The Best Beaches in Cozumel
Best for Families
Situated on the sheltered western side of the island, Paradise Beach is one of Cozumel’s most popular, attracting families, locals, and cruise passengers galore. The shoreline is pristine, with soft sand and calm turquoise water, and there’s also a pool, restaurant, and a handful of basic boutiques. Thanks to great poolside and beachside food and beverage service, the beach is an ideal to spend a lazy day in the sun. Entry to the beach is around $3 USD, which gives access to all the facilities, plus a chair by the beach or pool. Visitors can also purchase a “Fun Pass” that includes use of inflatable water toys, water trampolines, a coconut tree climb, kayaks, snorkeling gear, and stand-up paddleboards.
Best for Water Sports
Located on the southwestern side of the island, about 13 miles south of San Miguel, Palancar Beach is a gem well worth visiting, thanks to both its unspoiled beauty and all the amenities you’ll need for a fun day out. The beach is big on water sports, including kayaking, snorkeling, jet skiing, parasailing, and diving. There are dive tours for divers of all levels on the offshore reef, and when you’re back on shore, the palapa-style restaurant offers a menu showcasing fresh seafood—ceviches, grilled fish, and local shrimp.
Playa Mia Grand Beach Park
Best for Accessibility
This beach club offers great accessibility for wheelchairs and is an all-round fun spot for families thanks to its top-notch facilities that include trampolines, hammocks, slides, and a host of water sports—there’s even an underwater “Mayan City” visitors can snorkel around. If you’re in the mood for some extra indulgence, there’s a spa onsite, or if you fancy venturing further afield, the park’s staff can arrange various marine tours.
Faro Celerain Ecological Park
Best for Nature Lovers
Also known as Punta Sur Eco Beach Park, this 2,500-acre park offers a wonderful taste of Mexico’s wild side. Keep your eyes peeled for indigenous species including exotic birds, crocodiles, and sea turtles while you explore the impressive man-made contributions to the region, such as the El Caracol Mayan ruins and the Faro Celerain Lighthouse, which also has a small maritime museum. Take a dip in the tranquil Laguna Colombia, where you can also arrange a catamaran or kayak tour, or just while away the day swinging in one of the beach’s hammocks. Entry fee to the park is around $14 USD for adults and around $8 for children.
Best for Wildlife Encounters
Stingray Beach, near the main city of San Miguel, lives up to its name in the best way. Yes, here you can swim with the beautiful and mellow resident stingrays (the barbs are non-dangerous), in encounters that allow visitors to interact with and feed these fascinating creatures. If you’re not the wildlife-encounter type, opt for a standup-paddleboard excursion along the coastline, or stay on land for a wine tasting, a chocolate workshop, or lessons in how to craft a piñata. After all the excitement, you might want to chill out at Ray’s Sand Bar, where you can nosh on homemade guac, shrimp tacos, and burritos. The entry fees to the park are steep, so plan to stay all day to get your money’s worth.
Chankanaab National Park
This water park—whose Mayan name translates to “Little Sea,” a reference to the natural lagoon here—offers diving and snorkeling tours, dolphin encounters, a lovely beach, and a plethora of extra activities including zip lining, a tequila factory, gardens, and nature trails. It’s also a great place to dive, with conditions perfect for beginners. Stake out your place under one of the beachfront palapas and prepare to spend a perfect day out. Admission is around $21 for adults and $14 for children, and there’s wheelchair accessibility and lifeguards on duty.
Best for Solitude Seekers
If the prevailing Cozumel preference for beach clubs and water parks isn’t your scene, head to remote, beautiful Playa Bonita. This hidden gem is located at the northern tip of the island’s less-developed and rockier east coast, reached via the one main road that runs along the entire eastern shore. The beach, which sports pristine sand within a palm tree-lined crescent-shaped cove, is located within Rancho Ixpalbarco and doesn’t offer the facilities of other popular Cozumel beaches, so bring everything you need for your beach day. Early birds take note: along with the natural splendor, there’s also a small Mayan ruin here that happens to be the easternmost point on the island for watching the sunrise.
Playa Chen Rio
Best for Sheer Beauty
Situated about halfway up the island’s east coast, Chen Rio beach has all your favorite features—pure white sand, clear water, and somewhere to sample delicious Mexican food—but with the added bonus of picturesque rocks and lush surrounding foliage. While this side of the coast is generally rougher than the sheltered west coast, the rocks at Chen Rio help provide a sheltered swimming environment, making it ideal for swimmers of all levels and snorkelers, who will thrill at some of the island’s clearest, most high-visibility waters.