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Playa del Carmen to Cozumel Day Trip (Tips, Itineraries + Restaurants!)

Playa del Carmen to Cozumel Day Trip (Tips, Itineraries + Restaurants!)

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If you are looking to escape the hustle and bustle of Playa Del Carmen a day trip to Cozumel just might be the answer for you.

This Caribbean island offers crystal clear blue water, amazing snorkeling, delicious food, and plenty of activities to entertain yourself.  Whether you are looking to discover the beautiful underwater world of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef or spend the day relaxing under the sun a Cozumel day trip is the perfect plan.

One day in Cozumel might not be enough to discover all of its beauty but it is definitely enough time to get your feet wet, literally. Whether you are coming as a day trip from Playa del Carmen, or your cruise ship is settled into the Cozumel Cruise Port for a night or two, there is plenty to enjoy on this paradise island.

Keep reading for many amazing options for your Cozumel day trip.

Cozumel is a great place for snorkeling due to its amazing visibility. If you are a snorkeling enthusiast I recommend bringing your own snorkel gear. If you don’t have your own many of the bigger beach clubs will have rentals available for your convenience.

How to Get to Cozumel

Getting from Playa del Carmen to Cozumel is very easy. You have 2 options, passenger ferry or car ferry. 

The most popular way is by passenger ferry. There are two companies that run out of Playa del Carmen and Cozumel. Winjet and Ultramar. The Cozumel Ferry Terminal is located at Av. Benito Juárez 239 which is 1 block off of 5th avenue. 

Both companies have ferries departing on alternating hours on both shores which makes the journey very easy. 

I would recommend heading to the ferry terminal about one hour before the scheduled boat you would like to take. This will allow you time to get your tickets and head onto the ferry.  If you like to plan ahead both websites offer online ticket sales for your convenience.  

The Cozumel ferry ride is about 35 – 45 minutes in duration. Both Cozumel ferries have indoor and outdoor seating and bathrooms.  Beverages and snacks are offered on board and sometimes you might even get lucky and catch some live entertainment.

Sitting outside is nice because you can catch a suntan and sometimes you can see flying fish jumping out of the ocean as the boat is cruising. 

The perk of the indoor seating is that there is nice cool air conditioning. Both boats are very large and offer a very stable ride but if you tend to get sea sick easily I recommend taking a Dramamine tablet 30 minutes before your departure. 

The Winjet tickets cost 210 pesos ( $10.50 USD) and Ultramar tickets cost 250 pesos ($12.50 USD). The Ultramar fleet is newer therefore the higher price.  Check out the websites for the scheduled departures and more information.

If you have rented a car in Playa del Carmen and wish to take it across the water for your Cozumel day trip you can access the Calica Ferry Port just outside the city limits.

You will have the option of  Ultramar or Transcaribe. Both have different schedules and tickets start at 650 pesos. If you wish to leave your car in Playa del Carmen there are many parking options near the passenger ferry terminal.

ferry to cozumel

Cozumel ferry.

How to Get Around for a Cozumel Day Trip

There are several ways you can explore the Island. If you want to adventure on a scooter this is a really fun option to explore your Cozumel day trip. You can tour around the island all day with the wind blowing in your hair.

The rental process is very convenient as well. There will be many people approaching you, as you leave the ferry terminal offering you a scooter rental.

You can take this option or walk into the square as there will be many more rental opportunities. The scooter rental costs 400 – 500 pesos (about $20-25 USD) depending on the shop and this would give you access to your scooter for the entire day. 

The scooter is very economical on gas and you can definitely drive around the entire island this way. It is mandatory to wear helmets on the Island and the helmets are included in the rental fee.

You can also rent a car, jeep, or dune buggy. 

Having a vehicle is a great option because the island is quite large. This allows you the freedom to tour the island at your own leisure and make as many stops as you like on your route.  A lot of the must-see tourist points, landmarks, and beach clubs are not accessible by foot.  

renting a car to get around cozumel in one day

Jeep rentals in Cozumel.

Taxis will always be waiting for you directly off of the ferry terminal.  If you plan to stay at one spot all day this may also be an option.

Depending on how far you venture out of the core, the cost of a taxi could be anywhere from 50 pesos to 700 + pesos ($2.50-35 USD).

Some of the bigger beach clubs will have taxis waiting when you are ready to leave but if you are at a smaller beach club it might be more difficult to find a waiting taxi as they are less available at small locations.  Sometimes I ask for my taxi driver’s phone number and then I book a scheduled return trip with them.  

Bicycle rentals are also a great and eco-friendly option if you plan to stay within the downtown center and feel like having a sporty day. 

Bike rentals cost 150 – 200 pesos ($7.50-10 USD), locks are usually included, and helmets are not mandatory. There are a lot of great restaurants and shops easily accessible and a few beach clubs that aren’t too far of a ride.  Feel the sunny breeze on your skin as you enjoy the scenery along the way.

