This Mexican island is all about ripping drifts and healthy corals that lie just offshore in this incredible stretch of the Mesoamerican Reef
1 PALANCAR REEF
If there’s one slice of Cozumel you can’t miss, it’s the massive Palancar reef system on the southwest side of the island. Caves, canyons, sharks, turtles and rays are just the tip of the wonders that await at this stretch of sites that includes Palancar Horseshoe, Palancar Deep and more. You could dive here your entire vacation and never get bored.
2 FELIPE XICOTÉNCATL
Purpose-sunk in 1999 as an artificial reef off Chankanaab National Park, this World War II U.S. Navy mine sweeper is home to plenty of fish and fun swimthroughs. Upright in roughly 80 feet of water, the wreck is covered with sponges and coral, and shimmers with glassy sweepers — and the 184-foot-long ship is positioned in an area to protect divers from the ripping currents for which Coz is famous.
Vacationing city slickers and savvy divers alike rave about the true Italianstyle pizzas and Gulf of Mexico seafood at this atmospheric Italian restaurant in downtown San Miguel.
Night dives at this shallow reef might treat you to the psychedelic site of the Caribbean reef squid, a permanent but elusive resident of Cozumel. Washed by currents, Yucab’s healthy corals are a great bet for spotting itsybitsy nudibranchs and the favorite find: Cozumel’s wondrous endemic splendid toad fish.
5 NIGHTTIME KAYAKING
For incredible stargazing accompanied by fascinating tales of Maya lore from knowledgeable guides, set out on a nighttime kayak excursion on Cozumel’s tranquil west coast that’s timed for a view of the sunset.
6 SANTA ROSA WALL
Diving feels more like fl ying at this fabulous drift-dive site loaded with tunicates and enormous sponges that can very nearly block out the sun. Curious grouper, queen angelfish, nurse sharks and more vie for your attention, with caves and tunnels to explore as well.
7 FREEDOM IN PARADISE
Feel the reggae vibes at this Bob Marley-themed watering hole with hammocks on the beach on Cozumel’s rugged southernmost end.
8 PASO DEL CEDRAL
Photographers love this site for the omnipresent schools of grunts and porkfish that congregate near the ledges. Fin through swim-throughs and under coral overhangs to look for huge parrotfish, turtles and giant moray eels lurking in the reef’s nooks and crannies.
Great sunsets and killer margaritas await at this laid-back little bar that fronts a top-notch snorkeling reef on the island’s west coast.
10 PUNTA SUR
Found on the southernmost end of the island, this epic dive starts with a plunging wall that drops to around 90 feet and is swept by current. It rains fish along the wall, but the highlight often comes over the surrounding sand, where patrolling eagle rays and turtles are regularly spotted.