Named by the ancient Mayans who once lived there, Cozumel translates to "land of the swallows" the indigenous birds that inhabit the island. The island on the east side of the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico is a land mass 30miles long and 10miles wide.
The popularity of the island has developed over the last 50 years starting in 1959 with discover and documentarist Jacques Cousteau discovering and publicizing the coral reefs at the south of Cozumel Island as one of the best places for scuba diving in the world.
In 1992 Cozumel built a deepwater pier for cruise ships to dock and in the 1996 The Mexican government established the Cozumel Reefs National Marine Park to protect the marine life in the park boundaries. The island population has grown from 12,000 in the 1970's to approximately 100,000 today as tourism grew.
Known for it beautiful coral reefs, diving, sports fishing, snorkeling, and beaches. Scuba diving is the most popular attraction of Cozumel today. There are also tours of the ancient Mayan civilizations for your enjoyment. The interior of the island is underdeveloped covered by thick forest and lagoons making it home to many birds and small mammals.
Most people arrive to Cozumel by the means of cruise ships, as it has become a stopping point in many cruise lines of Caribbean destination. With thousands of visitors daily, it is imperative that you plan your visit to make the best use of the time you'll on the island.
The sandy beaches on the west side of the island have calmer waters making them best for swimming. But not for snorkeling since the sandy sea decreases the visibility in the water. Instead go to the limestone areas on the west for snorkeling. The east side of the island is lovely but the surf creates strong breakers and undertows, making it very dangerous. The popular beaches on the west side are Playa San Francisco, Playa Sol, and Playa Corona. The east side beaches are Punta Chiquero, Playa Chen Rio, and Playa Orinte.
If you are coming for a short stay and want to see the island, I recommend renting a taxi for the day to take you around the island; they can leave you at one of the beaches or other popular site if you want to stay. There will be plenty of taxis to take you back to the cruise dock afterwards. This way you will not waste time trying to get around and find the attractions yourself, since many places and streets are not well marked.