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I found the ultimate foodie destination in the Caribbean: The most delicious Cozumel food tour

01 Mar 2023

I travel for food, and I’ve just found the best Caribbean cruise port for foodies: Cozumel, Mexico.

Mexican food is among the world’s most popular cuisines for a reason: it’s fresh, flavorful, diverse, and spicy. After all, who doesn’t love chips, guacamole, and tacos?

And although Cozumel is best known for its beaches and world-renowned scuba diving, I decided to plan a self-guided food tour on my recent cruise ship port day.

The plan was simple: find the most delicious, authentic Mexican restaurants in Cozumel for breakfast, lunch, and dessert. Yet with only 8 hours in port before my cruise ship would depart the island, I knew I had to strategize to find the best food in such a short amount of time.

Follow me on a self-guided food tour in Cozumel, which will surely inspire you to eat your way around Mexico on your next Caribbean cruise. I hope you’re hungry!

Getting to downtown Cozumel

If you’re visiting Cozumel on a cruise, there are two main cruise terminals: the Langosta pier, located right downtown, and the International Cruise Terminal, located three miles south of downtown.

Royal Caribbean ships dock at the International terminal, so we paid $8 one-way for a taxi from the port to downtown. For convenience, I had the taxi driver drop us off at Parque Benito Juárez, the main square in downtown San Miguel de Cozumel.

From here, countless restaurants, shops, and attractions are within walking distance, and the square is a relaxing place to spend time throughout the day.

After a brief walk around the square, it was time to check off our first item of the day: breakfast.


Tacos and enchiladas may get all the attention when it comes to Mexican cuisine, but Mexican breakfast is severely underrated. Whether sweet pastries or hearty plates of eggs, tortillas, and salsa, you can’t go wrong with breakfast in Mexico.

Here are some of the best breakfast dishes to try when you visit Cozumel:

  • Chilaquiles: tortilla chips simmered in a red or green sauce, often served with eggs or chicken
  • Huevos rancheros: fried eggs placed over crispy corn tortillas and topped with a red salsa
  • Huevos divorciados: a form of huevos rancheros drenched in green salsa on one side and red on the other
  • Huevos motuleños: A Yucatán specialty of fried eggs on tortillas served with black beans, cheese, ham, and peas
  • Concha: a sweet, fluffy bread topped with a crackly crust that resembles a seashell

Mexican breakfast is, by far, my favorite type of food to eat in Mexico. There are countless restaurants offering breakfast downtown, but I settled on La Candela, a breakfast and lunch restaurant located just a few blocks from the city center.

The ambiance of the restaurant was charming, with a palapa-style roof and open-air patio. I ordered the chilaquiles—my favorite Mexican dish—while my dad ordered huevos divorciados.

Both dishes far exceeded my expectations. In fact, the chilaquiles were the best, most flavorful chilaquiles I’ve ever had. I'm still dreaming about them a week later!

Of course, you can’t enjoy breakfast without a fresh-squeezed jugo de naranja (orange juice).

In total, we spent 300 pesos ($16 USD) on breakfast.

Food markets

After breakfast, we wanted to continue checking out Cozumel’s food scene, so we headed to the Mercado Municipal, just an 8 minute walk from Parque Benito Juárez.

From the incredible aroma of barbecued beef and chili peppers to the more... unpleasant odor in the raw meat aisles, Cozumel’s main food market immediately ignites all of your senses.

Although not the biggest open-air market I’ve been to in Mexico, the Mercado Municipal boasts restaurants, produce and meat stalls, a candy shop, and aisles of convenience stores.

Walking through the market can be an excellent way to learn more about daily life in Cozumel while sampling various dishes, candies, and fruits.

We couldn’t pass up the chance to try Mexican candies, and purchased a few for 60 pesos ($3 USD).

We walked back to Cozumel’s waterfront and enjoyed the candies with an ocean view. This is an excellent place for people watching and enjoying the sea breeze in between your Cozumel food tour.


Despite our goals of trying as much food as possible during our 8 hour port day, we faced one problem: we were still full from breakfast! To pass the time, we headed to the Museo de Cozumel, a museum with artifacts and information on the island’s history, geography, and culture.

The entrance fee was only $7 USD per person, and I was impressed by the museum’s exhibits and technology, which gave me a new understanding and appreciation of the island. Of course, the air conditioning was a nice touch, too!

Hungry once again, we were back on Cozumel’s streets in search of lunch. On our way to the market earlier in the morning, we passed many small, unassuming restaurants and decided to head that way again.

