Susan's Blog - Cozumel

We are taking a couple week-long (or longer) vacations this year, the first being Cozumel, Mexico. Amazingly enough, with all of the traveling that we do, this is our very first trip to Mexico ever! We decided to go to Cozumel and stay on the island, not venturing back to the mainland.

Cozumel is off the eastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, opposite of the Playa del Carmen (which is just south of Cancun). There is really nothing here other than tourism, specifically for snorkeling and scuba diving. The name Cozumel means "Island of Swallows". The island itself is rather small ... 30 miles long by about 10 miles wide. The western side is where almost everything is: the airport and main city, the resorts, the tourists. The eastern side is almost uninhabited, except for a few beach shacks/bars along the road (there is also no electricity over there). The entire middle of the island is covered with a mangrove forest ... somewhat of a small jungle.

I'll give a bit of history (since I didn't know much about Cozumel before I went). Like much of Mexico, the Maya are believed to have been the first settlers in Cozumel, dating back to the early part of the 1st millennium AD. There are a number of ruins on the island, most from the Post-Classic period. The largest Mayan ruins on the island were near the downtown area but have since been destroyed. Today, the largest remaining ruins are at San Gervasio, located a short drive from San Miguel (okay, yea, 30 miles by 10 miles ... everything is a short drive!) The island was sacred to Ix Chel, the Maya Moon Goddess, and the temples here were a place of pilgrimage, especially by women desiring fertility (San Gervasio is supposedly a site for fertility). The first Spanish expedition to visit Cozumel was led by Juan de Grijalva in 1518, followed the next year by Cortes. Like with many native people that were met by European explorers, most of the 10,000 Mayan's on the island died due to smallpox brought to the island by infected crew members of an expedition led by Panful Narvaez.

Bits of trivia ... Scuba diving is one of Cozumel's primary attractions due to the healthy coral reefs offshore. In 1996, the Mexican government established a national marine park over almost all of the coral reefs, which prohibits touching or removing any marine life. In 2005, the island was struck by two Category 4 hurricanes: Emily (in July) and Wilma (in October). Wilma's eye passed directly over Cozumel and caused the most destruction.

All food and manufactured supplies are shipped to the island. Water is provided by three different desalination facilities located on the island. We didn't actually worry too much about "don't drink the water" and actually drank the water provided by the hotel restaurants and didn't freak out about having ice cubes. Thankfully ... we remained sickness-free during the vacation!

We had originally booked into the InterContinental but 2 weeks before we left, there was a problem and we ended up having to move. We did a bit of research while talking to Travelocity on the phone and we agreed to change to the Fiesta Americana Cozumel, which is an All-Inclusive resort. We normally don't do All-Inclusives since we tend to think that they are overpriced for what we will use (no major drinking binges, no kids doing the kid-things, and we tend to like to eat off the resort since the food isn't normally good). However, we were pleasantly surprised with this one! It was very clean and the staff was quite responsive. All of the rooms have an ocean view, so here are a few pictures from our window.

A gorgeous sunset ...

One night, they did a Mayan show, with people dressed in traditional Mayan dress (I guess) and doing Mayan dances and singing. We didn't stay for the whole show, but grabbed a few pics.

So .. what did we do? Not much, really! We did take pictures and have a few other pages for the days we were there: