Cozumel

Things to do in Cozumel on your Royal Caribbean cruise

In:
Category: 
18Jan2018

If your Royal Caribbean cruise has a scheduled stop in Cozumel, Mexico, you might be wondering what there is to see and do in this popular Caribbean cruise port. 

Cozumel is the fourth busiest cruise port in the world (by passengers), with many cruise lines offering stops in this eastern Mexico destination.

Many Royal Caribbean ships call on Cozumel as part of their Western Caribbean itineraries. Most Royal Caribbean stops at Cozumel are for part of the day, and if you are trying to decide what to do in Cozumel, here is your guide.

Cozumel Overview & Strategy

Cozumel is an island off the eastern main land of Mexico.  It's a large island with a main city of San Miguel. Cozumel is well known for its beaches, scuba diving and shopping.

Cozumel is located in the tropics and has an average high of 85°F (29°C). Spanish is the official language, although you will find anyone working in the tourist areas to speak enough English to make communicating simple enough. Taxi drivers can sometimes struggle with English, but they know enough keywords to understand where you want to go.

If you are new to Cozumel, you will find no shortage of things to do in Cozumel.  Since Cozumel is an established and old cruise port, the variety of choices over the years have swelled to offer cruise guests a lot to consider.

When trying to figure out what to do, here are a few things to think about.

Weather

Depending on the time of year, the temperature and humidity may play a major factor into what you choose to do.  Temperatures remain constant throughout the year.  Daytime highs are in the 80s in every season and nighttime lows will range from the high 60s to mid-70s. With the exception of a few cold fronts in December and January, plan on a warm day in Cozumel.

The months of November through March will see the most temperate and comfortable temperatures, which means ideal conditions for doing lots of walking, touring and generally being outdoors.  These are the best months for seeing Mayan ruins and walking around downtown.

The rest of the year will see higher temperatures and humidity levels, which makes them an ideal time for swimming and diving.  You can still work in the ruins and other cultural experiences, but a swim break in the afternoon makes a lot of sense. April and May are warmer months, but still part of the dry season.  June through October constitute hurricane season in the Caribbean, which means the wet season arrives in Cozumel.  Expect sunny starts to the day, with increasing heat and humidity into the afternoon.  Pop up showers and/or thunderstorms will appear and disappear quickly.  Rain is short lived in the wet season in Cozumel, but can be heavy at times.

Trying a couple of things

Since there are so many things to do in Cozumel and the island is so small, consider multiple activities during your day in Cozumel.

Most Royal Caribbean stops in Cozumel are generally 8-12 hours in duration.  This leaves plenty of time to do a few activities while in port.  

In the warmer months of the year, you might try doing some sort of activity in the morning hours, and then head to a beach for lunch and swimming.  Taxi service in Cozumel is so plentiful, that getting around is not only simple, it is also economical.

If you choose to go to the mainland, there are beaches and shopping in Playa del Carmen in close proximity to the ferry.

Where you dock

Photo by DunkelBierJay

There are two main docks in Cozumel, and Royal Caribbean ships will dock at the International Pier, which is located south of San Miguel and is about a 5 minute taxi ride away.

As you disembark your ship, you will walk through a shopping plaza that offers a variety of shops, bars and restaurants.  This is an enclosed area that was created exclusively for cruise ship guests.  The shops, restaurants and bars in the port area are open when ships are present in port and offer many souvenirs that can be found around the island. Your best bet is to save this area for when you return, as much of the shopping is similar to what you may find elsewhere in Cozumel, and prices tend to be higher than in San Miguel.

If you booked an excursion with Royal Caribbean, you will see a meeting area set up for tours past the dock, but before the shopping plaza. You will be escorted from this area to your shore excursions.

You can tour the port area as you see fit, or walk through it to get to the exit and gain access to other things to do in Cozumel.

Getting around Cozumel

As you exit the port area, you have a variety of options to consider for the day. A taxi stand is located at the exit of the port area, where you can take a taxi to anywhere in Cozumel.

Rates for the taxis are posted on a sign, with most rates being flat fees that depend on the destination.  Taxis are plentiful and relatively inexpensive in Cozumel.  Even at the most remote areas of Cozumel, vendors are happy to summon a taxi for tourists when needed.  Most often, you can simply walk to the street and find a taxi passing by eventually.