A quick Google Maps search led me to Las Flamitas, a local spot just a few blocks from the Mercado Municipal. The first thing I noticed as I approached the restaurant was a nonchalant chalkboard with a list of daily specials, and I took that as a good sign.

Our waiters were exceptionally friendly at Las Flamitas, and we started the meal with a refreshing bottle of Fresca soda followed by a comforting bowl of chicken soup, which came included with our meal.

For our main courses, I ordered enchiladas with green salsa and my dad ordered chicken fajitas. Just as we hoped, both dishes were flavorful, fresh, and satisfying, although we found it a bit funny that the fajitas were served with a side of spaghetti!

In total, we spent 280 pesos on lunch, or $15 USD, and I’d definitely come back to Las Flamitas again.


In the mood for something sweet? Cozumel has you covered, and the moment I stumbled upon La Cozumeleña bakery, I knew I had to pick up some pan dulce.

Like Mexican breakfast, Mexican bakeries are highly underrated, but once you try the diverse assortment of baked goods—from savory empanadas to fruit-filled cakes—it’s easy to become addicted.

I settled on three items: a coconut empanada, guava and cheese empanada, and oatmeal-cinnamon cookie. The coconut empanada was the clear winner, but you can’t go wrong with any Mexican bakery item!

Street food stalls

Our final stop of the day was back to Parque Benito Juárez, where we had one final goal: street food.

If there’s anything that gets me excited about tasting new cuisines, it’s street food, but I was disappointed to see only a few street food stalls during my day in town. I may have been in the wrong area or perhaps the street food scene is more active at night, but I expected to see more food carts around downtown.

Nonetheless, my plan was to find a street food stall selling marquesitas, a dessert native to Mexico’s Yucatán state. These sweet snacks are made by rolling a thin crepe like a taco and filling it with caramel, condensed milk, edam cheese, and other optional ingredients like fresh fruits or jam.

Unfortunately, my search for marquesitas in downtown Cozumel left me empty handed, as most of the street stalls I saw were not open.

I was still determined to grab dessert from one of Cozumel’s food stands, though, so I continued walking around the park looking for something to eat.

This is when I made perhaps the best discovery of the day: a machacado de frutas.

In a corner of Parque Benito Juárez, in front of the Fat Tuesday bar, I noticed an older gentleman attending to his food cart (attached to a tricycle, might I add), and I was immediately intrigued.

The cart was stacked with bananas and a variety of colorful syrups along with cans of condensed milk and jars of cinnamon. Even with these context clues, I had no idea what this local man sold at his cart, so I decided to ask.

“¿Qué tipo de comida es esta?” What type of food is this?

“Machacado,” he responded kindly.

His answer left me even more confused. I had never heard of this dessert before (was it even a dessert?). Unlike churros, flan, and tres leches cake, the word 'machacado' had never appeared in any Spanish textbook, YouTube video, or articles I’ve seen about Mexican food.

Needless to say, l couldn’t say no to my curiosity, and he began preparing me the best dessert I’ve ever tasted in Mexico.

First came the mashing of two bananas, which were placed in the bottom of a large plastic cup. Next was a generous scooping of crushed ice, followed by a layer of creamy sweetened condensed milk. The dessert was topped with a drizzle of vanilla syrup, which soaked into the ice below, and a liberal dash of cinnamon.

I handed the gentlemen 30 pesos (roughly $1.60 USD) and I was on my way.

I had never tasted anything quite like this dessert before. It felt as if I were eating a homemade cinnamon roll coated in a thick layer of icing and topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

It was everything I could have ever dreamed of in a dessert, and even my dad, who had just proclaimed he ‘couldn’t eat another bite of food,’ kept sipping away at his machacado.

My tips on planning a food tour in Cozumel

If you’re a foodie who’s interested in discovering Mexican cuisine, I can’t recommend planning a food tour enough. Cozumel certainly has gorgeous beaches, but walking the colorful streets downtown and trying a variety of local restaurants was, by far, the best day I’ve had on the island yet.

Here are my top tips for planning your own food tour in Cozumel:

Self-guided versus with a guide

I planned a self-guided tour in Cozumel because I value the flexibility of exploring without a schedule and choosing the restaurants myself. However, if you’re more comfortable with a local guide, you can book guided food tours on websites such as Tripadvisor and Viator.

A guided tour will likely provide you with more knowledge about Cozumel’s cuisine and take you to areas you might otherwise not visit yourself. On the downside, these tours will be more expensive than planning the day on your own.