Cozumel Day Trip Map

Breakfast In Cozumel

Cozumel island has some of my favorite breakfast spots.  If you are looking for something quick before you begin your day you would want to try the Maple Bake House or Sucre Sale.

These two places are little hidden gems. They have a lot of coffee options, delicious fresh baked pastries, sandwiches, breakfast delights, juices and so much more. They are also faster than your normal sit-down restaurant because they mostly cater for to-go customers. 

Another one of my favorites is Aqui + Ahora. A five-minute walk from the ferry terminal located right on the Malecon with a stunning view of the Caribbean sea. 

Their maple pancake dish and the eggs benedict are both super delicious. Their “PB Express” iced tequila coffee beverage is a tasty sip of Mexico that compliments any dish you choose. The vibe inside is totally charming and the owner’s persona matches the brilliant ambiance.

Morning of Cozumel Day Trip

A beautiful place with an amazing view to enjoy your morning is at the famous Money Bar Beach Club.

This spot offers a wide variety of American and Mexican breakfast options, Starbucks coffee, and cocktails.

About a 10-minute drive outside the center, Money Bar is located right on the coast with dining seating, sun loungers, and access to the ocean. It is also a great place to jump in the water and cool off. If you are up for an adventure you can put on some gear and go snorkeling. 

See the location of Money Bar on Google here.

views of the blue caribbean sea.

The Caribbean Sea in Cozumel.

Lunch In Cozumel

Coconuts is truly a place to feel at home if you like casual comfort with a flair for spontaneous interactions with your servers.

The servers love to entertain you with their appropriate (and sometimes inappropriate) or childlike fun that will make you laugh so hard you may be crying. You will never forget the humorous experience.

It is a bit of a climb to get there, but trust me, once you reach the top the view is totally worth it. Sit down, relax, and enjoy a cold beer or cocktail.

The mixed fajitas dish is really delicious and packed with flavor and the Pina Colada is so creamy and smooth, perfect for vacation.

Remember the staff and servers have a great sense of humor and love to entertain you so be prepared for a good laugh and possibly some adult fun. 

Did you say you love Mojitos? Venture over for a Mojito Cocktail at Welcome to Miami.  

They have two locations, one in town and another on the eastern shore of the island.

Ice cold, fresh, and loaded with rum. Welcome to Miami serves up one of the best Mojitos I have ever tasted!

They do make them quite strong so be ready to catch a buzz. They do offer a few menu items such as fresh ceviche, spiced pineapple, and guacamole but definitely, their main focus is delicious drinks.

boat trip in shallow blue water with people swimming

El Cielo day trip in Cozumel.

Afternoon of Cozumel Day Trip

There are so many things to do on a Cozumel day trip, you will have to make some tough decisions. Here are a couple of things we think you’ll love on your one day Cozumel adventure.

El Cielo Boat Trip

If you are looking for a full-day activity upon arrival to Cozumel I recommend you take a boat trip to El Cielo. 

Translated in English, El Cielo means, “The Sky” or “heaven.”

The water at El Cielo is some of the most beautiful crystal clear blue water I have ever seen. On the bottom of the ocean floor are hundreds of starfish for you to admire and if you are really lucky you might spot some sea turtles and rays.

The boat tours will usually provide refreshments, guacamole, and lunch. The quality of the food and service will depend on what tour you choose. You can pre-book a tour ahead of time. 

This Get Your Guide tour is only $50 per person and will take to not only to El Cielo, but to a nearby reef for snorkeling. Tons of delicious food and a fantastic guide are included. Book the $50 El Cielo tour here.

If you want a bit more of a luxury boat, a beach party, and to explore some of the most beautiful parts of Cozumel by water, this Get Your Guide tour is $80 per person. In addition to everything that the cheaper tour includes, this tour also offers unlimited drinks, both alcoholic and nonalcoholic, while you are on the vessel. Book the party boat tour here.

beach with sunset behind the horizon

Cozumel beaches.

East Coast Beach Hopping

You can check out the eastern shoreline of Cozumel where there are tons of beautiful spots to stop and take pictures.

El Mirador, a little beach with beautiful rock formations and big waves breaking up on the shore is a hidden treasure. You will find local vendors selling souvenirs and tee shirts. Grab your camera and go exploring.

You may want to wear water shoes here because the rocks on the ground can be a bit sharp.

Then you can make Playa Chen Rio your next stop on the eastern shore. Looking out you can see all the different colors of beautiful blue that make up the Caribbean Sea.  There is a cute little observation deck perfect for photos. Jump in the water and cool off but do be careful as sometimes the waves get quite strong.

Depending on the time of the year you visit Cozumel, the eastern shoreline might not be as enjoyable.

In the summer months (June, July, and August), the tides bring in Sargasso (a seaweed you’ll find all over the Riviera Maya).

This makes the water unpleasant for swimming. The amount of Sargasso can change daily. It just depends on the wind direction, current, and tides.

