Amongst the high-rise hotels, golf courses and timeshare condos, visitors to Cancun will discover a number of diverse communities filled with street-side taco stands, salsa bars, and distinctly laid back vibes.
Situated along Mexico’s Caribbean coast, and the gateway to a number of important archaeological sites, the Cancun coastline and surrounding areas offer a number of adventure-based tourism pursuits. From swimming in underground sinkholes (cenotes) to ATV rides through jungles formerly home to ancient Mayan civilisations, there’s more substance than first meets the eye for those willing to dig below the surface of Cancun’s glitzy veneer.
Since there are no port facilities in Cancun itself, cruise ships visiting the city will often anchor offshore in deeper waters and tender passengers to shore. The most likely scenario is for cruise liners to dock at the island of Cozumel, home to the major port in the area and a popular resort destination it its own right. Passengers can then visit Cancun and surrounding sights through organised shore excursions.
The island of Cozumel is located in the Caribbean Sea off the coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula and 51 miles southeast of Cancun. Depending on the cruise company, ships will dock along one of three piers on the developed western side of the island. Punta Langosta is located in the heart of downtown San Miguel, while the International Pier and Carnival Corp’s Puerta Maya are located 2 miles and 5 miles away from downtown San Miguel.
With shops, restaurants, bars, tour desks and its own private beach, Puerta Maya is a destination in itself. Across the street from the International Port is the Royal Village Shopping centre where passengers can take advantage of free Wi-Fi, cafés and several international fashion label stores. Taxis can be taken from the end of all three piers in Cozumel.
How to Get Around
Cozumel is easily navigated on foot; however, mopeds, bicycles and cars can all be hired by the day. The best way to get to Cancun is through a day trip organised through the cruise ships. Depending on specific plans, the city of Cancun itself is safe to explore on foot, with many day-trippers spending time around the shops, restaurants and beaches of the hotel zone.
Buses are also plentiful in the downtown area, with routes running from downtown to the hotel zone and along the major thoroughfares of Tulum Ave and Kulkulcan Blvd. Drivers regularly stop at non-designated bus stops if hailed and many speak some English.
Travel times from the port:
- It is a 2 minute walk to from Punta Langsosta pier to downtown San Miguel in Cozumel
- It is a 49 minute walk from the International Port to downtown San Miguel.
- It is a 7 minute journey from the International Cruise Port to downtown San Miguel.
- It is a 45 minute boat ride to Cancun
- It is 40 minute boat ride to Playa Del Carmen.
- Currency - Like the rest of Mexico, Cancun and Cozumel’s official currency is the Mexican peso. Pesos are available in 50 cents, MXN$1, MXN$2, MXN$5 and MXN$10 coin denominations and MXN$20, MXN$50, MXN$100, MXN$200 and MXN$500 banknote denominations. US dollars are also widely accepted in tourist areas.
- Time Zone - Cancun operates on Eastern Standard Time (EST), which is 5 hours behind Coordinated Universal Time (UTC.)
- Weather - Cancun has a tropical climate with a distinct wet and dry season. The average summertime high is 33 degrees Celsius, while during January, temperatures can reach a high of 28 degrees Celsius.
- Parque Natural Garrafon - Located on Mujeres Island, 15 minutes off the Cancun coast, at Garrafon Park, visitors can book reef excursions, dolphin experiences and land-based adventure activities including hiking, zip lining and biking. The island park also has a cliff area with sculpted gardens, a lighthouse and an original Mayan temple.
- Museo Maya de Cancun - Home to some of Mexico’s most important Mayan artefacts, more than 300 pieces of jewellery, ceramics and paintings are all housed in the newly built museum that opened in 2012.
- Cancun Underwater Museum – One of the most unique attractions in the area, the museum is home to hundreds of submerged life-sized sculptures. Visitors can either snorkel or scuba dive to get closer to the sculptures, which have been specially formulated to promote coral growth. Surreal and impressive, a visit to the museum is sure to result in some striking photos!
- Shopping at Mercado 23 and 28 - Mercado 23 and adjacent Mercado 27 are the main downtown market in Cancun and provide a welcome change from the usual tourist souvenirs. Pick up Oaxaca cheese, piñatas, sandals and fresh fruit juices, as well as traditional Guatemalan dresses, artwork and jewellery.