Skip to Content

Cozumel vs Cancun – Which is the Better Trip in Riviera Maya?

Last updated on January 16th, 2023 at 10:17 pm

Cozumel vs Cancun – While Cancun is the tested beach destination of choice for parties and crystal-blue waters, Cozumel is the better choice if it’s a rugged yet laidback beach trip you prefer.

Read here a comparison Cancun vs Cabo, Costa Rica vs Cancun and Tulum vs Chichen Itza

Comparing Cozumel vs Cancun

Cozumel is perfect for the rugged island trip experience – the balance between fewer tourists yet more options for underwater activities – diving and snorkeling. Prices tend to be lower in Cozumel than in Cancun as well. Cancun is more for the big party vacation that a lot of people might prefer, so make sure to know what experience you want to have.

Important to take note: Be wary of the seaweed season, and make sure you check if this is the time of the year you are visiting Cancun, because this can roughly affect the swimming experience in Cancun.

READ HERE: How to Travel from Cancun Airport to Cozumel and Akumal vs Playa del Carmen

Getting a SIM Card at Cancun Airport – Cancun vs Cozumel

I wouldn’t recommend you to buy a sim card at Cancun airport. If you wish comfort you can buy eSim online and if you aren’t in a hurry just go around phone shops in the city and compare prices to buy the cheapest sim card in Cancun. Read here best Mexico eSim and best Mexico sim card for tourist

You can buy the cheapest eSim in Mexico with Nomad eSim Mexico prepaid for $8 USD with 1 GB data valid for 7 days. And with Airalo eSim Mexico prepaid with similar data packages (USING DISCOUNT CODE GAMINTRAVELER 10%).

BUY AIRALO ESIM MEXICO (USING DISCOUNT CODE GAMINTRAVELER 10%)

Holafly Mexico eSim for less than $60 USD if you use our code GAMINTRAVELER you will have unlimited internet in Mexico for 30 days for just $2 USD per day.

Related Cozumel and Cancun Guides

Where to Stay in Cozumel and Cancun

A total of $20 USD would be the range of your budget for accommodation in Cancun vs Cozumel. There are hotels mid-budget for $50-70 USD and you can find luxury accommodations starting from $120 USD.

CLICK HERE TO BOOK YOUR ACCOMMODATION IN CANCUN OR COZUMEL BEFORE YOUR TRIP WITH BOOKING

Book Your Travel Insurance – Cancun vs Cozumel

You can read Heymondo Vs Safetwing cheapest travel Insurance. You can get for $135 USD your Heymondo Travel Insurance with Heymondo discount code valid for 90 days. Read our full Heymondo Travel Insurance Review

You can get Safetywing Travel Insurance for Digital Nomads valid for 28 days Safetywing for $50 USD per month with kids until 10 years old included

Top Sights and Things to do in Cozumel

Cozumel is our type of travel when it comes to a choice between Cancun, Cozumel, and Tulum. How about you? Do you know if you’re more into the urban type of beach trip versus rugged, quiet swims and lounging around?

Let’s look at the top sights and things to do in Cozumel below.

Beaches in Cozumel for Swimming

Punta Morena

This is Playa Punta Morena - Cozumel vs Cancun - Which is the Better Trip in Riviera Maya?

Punta Morena is the only semi private beach in Cozumel island’s west side. Beach vibe here is very rugged, compared to the more hotel styled west part of Cozumel. Definitely swimmable and good for lounging as well too, with its beautiful waters.

Chen Rio – Cozumel vs Cancun

This is Playa Chen Rio in Cozumel - Cozumel vs Cancun - Which is the Better Trip in Riviera Maya?

Chen Rio is the name of a popular beach at the Southeastern part of Cozumel. The name Chen Rio comes from from the river in the hinterland of the beach.

Playa Mia Grand Beach Park

Playa Mia Grand Beach Park in Cozumel - Cozumel vs Cancun - Which is the Better Trip in Riviera Maya?
This is the Playa Mia Grand Beach Park perfect for family trips.

