Here are the best short, but sweet, bits of advice we have for you in your quest to get the most enjoyment out of your
stay “extended surface intervals” while not scuba diving in Cozumel. If you have additional advice, we hope that you’ll include yours in the comments below.
2. Use sunscreen. – even if it’s cloudy – and even if you’ve been going to the tanning booth for weeks back home working on your “base tan.” We’ve often thought of publishing a book of pictures from the sunburned and blistered tourists we see everyday in Cozumel. Unless you are from the tropics, the sun is much more intense here than it is back in your hometown.
3. Wear sunglasses. Not only do you need to protect your eyes from the sun, but you’d be totally amazed by the intense contrasting colors of the Caribbean Sea and sky that polarized lenses offer!
4. ALWAYS test the salsas and sauces served at restaurants before using them generously on your food. The locals’ opinion on what is “picante” (hot) is NOT the same as yours.
5. Pay attention to traffic when crossing the streets. You can be hit and killed by cars while crossing the street in the paradise of Cozumel, too. DO NOT assume that a car, motorcycle or scooter will stop for you because you are crossing the street.
6. If you arrived by plane or private boat, DO NOT lose the “Departure Registration” portion of your travel visa! Ask our dear friend Cliff.
7. Negotiate the price of your taxi ride before getting in. The taxistas have rate cards and must show them to you on request. ALWAYS ask if they have change for the difference between the cab fare and the cash you are paying with – not having change is a favorite game of theirs to play and you will lose. If something doesn’t work out tell them you will catch another taxi. Cozumel has way more taxis than we would ever need; another one will be along very shortly – I promise. Don’t fall victim to some of these pirates.
8. Shop locally. Eat locally. More of your money stays on the island and helps the locals who live here.
9. Drink bottled water or “agua purificada” and A LOT of it. Sun and heat related illnesses are the #1 cause for emergency response calls in Cozumel. Ice served in restaurants, bars and cantinas come from ice houses using purified water.
10. Use bug spray with DEET. Avoid being outside just before dawn and just after dusk. Don’t be afraid to ask for bug spray if you are eating out in the early evening. Dengue is very real in Cozumel and very dangerous. Yes, we know that many people are afraid to use DEET and would prefer to use natural and organic insect repellants but the mosquitos, sand fleas (no-see-ums) and biting flies laugh at these least effective methods you are using to prevent mosquito bites.
11. Lost in Translation? Many Mexicans in Cozumel understand and speak passable English – except for the order takers at Dominos Pizza and Pizza Hut. Speaking louder or more forcefully will not improve your odds of being understood by a Spanish speaker.
12. Drink local beer. (If this is your adult beverage of choice…) Remember, your Budweiser and Miller Light are expensive imported beers here. Additionally, Mexico has more to offer than, “Corona with a lime.”
Might I suggest Sol or Dos Equis Amber?
13. Learn “Survival Spanish”. Practice, and use, the following 5 simple phrases:
Por favor – “Please.”
Typically ensures that you will be helped.
Gracias – “Thanks.”
Typically ensures that you will be helped a second time.
Dos cervezas por favor. – “Two beers please.”
Because two beers are always better than one. BTW… You DON”T have to ask for it “fria.” I don’t know a single Mexican that likes to drink their beers warm or think that you would like it less than cold either. It’s silly. Stop the madness.
Los baños por favor? – “The bathrooms please?”
Because you just had two beers.
El águila sólo vuela en la noche. – “The eagle only flies at night.”
Practice this one and commit it to memory. You should be able to recite this even after saying, “Dos cervezas, por favor.” several times. Use it when you are out of options, find yourself in a strange or uncomfortable situation or cannot understand what that well-meaning Spanish speaking gentleman with the machete just said to you. Depending upon the situation, say this phrase in either very hushed and suspicious tones or with a loud burst of laughter immediately after. Trust me on this one.
Last but not least, Cozumel tips and travel advice nugget #14 :
Men, would you wear your speedo or thong bathing suit and go bare-chested in the grocery store or a restaurant back home? Yeah, we don’t want to see that travesty here either. Keep your swagger on the beach.
15. (It’s a bonus tip because we’re givers) Smile. You’re on vacation. There are things to do in Cozumel if the ports are closed or if it is raining cats and dogs outside. Relax. It’s far better to be here wishing you were at home, than to be at home, wishing you were here.