A taxi ride to downtown San Miguel will cost about $8.  Once in San Miguel, it is an easy city to walk around without need of public transportation.

Popular things to do in Cozumel

Beaches

Perhaps no activity is more popular in Cozumel than going to the beach.  Activities such as swimming, snorkeling and especially scuba diving are very popular choices for activities in Cozumel.

There are many beaches in Cozumel to consider, with Royal Caribbean offering shore excursions to some and many more available to try on your own. If you want to swim, you want to stick to the west side of Cozumel. The eastern side of Cozumel is far too rough for swimming (and in general is quite rural and undeveloped).

A taxi can take you to any beaches on the island.  Here are a few of the more popular beach choices

Cozumel became a tourist destination in the 1960s when Jacques Cousteau highlighted the area as a great spot for scuba diving.  Ever since then, Cozumel has been a highlight for anyone looking to dive. If you are looking for scuba diving or snorkeling, try the Cozumel Reefs National Marine Park.

Culture

Cozumel is rich in history and Mayan culture.  The island was once a central part of the Mayan Empire.

Mayan ruins dot the island and the mainland.  Visiting these Mayan ruins is a premier shore excursion for those looking to see the history of this island.  

You can visit any of the Mayan ruins by booking through Royal Caribbean or on your own via a third party. If you are looking to visit the Mayan ruins on the Mexican mainland, such as Chichtzen Itza or Tulum, we recommend to book the tour with Royal Caribbean directly because of the long commute times to these sites.

Speaking of shore excursions to the mainland, a high-speed ferry transports guests from Cozumel to Playa del Carmen and it has a reputation of inducing sea sickness.  Be sure to take motion sickness medicine as a precaution. We recommend Bonine as a great once-a-day choice for preventing and/or treating sea sickness.

Our recommendations for Mayan ruins include:

Cozumel also features a number of resorts that combine Mexican culture and heritage with recreation.  These eco-parks are just as much about Mexico's vibrant fauna and flora as it is about enjoying some time in the ocean.  

In fact, many of these shore excursions allow guests

There are lots of other things to see and do in Cozumel that can give you a glimpse beyond tiki bars and margaritas, for a look at the real Cozumel. 

Shopping

A simple and robust choice is to go to downtown San Miguel to peruse the many shops in town.  Shopping in downtown Cozumel offers plenty of touristy gifts, along with some authentic Mexican goods.

For about $8 per taxi, you can reach downtown San Miguel in perhaps five minutes.  Once you arrive in San Miguel, there are a number of streets that intersect in a pseudo-grid layout. The main thoroughfare, Av. General Rafael E Melgar, runs along the ocean and is where a bulk of the shopping takes place.

There are many shops up and down each street, and you should explore the side streets extending away from the ocean.  In general, the touristy shops tend to be closer to the ocean.  As you walk into the city and away from the ocean, the shopping opportunities become more authentic and expand in variety considerably. Going three to four blocks away from the ocean is a great strategy for finding some lesser-frequented shopping choices.

Cozumel is known for jewelry, Mexican artisanal handicrafts, leather goods, and plenty of tourist souvenirs (T-shirts, towels, bags, etc). You can also find Mexican vanilla and tequila around the island. Royal Caribbean will confiscate any liquor you purchase in Cozumel, but return it to you on the last evening of the cruise.

While the Mexican Peso is the official currency of Mexico, all shop owners happily accept the U.S. Dollar.

Food and dining

There are lots of great dining choices all over Cozumel.  You will find familiar restaurant chains, alongside local restaurants that serve up more authentic Mexican cuisine.  

As you might imagine, Cozumel restaurants offer mostly Mexican cuisine although there is a heavy amount of Tex-Mex food that caters to the American visitor.

If you are looking for local cuisine, try some of these restaurants:

Bars and all-inclusive resorts

If you want to enjoy a few cocktails or cervezas, you will find no shortage of them in Cozumel.  In fact, as soon as you leave your ship you will run into many bars.

Many of the touristy bars in Cozumel have a party atmosphere and you may hear lots of stories about some of them.  Most of the bars located in close proximity to the ships cater exclusively to tourists who often are looking to consume a lot drinks.

