Cozumel vs Cancun Comparison – 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.
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.
Getting a SIM Card at Cancun Airport
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
Related Cozumel and Cancun Guides
- Cancun packing list
- Best vegetarian restaurants in Cancun
- Transfer Guide from Cancun airport to Hotel Zone
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.
Book Your Travel Insurance
Two of our favorite travel insurance: 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 comparison of Genki vs Safetywing Travel Insurance Review and the comparison Heymondo vs Genki
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 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
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 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
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 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.
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
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.
Another part of the beach is Deep Palancar where you can see a wide variety of fish in Playa Palancar.
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
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
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
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
Check Activities to do in Cancun
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.
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 is in the central part of Cancun’s eastern strip, picturesque and magical!
Playa Gaviota Azul and Playa Forum / Forum Beach Cancun
Both of these beautiful Cancun beaches are on a single beach strip, with one flowing into the other.
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 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 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
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.
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.
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?
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About the Author: Ruben, co-founder of Gamintraveler.com since 2014, is a seasoned traveler from Spain who has explored over 100 countries since 2009. Known for his extensive travel adventures across South America, Europe, the US, Australia, New Zealand, Asia, and Africa, Ruben combines his passion for adventurous yet sustainable living with his love for cycling, highlighted by his remarkable 5-month bicycle journey from Spain to Norway. He currently resides in Spain, where he continues to share his travel experiences alongside his partner, Rachel, and their son, Han.