Cozumel 4 You Facebook Page

A valuable resource I used when planning this tour was the Cozumel 4 You Facebook Page. This page is a hub of information on Cozumel with restaurant recommendations and ideas on how to spend your day on the island.

What to do in between eating on your food tour

An unexpected problem we encountered during our day-long food tour was not feeling hungry. If you’re planning a full day of eating in Cozumel, you’ll run into the same problem, so it’s helpful to know what to do in between meals.

I recommend visiting the Museo de Cozumel, sitting by the waterfront, and walking around various shops downtown to pass the time.

A variety of coffee shops are located throughout downtown as well, including the popular Aqui + Ahora Coffee Bar, and this can be a nice way to spend time throughout the day.

Download offline maps

While Cozumel’s downtown is walkable, having Google Maps on your phone can help you better navigate to your destination.

If you don’t have international cell phone coverage in Mexico, be sure to download an offline version of downtown Cozumel in Google Maps to allow for easy access when your phone is on airplane mode.

Pay with Mexican pesos instead of US dollars

While most places in Cozumel will accept US dollars, it's easier to pay with pesos, especially if you're eating at restaurants further away from the main tourist area.

There are several banks located downtown with ATMs depositing pesos, and having pesos on hand will make your life much easier throughout the day. Plus, you can ensure you are getting the best rate when paying in local currency.

Ultimate Mexico Cruise Guide

21 Sep 2022

Mexico is one of the world’s most common places to visit on a cruise ship, and odds are if you cruise enough, you’ll find yourself visiting the country at one point or another.

Cozumel sign in port

Royal Caribbean offers cruises to Mexico year-round on both the Caribbean and Pacific sides of the country, with itineraries between 4-7+ nights on both big and small cruise ships.

In this guide, we’ll review the top tips & tricks to know before your Mexico cruise to help you plan the best cruise vacation possible.

In this guide:

Why go on a cruise to Mexico

Ancient history

History lovers will relish the opportunity to visit Mayan ruins in Mexico’s Caribbean ports. The Yucatán Peninsula is home to around 200 public ruins, including the well-preserved Chichén Itzá ruins.

Amazing cuisine

One of the first things that comes to mind when planning a cruise to Mexico is the food. Whether tacos, quesadillas, enchiladas, guacamole, salsas, or churros, your taste buds are sure to be satisfied in Mexico.

Diverse Nature

Regardless of whether you’re cruising the Caribbean side of Mexico or the Mexican Riviera, you’ll find plenty of nature to discover. From cenotes to jungles, lagoons, and coral reefs, Mexico offers plenty of natural beauty to enjoy on a cruise vacation.

Established tourism

Mexico is no stranger to tourism, and the influx of both land-based and cruise tourists every year means that the country is well-acquainted with catering to tourists.

You surely won’t have trouble finding tour operators, day passes at resorts, and cultural opportunities to seek out during your day in port.

Caribbean Mexico vs Mexican Riviera

Oasis of the Seas in Cozumel

Royal Caribbean offers cruises to two distinct areas of Mexico: the Caribbean side of Mexico and the Mexican Riviera.

Caribbean Mexico

Most cruises to Mexico visit the country’s Caribbean coastline along the Yucatán Peninsula. When you picture a vacation to Mexico, you’re likely picturing the turquoise water and resort-lined beaches of the Caribbean, and that’s exactly what you can find on a cruise to Mexico’s Caribbean coast.

Mexican Riviera

Cabo San Lucas Arch

The Mexican Riviera refers to cruise ports on the western coast of Mexico along the Pacific ocean. This side of Mexico is drier and more mountainous than the Caribbean side and is home to many of Mexico’s most popular resort towns like Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta.

Cruises to the Mexican Riviera depart from the Port of Los Angeles on Navigator of the Seas. Some repositioning cruises will also make stops at Mexican Riviera cruise ports.

Related: Mexican Riviera cruse guide

Mexico cruise ports


Ship in Cozumel

Cozumel is an island located off the eastern coast of the Yucatán peninsula known for its tropical, lush environment, beaches, and water recreation (scuba diving and snorkeling).

Cozumel is regarded as one of the premiere scuba diving locations in the world, as it’s located near the Mesoamerican reef system, the second-largest reef on Earth.

Visitors to Cozumel will find no shortage of tours taking guests to nearby resorts, coral reefs, and beaches.

Costa Maya

Costa Maya is another commonly visited port on Mexico’s Caribbean cruise itineraries and offers a classic Mexican vacation experience: beaches, Mayan ruins, tasty cuisine, and all-inclusive day passes are at your fingertips.

