If you’re taking a Caribbean cruise and one of your stops is Cozumel, then you’re in luck. Cozumel boasts some of the best scuba diving and snorkeling in the world, ancient Mayan history, a charming downtown area and white sand beaches. If you’re in the mood for a relaxing and romantic beach day that may or may not include a little adventure, Playa Palancar is the spot for you.
Playa Palancar is located off the coastal highway about 20 minutes south of the cruise ship docks. Your best bet is to rent a scooter, as it will be economical but will also allow you to do your own thing. Take a quick taxi ride downtown to get the best price: rental prices close to the cruise ship dock are inflated. Renting a car or jeep or taking a taxi are additional options.
Playa Palancar is one of the only beaches on Cozumel with free access — Photo courtesy of Playa Palancar
Next, head down the coastal highway. Playa Palancar, one of the only beaches on Cozumel with free access, is located at km 19.5. This isn’t a fancy, all-inclusive beach club. But it is a relaxed, rustic, peaceful place where you won’t find many tourists.
There are always plenty of places to sit, so grab a couple of lounge chairs and an umbrella (They’ll be free if you order something to eat and/or drink.) and relax. Don’t be surprised if a peacock strolls by. There are a few that live at Playa Palancar.
There is a bar/restaurant and wait service, so order all the cold cervezas, margaritas, fish tacos, guacamole and ceviche that your heart desires. Facilites include changing rooms, bathrooms, an outdoor shower, massages and three little shacks for souvenir shopping. Be sure to bring cash because the bar/restaurant and shops don’t accept credit cards.
Playa Palancar isn't as crowded as other Cozumel beach clubs — Photo courtesy of Playa Palancar
If you’re in the mood to go snorkeling, you can do it right off shore at Playa Palancar. You may see fish, lobsters and turtles. If you’re in a mood to snorkel the reef, hire a guide and you’ll see a lot more marine life. Equipment is available for rent. If you do go swimming or snorkeling, it would be smart to wear water shoes as there are small shells and rocks as you enter the water.
Before the sun sinks into the Caribbean, head back to San Miguel, drop off your scooter and take a quiet stroll downtown. Mexican town squares (zócalos) are always a lovely place to relax and people watch. If you’re lucky enough to be in Cozumel on a Sunday, you’ll be in the company of lots of local families and you may catch a free performance or beauty pageant.
As you take the short taxi ride back to the cruise ship dock, you’ll look back on your relaxing, romantic day and be surprised at how much of Cozumel you were able to experience in just a few hours. Bon voyage!