Unlike its bustling neighbor Cancun, Cozumel is relatively quiet -- only 3% of this 189-square-mile island has been developed. Located 12 miles off the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula and fringed by beautiful reefs, "the land of the swallows" offers clear turquoise waters and wide, white-sand beaches.
Before You Go: Need-to-know info
Entry requirements: Passport
Flight time: 6 hours from NYC, 7 hours from LA, 6 hours from Chicago, 2 1/2 hours from Dallas
Getting around: Taxi, rental car
When To Go: Cozumel at its best
Best weather: November to April. Rainy season runs from May through October; hurricane season swirls from September to October.
Best prices: May to mid-December; exact dates vary by hotel
What To Do
Go diving: With more than 30 charted reefs and a variety of dive tours -- including deep, drift, shore, wall, night, and theme dives that focus on ecology, archaeology, wrecks, and photography -- Cozumel is one of Mexico's premier diving destination. In fact, Columbia Shallows is one of the most electrifying shallow dives in the Caribbean. As an added bonus, peak diving season (June to August) coincides with off-peak hotel season.
Visit San Miguel: The island's only town has the ambience of a charming Mexican village. Stroll the waterfront boulevard and people-watch at the main square, where mariachi bands sometimes play on Sunday nights.
See the wildlife: Visit Chankanaab ("small sea") National Park and tour its botanical garden, archaeological park, and saltwater lagoon cum wildlife sanctuary. Snorkel or dive in underwater caves, offshore reefs, or a protected bay with sunken cannons, anchors, statues, and a ship.
Tour the lighthouses: Drive to either end of the island to take in magnificent faro ("lighthouse") views from Punta Sur’s Celerain lighthouse (south) or Punta Molas (north). Punta Sur is surrounded by sand dunes and offers jungle views, while Punta Molas is great for sunbathing and jagged shoreline vistas.