When I first decided to throw away all the material goods of my 20+ year career and travel the world training Jiu-Jitsu, I did a lot of research. Where would I go…where would I train…and how would I afford it. Continue reading
*This post is an update and was separated from a previous post regarding Cozumel. It has been segregated from “Training in Cozumel” in order to make it easier to find what you are looking for in this blog.
About Cozumel: Cozumel is an island with two major draws; the Cruise ships and the SCUBA diving. If you come in on a cruise ship, you won’t get a chance to train because all the cruise ships leave by 5:00 pm. If you come to stay for a weekend, a week or more be sure to take an excursion to go SCUBA diving. Cozumel sits next to the second largest barrier reef in the world and has the diving to go along with that. Anyone can go SCUBA diving, even if you are not certified (you will need a certified instructor however – click here (Blue Project Cozumel is a high end, Valet-diving service with some of the best pricing on the island – and my personal friends. You can check their reviews here) and ask for a “Discover SCUBA Diving” excursion. Be sure to tell them that the “SUPER-Divemaster” sent you
Weather: When I was there the weather was always at least partly sunny with highs around mid-80’s. It rarely rained, though I am told it was unusually dry this year. It stays around 85-90 f. most of the year with high humidity as well. Rainy season runs October – December with hurricanes possible as early as September.
Lodging: The lodging arrangements in Cozumel vary greatly from 7 bedroom beach houses going for $6000.00 / week to a hostel bed for around $12.00 / night. For my stay, I rented a one bedroom apartment. I always go this route because 1) I stay long periods of time and can get a better nightly rate 2) My wife travels with me and “dorm style” accommodations just don’t cut it 🙂 (Usually you can get an apartment if you are staying for at least 3 months) and paid $5000P/month (about $350.00 U.S. at the time).
If you you are planning a long stay, I can recommend using Cozumel Capital , or Cozumel Living. For short term stays, there are many great and cheap hotels, a quick google search will reveal a plethora of $40 ish hotels. A nice boutique hotel that my favorite SCUBA diving operation (Blue Project Cozumel) recommends is Mi Casa en Cozumel.
For the really budget conscious, there are two (actually three – but the third is in the far north hotel zone) hostels in Cozumel. The most central of which is the Hostelito, with rooms starting at around $15.00 US /night. It is right downtown, close to everything! the other option is a little bit off the tourist strip (a preference for me) but still in a GREAT location. Amigos Hostel Cozumel has dorm rooms starting at around $12.00 US/night.
They also have a swimming pool, pool table, and best yet, are about 3 blocks from Los Sera’s taquieria, best tacos Pastores on the island (IMHO of course).
Food: Cozumel ranges from touristy Mexican to authentic Yucatecan food. For familiar (i.e boring) tourist food, stay on the main strip and you will pay $15 – $20 U.S. per person for a main dish with a margarita or two. My favorite exception is Jeanie’s (next to Margaritaville – a definite NO-GO with $20 hamburgers) which has “Dos por Uno” Hora Feliz (2 for 1 happy hour) specials until 7 pm. Head back into town though, and you can find fantastic food for a
fraction of the price. A few recommendations are: El Moro (deep in town between 2 north and 4 north on 75 Bis), Los Sera’s on 30 ave. and Morelos (BEST Tacos Pastores on the island IMHO), Casa Cuzamil (on 5th ave. between 3 and Salas) for a “family style” meal with chips and dip, a drink, tortillas and the special of the day for about $70P (around $4.75 U.S.) and Las Tortugas on 30 ave and calle 19. Burrito Gorditos (between 2 north and 4 north on 5th ave) is considered the best burrito place on the island. Lastly, If you are from the UK or just want some good pub food, try The PUB (between 5 ave. & 10 ave, on Calle 4 north). Owned and operated by an English couple, they have THE best fish and chips on the island, and the pot pie is delicious!
Activities: If you run out of things to do on Cozumel, well…just go to a beach bar and sit around for a day! Truth is, Cozumel is a low-key island where “Island-time” is alive and well. You can spend your days lazing away in the tropical sun or you can get your fill of adventure by booking a SCUBA trip! There is so much to do here on the island you should have no problem staying occupied!
SCUBA diving is the number one draw here on Cozumel and it’s for good reason. The Meso-American reef is the second largest barrier reef on the planet (after the “Great Barrier Reef”, of course) and runs along the entire west coast of Cozumel. The most famous portion of which is Palancar reef. SCUBA enthusiasts will always argue about the bests diving in the world but Cozumel generally comes up in the top 3 or so! A standard outing will run you about $80 US and a “discover SCUBA” a little more (for those who aren’t certified). Check out Blue Project Cozumel for a great operation!
Surfing is also available on the island, although mostly for beginners. the west coast (populated side) of the island doesn’t have any surf-able waves to speak of so all the surfing takes place on the “wild”, uninhabited side of the island. Surfing is not a big past-time on the island but it can be found. Hit up Nacho Gutierrez at Cozumel Surfing to get your first lessons or to rent a board!
Chankanaab eco-park is a SUPER-popular place to spend a day snorkeling, sunbathing, dining, swimming, etc… Chankanaab is an ocean-side park that has a large beach, two restaurants, beach-side service, snorkeling, SCUBA diving (say hello to my good friend Raul Canto at Ramon Zapatas Divers – tell him “YoloBJJ” sent you :-), a cenote (not for swimming or diving) and, of course, plenty of shopping!
If partying and dancing is more your thing, check out Senior Frogs on the Malecon! Senior Frogs is a very American styled experience of dancing and drinking And is right next door to….
Watch the UFC! Yep…Cozumel has a Hooters and they show all the UFC fights! The menu here is pretty much the same as every Hooters everywhere, so come early, grab a seat, order a XX Lager and get ready for Rhonda to win in….14 seconds…damn!
Go check out the cenotes! Just across the channel (30 minute ferry) is Playa Del Carmen. In “Playa” there is tons of touristy shopping, restaurants, etc, but also the “Cenote Experience“: A dive operation that will pick you up at the pier, drive you out to the cenotes for a two tank dive ( or snorkel if you prefer) and then back again to either a hotel or the pier (your choice. If you are not familiar with cenotes, they are deep underground rivers formed over millions of years in the limestone foundation of the Yucatan peninsula. At some point, the ground above a certain point in the river collapsed and formed what is know as a “Cenote”. Here you wil experience the closest thing to weightlessness you will ever have inside of the Earth’s orbit. The water in the cenotes has trickled down through hundreds of feet of limestone and is crystal clear! SCUBA diving here is nearly existential! Definitely worth the experience!
Or just lay on a beach! The east side (“wild side” ) of the island is uninhabited and is lined with long beaches made of the fluffiest white-sand you might ever experience!
Summary: In the end, the best thing about Cozumel is the people, who are some of the most loyal, respectful, and hardworking people I have ever met. I would definitely go back in a heartbeat! If you are looking for a tropical getaway where you can lie in the sun, sip fruity beverages, and see some of the most amazing crystal clear waters in the world and STILL be able to train in the evenings, Cozumel may be the place for you.