Cozumel Fact Sheet
Geography: Cozumel is located about 12 miles off the Yucatan Peninsula, 35 miles south of Cancun. It is Mexico's largest island, with a length of about 30 miles from north to south and a width of 10 miles from east to west. Most of Cozumel's development has taken place on the western side of the island.
Population: Although Cozumel's total population is more than 100,000, nearly everyone lives in or around the city of San Miguel. With its top-quality restaurants, vibrant nightlife, and rich Mayan culture, San Miguel is a destination in itself.
Getting around in Cozumel: San Miguel, Cozumel's largest city, is very walkable and quite safe. Getting around the rest of the island is easy too. Taxis are plentiful and drivers are typically waiting for customers at the cruise ship and ferry piers. Trips to nearby locations cost about $5 to $8. Trips to the more distant beaches can run as high as $15 to $20. Almost all drivers speak enough English to communicate with visitors. Keep in mind the general rule of thumb when traveling: settle on the price of your taxi fare before your driver hits the road. For the more adventurous, several rental options are available, including cars, mopeds, and buggies (high-powered golf carts).
Visa Requirements: Cruise ship passengers do not need to be concerned about visa requirements. Other vacationers, however, will be issued a Mexican visa when they arrive. A valid passport is the quickest means of securing a visa. Another option is available to U.S. citizens. They can bring a birth certificate (with a raised seal) and a driver's license. Due to recent changes in U.S. regulations, Americans are required to present their passport in order to re-enter the United States.
Money Matters: U.S. dollars are accepted in Cozumel. (In fact, most businesses prefer payment in U.S. dollars.) It's often wise to carry a few U.S. dollars in small denominations for tips and quick snacks. Be aware, though, that U.S. coins are not accepted. ATM machines are available in San Miguel for withdrawing Mexican pesos. Credit cards (especially Visa and Mastercard) and travelers checks are generally accepted by larger businesses. However, smaller operations often require purchases in cash.
Food and Drink: If your stomach hasn't been exposed to a full range of bacteria, you would be wise to take precautions about what you eat and drink in Cozumel. The water supply is chlorinated, but tap water should be avoided, especially since bottled water (and beer) is widely available. Almost all of the island's restaurants that cater to tourists use bottled water in their food preparation and for serving their customers (including for ice). They also are required to observe strict hygiene standards.
Electricity: 110 volts AC (the same as the United States and Canada) is the standard in Cozumel, as well as other parts of Mexico.
Time Zone: Cozumel is in the Central time zone (like Chicago, Houston, and Mexico City) and observes daylight saving time. Daylight saving time starts the first Sunday of April and ends the last Sunday of October.
Climate: Cozumel enjoys a balmy tropical climate throughout the year. For those visiting from so-called "temperate" climes, almost every day in Cozumel will feel like paradise. Nonetheless, there are distinct "seasons" that you should take into account as you plan your vacation.
March - June: The skies are generally sunny, humidity is relatively low, and storms are less frequent. Conditions make for calm, flat seas, with water temperatures averaging 79-81 (F).
July - October: Cozumel's rainy season brings cloudier skies and higher humidity. Storms roll over the island throughout the day, alternating with brilliant sunshine. Water temperatures are especially warm, averaging 80-84 (F). Since the rainy season also brings a lull in the tourism industry, you can expect smaller crowds both on the island and in the water.
November - February: Although the locals call this time of the year "winter", the weather is in fact beautiful by almost any standard. Rain is less frequent but conditions are often breezy. making for slightly choppy seas. Skies are typically mostly sunny, with water temperatures averaging 78-84 (F). An occasional "norte" will blow in and force tour operators to keep their boats in harbor for a day or two.
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