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Cozumel Hotel Pricing and Seasonality - Over the course of the year, many of Cozumel's hotels have four or five different rate tiers, changing by season. In general, summer is low season; while in winter, when it's snowing in New Jersey the rates go up! As you might imagine, non-holiday periods offer the best value. After Labor Day and before the Christmas holidays is an excellent time to visit. So is the spring, when rates go back down just after Easter. Barring a fall hurricane, or a storm from the north in winter, the weather is generally great year-round - warm and pleasant, with calm sea conditions. But the real value of traveling at non-peak times is in the fact that rates are at their lowest, while tourism is light. The hotels have their best rooms available, and the restaurants and shops are happy to see you. So if you can swing the vacation days, try to visit at a non-holiday period.
Sister All-Inclusive Resorts - Sited side-by-side along 800 meters of soft, white sandy beach, Secrets Aura Cozumel and Sunscape Sabor Cozumel are sister resorts, sharing some of their dining, spa and gym facilities. Guest services include complimentary use of bicycles, kayaks for paddling and small Hobie catamarans for those who enjoy sailing. Juan Leca’s Dive House is on site at both properties to provide all scuba diving services including referral check out dives and full certification courses. Both properties have remarkably motivated service personnel, uniformly friendly and effective on all fronts. While they share many fine attributes, each resort also has its own character.
Secrets Aura Cozumel (Up-scale, Adults only, All-inclusive) - With its 238 lodging rooms set among a variety of satellite groupings, this gracious property provides an atmosphere of calm and privacy. The rooms are suites, with a kind-sized bed, excellent marble bathroom with both shower and tub, a comfy sitting area, and a porch or balcony. Secrets Aura has multiple pools, bars, restaurants, and my personal favorite spot, the Cocos Café coffee shop, serving barista brewed premium beverages along with sweets, snacks and sandwiches available throughout the day. This comprehensive resort offers a nice array of dining options including true fine dining with top-notch service. It may take a day or two become fully versed on the layout of the property. Once you know your way around, the stolls along the beach or via pathways through carefully-tended gardens are all part of the fun. In addition to its own array of services, Aura guests are welcome to make use of all facilities and service outlets of neighboring Sunscape Sabor Cozumel. Details and pricing: Secrets Aura Cozumel
As a result, Dive House has qualified as a prestigious PADI Gold Palm 5-Star Resort, and a NAUI Dream Resort. They are also sanctioned by SSI, and TDI (Technical Diving International). So I suggest that you check out Dive House for yourself. I continue to be impressed by the owner, Sr. Juan Leca, and the professionalism and concern for safety, quality, and customer service evidenced by his entire operation. This is also a great place for scuba instruction. There are six instructors on staff, teaching PADI, NAUI, SSI, and TDI. They do referrals, complete openwater certifications, advanced courses, Nitrox, and even rebreather certification. The quality of instruction is excellent.
Other Good Lodging Options - I again took the time to visit and inspect some of my preferred Cozumel lodging options. Here are a few other good options:
Casa del Mar - Another good value-priced option is the Casa del Mar. It is located about three miles south of town, near one of the cruise ship piers, so there is occasionally a lot of activity in the street. But the rooms are well kept, and there is a nice restaurant and swimming pool. A bridge over the road connects the hotel property to the beach club which includes lockers for the scuba diving guests. There are two in-house dive operators at Casa del Mar, Del Mar Aquatics and Dive House. Details and pricing: Casa del Mar.
Casa Mexicana - This is Cozumel's newest and finest downtown lodging. Ideally located in the heart of downtown Cozumel, Casa Mexicana overlooks the sea, surrounded by restaurants, boutiques, dive shops and plenty of local entertainment. Casa Mexicana has a contemporary Mexican style united with a colorful modern decor. The property includes a Lobby-bar with a shallow swimming pool and a sun terrace overlooking the ocean, and an open-air breakfast restaurant. A breakfast buffet is included in the lodging price. Details and pricing: Casa Mexicana Cozumel.
Condumel Condos - Located on the beach, just two miles north of the town of San Miguel, Condumel is a small, simple, pleasing and effective condominium-style lodging. Designed in a modern-day representation of the Puuc Mayan style, it's an intriguing place. Once you've had a look at the prices, you'll see that Condumel is also an excellent value. Each mini-suite includes complete kitchen, bedroom, sitting area, hammock, full bathroom, and balcony overlooking the sea. Rooms are air-conditioned with ceiling fan. Daily maid service is provided. It's a short drive or inexpensive taxi ride into town to enjoy the shopping, dining, and nightlife of San Miguel. Of course, you can just swing in the hammock and watch the sun set in your front yard, or snorkel and swim in the beautiful blue ocean that is your front yard. Details and pricing: Condumel.
An Overview of Cozumel's Diving - I continue to be amazed and gratified by the beauty of the diving around Cozumel Island, and it's for good reason that divers flock here from around the world. This is a unique physical situation, where the powerful Gulf Stream is forced between the island and the Yucatan mainland. The result of this life-giving flow is healthy coral reefs swarming with all manner of marine life from tiny invertebrates and reef fishes to big grouper, giant turtles, eagle rays and nurse sharks. From shallow reefs to steep drop-offs, Cozumel’s diving is a unique and exhilarating natural wonder that should not be missed by any serious scuba diver. The bottom-line is that once they've experience it, divers keep coming back for more, specifically because Cozumel offers an easily accessible, varied, and very satisfying diving experience.
