Cozumel Mexico

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About Cozumel Island, Mexico


Paradisus Beach

Cozumel Island is the largest island in the Republic of Mexico and is one the world's top diving destinations. The island is about 53 km long and 15 km wide with a land mass of 490 square km. A 3,000 foot deep channel and 19 km separates the island from the Yucatan Peninsula. With only 3% of the island developed, the rest of the island is inhabited by numerous birds, iguanas and other wildlife. National parks occupy much of the land and shore. The interior is covered by marshy lagoons, scrub, and dense jungle where Maya ruins hide. On the windward or eastern side of the island, development is nonexistent with the exception of a couple of small restaurants or bars scattered along the beach. The east shore has both rocky areas and long stretches of sand great for surfing and swimming. The leeward or west side faces the mainland and is where development is concentrated. The water is calm, ideal for snorkeling or scuba diving at one of the many reefs just off the coast.

Flora and Fauna
Parots at Xel-Ha With majority of the island undeveloped and covered primarily with scrub and dense jungle, Cozumel Island has a diverse population of tropical birds, lizards, coati, deer and other wildlife. Bird watchers will not be disappointed with the flocks of multicolored parrots, blue warblers , white egrets and macas.

The climate on Cozumel Island is typical of the Caribbean. The average annual temperature is 27 degrees Celsius. From November to May, temperatures are slightly lower at about 25 degree Celsius. The weather is breezy with low humidity. Daily activities should not be hindered except during during heavy rains.

For details on current weather conditions and forecasts, visit Cozumel's weather page.

Cozumel Weather

Photo Courtesy of Indigenous Peoples LiteratureHistory
This island was first inhabited by the Mayas (explore the Mayas from Indigenous Peoples' Literature compiled by Glen Walker) . There is also a theory that the Maya were not the first inhabitants of Cozumel Island but distant cousins of the Maya who inhabited the continent of "Atlantis". The Mayans were responsible for the conversion of the island into a major trade center. During pre Hispanic times, Mesoamerican  women traveled across the channel to the island to honor the goddess of fertility, Ix Chel.  Folk tales claim every Mayan woman was required to make this trip.

In 1517, the arrival of Spanish slave trader Juan De Grijalva was followed by Spaniard Hermán Cortés who used Cozumel Island as a base to attack the mainland. Not too long after, two missionaries arrived to convert the indigenous population. By 1570, the Spaniards were still not able to colonize the island but those who were not massacred were decimated by disease.

Thereafter, the island was occupied by a small native and Spaniard population.  During the 17th and 18th century, pirates used the island as a base and to hide their treasure. By 1843, the island was completely abandoned.

With the turn of the 20th century, the chewing gum industry turned their attention to the large supply of zapote trees on the island which led to the uncovering of Maya ruins.  Then during the 1950's, wealthy Mexicans used Cozumel island as a resort destination. By the 1960's, explorer Jacques Cousteau opened the island to divers around the world and today, Cozumel Island is one of the world's top diving and sun destinations.

Photo Courtesy of Indigenous Peoples LiteratureVisit Indigenous Peoples Literature for excellent detailed information and resources on Mexico and other native peoples worldwide. This huge site is offered in several languages.

Money Matters & Exchange Rates

It's a good idea to exchange money at the airport when you arrive for the airport transport and tips. There is a money exchange booth at the airport but if you plan to arrive very early or late, it might be a good idea to exchange some money before you arrive. Most hotels also offer exchange but their rates are usually not as good as if you exchanged money at a bank or one of the many exchange houses downtown.

Most restaurants and shops accept credit cards and traveler's cheque. For restaurants, buying goods, & taxi fares it is  usually  better to pay in pesos (Mexican currency). You will receive a better rate this way. Most of the tours and scuba diving fees are charged in US dollars.

For current exchange rates, visit The Universal Currency Converter.

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