Popular spots to get your drink on are

You will also find a variety of bars and restaurants in San Miguel.  In short, you will never have to go very far to get a margarita, beer or other frozen concoction while in Cozumel.  Moreover, the price of these drinks should be significantly cheaper than Royal Caribbean's onboard prices.

If you would prefer to lock in your drinking cost, there are a few all-inclusive resorts.

These resorts offer day passes, where guests can purchase passes and have access to everything the resort offers, including drinks, food and entertainment.

Swimming with Dolphins

Another very popular activity on Cozumel is swimming with Dolphins.  Excursions involving dolphins is a very popular Caribbean excursion, and Cozumel offers a few different choices.

A number of businesses offer the chance to swim with dolphins in an event many consider to be a once-in-a-lifetime.

If you have been to Cozumel, share with us in the comments what you enjoyed doing there!

Excursion Focus: Nachi Cocom Beach Break review in Cozumel, Mexico

In:
29Nov2017

For years, I have read so many glowing reviews of Nachi Cocom Beach Club in Cozumel, Mexico that I just had to try it out for myself to see what all the clamor was all about.

Nachi Cocom is an all-inclusive resort that offers guests a day pass experience, where they can enjoy unlimited refreshments, food, and access to pristine water on the beach and pool.  It also distinguishes itself by advertising it limits the amount of guests that may visit on any given day to ensure no crowds.

While in Cozumel on a recent Independence of the Seas cruise, I decided to bring the family and experience Nachi for myself.

Description

Nachi Cocom is an all-inclusive beach resort minutes away by taxi to where Royal Caribbean docks its ships.  It is a private beach that is roughly 1980 square feet in size, that features a number of amenities including:

  • Outdoor Jacuzzi
  • Outdoor swimming pool
  • 1 swim up bar
  • 1 beach bar
  • Restrooms
  • Fresh water Showers (outdoor)
  • Hammocks
  • Palapas "Natural umbrellas" (first come, first serve).
  • English speaking staff
  • On site accessible self- parking
  • Private Dock
  • Lounge chairs
  • Free Wireless internet Service

Getting to Nachi means likely taking a taxi.  On our trip, it cost $17 each way for the taxi (total, not per person) from where our Royal Caribbean ship docks.  The drive is maybe 10-15 minutes, and is in an area of Cozumel that is does not have much except for beaches and natural vegetation.  There is a parking lot that you can park at, if you choose to rent your own car.

Upon arrival, you are greeted by a staff member who will welcome you and take your group photo (which will later be offered to sell to you).  Afterwards, you check-in at the kiosk to confirm your reservation.

Reservations are strongly encouraged, and can be made via the website.  Reservations require a small deposit to secure your spot, with the remainder of the cost paid at check-in.  They take cash or credit cards (Visa or Master Card). Be sure to bring a print out of your confirmation.

At the time of this review, the cost of admission was as follows:

  • Adult (16 years old and over): $55 per person
  • Child 12-15 years old: $39 per person
  • Child 04-11 years old: $19 per person
  • Infant 3 and under: $0

After you are checked-in, you will be assigned a waiter who will allow you to pick a spot on the beach.  The spots, which are palapas that have lounge chairs underneath, are first-come, first served.

Once you pick a spot, you are free to explore the grounds.  There is a large beachfront access, along with private pool and hot tub.  Towards the back of Nachi are some hammocks.

Your waiter is your go-to representative while at Nachi.  He will take your drink and food orders, and deliver them right to your palapa.  You do have the option of going to the swim up bar at the pool, or the beach pool if you prefer.  There are seats at both bars to enjoy drinks.

Nachi does not offer activities, but they do partner with a third-party company that offers beach massages, water sport rentals, parasailing and more.  The representatives for this company can be found roaming the beach, if you so choose.

Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages are included with the price of admission, and you can order as much of each as you like.  On our visit, the kitchen did not open until 10:30am, but once it opened, we could order as much as we liked throughout the day.  Likewise, the drink service is available as soon as Nachi opens, and offers beer, cocktails, shots, and pretty much anything else you would expect to find at a bar.

Comments

On an island that offers so many beach experiences, Nachi Cocom has built a reputation on offering great service, and low crowds.  After my visit, I can see why Nachi stands out among the choices.