El Mirador and Chen Rio are both on the eastern side. The best thing to know is that the west shore offers so many beautiful Cozumel beaches where the Sargasso doesn’t reach the waters. Money Bar, Playa Corona, and Playa Palancar are all on the western shore.

seaweed on the beach

Seaweed on the east coast of Cozumel.

Great Cozumel Beach Clubs

Cozumel offers a wide variety of different beach clubs all offering sand, sun, and vacation vibes. A great way to spend one day in Cozumel

Playa Corona Beach Club

If you love snorkeling and a relaxed atmosphere, Playa Corona is the spot for you. This beach club offers cold refreshments, local cuisine, amazing snorkeling, sun loungers, hammocks, and table seating. 

I find this beach club is not as busy as some of the others in the area which is nice if you like a quieter place.  Another great perk is that the club has built stairs going down to the ocean so you can easily get right into the water. 

The water is shallow which makes for an easy leisurely snorkel. Admire the fan coral and many fish of all different sizes swimming around. The last time I was there I was blown away by the amount of big fish I had seen. This truly is a place they like to hang out.  

Playa Palancar Beach Club

Your next stop on your Cozumel Day Trip could be Playa Palancar Beach Club. This Place has it all! Delicious Mexican (and American) Cuisine, cocktails and a full bar, sun loungers, and shaded umbrella tables.

There are also showers, bathrooms, and towel rentals in case you have forgotten yours. The Palancar beach front is beautiful with white sand and crystal clear calm blue water perfect for swimming.

Want more adventure? Playa Palancar offers jet skis, kayaks, banana boats, parasailing, snorkeling, scuba, and fishing tours at an additional price.

If you are wanting some rest and relaxation, then you can indulge yourself in a beach-front massage or just chill out in the shaded hammock zone. Playa Palancar beach club is really an easy way to spend one day in Cozumel. 

beach club looking out over the sea with palm trees on each side

Cozumel beach clubs.

Buccanos Grill and Beach Club

At Buccanos Grill and Beach Club, you will find beautiful white sand and perfect blue water. They have sun loungers for relaxing and table seating as well.

This beach club has more of an elegant atmosphere, plays great music, and offers more of a gourmet menu.

Try the tuna tostadas and the lobster macaroni and cheese. This place is also great for families with easy access to the ocean and a pool.

The water is shallow upon entering and is perfect for snorkeling. Below you will find rocks and coral, the ideal home for many little fish. There is so much to look at underwater that it is easy to snorkel for hours. 

Buccanos also offers a free tequila tasting with many flavors to sample.

There is a small beachfront spa where you can relax and enjoy a massage or nail service. The menu prices are a tad higher but the food compensates in quality and exceptional flavor.

The relaxing atmosphere, the quality of food, fabulous service, and amazing waters makes this one of my favorite places to spend the entire day. Buccanos is so beautiful it is hard to leave.

You do need to pay a small fee to enter, much like beach clubs in Tulum or in Playa del Carmen, but the full amount of what you paid is deducted from your bill in the end.

woman walking down a pedestrian street in mexico

Cozumel downtown.

Dinner in Cozumel

If you are an enthusiast for a beautiful sunset head over to Jeanie’s.

This cozy beach bar and restaurant is the perfect way to end your day in Cozumel. Happy hour is from 4-7 pm leaving you plenty of time for 2 for 1 drinks. 

Again, there is a nice little spot for snorkeling. There is a ladder for easy access in and out of the water and some cement statues at the bottom of the sea.

With a depth of only 5 meters (16.5 feet), it’s fun to swim down and check out the underwater view. 

The sun will set over the shore of Playa del Carmen beaming a beautiful orange on the horizon. One of the most serene parts of the day. 

For a more formal dining experience, you won’t want to miss Casa Mission.

This beautiful historic property is located in the center of Cozumel about a 5-minute drive from the beach. The surf and turf are delicious and the service is top-notch. 

The tabletop preparation of the Caesar salad is put together right in front of your eyes and packed with bountiful fresh flavor. After dinner, you can wander around the property and find the gift shop with local artisans and enjoy a free tequila tasting if you wish. 

Beer have to check out Cerveceria Punta Sur as it is Cozumel’s own craft beer micro-brewery.

They are situated right on top of a small cenote and what is really unique about their brewing process is that they pull the fresh water right from the ground. Be sure to try the stuffed mushroom caps and the blanca pizza.

beach with palm trees and blue skies.

Cozumel day trip.

Grab a Souvenir from One Day in Cozumel

Looking to take home a souvenir from your Cozumel day trip?

Wander into the town center where you will find an abundance of vendors selling local treasures.

Clothing, towels, hand-painted wooden bowls, dream catchers, leather goods, shot glasses, and much more. If you find something you love, don’t settle on the first price they tell you. You can use your negotiating skills for a bit of an advantage, and speak some Spanish if you can! 

Now back to the ferry to return to Playa Del Carmen with memories you will never forget.