all the groceries stores here So if you want to pack really light. this is one item you can leave at home.