We tried Nachi Cocom based on reputation, and for a relaxing day for kids and adults.  At its heart, Nachi is all about relaxing and lounging on the beach, by the pool, or both.  Nachi intentionally does not offer tons of activities, because it wants a low-key experience for its guests.  For some, that may be a problem but we enjoyed taking it easy.  For us (and especially the kids), it was about enjoying time in the water.

The food was pretty good, and certainly indicative of the kind of freshly made Mexican cuisine that we have always enjoyed.  While it may not be the best local food in Cozumel, it does offer some good choices across a good-sized menu.  If you are looking for truly authentic Mexican cuisine, you may not find it here, but the food at Nachi is still better than some overly touristy spots downtown.

Overall, Nachi Cocom is the kind of place families and friends can go for a relaxing day by the beach, with plenty of food and drink to go around. The admission price for Nachi is quite reasonable, especially for those that plan to drink a lot.  We found the cost for our young children to be extremely good.  The level of service and terrific atmosphere at Nachi make it clear why so many people have been a fan of Nachi Cocom for so long.

Excursion Focus: Cozumel Food Tour

In:
04Oct2016

Thanks to Christie McLarty for joining us once again to share her review of the Cozumel Food Tour while on a recent Freedom of the Seas cruise to Cozumel!

If you are looking for something unique to do in Cozumel, you should definitely check out the food tour offered by Cozumel Chef. This two to three hour tour takes you deep into Cozumel with a couple stops at local favorite food establishments. We decided to book this tour to get a “taste” of the real Cozumel after reading great reviews online. Communication with Emily, the owner, was great and she was able to customize the tour to our particular likings.

We met Jerry, one of the tour guides, at Mega near the shopping area in Cozumel. Depending on where you dock, this could be walking distance or may require an $8 cab ride. While waiting for our transportation, Jerry talked to us about some of the local culture and the types of foods we would be trying. We wound up being the only two people that booked the tour that day, so we were able to move at our own pace. We had a cab driver who stuck with us all day.

Our first stop was to a local quesadilla place. He explained to us beforehand the two types of quesadillas we would be trying- cactus and huitlacoche. Huitlachoche is actually the fungus that grows on the outside of corn and tastes like a mushroom. Both were delicious and paired great with the home-made tomatillo sauce. Interestingly, the quesadillas were served on a corn tortilla instead of the flour tortillas that we are used to in America. We also had the option of hibiscus water, horchata, or Mexican coke to drink. My husband chose the hibiscus water, which was lightly sweet and refreshing. I chose the horchata, which was the best horchata I have ever drank. After we ate, Jerry took us to see how the food was prepared.

Our next stop was for a pulled pork taco. On the way to the restaurant, Jerry explained to us that they marinate the pork in a sour orange marinade with some sort of red paste, wrapped it in banana leaves and left it to cook all night. The pork was incredibly tender and was served with a spicy salsa, which was cut by the fresh pickled cabbage on top. We had the option of lemonade with chia seeds or several different types of beer to drink.

As we let the initial food settle, Jerry took us to a local market and showed us many of the different types of ingredients they cook with. He explained that most people go to the market every day because they do not have the means to keep food for very long or the money to buy in bulk. On the way back to the van, we picked up some tortillas that were freshly made and sprinkled them with salt. They were delicious.

The next restaurant Jerry took us to was for a very popular chicken soup with lime. He said this is the type of soup that most people would eat if they were sick. He had us taste the soup first and then mash the lime inside and taste the difference. He paired this with a local apple soda, which was very refreshing. Unfortunately, it had just started raining so it was incredibly hot and humid in the restaurant, so the hot soup really warmed me up too much. It would have been wonderful in the winter months.

The last main course stop is usually a place for a whole fried fish. This is the part of the tour that I contacted Emily about changing. We are not really fish people, and I especially did not want to eat one with the head still attached. She said it was no big deal and brought us to a shrimp taco place instead. The shrimp taco was great, but the better part came after when Jerry told us to pick out another taco on our own. My husband settled for another fried shrimp taco, but I chose the conch ceviche taco. This was easily the best thing I ate all day. The conch was fresh, not fishy, and as Jerry said “delicate”.