Playa Mia Grand Beach Park is the largest, family-friendly beach in Cozumel island. Here you can have your own Atlantis in the Bahamas – water activities, resorts & local cuisine.

Beaches in Cozumel for Snorkelling and Diving

Cozumel reef is part of Mesoamerican Reef, Cozumel vs Tulum - Which is the Better Trip?

Cozume’s coral reef system is part of the Mesoamerican Reef, second largest barrier reef system, second to the Great Barrier Reef. This is why Cozumel’s snorkeling and diving is definitely amazing, and it’s better not to miss a visit in Cozumel, without

Punta Sur

Cozumel vs Tulum - Which is the Better Trip?, Cozumel vs Cancun - Which is the Better Trip in Riviera Maya?
This is Punta Sur, part of Cozumel National Park

Punta Sur is found the southern part of the island and is part of Parque Punta Sur, a 247-acre ecological park. Here, you’ll see reefs, beaches, lagoons, and amazing green forests. The reef system is also part of the Arrecifes de Cozumel National Park.

El Cielo

Another of Cozumel’s most popular snorkeling reef is El Cielo. El Cielo is a boat away from Cozumel and is 1.6km away, but one of the most popular snorkeling to the reef area in Cozumel. El Cielo literally translates to The Sky in Spanish and describes the color of the waters. Snorkeling here is good even for beginners, and you’re likely to see starfishes and stingrays.

Playa Palancar / Palancar Reef

Cozumel vs Tulum - Which is the Better Trip?

This is part of the Arrecifes de Cozumel National Park with about 5 popular snorkeling and diving areas around.

The Little Caves

The Little Caves is part of the Palancar Reed where you see tunnels and caves.

Deep Palancar

Another part of the beach is Deep Palancar where you can see a wide variety of fish in Playa Palancar.

Dzul-Ha

For snorkelling beginners, Dzul-ha is perfect because of its shallow waters and easy access from the beach. Here, you can see manta rays and sea turtles. Dzul-Ha ia accessible from The Money Bar Beach Club

Chankanaab Park

Another reef within Cozumel Marine National Park that has plenty of good reef and one of the snorkeling areas not to miss.

Punta Sur Eco Beach Park

Cozumel vs Cancun - Which is the Better Trip in Riviera Maya?

This part is not free, with a fee of $14 to enter, however the visibility is quite amazing with shallow water. The place allows water activities like snorkeling, and you can go as deep as 45 meters.

The beach park also has an eco-park (right from its name) where you’ll have a chance to see exotic animals and birds.

Additional Day Trips from Cozumel

Xcaret Natural Adventure Park

Cozumel vs Cancun - Which is the Better Trip in Riviera Maya?

This massive 200-Acre park is located in the south of Playa del Carmen. With thousands of things to do here from swimming to exploring, it’s only a quick boat and day trip from Cozumel.

Other Things to Remember When in Cozumel

Cozumel, known long ago as just a port for cruises and boats visiting this part of the Riviera Maya, it has now been developed with access to restaurants and beach clubs and some rugged hotels. The West Part of the Island is of course with more access to these, while the East Coast of Cozumel is a phletora of

Things to Do in Cancun

Beaches in Cancun

Cozumel vs Cancun - Hotel Zone
Hotel Zone Strip in Cancun – Cozumel vs Cancun

Playa Delfines

Playa Delfines - Cozumel vs Cancun
Playa Delfines – Cancun vs Cozumel

Playa Delfines is the most popular beach in Cancun, with its crystalline turquoise waters, and the panoramic views of Cancún. To see the best of Cancun from here, you can take a look from the hilltop deck view, El Mirador.

Important note: Waves in Playa Delfines is strong, so if you’re not a good swimmer, caution while swimming is highly encouraged. If you won’t swim, lounging is also a great thing to do here.