The immediate port area of Costa Maya is well-developed and has a complimentary swimming pool, restaurants, bars, cafe, ice cream, and shopping opportunities.

Outside the port of Costa Maya is the small town of Mahahual. Visitors hoping to get a more local feel for Mexico’s culture should make the short trip to Mahahual and walk the town’s boardwalk, where they’ll find locally owned and operated beach resorts, restaurants, cafes, and more.

Yucatán (Progreso)

The port of Progreso is located on the northern side of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. Like other ports on Mexico’s Caribbean coast, Progreso offers beaches and Mayan culture mixed with the chance to discover the country's modern culture and cuisine. 

Progreso offers the easiest access to the world-famous Chichén Itzá ruins, so many visitors book a tour to visit this Wonder of the World while in port. Other activities in Progreso include visiting cenotes, taking a cooking class, and tasting local spirits and beers.



Located just 2 hours driving distance from San Diego, Ensenada is located on the coast of Baja California and is a common stop on short, 3 and 4-night cruises from Los Angeles.

Ensenada is arid and mountainous and is located a short distance away from Valle de Guadalupe, known as the “Napa Valley of Mexico”. Other than wine tastings, visitors to Ensenada can walk around the city streets, take a tour to La Bufadora blowhole, go horseback riding on the beach, and taste local cuisine.

Related: Top 10 things to do in Ensenada, Mexico

Cabo San Lucas

Cabo San Lucas

Cabo San Lucas is located at the southernmost point of Baja California and is an extremely popular tourist destination known for its party atmosphere.

The most famous landmark in Cabo San Lucas is Land’s End, a rock formation marking the point at which the Pacific Ocean meets the Gulf of California. The port is also known for fantastic whale watching opportunities.

Related: Top 10 things to do in Cabo San Lucas

Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta is one of the busiest resort towns in Mexico and offers a mix of calm beaches and historic city streets. The town is known for its Zona Romántica neighborhood, a charming area of the city with bars, restaurants, and shopping.

Most visitors will opt for a beach day in Puerto Vallarta, whether by spending the day at an all-inclusive resort or booking a catamaran tour in the Bay of Banderas.

Related: Top 10 things to do in Puerto Vallarta


Mazatlan El Faro

Mazatlán is home to 500,000 people, making it the largest port visited on a Mexican Riviera cruise. Mazatlán’s Old Town is a main attraction for visitors, and the walkable, cobblestoned neighborhood boasts museums, restaurants, cathedrals, and plazas to discover.

Beach days are common in Mazatlán, too, and many visitors choose to take a trip to nearby Stone Island to soak in the sun. If you’re feeling active, consider a stroll down Mazatlán’s boardwalk, which spans around 13 miles on the waterfront.

Related: Top 10 things to do in Mazatlán

Other Mexico cruise ports

Royal Caribbean ships occasionally make port visits to other towns along the Mexican Riviera, such as Huatulco and Manzanillo, but these are infrequent.

Best time of year for a Mexico cruise

Caribbean ports

Mexico’s Caribbean cruise ports stay warm year-round, so you can have a perfect beach day whether it’s January or August. However, there are a few considerations to make before picking the date of your cruise.

More comfortable, drier weather can be found from October to April as opposed to the higher, more humid conditions found in the summer months. You may still encounter rain, but it will be less frequent. These are generally considered the best months for a cruise to Mexico.

Related: The best time to go on a Caribbean cruise

Additionally, cruising during the fall and winter months can be better for those passengers planning to explore Mayan ruins or have other active adventures while in port, as the temperatures won’t be as uncomfortably hot as in the summer.

Cruising to Mexico’s Caribbean ports during the summer season (May to September) will still offer a fantastic cruise experience, but be prepared for higher temperatures and more rain.

Mexican Riviera ports

Mexico’s Pacific coast can encounter more varying temperatures compared to the Caribbean coast.

Expect temperatures with highs in the mid 70s to low 80s in ports like Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlán, and Puerto Vallarta during the winter months. This is also the dry season, running from November through June.

Springtime and summer bring temperatures in the mid 80s, although temperatures can occasionally rise to the low 90s in Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlán. Expect more rain from late July through October, with most rainfall in August and September.

Mornings and evenings can feel crisp onboard when sailing through the Pacific ocean on a Mexican Riviera cruise at any time of year.

Related: When is the best time to cruise the Mexican Riviera?

