Modern Beachfront Resort Close to Caribbean Coral Reefs
A 40-passenger Convair airliner sits on the ocean floor just off Cozumel's northwestern coast. Sunk in 1977 for the filming of a Mexican disaster movie, the plane has become overgrown with coral and sea fans and is frequented by schools of colorful parrot fish. It's just one of dozens of diving and snorkeling sites encircling Cozumel, which has a reef that's protected as a national marine reserve. Set along a private stretch of white-sand shoreline, the all-inclusive El Cozumeleño Beach Resort has its own scuba center to equip guests for taking part in the island's most popular activity.
With five pools, a nightclub, and an open-air theater showcasing three live performances a week, El Cozumeleño offers a lot more than just diving. Designed for all types of active travelers, the resort has an onsite watersports facility that rents waverunners and arranges sunset cruises. Right across the street, a Jack Nicklaus–designed golf course weaves through mangroves and marshlands inhabited by crocodiles, iguanas, and other wildlife. Hotel guests receive a discount off regular golf rates.
The resort's two contemporary towers house more than 250 rooms—all equipped with private balconies. The complex also includes restaurants, both buffet and a la carte varieties, and an eclectically decorated plaza outfitted with a colorful ceramic fountain and a black-and-white chess set with pieces as big as a toddler. Each of the eateries brings something different to the table, ranging from upscale dining and live piano music at La Veranda to buffet-style meals with sea views at open-air El Cocal.
Cozumel, Mexico: Relaxed Tropical Island with World-Class Diving
Compared to Cancun—Mexico's spring-break capital, located just a few miles north—Cozumel is decidedly laid-back. Formerly a fishing settlement, the 24-mile-long island remains blissfully free of high-rise resorts and other signs of overdevelopment. Visitors here tend to focus more on exploring the wilderness than on late-night beach parties. Adventure-tour companies can arrange expeditions by land or by sea, including trips to ancient Mayan ruins and dives at sites known for deep canyons and tunnels.
There's only one city on the island—San Miguel de Cozumel, where street vendors sell everything from jewelry to Cuban cigars on a waterfront promenade. It's also where you'll find an assortment of clubs and bars showcasing live reggae-salsa fusion and jazz bands.