With three days to discover Cozumel, go beyond the basics to see a side of the island many visitors overlook. After you take in perfect beaches, candy-colored reefs, and the party scene, ditch the crowds to ride jungle trails, fly through the treetops, and discover ancient Maya ruins. Here’s how.
Avenida Rafael Melgar and the Costera Sur
While pretty Playa Palancar is surrounded by posh all-inclusives, it’s a public beach. There are several small restaurants and shops selling seafood, drinks, and souvenirs, as well as renting snorkeling equipment and organizing dives. Playa Palancar doesn’t have the party atmosphere or range of hotels and other services that some of the beaches closer to San Miguel do, but for family-friendly fun and fantastic views, it’s hard to do better on the island.
Visit Playa Palancar independently; boats wait to take snorkelers out to the reef, and you can rent equipment close by. Alternatively, go as part of a Cozumel sightseeing tour with hotel or port pickup and drop-off. Island tours typically also include a chocolate factory, a tequila tasting, and the San Gervasio Maya ruins.
Things to Know Before You Go
Playa Palancar is ideal for beach bums, snorkelers, and families with kids.
Remember to bring sun protection and water, as the beach offers little shade.
Bring cash—the bars, restaurants, and shops don’t accept debit or credit cards.
The beach offers basic facilities, including restrooms and outdoor showers.
Lounge chairs and beach umbrellas are available to rent.
How to Get There
Playa Palancar is located off the coastal highway, about 20 minutes south of the Cozumel Cruise Terminal. It’s well signed from Avenida Melgar; look for signs before the Costera Sur exits inland. There’s no public bus service (yet, but ask around to see if this has changed). If you hire a taxi to this more remote part of the island, be aware that you may need to wait a bit to get a taxi back to your hotel.
When to Get There
The beach is lovely year-round. Winter brings large numbers of travelers to Cozumel, and the weeks before and after Easter are some of the busiest. Yet even during high season, Playa Palancar is less crowded than other spots on the island.
Cozumel Maya Ruins
Close to the beach turnoff you’ll see signs for El Cedral Maya Ruins. El Cedral is the site of the first Maya settlement on Cozumel. The tiny Maya ruin, a fertility temple, is the size of a small house. It has some historic significance for locals, but fails to impress most visitors.
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- Cozumel Reefs National Marine Park
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- Tormentos Reef
- Punta Sur Eco Beach Park (Faro Celerain Ecological Reserve)
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