What to do on a cruise to Mexico

All-inclusive day passes to resorts

One of the most raved about activities on a cruise to Mexico is spending the day at an all-inclusive beach club or resort.

These all-inclusive packages are found throughout Mexico’s cruise ports and typically include unlimited food, beverages (including alcoholic beverages), beach chairs and umbrellas, and beach access. Some resorts may also have a swimming pool available whereas others may rent water sport equipment to visitors.

Check out our top recommendations and reviews for day passes in Mexico:

Visit Mayan ruins

Cruising to Mexico offers the perfect opportunity to visit Mayan Ruins. Both Royal Caribbean and independent tour operators offer excursions to various archaeological sites accessible from the ports of Cozumel, Progreso, and Costa Maya.

Costa Maya is located only an hour away from the Chachobben Mayan ruins and 2 hours from the Kohunlich and Dzibanche Mayan ruins, making visiting these impressive archaeological sites a popular activity for visitors.

Related: Excursion Focus: Chacchoben Ruins in Costa Maya

Immerse in local cuisine

While tasting local cuisine will surely be delightful, there are a few tours offered in Mexico where you can immerse yourself in the country’s culinary traditions.

Many cruisers rave about the “Salsa, Salsa, and Margaritas” shore excursion, during which you learn how to make various types of salsas, guacamole, and margaritas.

If you have a sweet tooth, consider a visit to the Mayan Cacao Company, where you’ll be able to learn more about the history and process of making chocolate and indulge in some artisanal chocolate yourself!

If booking a tour doesn’t interest you, you’ll find plenty of other ways to explore Mexico’s culinary scene, from chic restaurants to street food.

Scuba diving (or snorkeling)

Mexico’s Caribbean coast is known for having some of the best scuba diving in the world. Anyone interested in exploring the underwater world up close will have plenty of opportunities to do so on a cruise to Mexico.

If you don’t have a scuba diving certification, consider a Snuba or Discover Scuba excursion. These diving excursions are beginner-friendly yet you’ll still be able to explore coral reefs and other marine life.

Related: Excursion Focus: Discover Scuba Diving experience

Visit Pueblos Mágicos

Located throughout Mexico are 132 pueblos mágicos (magic towns), which are small towns admired for their intricate architecture, natural beauty, history, and traditions.

Several pueblos mágicos are located near cruise ports like Cozumel and Puerto Vallarta. If you’re looking for a unique experience far from the hustle and bustle of a busy port, consider a day tour that visits small towns like San Jose del Cabo and Sayulita for a relaxing and culturally enriching experience.

Shop at local markets

One of the most fun activities to do on a cruise to Mexico is also one of the most budget-friendly: shopping at local markets.

Many Mexican cruise ports will have a local market nearby where residents can purchase produce, meats, cheeses, home goods, and more. Walking through a market in Mexico will ignite all your senses, from the savory smell of tacos at a food stand to sweet breads from a pastry shop.

Which Royal Caribbean ships sail to Mexico?

Harmony of the Seas in Barcelona

Because Mexico is such a common country to visit on a cruise, the majority of Royal Caribbean’s fleet visits Mexico at one point or another during the year.

You’ll find everything from Royal Caribbean’s smallest Vision Class cruise ships to the largest cruise ship in the world, Wonder of the Seas, sailing to the Caribbean side of Mexico.

Navigator of the Seas is the only ship offering cruises to the Mexican Riviera from Los Angeles.

If you’re planning a cruise to Mexico and struggling to decide which cruise ship to book, check out our helpful guides on picking the best ship for your vacation:

How much does a cruise to Mexico cost?

Junior Suite on Symphony of the Seas

You'll find a wide range of Mexico cruise itineraries, from short 4-night sailings to week-long cruises and repositioning itineraries. Prices vary greatly, but there is a Mexico cruise to fit any budget.

If you’re schedule is flexible and you can travel during the off-season (anytime kids are in school), you can find some great cruise deals to Mexico.

Here are a few sample prices for what you may pay during the off-season. These prices are for 2 adults in an interior stateroom, including taxes and fees:

  • Navigator of the Seas - 3 night Ensenada cruise: $481 total
  • Adventure of the Seas - 5 night Western Caribbean cruise: $673 total
  • Oasis of the Seas - 7 night Western Caribbean cruise: $1367 total
Oasis of the Seas next to Liberty of the Seas in Cozumel

Expect prices to be several hundred dollars more expensive during peak times of year, especially if you’re planning a cruise during the holiday season.

