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 parrotfish. It's one of dozens of diving and snorkeling sites that encircle Cozumel, which sits near a reef that's protected as a national marine reserve. Set along a private stretch of white sand, the all-inclusive El Cozumeleño Beach Resort has its own scuba center where guests can rent gear to partake in the island's most popular activity.
But El Cozumeleño offers a lot more than just diving. There are five pools, a nightclub, and an open-air theater showcasing live performances throughout the week. An onsite watersports facility rents out 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 on course rates.
The resort's two contemporary towers house more than 250 rooms—all equipped with private balconies. There are also restaurants within the complex, serving dishes both buffet-style and à la carte. Each of the eateries brings something different to the table, ranging from upscale dining and live piano music at La Veranda to buffets 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. It's typically more popular here to explore the wilderness than to attend late-night beach parties. Adventure-tour companies can arrange expeditions by land or 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.