Playa Langosta

Playa Langosta in Cancun

One of the most beautiful beaches in Cancun, with long stretches of white sand and of course the signature blue beaches, is Playa Langosta. This is also located in the Hotel Zone.

Playa Marlin

Playa Marlin is in the central part of Cancun’s eastern strip, picturesque and magical!

Playa Gaviota Azul and Playa Forum / Forum Beach Cancun

Playa Gaviota Azul in Cancun

Both of these beautiful Cancun beaches are on a single beach strip, with one flowing into the other.

Forum beach Cancun

Costa Mujeres

One of the newest beaches with a bit of a challenge to reach is Cancun’s Costa Mujeres. This is inside the gated area of several all-inclusive resorts and is about 30 minutes north of Cancun’s Hotel Zone.

Here you’ll find Isla Blanca, Chacmuchuc Lagoon, and archeological sites. The beach is believed to have kept its cleanliness and untouched beauty because it’s away from most public beaches.

Playa Tortugas

Playa Tortugas is another beautiful beach in Cancun, amazing for swimming, and lots of water activities are available in the area.

Caracol Beach / Playa Caracol

Caracol Beach is one of Cancun’s beautiful beaches.

La Isla Cancun Shopping Village

Now if it’s shopping you’re looking for in the Hotel Zone, you can do this in Cancun’s open-air concept shopping mall, a very popular thing to do to get some time away from swimming – if you’re ever into that!

More Top Things to Do Outside Cancun

Isla Mujeres

Cozumel vs Cancun - Which is the Better Trip in Riviera Maya?

Isla Mujeres is a beautiful island off of Cancun, just across the Bahia de Mujeres (Bay of Women). If you have more days to spend on your trip to Cancun and want a quick break from the parties and the lounging to do some underwater activities like snorkeling and diving, a trip to Isla Mujeres is perfect. If you’re arriving around May-August, you might be able to do whale watching in Isla Mujeres as well.

From Cancun Airport, it’ll take you about one and a half hours to arrive at Isla Mujeres. Alternate ways to go to Isla Mujeres are from Playa Tortugas and Playa Caracol.

Isla Mujeres Transport Guides

Playa Norte

One of the most beautiful beaches in Mexico, is actually a part of Isla Mujeres, Playa Norte is found on the northern part of the island.

Chichen Itza

El Castillo in Chichen Itza, ancient Mayan Ruins near Valladolid Mexico

El Castillo in Chichen Itza, one of the most popular ancient Mayan ruins in the Yucatan Peninsula is usually done as a day trip from Cancun, so it’s best to book this activity with a tour. However, if you’re going by public transport, this is about 2.5 hours trip.

Best Time to Visit Mexico

There are 2 seasons dry and wet season. The rainy season starts in May. The best time to visit Mexico is from the months of November to April because it is the months of the dry season. However, lots of tourists prefer to travel from January to March since it’s not peak season but it can be rainy for a few days.

Click here to know more about the weather in Mexico

Cash in Mexico

Mexico has its own currency called the Mexican Peso. A $1 USD=19 MXN. There are lots of ATMs and exchange currency in many parts of the country. And you have to know that the country’s dollars is very common and well-accepted. Click here to know more about the exchange rate of Mexico.

Final Thoughts: Which is Better Cozumel vs Cancun?

While Cancun is definitely the signature Riviera Maya trip for most, Cozumel wins this battle for us! For underwater activities and a laidback beach vacation with affordable hotel options, Cozumel is the better trip for us. If you’re a party animal, looking for urban beach parties, and high-end all-inclusive hotels, Cancun is the better option. Comparing the two vacations, which one will you choose?

Feel free to use our links for discounts. By using our links, you will help us to continue with the maintenance of the website and it will not cost you anything. Thank you and have a wonderful trip!

Ruben Arribas is the co-founder of Gamintraveler and a Spanish traveler who has traveled to more than 100 countries around the world. He is now a full-time digital nomad.