7-night Western Caribbean cruises on an Oasis Class ship during the summer months, for example, can be over $2300 for two adults in an interior stateroom.

Related: Which family cruise can you book for $2000?

Tulum beach in Mexico

Outside of cruise fare, you’ll want to budget for the following additional costs:

  • Gratuities ($16 per person, per day in interior, ocean view, or balcony staterooms)
  • Transportation (airfare or gas, parking, etc.)
  • Hotel the night before your cruise
  • Shore excursions
  • Cruise add-ons (drink packages, dining packages, etc.)

Do I need to bring pesos on a Mexico cruise?

The official currency in Mexico is the Mexican Peso (MXP). While visiting the country on a cruise, you'll find that USD is universally accepted, although you will typically receive change back in pesos.

There's no need to take Mexican Pesos out of an ATM or currency exchange prior to a Mexico cruise. While you might not always receive the standard exchange rate when paying in USD, saving a few dollars here and there is usually not worth the hassle of bringing pesos.

What to bring on a Mexico cruise

Packing for a Mexico cruise to the Caribbean means bringing your favorite summer clothes: shorts, t-shirts, sundresses, sandals, a swimsuit, and a sun hat. 

You’ll also want to pack clothes to wear onboard your cruise ship, including nicer outfits for formal night and other evening activities, along with pajamas and loungewear.

Related: What to wear on a cruise formal night

While rare on the Caribbean side of Mexico, it can get chilly on a Mexican Riviera cruise. Be sure to pack a few clothing items to keep you warm, like a pair of jeans and light jacket.

For more in-depth packing information for your Mexico cruise, read our article on the Ultimate Cruise Packing List.

Planning a cruise? Check out our other Ultimate Guides to some of the world’s best cruising destinations:

Mexico adds new tourist tax to Cozumel

28 Dec 2020

One state in Mexico has announced it will increase its tourist tax, which may have an impact on cruise ship guests.

The Mexican state of Quintana Roo, which is where the popular ports of Couzmel and Costa Maya are located, announced new $10 tourist tax on foreigners. This news was first reported by the Riviera Maya Times and does not mention cruise ships in the article.

There are no details yet on how the tax will be collected, nor if it applies to cruise ship visitors or not. Typically, cruise lines pay the port a per-passenger tax already when ships visit a port.

The new tourist tax would go into effect beginning April 1, 2021, and is intended to help make up the deficit the area has seen as a result of fewer tourists visiting in 2020 due to the global health crisis.

The tourism industry in Quintana Roo have said they are against this new tax, because they fear it will lead to less tourists willing to visit and opting to go elsewhere.

A letter signed by the country manager of IATA Mexico, and Luis Noriega Benet, president of Canaero,

In a document signed by Cuitláhuac Gutiérrez Martínez, country manager of IATA Mexico, and Luis Noriega Benet, president of National Air Transport Chamber (Canaero), asked to reconsider this proposal contemplated in the 2021 tax package.

Quintana Roo is located on the eastern portion of the Yucatan peninsula, and two popular cruise ports are within the state.  The other port in Mexico that Royal Caribbean cruise ships visit, Progreso, is in the state of Yucatan.

The number of cruise passengers that visited Cozumel has steadily grown over the last few years, and saw 4.57 million passengers in 2019. 

The island is the third-busiest cruise ship port in the world, and is visited by about 1,250 cruise ships each year.

Read moreThings to do in Cozumel on your Royal Caribbean cruise

In November 2019, Cozumel announced its first tax on cruise ship passengers with a 65 cent per passenger tax to pay for security, environmental and civil defense projects.

Fun things to do on a cruise to Mexico

27 Jun 2019

Royal Caribbean can take you on a cruise to various ports in Mexico to swim, scuba, eat, drink and climb your way around the country’s storied ancient pyramids and cenotes.

We get a lot of requests for recommendations of what to do in various ports of call, so today we are focusing on the cruise ports in Mexico that Royal Caribbean serves, and hand-picked excursions offered by both the cruise line and on your own.

Royal Caribbean offers Western Caribbean cruises from four to seven nights that depart ports in Florida and Texas. If you are interested in some fun activities offered in each Mexican port Royal Caribbean visits, here are some great suggestions.


Fun in the ocean is at the heart of Cozumel, as it is known for its exotic and exquisite diving.  In fact, oceanographer Jacques Cousteau once said Cozumel had the best in the world for scuba diving.  Royal Caribbean offers shore excursions to snorkel in the Palancar Reef, where you can swim among starfish in a natural sanctuary.  Or give back a little and save sea turtle hatchlings.