For dessert, the tour usually stops at a bakery. Because it was just the two of us, he gave us the option of going to the bakery or to a chocolate factory. We chose the chocolate factory and were really pleased with the decision. It appears as if this is actually a place that people pay to tour and it was included in our tour. They make all of their chocolate in house and even had us wash our hands with chocolate soap. We were brought into the gift shop where one of the employees gave us little nuggets to taste of about 15 different chocolates. The chocolate was delicious so we of course picked up some from the gift shop as souvenirs for friends and family.

The tour took just over two hours and was a really interesting way to see the “real” Cozumel beyond the tourist areas. Jerry was an excellent tour guide, spoke great English, and was an all-around great guy. Our cab driver drove us back to our cruise ship for the normal fare, which worked out perfect because we were stuffed. I would definitely recommend this tour to anyone.   

Paradise Beach guest shore excursion review

In:
05Dec2015

Paradise Beach is a popular beach excursion for Royal Caribbean guests visiting Cozumel, Mexico and today we have a great overview of what to expect here.

Royal Caribbean Blog reader Keith Davis recently visited Paradise Beach, and shared his thoughts with us!

Description

Paradise Beach is a beach club that is open to the public for $3 per person. 

Once you arrive at Paradise Beach, here is what is available to all guests

  • Beach with chairs, loungers and umbrellas
  • Freshwater pool with lounge chairs
  • Two bars, one at the beach and one at the pool
  • Two bathrooms and changing areas, one at the entrance the other behind the bar

For an extra fees there are the following available:

  • Paddle boards
  • Kayaks
  • Water toys that include trampolines, slides, climbing iceberg, launch bags, water rocker & water mats
  •  Snorkel Equipment (Additional fee)
  • Massage tent adjacent to beach
  • Jet skis (separate vendor)
  • Paragliding (separate vendor)

​Guests can purchase a Fun Pass for $15, which gets them use of the paddleboards, kayaks, water mats and water toys.

All food & drink are available a la carte.  

Beers are $4.50. Tropical drinks $8.50/$14.75 for a souvenir yard glass. Burgers $11.25-$13.25, Chips and salsa $6.00, Nachos $9.25.

There is no all-inclusive option available.

Paradise Beach is located about 6 miles south of the International Pier, which will cost guests about a $15 taxi ride roundtrip.

Comments

The entrance into the water does have several areas where there are rocks, the best place to enter the water is the north end (far right) there are no rocks in this area.

Generally when there are several ships in port the beach can get crowded.  This last trip there was the Brilliance of the Seas, Independence of the Seas & Carnival Freedom but the beach remained fairly empty.  I think the threat of rain definitely came into play there.

It did rain twice, once we went into the roofed bar area and second we just stayed under the umbrella.  As is typical the showers passed in 10-15 minutes.

Cabs are plentiful for the return trip back to the ship.

Have you been to Paradise Beach? Share your thoughts on this excursion in our comments below!

Excursion Focus: Nachi Cocom Beach Break in Cozumel, Mexico

In:
04Nov2015

If you have an upcoming western Caribbean cruise, chances are you are visiting Cozumel, Mexico. 

 Royal Caribbean has been coming to Cozumel for decades and it has recently become one of my favorite stops.  There are so many options for beach days, excursions, and hotel’s for the day; it can be a little overwhelming.  

I’m going to share with you about my recent experience at Nachi Cocom. 

What is Nachi Cocom?

If you have never heard about Nachi Cocom, it’s an all-inclusive beach day that you can reserve online prior to your next Royal Caribbean cruise.  

The cost for the day is $55 per adult/$35 per child. When you make the reservation, you are required to put down a $11 deposit per person and the balance is due on check-in which is cash only.  

If you are interested in booking you will need to book direct through their website, as it’s not offered through Royal Caribbean.

Why book Nachi Cocom?

One thing that makes Nachi Cocom stand out compared to other local beach break places is they only let 100 people per day visit.  

With that being said, once they have 100 reservations they are sold out for the day.  To me if gives you more of the exclusive feel when you are here, because it never feels busy.  

I’ve been here three times now and the one thing that just keeps me coming back is their customer service is always outstanding.  

I have seen the bar staff running drinks over to ensure their guest don’t have to wait too long. 

What’s included in the price?

They provide each guest with a nice beach lounger and an umbrella as soon as you arrive, in fact they walk you over to it.  They also include unlimited alcohol and bottled water in the cover charge, which always makes for a fun day.  

Lastly, they include menu service delivered right to you on the beach, or they have sitting area.

