Cozumel, Mexico

I have had the pleasure of traveling to Cozumel twice now, once 6 years ago on a cruise with my husband, and then a few months ago with my best friend, Susan, who writes a lot of Trip Advisor reviews as Super Susanita. Cozumel is one of my favorite islands. The food is delicious; it offers some of the best snorkeling and scuba diving in the Caribbean; fantastic jewelry shopping, and best of all, it’s safe and inexpensive!

The first time I went to Cozumel, Jim and I were on our Mexican cruise. We did a ship’s excursion that allowed us to prepare a three-course Mexican meal with an adorable Mexican chef. We cooked in a room with huge windows overlooking a fabulous beach while drinking margaritas. Then we shopped. Cozumel is a great place to shop for silver or Mexican fire opals, which glitter an orange-red color. As we shopped at the jewelry stores, the shopkeepers plied us with free margaritas or shots of tequila. We sloshed back to the ship with Jim threatening to sacrifice me to the Mayan gods if I bought any more fire opals or silver.

A few months ago, I went back to Cozumel with my best friend Susan Nichols. I was a little nervous traveling with a friend instead of my husband, and Jim was concerned about our safety, but there was no reason to worry. Cozumel felt very safe. Susan and I stayed at the Flamingo Hotel, which is a small boutique hotel on a side street near the ferry dock. The room was not upscale, but it was clean and decently appointed. There was an open air lobby with a bar that was open in the evenings. The bar itself was worth staying at the Flamingo. Ivan the bartender squeezed limes and oranges to create the base of his margaritas and then added his favorite tequila and Grand Marnier. Ivan truly makes the best margaritas I have ever had. Period. The price for one of the margaritas was only $6. Not bad for a hand- crafted drink. Our room was a very decent $70 and included coffee and a continental breakfast. For only $2 more, you could get omelets and pancakes. Overall, the Flamingo Hotel was a great deal. What’s more is that I only saw one child at the hotel during the five days we stayed there.

During the day, Susan went diving during the day with Blue Magic Scuba. She researched getting her dive certification and decided that Blue Magic was the most accommodating shop for the best price. While she dove, I took a short $5 cab ride to another hotel, Playa Azul, where I laid on the beach and read or swam. There was always a helpful employee to bring drinks at Playa Azul. Pretty little hotel, and pretty beach with a tiki bar and an open air restaurant next door. Since it was a bigger hotel on the beach, there were some children. Playa Azul seems to be popular with vacationers from mainland Mexico.

One of the days we were in Cozumel, Susan took me to Sky Reef, a beach restaurant, and bar for lunch and snorkeling. For $15, you get a small drink, tequila tasting, snorkeling equipment and a five-minute chair massage. We paid the $15 considering all it included and had tacos, avocados, rice and refried beans for an additional charge of about $15. Those were some of the most delightful tacos I have eaten in a long time. We had a lot of good meals in Cozumel, most of which were around $15 or under. Cozumel offers a lot of great local food at great prices. In fact, the island is worth visiting just for the food!

As well as delicious food, diving and shopping, there are other things to do on the island of Cozumel. There are small Mayan ruins on the island, or you can take a ferry to Playa del Carmen and journey to the larger ruins of Chichen Itza near Cancun. It’s a day trip which we did not choose to do, but I intend to go back with Jim and visit the ruins. Cozumel also offers golf during the day and dancing at night. Susan and I went dancing at a local dance club called Tic Toc and had a great time dancing to the Latin tunes the DJ played.

We checked out several small hotels while were there, and many of them ranged from quite acceptable to quite nice. If you want to vacation on the island of Cozumel, you can get a hotel for a pretty decent rate on Trip Advisor and have an excellent time tasting local fare at the restaurants and going snorkeling or scuba diving. Although I do love all-inclusive resorts, if you choose to do one of those on Cozumel, you’ll miss tasting the local fare, and you’ll spend a lot more money. Cozumel is my pick for a fun vacation at an affordable rate. It’s not all childfree, but if you pick a boutique hotel like the Flamingo, you’ll reduce the number of children you have to deal with.

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