You can combine the sea and land with a day by the beach. Cozumel has a number of great beach resorts you can spend the day at with a day pass.

If you want a little culture, try the Mexico in a Nutshell tour for a sampling of Mayan traditions, illustrated through aerial acrobatics and Mexican architecture. There are also tequila samplings and chocolate tastings to consider.

Costa Maya


Costa Maya has a great deal of intriguing options to consider to fill your day. Some of the best Mayan ruins are found around Costa Maya, including the premier preserved site at Chichen Itza. Royal Caribbean offers a multi-day tour that will take you to Chacchoben, Tulum and Chichen Itza, on an overnight adventure.

If aquatic adventure is what you want, the Meso-American Barrier Reef offers kayaking or scuba diving. This area is an important marine region spanning nearly 700 miles. You can always head to the beach and enjoy a relaxing day at Maya Chan Beach.

If you want to try to reel in your fun (see what we did there?), then grab a lure and head out for some deep sea fishing.


A newer cruise port for Royal Caribbean, Progresso (also known as Yucatan), is home to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Chichen Itza.

You can take a glimpse into Mexico's past with a visit to Merida, the capital of the Yucatan state. There you will find colonial-era estates known as Mexican haciendas.

Speaking of the past, you can explore Mayan culture at the Uxmal ruins, one of the civilization’s political hubs. You can explore the classic Mesoamerican ball courts, where ancient games were played, and the stone decorations of the aptly named House of the Turtles. The Dzibilchaltun ruins, an ancient trading center, and Temple of the Seven Dolls are worth a visit too, as they reveal the Mayans’ long-held understanding of the solar system.

Your thoughts

What is your favorite thing to do in Mexico on a cruise? Are you considering another tour? Share your experiences and questions in the comments below!

Royal Caribbean cancels shore excursions requiring ferries in Mexico

02 Mar 2018

Royal Caribbean has cancelled all shore excursions requiring a ferry ride in Mexico today, following a safety warning issued by the U.S. State Department.

Guests aboard Liberty of the Seas and Allure of the Seas recieved notices that their shore excursions scheduled to take place on Friday, March 2 in Cozumel were cancelled. 

Royal Caribbean informed guests of the new State Department warning, which discouraged travel on tourist ferries in Cozumel.

The letter adds, "The U.S. State Department remains confident of the Mexican government's efforts to ensure the safety of all tourists in the country.  However, in an abundance of caution we are cancelling sponsored shore excursions that involve tourist ferries.  We also discourage guests from taking part in independent excursions that involve ferry travel."

Letter to guests on Allure of the Seas. Photo by Gears

Letter to guests on Liberty of the Seas. Photo by Twangster

We reached out to Royal Caribbean to get a sense if this cancellation of shore excursions involving tourist ferries will extend to other scheduled stops in Cozumel, but have not received a response.

Royal Caribbean guests involved in bus crash in Mexico

19 Dec 2017

At least 12 tourists have died in a bus crash in eastern Mexico today, when the bus carying them flipped over on a highway early on Tuesday.

Royal Caribbean has confirmed 27 cruise ship passengers were on the bus that suffered the accident, which were sailing on Serenade of the Seas and Celebrity Equinox.

Seven Americans and two citizens of Sweden are among the injured, according to Quintana Roo state Civil Defense spokesman Vicente Martin. 

Martin said the crash occurred as the bus was on its way to the ruins at Chacchoben, about 110 miles (175 kilometers) south of Tulum.

Royal Caribbean cancels Jewel of the Seas stop in Mexico due to violence

12 May 2015

Royal Caribbean announced it will skip a scheduled stop in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico today for Jewel of the Seas due to violence in the area.

Royal Caribbean director of global corporate communications commented on the change, "The call to Puerto Vallarta was canceled due to the recently experienced episodes of violent civil unrest, stemming from criminal gangs that have engaged in armed conflict with local authorities.  We also canceled Celebrity Infinity's call on Sunday. We will continue to monitor the situation in Puerto Vallarta."

Criminal violence in Mexico has been a primary reason why Royal Caribbean and other cruise lines have avoided offering more cruises on the west coast of the United States.

Royal Caribbean selects new sales director for Mexico

28 May 2014

Royal Caribbean named André Pousada, the former Brazil Sales Director, will become the sales director for Royal Caribbean in Mexico starting in July.

Mexico is considered a strategic market for Royal Caribbean because of the value and potential of the cruise market, so having the right plan in place there is critical.

