As we prepare to explore the best Cozumel beaches near the cruise port, let’s make note of where our cruise ship is docking. On Isla Cozumel, there are three cruise ship terminals at this busy location – Terminal de Cruceros Plaza Langosta, Muelle Internacional and Muelle Puerta Maya. Which of these spots you will disembark depends on which cruise line you are sailing.
All three terminals are conveniently located near the main town of San Miguel and have access to everything you would like to do while in port. Once on land, you will quickly discover that this island (only 30 miles long and 10 miles wide) offers unique beach experiences.
Best Beaches in Cozumel
While all locations in the Caribbean have exceptional beaches, the shoreline here comes in three types – rocky, white sand and a hybrid variety. The natural qualities of those on the west side of the island where your cruise ship will dock are rocky.
This area is referred to as the “iron shore.” These shorelines are made of limestone carved and shaped by wind and water over the eons. Beautiful yet difficult to walk upon.
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To answer this challenge, a large number of rocky beaches are now classified as hybrids on the west side. That is, “manmade” beach areas of fill sand have been added to the oceanside to allow ease of use by human visitors. So, the best Cozumel beaches near the cruise port will be either rocky or hybrid.
If you have time, our third type of beach made of white sands can be quickly reached on the eastern (open sea) side of Isla Cozumel.
While all beaches in Cozumel (and in Mexico writ large) are free and open to the public, amenities at these locations come with a fee. The costs will be called an admission fee or day pass, or an “expectation” for patrons to order food and/or drinks at adjoining hotels and/or restaurants.
Depending on where you go, expect a combination of umbrellas, food, drinks, restrooms, showers, lockers, hammocks, swimming pools, loungers, palapas to be included in the fee.
Grab your shoes, camera and a bottle of water, and let’s visit a few of the best Cozumel beaches near the cruise port.
Heading South From the Port
Stroll to one of the first public beaches located just to the south of the port – Playa Caletita, which means “Cove Beach.” This is a small stretch of seaside gorgeousness often overlooked by most cruise ship passengers. What this beach may not have in size, it more than makes up for in beauty. There are rocks, coarse sands and turquoise waters lapping gently onto the shore.
It is easily accessed below the sidewalk off the main highway just a few minutes’ walk from the port and downtown. Look for the signature white lighthouse to locate this beach, and leave the crowds behind.
Disembark from the cruise ship and get right into the sea at this marine life location. Rescued stingrays and nurse sharks are cared for here – and you can swim with them! The protected area is the top location in Cozumel for an up-close-and-personal experience with creatures of the sea in a safe and respectful way.
Take an ecologically-based snorkeling tour of the second largest reef on the planet with this organization – a member of the coral restoration network who has saved 550 coral colonies. Sign up for a chocolate workshop to learn the ancient Mayan ways; stand up paddle board; feed tropical bird species; and, watch a hermit crab race, too.
While not a “beach” at all in the traditional sense, this is THE place to go snorkeling and scuba diving – on a budget. The restaurant and bar at this location offer delicious food. And, in the adjoining shop you will find all the rental gear and training you will need to get out in the water.
Easy access in and out of the ocean via stairs across the rocky shore and the option to take guided tours make this a popular spot for cruise passengers who are “in the know” about where to go. To just hang out, rent chairs, umbrellas and lockers for a super-reasonable price. Stay into the evenings for live music and a stunning sunset (hence the name!).
El Cid la Ceiba Beach Hotel
Make this your next destination for one of the best Cozumel beaches near the cruise port. Located only one-tenth of a mile from the ship, this will be our first stop at a private hotel beach.
The shoreline here is rocky and the sandy stretch is manmade – the hybrid beach arrangement mentioned above. It sits above the shoreline, offering stunning views of the water and limestone outcroppings.
Purchase a day pass at the hotel to access this beach. It will include food, drinks, chairs and umbrellas (if they are not already taken), WiFi and snorkeling equipment.
Money Bar Beach Club
Hop a taxi (a five-minute ride from the port) to this location, where there is no “admission fee” or day pass to access the hybrid beach. Visitors can enjoy loungers and umbrellas for the price of ordering food and drinks at this beachside establishment.
Select from an international menu for breakfast, lunch or dinner (including vegetarian); listen to live music; sit on the rooftop; and, bring the kids to this family-friendly atmosphere. Showers and restrooms are available; and, you can reach the water via a set of steps.
If an all-inclusive package sounds like a fun day at the beach, this is your destination. This beach club, known for excellent service, offers the following in a variety of day packages: local cuisine, an open bar, towel and locker, chairs, umbrellas, WiFi, hammocks, guided snorkeling and kayak tours, water gear and the option to explore in a dune buggy or ATV.
Enjoy a massage; shop for Mexican crafts; rent an electric scooter to sightsee in the area; or, take an extended adventure tour to the largest Mayan ruins on the island.
Chankanaab Beach Adventure Park
Inquire onboard your ship about tickets and tour packages to this popular family destination. This beach destination is comprised of multiple attractions. Swim with dolphins and manatees. Explore underwater caverns, statues, and marine life via scuba, “snuba,” snorkeling or with a dive helmet.