Drift Diving - Just a quick note here. Beginners are often unnecessarily fearful of drift diving. After more than three decades of dive trips to Cozumel, all I can say is, "relax and go with the flow." There is simply no need to fight the current. If you want to slow down, just duck in behind an outcropping of the reef. You'll find that all the fish congregate in such eddies, so they don't have to work hard either. Basically you just drift along as part of the current, enjoy the sights, and on ascent, make your safety decompression stop while still drifting. You generally find that when you surface at the end of the dive, your dive boat is right there waiting for you. An important safety tip though: Don't surface directly behind the boat, where the Captain may not see you. The engines ARE running and may be engaged at any moment. Rather, surface ten or more yards away from the boat, be sure the Captain sees you, and then swim to the boat on the surface.
Dining for Divers - While dedicated divers go to Cozumel for the value, variety and excitement of the scuba diving, even mossbacks like me are not immune to Cozumel's topside attractions. For starters, the dining options are unlimited, with choices for all tastes and budgets. Cozumel offers everything from fast food and fajitas, to superb gourmet restaurants with an excellent level of cuisine and top-notch service.
Around town, good choices in ascending order of expense are El Moro, the Mission, Santiago's, La Choza, Ernesto's Fajitas, Joe's Place, the Coral Reefer, numerous interesting Italian restaurants, Prima Trattoria, Guido's, Pepe's Grill, Cafe del Puerto, and the excellent new wave cuisine of Gallito Sol. One of my all-time favorites is the rustically romantic Cabana del Pescador (the Fisherman's House). It's about two miles north of town, on the road along sea. All they serve is lobster - you select your tail and pay by its weight. Bring someone you love and give this place a try…by candlelight no less.
Party People - The party people amongst us have no doubt partaken of the wild-side pleasures of places like Carlos and Charlies, or the Hard Rock Cafe Cozumel, where the "fun" never stops. There are numerous other nightspots and dance clubs that don't even start cranking until 11:00 p.m. So knock your socks off and have a good time...just remember, no drinking and diving. It's great to bring your dancing shoes to Cozumel, but do get some rest before you put your dive booties back on. Remember to keep yourself well-hydrated on the dive boat with plenty of water...not cervezas. And most of all...watch out for those land sharks. They make the toothsome hammerheads in the ocean look good!!
Cultural Opportunities - When you're not shopping, diving, dining, or dancing, Cozumel still has some special surprises in store for the intrepid traveler. For starters, you will find wonderful live Mexican music everywhere, with groups of talented Mariachis entertaining in the restaurants and playing for tips in the street. On weekend evenings there are often fiestas staged on the pavilion in the middle of the town square. These events are patronized by tourists and locals alike. You'll see Cozumel's children dressed in their Sunday best, and teenage girls making the traditional paseo around the square under the watchful eyes of their grandmothers. When the band starts to play, feel free to join in the dancing and revelry. You'll soon feel like a Cozumeleño yourself.
Mayan Ruins - If you can take a day, or even an afternoon, away from diving, the Mayan ruins around Cozumel are well worth the trip. With just a few spare hours and a short taxi ride you can visit the small but interesting San Gervasio ruins right on Cozumel Island. But if you have a full day to spare, I heartily recommend the trip over to the Mayan sites of Tulum or Coba on the Yucatan mainland. This tour crosses to Playa del Carmen by ferry and then continues with a 45 minute bus ride down the coast to the stunning Tulum Mayan religious site overlooking the sea. After exploring the ruins with an English speaking guide, you'll stop for lunch and a snorkel at Xel-Ha lagoon before returning to Cozumel in the evening. This tour can be easily arranged through your hotel. If you've already visited Tulum, and neighboring Coba, you can take a full day tour that includes the flight to the extensive Mayan site Chitzen Itza. These cultural outings are truly fascinating, but you don't have to be an archeologist to enjoy them as you'll have plenty of opportunity to eat, drink and shop along the way. And they're equally valuable for your kids, who will have fun while getting an education without even realizing it.
Getting There - Cozumel (airport code CZM) may be accessed by direct flights from various USA departure cities, or via a flight to Cancun followed by car and ferry transfer to Cozumel Island. Island Dreams Travel stands ready to assist you with the details.
The Bottom Line in Cozumel is more than just Bottom Time - Cozumel has plenty to offer for divers, snorkelers, sun worshippers, and water sports enthusiasts. You'll also enjoy great dining, happening nightspots, fun shopping, and enlightening cultural opportunities. The people are friendly, and most everyone speaks English, though I encourage you to try out your Spanish. Even if you only know a few words, the effort will be appreciated. In the final analysis, Cozumel is close to the U.S., easy to get to, and just plain and simply good fun! So don't keep putting it off until manaña... Enjoy Cozumel!
Ken Knezick - President, Island Dreams Travel
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Copyright © 1995-2015, Island Dreams, Inc., dba Island Dreams Travel. All photos, text and design elements on this website are copyrighted. All rights reserved.