Cozumel Island : La Isla Cozumel
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
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.
activities should not be hindered except during during heavy rains.
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
For details on current weather conditions and forecasts,
visit Cozumel's weather page from USA Today. For historical weather data, check
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.
Indigenous Peoples Literature for excellent detailed information and resources on Mexico and
other native peoples worldwide. This huge site is offered in several languages.
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.
Money Matters & Exchange Rates
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