Rent a beach cabana and eat at three different restaurants. Visit the tropical gardens; relax in a hammock; join an ancient healing steam bath ceremony called a temazcal; or, have a massage in the natural spa.
Take a short taxi ride to Playa Corona – “Crown Beach” – to experience a small and uncrowded setting that has managed to ‘stay off the radar’ of most tourists. Just offshore is an exceptional reef for snorkeling. The shallow waters make this a terrific spot for beginners and a rewarding experience for experts due to the stunning underwater scenery.
With little natural shade here, sunscreen is highly recommended. A small restaurant with palapas and tables serves tasty food. Bring cash when visiting these ‘off-the-beaten-path’ locations that are rich with an authentic local atmosphere.
Playa Mia Grand Beach Park
Ride 15 minutes south to reach the number one best Cozumel beach near the cruise port for families. The well-maintained soft beaches are some of the widest stretches of sand on the island. The waters are calm and the swimming is safe for the kids.
One of the most interesting attractions here is the “intentionally” sunken underwater Mayan City. The kids will love snorkeling to see this cultural exhibit. Also, at this beach club, enjoy a waterpark, pool, restaurant, swim-up pool bar for the adults, kayak rentals, and a professional photographer to capture those memorable moments.
Playa San Francisco
If you want to go where everyone is going on Isla Cozumel, book early for a day pass to Playa San Francisco. Located about 20 minutes from the port by a taxi ride, access to this beach always sells out quickly. One difference here is that there is a limit to the number of cruise ship passengers that can occupy the property per day.
Two specific beach club spots are in particularly high demand – Nachi Cocom and Mr. Sanchos. The former limits their number to 130 and the latter to 450. Small numbers considering the thousands of passengers who arrive daily and want to visit the best Cozumel beaches near the cruise port. The passes at both clubs are all-inclusive and the scene is lively. The beaches are immaculately kept powder white sands and the swimming is excellent here.
Heading North From the Port
Take a short ten-minute walk north to the Grand Park Royal Cozumel Resort. Purchase a day pass and gain access to the beach, pools, food, drinks and a swim-up bar at this unique location. The shoreline here has a small inlet of water protected from the ocean by a rock ledge; perfect for lounging on a raft.
This is one of the best Cozumel beaches near the cruise port because you can look south and see the ships docked at the terminal. Bring along the camera to make interesting photos from this destination.
Playa las Rocas
Although translated as “the rocks beach,” you will find soft golden sand and a welcoming sea bottom under your feet in the waters at this location. There is ample shade and the sea is calm and clear. While this beach is surrounded by hotels, it is free to access and enjoy.
For swimming and sunbathing, bring your own supplies. (The chairs, umbrellas and other amenities are only available to hotel guests.) Enjoy a peaceful family day relaxing with a cool drink by the sea.
Playa San Juan
Create a combination of fun activities and resting by the waters at Buccano’s Beach Club on Playa San Juan. The beach is shady and the waters are calm here – perfect for swinging in a hammock and taking a swim in the sea. This piece of paradise is found in the hotel zone, just a short taxi ride from the port.
For a bit of adventure, you can go horseback riding, snorkeling and diving and try your skills at windsurfing. Then, return to the club for delicious food and cool drinks in a spot much less crowded than some of the other best Cozumel beaches near the cruise port.
Heading East From the Port
Chen Río Beach
If your port of call schedule allows for several hours on Isla Cozumel, a taxi ride to the eastern side of the island is highly recommended. Since the landmass is only 10 miles wide, this is a relatively quick ride from the pier with vast views and natural sand beaches awaiting. This specific beach is for nature lovers!
Surrounded by untouched landscapes (no hotels), small pools framed by rocks dot the landscape of fine white sands. Take this opportunity to see wildlife (tropical birds in particular) in their home environments. And, grab a bite of Mexican seafood at authentic (locally popular) eateries in the area.
Bonus Cozumel Beach
Isla de la Pasión
For a final visit on Cozumel, surprise your special someone with an excursion to Isla de la Pasión – Passion Island. These nearly pristine beaches are THE destination for a romantic getaway while in port.
Book a ferry ride from the terminal for a 15-minute trip to this exclusive destination. Or, take a jeep ride through Dwarf Jungle to Blind Lagoon to board a boat to the island. Other options to reach the island include catamarans or twister speedboats – all available from the cruise port.
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While there, paddle on a guided kayak tour of dense mangrove forests (in Blind Lagoon) where pirates once hid their boats. Play games at the beach or get out on the water via a paddleboard or water tricycle. Chef prepared food and drinks are available for those on tours.
Cruise Lines That Visit Cozumel, Mexico
While the specific terminal for cruise lines can be different, the following is a general guide for where different lines will anchor in Cozumel:
- Terminal de Cruceros Plaza Langosta – Crystal, Disney, Holland America, NCL, Oceania, Regent, Silversea
- Muelle Internacional – Royal Caribbean, Celebrity
Muelle Puerta Maya – Carnival