Pousada has a career of over 22 years in the tourism industry, including experience in agencies, tour operators, airlines, hotels and cruise ships. At the same time, he developed his career in Academic SENAC, one of the leading Universities of Tourism and Hotel in Brazil.

Pousada commented on his hiring, "I am very pleased to have the opportunity to get in front of Royal office in Mexico.  It's a challenge for me to lead this project, Mexico is a country of great opportunities is a key element for the cruising, so we want to develop a series of actions and strategies that benefit the Mexican cruise and in turn, our sales reflect within Mexican territory. "

Planning a Royal Caribbean cruise: Cozumel

13 Jan 2014

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


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


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.

Restaurant Review: Comidas Caseras Tonita

21 Sep 2011

We love to explore the ports that Royal Caribbean stops at and find real, authentic experiences while in town.  While in Cozumel, Mexico, we set out to find the best authentic Mexican food we could find on the island and I think Comidas Caseras Tonita is exactly that.


Comidas Caseras Tonita is a family run restaurant off the beaten path in Cozumel, Mexico offering home made Mexican dishes.  While we were there, two women ran the kitchen and took our orders.  They really didn't speak much English, but we were able to communicate what we wanted to them.  The menus at the restaurant are in Spanish and English, so you can know what you're ordering without being fluent in Spanish.

The room you dine in is an open air room, that reminds me of a living room in some ones house in Mexico.  There are book shelves along the wall as well as music playing for your entertainment.

The restaurant is rustic enough to feel "real" but not concerning enough to scare away American tourists, like ourselves.  While we enjoy eating authentic food, we don't want to feel like we've gone "too far" into the local element and feel unsafe.  The restaurant was inviting and warm and felt like we were eating at a friends house rather than a restaurant.


The menu consists of Mexican dishes that include chicken, fish and steak.  There's also a wide breakfast selection that you can order at anytime during your stay.  Before arriving at Comidas Caseras Tonita, we had heard they had the best guacamole on the island and it was something we ordered as well.

Given the reputation we had heard about, we ordered guacamole, salsa, chips and something called "Mexican style chicken".  We didn't want to gorge ourselves, but we wanted to get a good taste of what this restaurant has to offer.

After placing our order, we immediately knew this place was looking good when we could see in the kitchen the women preparing everything from scratch.  The chips were fried on the spot, the guacamole was made from fresh avocado and the salsa was cut up from fresh vegetables.  Very soon the aroma in the air was filled with our food.

First up were the chips, salsa and guacamole and I can safely say that the lofty expectations I had in my mind were quickly met and surpassed.

It's hard to communicate in blog form just how good the food was.  You could really tell from eating the food how fresh everything was.  There wasn't anything that tasted like it had been frozen previously.  Back in the USA, my family are quite the connoisseurs of Mexican food but these appetizers at Comidas Caseras Tonita were so much better than anything we had gotten at home.

We had gone through half of the food and two orders of chips and then our Mexican style chicken was brought over.  Immediately I wished I had skipped breakfast on the ship so I could feel hungrier.

On the outside, the chicken didn't really look all that different from chicken dishes I had ordered back home.  Granted, it wasn't swimming in melted cheese as is often the case with Mexican dishes in the USA, but once I took a bite, I could taste the difference right away.  The chicken was moist, tasty and even had a sense of feeling "light".  I'm not sure if it was the euphoria my taste buds were in from the salsa and guacamole earlier, but this tasted like one of the best chicken dishes I had ever had in my life.  A definite top 10 dish.


If you're looking for authentic Mexican food, Comidas Caseras Tonita is by far a great choice while in Cozumel.  On previous cruises to Cozumel we had tried other restaurants in an effort to get an authentic meal (Pancho's Backyard, Casa Denis) and while Casa Denis was our previous front runner, I think Comidas Caseras Tonita is our new favorite local restaurant on Cozumel.

To me, part of going on cruises is the adventure of getting out there and trying something new.  While Royal Caribbean thinks that can mean climbing the rock wall on the ship or zip lining in Labadee, I love to explore the ports on my own and if you have any desire to try to explore Cozumel on your own, then I really believe that Comidas Caseras Tonita is a great spot to have lunch at.  

The cost of the food was less than $20 (we also ordered two rounds of Cokes) and the service was impeccable.  Eating at Comidas Caseras Tonita made me feel like I was on an episode of Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations television show.  

Location: Calle Rosado Salas 265 Cozumel, Q. Roo 77600

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.

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