The island of the swallows, place of worship of the ancient Mayas, world-famous because of its crystal clear inshore waters, the tropical climate and the easy going way of life.
Due to the international airport, the island is easily reachable for visitors from all parts of the world. Divers as well as people who are interested in the culture of the Mayas will feel comfortable at this fantastic place.
With a length of 64 km and a width of 16 km Cozumel is the biggest of Mexico’s islands. It is located in the Caribbean, close to the Yucatan peninsula, 18 km away from Playa del Carmen and 70 km away from Cancun. You can land there on the island’s own airport or come with the ferry from Playa del Carmen (duration 45 minutes). The capital San Miguel with its 75.000 inhabitants is the only city of the island.
About 1000 years AD, during the post classical Maya period, Cozumel was an important religious and economic Centre. The island is located at the mesoamerican seaway.
With their large seaworthy canoes the Putún-Maya came to Cozumel to bring feathers and jade from Honduras as well as honey, cotton and salt from Tulúm on the island. The Maya made pilgrimages to the temple of Ix Chel, the goddess of moon and fertility. This centre of ceremonies, called San Gervasio, is the best preserved one of the formerly about 30 Maya places of worship of the island.
In 1565 Cozumel had less than 300 inhabitants: Maya and Spanish. Until the end of the 17th century it remained nearly totally deserted. During this time the island became the base and the hiding-place of infamous pirates like Jean Lafitte and Henry Morgan. They violently destroyed the last of the remaining inhabitants. Due to the occurrence of chicle the island has been populated again since the beginning of the 20th century. The resin-like juice of the chicozapote tree was the basis for the booming chewing gum production.
During the Second world war the Americans built up an air-force base on Cozumel from which the economy of the island raised rapidly. But this military base was only temporary so that the economy collapsed after the Americans left and only a few fishermen remained on the island.
1954 Jacques Yves Cousteau explored the reefs and the secrets of the underwater world of Cozumel. Within a short period of time the island developed to a popular centre for tourism and diving, which magically attracts divers from all parts of the world.
The temperature of the crystal clear water ranges during the year between 27 °C (81 °F) and 31 °C (88 °F). The visibility is usually arround 50 meter (160 feet).
Beside the endemic toad fish (sanopus splendidus), which has only been seen on the reefs of Cozumel, the marine fauna is full with fishes and crustaceans, e.g.: grouper, barracudas, butterfly-fishes, parrot-fishes, stingrays, eagle rays, moray eels, ink-fishes, crabs and giant lobsters. On nearly every dive you will see sea turtles.
The paradise for divers!
Currency: Regional currency is the Peso. The rate of exchange is variable, but as a guideline 10 Pesos are roundabout one US-Dollar. The dollar is accepted everywhere as a means of payment even in the form of traveller checks. For the tourist however it is advisable to have small change in Peso and Dollars because here they don’t like to give back the change, particularly the taxi drivers. There are many bureaus de change in the centre of the city. It is worthwhile to compare! Discuss the exchange rate if you want to change a larger amount of money. It is not recommendable to change money in hotels because their rates are normally worse than those of the bureaus de change.
Tips: In this country it is usual that the tip is not included in the total amount of a bill. Don’t mix it up with the 10 percent tax (IVA) appearing on your bill. A gift between 10% and 15% is adequate.
You should give tips in cafés and restaurants, also to the room-service. Please don’t forget the boat-crew, the instructors and the person who keeps an eye on your equipment every day. On the last day you can give the tip to the instructor, captain or leave it in the diving centre. It will be divided fairly between the persons involved. In the name of the staff we thank you in advance for this sign of your appreciation.
Airport-taxes: have to be paid at the airport when you are leaving Mexico, if they are not included in the price of your ticket (often the case for charters). The so called TUA comes to 17 USD, payable in Peso or Dollar.
Time difference: The time difference between Mexico and England (MEZ) is minus 7 hours (north-west Mexico –8 hours, Baja California Norte –9 hours). From the beginning of April until the end of October the Mexican summertime is valid, so that the time differences will always be the same.
