2 Islands in Mexico you have to visit

Consider Cozumel island and Isla Mujeres when day-dreaming about or planning your next escape, it’s time to take advantage of their turquoise waters and perfect beaches.Whether you’re travelling for your honeymoon or just looking for a getaway, island destinations offer fun and romantic ways to spend time together. Mexico has about 9 000 km of coastline with over 60 islands just off the shores.

Photo Credit: @Dineo_Zonke via Instagram

Cozumel Island

Cozumel is a large island situated 114 km from Cancun and 20 km from Playa Del Carmen. It offers the most amazing snorkelling and diving experiences in the entire Caribbean. Cozumel has the ingredients for a fantastic island experience – white sand beaches, warm waters and great food. The tiny island is also a world-class diving destination, surrounded by the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the second largest coral reef on the planet.

Cozumel is one of the best destinations to snorkel and dive, the possibilities of sea creatures to observe are endless. If you are lucky enough, you may see a Star Puffer, Yellow Stingray, Giant Barracuda and Angelfish (to name a few). It is important to remember not to touch anything or stand on the reefs while snorkelling. Marine life and corals are incredibly fragile, and even a simple touch can damage them. The currents around Cozumel can be quite strong, so it is crucial that you find out what the conditions are like when you plan to snorkel and go with someone else or a group (especially if you are a newbie).

The Mayans are said to be the first that settled in Cozumel which is why there are over 20 ancient ruins on the island. The island’s geography is fascinating in that it is the oldest Caribbean island and the largest in Mexico.

Photo Credit: @Dineo_Zonke via Instagram

Getting to Cozumel

From Cancun: There are direct flights available from Cancun International airport to Cozumel island. The trip is just 20 minutes long and can easily be arranged with MAYAir for about R1,000.

From Playa del Carmen: It’s easy to get to Cozumel, as the ferry pier is located just a few metres from 5th Avenue. Once you reach the ferry pier downtown, you can take a 45 minutes long ferry transfer from Playa Del Carmen to tranquil Cozumel at the cost of R200 per person. Tickets can be purchased from two providers Ultramar and Waterjets, both make the crossing to Cozumel daily.

Getting around Cozumel Island

Because the island is big, the best ways to explore it is by renting a scooter or a car. If you are only in Cozumel for a day, you have no time to waste and should make the most of your time on the island.

Scooter: Prior to arriving, you can rent a scooter online for about R200 a day.

Car: Renting a car is an excellent way to get out of downtown and see the rest of the island. It is almost impossible to get lost in Cozumel, and the main attractions can be explored within a day. Excluding commissions, rental cars in Cozumel start at around R500 for a compact car, including insurance and taxes. While driving around try to steer away from the waterfront. This is because the major cruise lines unload at Cozumel’s piers, so try to avoid the area. San Miguel is a great place to buy affordable souvenirs.

Photo Credit: @Dineo_Zonke via Instagram

Isla Mujeres

Isla Mujeres, meaning “Island of Women” is a Caribbean island with sugary soft white sand beaches, sweeping coastlines and fewer people than the busy shores of Cancun’s hotel zone. It is situated 13 km off the coast of Cancun. The unspoiled beaches and magical sunset make this a great getaway from Cancun. You can enjoy your day snorkelling, sipping on cocktails and exploring the island. After sunset, you can take the ferry back to Cancun.

Norte beach is one of the popular beaches on the island. It is located close to the ferry port. At this beach you can rent beach chairs and umbrellas and enjoy the breath-taking views or spend the day floating in calm waters. Punta Sur is the southern tip of the Isla Mujeres and its where the ruins of the Temple Ixchel are located. The ruins are dedicated to Goddess Ixchel, the woman who Isla Mujeres was initially dedicated to. This site offers great views and photo opportunities. There is a small sculpture park which costs R40 to enter and allows you to see more of the coast. You can visit this area at sunset, the scenery is amazing.

Getting to Isla Mujeres

Fly into Cancun International Airport then catch the Ultramar ferry from Port Juarez. A return ticket will cost you R229 per person and in just 20 minutes you’ll arrived in paradise.

Getting around Isla Mujeres

When you arrive on the island, you’ll notice that the preferred mode of transportation is a scooter or golf cart. Both vehicles are available for rent. A scooter for R300 per day whereas a golf cart for about R900 per day. Renting either one of the options will allow you full access to explore most of the islands highlights within a day.

Photo Credit: @Dineo_Zonke via Instagram

Swim with Whale Sharks

Yes, you read correctly. Whale sharks are basically giant, tropical fish – the largest fish in the world. They swim on the surface, and you can snorkel along with them. These fish have enormous mouths with thousands of teeth but pose no risk to humans.

Just like you, whale sharks like to travel and spend most of their lives on the move. They migrate according to where the food is to be found. Whale shark season is between June and September; therefore, this experience is well worth planning your trip around.

Cost for whale shark diving: Roughly R 1,700 per person. The tour includes swimming with the whale sharks, breakfast, lunch, soft drinks, snorkel equipment and some time to snorkel the reefs.

Boat tours on both Islands

Cozumel: If you want to take a quick trip to the famous coral reefs of Cozumel but still want to have time left for shopping, then a glass-bottomed boat cruise is a perfect activity for you. For R450, you’ll start by watching the fish and sea life below you and then snorkel at Villa Blanca and the beautiful Paradise Reef.

Isla Mujeres: There is something magical everyone loves about watching the sun slipping away beyond the horizon. You can see the sun setting from the middle of the sea while sailing through the Caribbean waters. For about R1,200, you will enjoy a 3-hour boat ride.

Photo Credit: @Dineo_Zonke via Instagram

When to visit both Islands

You should visit the islands when the weather is the most comfortable to ensure that you fully enjoy your vacation. The weather is most pleasant from late October to December and March to June.

Visa Requirements

South African passport holders require a visa prior to arriving in Mexico. Citizens must have a passport that is valid for 6 months upon their arrival in Mexico. However, if you have a valid, multiple entry, B1/B2 type USA visa (any nationality) you do not require a visa to enter Mexico.

Photo Credit: @Dineo_Zonke via Instagram

So what are you waiting for? Make 2019 your year and book your cheap flights to Mexico now.

Have you visited Mexico recently? Share your experience in the comments section below!

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