I’ll mention most beach break places I’ve seen before are buffet style lunch, but at Nachi you get everything fresh and made to order.

And the food is absolutely outstanding; I usually order a couple of rounds of their fresh guacamole!  

Some other things that are included in the price are cabana’s poolside, hammocks, swimming pool, and swim up bar hot tub. 

What’s not included in the price?

Transportation is on your own when visiting Nachi, but not to worry taxi’s are $16-$18 each way.  Most of the time I take one alone going there, but have found new friends and split the ride going back.  

When you arrive a lady will take a picture of you and the group and later bring it to you for $12, I usually say no thank you since it’s just me.  

They also offer snorkel equipment, and beach massages for an extra charge.  I have not done either; so I don’t have any feedback, I’m always just looking for a lazy beach day. 

Have you ever visited Nachi Cocom before?  If so, please comment below and let us know what you thought.  

Restaurant Review: Comidas Caseras Tonita

In:
10Mar2014

I'm a proponent of "getting out there" and trying local foods when exploring the ports of call Royal Caribbean ships take you to.  To me, eating at a Hard Rock Cafe, Margaritaville or McDonalds while in a foreign port is a wasted opportunity.  So when I went to Cozumel last month while on Navigator of the Seas, I got a chance to go back to my absolute favorite restaurant and see if it holds up.  

Atmosphere

Located a few blocks from the main street of Cozumel, Comidas Caseras Tonita is a family run restaurant that serves up freshly made, authentic Mexican dishes.  

Part of what makes Comidas Caseras Tonita so appealing is just the look of the place.  Walking in, I feel like someone took their dining room and opened it up for the public to come by.  

We had eaten here back in 2011 while on Freedom of the Seas and fell in love.  I think reviewing a restaurant after having such a good experience makes it tougher for the restaurant to do well because expectations are that much higher.

Just like our last trip, none of the people that work at Tonita speak any English.  It's pretty easy, nonetheless, to order but then again we ordered everything off the menu with no special requests.  I suppose if you wanted them to not add salt or put the cheese on the side, you should Google the translation and memorize it prior to eating here.

The cooking is done in the rear of the restaurant with a mother/daughter team (at least, I think they are mother daughter.  Two women and one looks older than the other) that make everything as the order comes in.

Where you are seated is pretty basic, with plastic tables and chairs adorned with a basic tablecloth.  Tonita didn't bother investing in better furnture because, well, it's Mexico and this is pretty good. All around the restaurant are old posters and advertisements for cruise ships and cruise lines (mostly Carnival), reflecting Cozumel's role as a tourist hub.

Eats

Your menu comes in both Spanish and English, which helps in the ordering process since you can look at what you want in English and then refer to what the name of it is in Spanish by looking at the other side of the menu.

Tonita serves up a number of Mexican dishes, including breakfast.  There aren't any descriptions, so it's really up to you to guess as to what exactly the dish will be but I find that kind of fun.  I think most people know they are in the mood for chicken, shrimp or fish so they can order appropriately.

To start off with, we ordered a couple of sodas, which came in glass bottles.  Note that Diet Coke is called Coke Light in Mexico.

For appetizers, we ordered chips, guacamole and salsa.  If you order nothing else, please do yourself a favor and order the guacamole and salsa because they are the best guacamole and sals I've ever eaten and the gold standard I compare everything else to.

Like all the food at Tonita, the guacamole and salsa is made fresh after the order is placed. Nothing out of a can and nothing out of a fridge.  I joked with my wife I should have asked the staff to allow my wife to observe them making it so that she can remember how to do it at home.

A word on the freshness, I think they were out of tomatoes because nothing happened for about 10 minutes until another girl came into the restaurant and delivered a bag of tomatoes (among other food) and only then were the appetizers made.  Wow!

Not to be forgotten, the chips are also freshly made there.  No bagged chips here!

For our entrees, I ordered the fish Mexican style while my wife ordered the grilled chicken.  Because I had so fallen in love with the appetizers on our last visit, my memory of the entrees became somewhat fuzzy so I barely remembered how good anything was.

First up was my Mexican style chicken, which is essentially a grilled white fish cut up into strips and covered in a tomato cilantro blend, served with rice and beans.  

I have no clue what fish they used but it was tender and tasted great.  It didn't taste like fish with tomatoes, but rather something unique on its own (tomato fish?).  I ate every bite.

Remember how I keep mentioning the freshness of the fish?  The table behind us ordered a whole fish and the waitress brought out three uncooked and I presume recently caught fish for the man to choose from. 

My wife's chicken was equally impressive and while it didn't rewrite the book on grilled chicken, I really believe the freshness of the ingredients and the mild spices they used to cook the chicken gave it a little something else.

We also had fresh tortillas to eat our entrees with, which is a great way to enjoy the sides with the food (and I had saved a little salsa and guacamole for it too).

Overall

After my second visit to Comidas Caseras Tonita, I stand by my assertion that it is my favorite Mexican restaurant I have ever been to and the gold standard I hold all other Mexican food against.

The combination of atmosphere, fresh ingredients and euphoria of being on a cruise vacation all made this yet another great meal.  

Also noteworthy was the price because, if memory serves me correctly, I spent $20 for the entire meal, including gratuity.  That is a great deal.

If you are going to Cozumel on a cruise (or for any other reason) and want to have real Mexican food, this is the place to go.  

Location: Calle Rosado Salas 265 between avenidas 10 and 15.

Walking directions: Walk south from the plaza on avenida 5 Sur for 1 block, then turn left on calle Salas and walk east 1 1/2 block and the restaurant will be on your left.

Planning a Royal Caribbean cruise: Cozumel

In:
Category: 
13Jan2014

We're wrapping up our trip planning process for our upcoming Navigator of the Seas 7-night western Caribbean cruise on February 9, 2014 by taking you along for the planning process.  Today, we're looking at our last port visit in Cozumel, Mexico.

You can read all about the plans we made for our other port stops of Roatan and Belize City too.

Photo by abiodork

Background

Cozumel is a port I've been to many times, perhaps as many times as four or five, and yet I really like it.  I know some people don't care for it that much but I have enjoyed my time there.  

What I like about Cozumel is the value of my money as an American, the food (I love me some Mexican food) and the exploring the city.  In the grand scheme of Caribbean beaches, Cozumel's beaches are middle of the road because they aren't the best or the worst.  So I tend to gravitate towards spending time in the city.

We've done a lot in Cozumel over the years and I'd like to try to hit some favorites while trying something new.  One nice thing about Cozumel is it's a very easy place to explore.  In a perfect world I would rent a car for the day, but Mexico's laws about car rentals and liability scare me too much to be able to enjoy it.

Interestingly, I haven't done the two biggest things Cozumel is well known for: snorkeling or Mayan ruins.  I don't love snorkeling (well, I like snorkeling but I do not like fish) and I've been saving the ruins for something to do someday with my dad (who is not on this cruise).  

The Options

Isla de Pasion

I wanted to see what's new to try in Cozumel and ran across Isla de Pasion after seeing favorable reviews on TripAdvisor.  Basically it's a beautiful private island with unlimited adult beverages and buffet lunch included.

Photo by bayouscrubs

I've done many all-inclusive excursions and generally liked them, although they can be pricey.  A little research found the cost is about $70 per person and more research found that the reviews of food wasn't great.  And since my daughter will be with me, it's not like I can really drink $70 worth of alcohol to get my moneys worth.

The beach definitely looks great and it would be something nice to do perhaps with a group of people.  

Pros: Beautiful beach; Lots of drinks
Cons: Expensive; Will take up most of the day; Reviews of food not great

Chocolateria Isla Bella

If I can, I like to do things in port I know my wife will enjoy and I think a stop at this chocolate shop might be just that.  It's ranked as the number one restaurant on TripAdvisor for Cozumel and that really stood out to me.

Photo by eg2002

From the looks, a stop here could be quick and something to try for not a lot of money.  Because I enjoy exploring Cozumel on foot, it's always nice to have a few things to do to fill up the day and who doesn't enjoy a chocolate break?

Of course, the only way I can really see going here is if I do a city tour and if we opt to do a full day excursion elsewhere, then we won't have time to stop by.  

Pros: Inexpensive; quick stop;  happy wife
Cons: Not the most exciting thing to do; Not going means unhappy wife

Diego's

If I go with the explore the city choice for Cozumel, where we eat for lunch will be a highlight for me.  Every trip to Cozumel I've tried a new restaurant in an effort to find the most authentic local food.  I love Mexican food but I really love authentic Mexican food.  Diego's is listed as #3 on TripAdvisor and the photos and reviews point to this as being an authentic experience.

