“What do you mean the ports in Cozumel are closed? What about that Cielo trip I booked months ago? My husband is supposed to go scuba diving and the kids are going on a snorkeling tour! What do we do now?”
Thankfully, we don’t hear this question too often in Cozumel, but when we do, there is usually some emotion involved! Depending upon weather conditions the Port Captain (Capitania De Puerto) may choose to close the ports and keep non-essential boats in Caleta and Puerto Abrigo and others on their moorings. These closures are usually due to high winds or very strong storms that put the visitors, captains, and crew in danger; rain will rarely cause a port closure. These closures may last a couple of hours or a couple of days. While the Port Captain cannot control the weather, the safety of you & your family on the waters surrounding Cozumel is his primary concern!
The first thing you need to do is relax – you are still on vacation, you’re sure to get a refund on your excursions and there are plenty of things to do on a windy day in Cozumel:
1. Kaokao Chocolate Factory Tour – In this hour-long tour, you will learn the important role the cacao seed played in the Mayan culture (the Mayan’s created the 1st ever chocolate drink). After a bit of history, you will use a hand mill to craft your own & take home chocolate that is perfect for making a Mexican hot chocolate drink. This will be followed by my favorite – tasting a variety of Mayan chocolate treats. Some of the various flavors you will enjoy include: milk chocolate, dark chocolate, dark chocolate with chili pepper, chocolate-covered espresso beans, and many more! Tours are $10.00 USD Adults | $5.00 USD Children.
2. Tequila Tours – Why not use this as an excuse to make friends with the country’s local liquor? There are plenty of good tequila tours around the island that would love to show you how the drink is made, from harvesting the blue agave cactus, to serving it to you straight. In addition to receiving a nice little buzz, you just might learn something! There are several free tequila tours/tastings, while others charge a small fee.
3. Mercado Municipal – Check out a slice of local life at the Mercado Municipal, where you will find stalls of incredibly fresh produce, fruits & juices to die for. There are dozens of very inexpensive, but stunningly delicious food vendors from all over the world… traditional Mexican, to Honduran, to Filipino, to Vietnamese and more. A traditional Mexican breakfast with eggs, beans, juice, tortillas & rice can be enjoyed for around $2.50 USD – and this one plate was enough for this Mom & her 2 daughters to share! Make your way into the Mercado, and you will be inundated with stall upon stall of clothes, shoes, guayabera shirts, huge market bags (excellent for toting your souvenirs home), handcrafts, hand-sewn dresses… the treasures just do not end! If you do not make it here, you have not experienced Cozumel!
4. Tour the Island – Rent a car or a Jeep and go explore. After all, it is an island and you really can’t get all THAT lost!!! Go around to the “wild side” (the east side of the island), stop for a cold beverage and incredible ceviche at one of the beach-side restaurants along the east side! They are all covered and know how to make you happy in case of bad weather!
5. Discover Mexico Park – Within a few hours, you can experience the history of the entire country of Mexico – it’s culture, traditions, and colors at the Discover Mexico Park. Tour the botanical gardens while enjoying precision-scale replicas of the Municipal Plazas of many of the major cities in Mexico, as well as replicas of many Mayan ruins. After you journey through time, pull up a chair at the Crazy Cantina, enjoy the Tequila Experience by Jose Cuervo, or relax and watch the Papantla Flyers, an aerial show, where 5 men ascend 80-90 feet up a poll and proceed to dance and fly around the pole while attached by a rope – mostly upside down. This is a must see!!!
6. Beach Clubs – Just because the port is closed, does not mean you cannot enjoy the beaches, pools, and amenities offered by some of Cozumel’s finest beach clubs. You will find that the beach clubs are a nice relaxing way to enjoy the island. Most charge an entrance fee that will include unlimited use of their beach toys, umbrellas, lounges, inflatable trampolines and obstacle courses, freshwater pools, restrooms, lockers, etc. Some will charge a nominal fee for use of snorkeling equipment, kayaks, SUP rentals, and spa services. You will find that some beach clubs charge a bit more, but are all-inclusive,
meaning you get full use of its amenities, usually a lunch buffet & snack bar and an open bar with domestic drinks (beer, tequila, rum, vodka, soft drinks).You will also find that some beach clubs offer better beach-side water parks in the sea, while some clubs offer more fun in their fresh-water pools. Again, there are lots of choices on this great island – make the one that’s right for you!
7. Playa Chen Rio – This is a beautiful, crescent-shaped cove, on the east side of the island, that is protected by a long stretch of rocks. This protection ensures that there is never a danger from high surf or rip current in this area. Oftentimes when the wind is howling from the north (we call these events “Nortes)” or west, this side of the island is protected and the water may be unexpectedly calm. It is a beautiful stretch of soft, white sand and crystal blue water. Inside the shallow cove, depths only reach 3 or 4 feet. The majority of this area is perfect for wading or allowing your young ones some freedom. There are little tide pools, which are great for exploring the little sea creatures such as mollusks and hermit crabs. There is a great little restaurant nearby that serves incredible ceviche and cold beverages, or you can pack your own cooler and picnic. This is the locals “go to” beach on Sundays. Ever heard of “local knowledge?”
8. San Gervasio – The Mayan ruins of San Gervasio was a site dedicated to Ixchel, the Mayan goddess of fertility, childbirth, and medicine. This site prompted many Mayan women to journey from their Mainland villages to make offerings to Ixchel, at least once in their lives, in the hopes for health and fertility for women, as well as strength and courage for men. Once you arrive at San Gervasio, hiring (for a small price) one of the bilingual guides will really enhance your experience.
9. Plaza San Miguel – This is San Miguel’s city center, and is absolutely perfect for a day of people watching! It is filled with shops that sell everything from clothes, to tequila, to handcrafts, to souvenirs, to cigars, to jewelry, to stoneware. Additionally, it has a ton of great restaurants, cafes, bars and (perhaps the best) street food vendors. Don’t be shy to buy “whatever it is that guy is selling” off of his cart. You may not have any idea what it is, but I promise… it will be delicious!
10. El Cedral – Call this one a bonus suggestion! El Cedral is the first Mayan settlement on the island of Cozumel, and it can be dated back to 800 A.D. This quaint village was once the largest village on the island and the capital of Cozumel. Grab one of the local guides, and enjoy a slower-paced walk through time. The locals are very welcoming and would love to share a shot with you around lunch time and tell you stories of how life used to be. There are a few low-pressure souvenir shops, a ton of beautiful families waiting to share the day with you, a few places for a great lunch, as well as a tequila tour and tasting.