Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Cozumel for those who don't do resorts

I am not a “sit on the beach and take in the sun” kind of person. So, when the Amazing Ms. D signed up for a week-long writer’s conference in Cozumel, Mexico, I had some planning to do.

Cozumel is an island off the coast of Mexico, about 12 miles from the city of Playa del Carmen, on the Mayan Riviera. It is about 30 miles long and 10 miles wide. Close to seventy percent of its population of 10,000 live in the town of San Miguel de Cozumel on its northwest shore. The town of San Miguel is very tourist oriented, in fact its population was less than 10,000 before the airport was expanded in the late 1970’s. At the same time the cruise industry was beginning to take off. Today, as many as 8 cruise ships a day visit the island. This can make the malecón and plaza central extremely crowded when ships are in town. It can make walking along the malecón something to avoid. In addition to the crowds, every store and restaurant has at least one employee on the sidewalk drumming up business, aggressively trying to get customers to come into their store.

But walk one block east of the water and you will find a really nice small Mexican city. Away from the tourist strip, the streets are quiet, the houses are small, and the decorations are thoughtful and heartfelt. Cozumel’s lifeblood is tourism, but the life of its residents is removed from the hustle and bustle, and that is much more interesting to me. This is the part of town where you will find the Mercado (Calle Adolfo Rosado Salas between 20th and 25th Ave), the local market, a place to find fresh produce, meat (if you are staying somewhere with a kitchen) and tchotchkes to take home. It is also where you will find some really good and inexpensive restaurants for lunch. One of my favorites is Casa Cuzamil (Avenida 5 between Calle 3 sur and Calle 1 sur). While it is mainly a sports bar, they serve excellent ceviche and tacos, and $2 beers. If you are looking for something more upscale try La Cocay (Calle 8 norte between Avenida 10 and 15). They have Mediterranean style food, with pizza, pastas and tapas. If you are walking on the malecón and want a good and quick bite, turn onto Calle 3 sur and try the Lobster Shack or Cuatro Tacos. These two restaurants offer eat in or take out. They are owned by the same chef and produce tasty, light choices.

Outside the bus drivers union

Wokers of the Future

Our trip took us to Cozumel during the week of Dia del Muerte.  It is celebrated there with a week-long series of lovely events. There are concerts in the Plaza Central every night. On the night of Nov 1st, they have a costume parade from Pantheon – the main cemetery, to the Plaza. One of the nicest traditions on the island is that instead of asking for candy, the children go around and give candy to each other.

La Llorena

The Amazing Ms. D and a denizen of the Dia del Muerte

If you want to visit Cozumel, and like me, are not a beach person, I highly recommend the Casa Mexicana hotel. It is on the malecón near the cruise terminal in town. The rooms are very nice, and all come with a balcony. Some look out onto the bay, others look to the city, or the interior courtyard, where an extensive breakfast buffet is served from 7-11 every day. There is also a small bar in the lobby and a swimming pool and sun deck that look out to bay.

So even if you are not interested in just sitting at a resort, a trip to Cozumel offers a lot to do and see.

Next Week – Taking a trip Chichen Itza

Getting There:
You can fly directly to Cozumel from most airlines “hub” cities. We flew in through Dallas and home through Miami. Or you can fly to Cancun, which has more direct flights from the U.S. From there you can take a bus to Playa del Carmen and then a ferry across to Cozumel

1 comment:

  1. Love these photos. You captured all the color, celebration and natural beauty of the place. AMD