Photo by Brucrew

It will be hard to top my current favorite Cozumel restaurant for authentic food, Comidas Caseras Tonita, but Diego's looks promising.  Chips, salsa, guacamole and fajitas seem to be big here and I love to try a little of everything.

There are two downsides I can see by trying Diego's. First, on a map it's quite a way from the cruise ship and the main hub of downtown Cozumel.  I don't mind walking but it will be a hike.  Second, there is always the chance the food will not live up to my expectations.  I enjoyed Comidas Caseras Tonita so much last time that other places will have a lot to live up to. 

Pros: Authentic food; inexpensive; good reviews
Cons: Far away from city center; How good the food is remains to be determined.

Mezcalitos Restaurant & Beach Bar

Inevitably, a beach break in Cozumel is a must and we've tried a number of beaches in the past in Cozumel, including Paradise Beach and Playa Palancar.  Mezcalitos is a beach bar on the east side of the island that sounds like the perfect combination of relaxation, uncrowded and a little bit authentic.

Photo by Hawkfish

What appeals to me about Mezcalitos is it's off the beat path.  In fact, this bar has no electricity but is pretty to look at and may be a good place to get a little bit of a beach break plus some food and drink.  When we were in Bikini Beach in St. Maarten, I liked having a restaurant, bar and beach tightly integrated and this sounds like more of the same.

The downside to Mezcalitos is the surf appears to be much stronger, which may be an issue since I have a 3 year old.  Granted, she has fun playing in the sand where the waves come in so it's not th end of the world.  Also, it's a bit of a drive to the east coast and once again will require a taxi fare.

Pros: Great scenery; Good food; Relaxing atmosphere; Good reviews
Cons: Relatively far away from cruise ship; Surf is strong(er)

The Decision

After considering our options, we ended up choosing.... Chocolateria Isla Bella + Diego's + Mezcalitos.

The great and bad thing about Cozumel is there are so many choices of what to do, more so than any other island we are visiting on this cruise.  With so many good choices, it's hard to just pick one or two.

What I love about Cozumel is how easy it is to explore the city and the island.  I think our basic plan will be to explore San Miguel and try the chocolateria, shop and have lunch at Diego's before taking a cab to Mezcalitos for the afternoon.

I think what we have here is a good, open ended day with opportunities to try something different if it comes up.  While Isla de Pasion looks great, in Cozumel I know how much there is to choose so I'd prefer to sample as much as I can rather than spend my day in just one place.

Royal Caribbean officials meet with Cozumel mayor

In:
Category: 
17Jul2013

Royal Caribbean and the port city of Cozumel, Mexico are enjoying good relations, according to Royal Caribbean vice president of government relations Michael Ronan.  Ronan met with Cozumel mayor Aurelio Joaquin Gonzalez prior to participating in the Diagnostic Cruise Tourism Workshop, organized by the Federal Ministry of Tourism.

Ronan said his attendance at this event as a speaker was because of a direct request from the Tourism Ministry to help spread a vision statement for the cruise line segment of tourism. 

During his speech, Ronan explained how relations between the cruise industry and the island of Cozumel have contributed to building Cozumel as a destination that is requested by a lot of vacationers.  Guests say the cruise they want to continue taking will offer destinations in Mexico such as Cozumel, but it will be important to diversify the offerings in Mexico because of different tastes and preferences among cruise passengers.

"It is important for Mexico to remain on par with what is bringing cruise tourists", Ronan said.

Royal Caribbean will bring the most tourists to Cozumel next week

In:
Category: 
03Mar2013

Of the nearly 75,000 cruise passengers estimated to reach Cozumel, Mexico next week, 38.78% will come from cruise ships owned by Royal Caribbean.

The list of cruisers, according to data provided by the Port Authority of Quintana Roo (Apiqroo), includes 26 berths for the week from March 4 to 10, 2013.

It is estimated that as of Monday, of the 74,4791 tourists that will arrive in Cozumel, 29,000 will come from four Royal Caribbean ships, followed by 19,000 from Carnival and 6000 from Norwegian.

Pages