The climate: A tropical climate with temperatures between 25 °C (77 °F)and 35 °C (95 °F) is predominant. The temperature of the water varies between 25 °C (77 °F) and 31 °C (88 °F).
Voltage: The voltage in Mexico is 110 V, the connections to the electricity mains correspond to the US-norm. In the diving centre we have 220 V and European connections. There you can recharge your batteries, lamps etc.. Hand the equipment, which has to be recharged, over to the guide and it will be returned charged at the next day. Don´ t forget to hand over also the charger and to get it back before leaving.
Health: Never drink water from the tap! And please don't use tap water for cleaning your teeth, use “agua purificada”, which is available everywhere. Only in the hotel Fiesta Americana it is possible to drink the tap water. Don´t eat raw vegetables and please buy only peelable fruits.
Medical service: In case of a health problem you can contact the doctors of the hyperbaric chamber of the “Buceo Medico Mexicano clinic” in calle 5, tel.: 8721430. If needed you will be accompanied by a member of Aquamarinas.
There are also English speaking doctors.
Pharmacies: There are many pharmacies in the city. One of the best is DORI in the Rosada Street, near the market.
We will be pleased to help you if there are questions concerning the following matters:
- Restaurants corresponding to your preference and budget.
- Organisation of night dives and diving in the cenotes.
- Organisation of excursions on the island or to the mainland.
- Questions concerning Cozumel and Mexico
- Professional underwater videos.
It doesn’t matter which question or which problem you have, ask us. It is a pleasure for us to help you.
The team of Aquamarinas wishes you a peaceful time and wonderful dives.
Arrival: You can come with the aeroplane to the international Airport of Cozumel or you can land in Cancun and then travel on to Playa del Carmen, where you must take the ferry (duration ca. 40 minutes). The capital San Miguel with 75.000 inhabitants is the only city of the island.
Banks: In contrast to the bureaus de change which are opened from 09:00 am to 09:00 p.m. the banks are opened from 09.00 to 17.00. On Sundays and holidays they are closed.
Credit cards: Master Card und Visa Card are accepted everywhere (8% to 10% commission), whereas American Express Cards are not always accepted. In the bank foyers there is normally a cash dispenser which is available round-the-clock. With your credit card and the PIN number you can get cash there. Aquamarinas doesn’t accept cashless means of payment!
Fax and telephone: Connections to Europe are very expensive. This service is over expensive in the hotels. It would be the best if you phone or send a fax from one of the many calling stations (you find them on the city maps).
In these shops the connection is made by an office-worker whom you have to tell the required calling number with all necessary area codes.
To be connected by yourself you have to dial “00” and then the area code of the country (44 = Great Britain, 49 = Germany, 33 = France, 41 = Switzerland, 32 = Belgium, 34 = Spain, etc....). Following you have to dial dialling code (without the “0”) and the required number.
To USA and Canada dial 00 + dialling code + number. For domestic long-distance-calls dial 01 + dialling code (987 = Cozumel) + telephone number. The international operator has the dialling code 09, also for collect-calls.
Language: Spanish is spoken but most Mexicans working in the tourism business also speak English.
Taxis: The collective taxis at the airport have the monopole for the transportation of tourists from the airport to the hotels. The local taxis are white with a red streak at the side.
There are no taximeter in the taxis, but there are fixed prices which you can ask for. The best is you agree on a price before a trip.
The told prices are always meant to refer to the transportation of two persons. For every further person it has to be paid extra, also for the luggage. You find the taxis in every street and near every hotel.
The taxi organisation prohibit private persons the transportation of tourists. The carrying out of this rule is strictly followed and the contravention is severely punished. This is the reason for it not being possible to hitch hike on the island and that Aquamarinas can’t transport you in their own car.
The telephone numbers for taxis are: 872 0041, 872 0236, 872 5770.
Useful phone numbers:
- Ambulance 872 0639,
- Red Cross 872 1058,
- Police 872 0092,
- Fire brigade 872 0800,
- Medical round-the-clock service 872 0912,
- Clinic Buceo Medico Mexicano 872 1430.