Trips in Mexico have been increasingly popular during the past decades for north American tourists. According to recent statistic conducted by Kanetix, 7.0% of Canadian travelers were to Mexico. The sleepy island of Cozumel enjoys a leisurely pace of life. This Caribbean gem features lush tropical foliage surrounded by crystalline turquoise water, artistically bordered by an expanse of sparkling white sand. The natural attributes of the island are wonderfully complimented by the warm hospitality of the people who call it home.

Located just 12 miles off the Eastern coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, Cozumel was once an important trading port. During the 17th century, it was also popular as a safe harbor for pirates, one of the most notable being Henry Morgan. A century or so later, the tiny island became a frequent hiding place for the notorious Caribbean pirate Jean Lafitte, as he eluded capture by the authorities. Today, Cozumel is a popular stopover for cruise ships, and a favorite destination for those seeking a relaxing escape from the hectic pace of everyday life. It is also among the top five diving destinations in the world.

The main city on Cozumel is San Miguel, which features a thriving market place in its downtown area. Shoppers will find a delightful selection of everything from trinkets and other tourist fare, to household goods, delicious snacks, clothing, shoes and other necessities. Fabulous bargains can be had if you are willing to haggle with the shopkeepers. The only time of day that this does not apply is during siesta time, which is faithfully observed every afternoon.

Wandering through the residential areas of San Miguel, you will find many of the modest homes painted bright, festive colors, giving their respective neighborhoods a cheery atmosphere. It is common to see residents sitting outside enjoying the cool of the evening, sharing stories about their day, or engaged in a game of dominos or dice. An outstanding feature that makes Cozumel an attractive destination for those seeking relaxation, is its low crime rate. It is one of the few tourist destinations that remain relatively safe for tourists, but common sense is always required, no matter where your travels lead you.

Accommodations on Cozumel range from modest, very inexpensive lodging, to 5 stars, all inclusive resorts. This makes it an attractive destination for nearly any budget. Dining can be found in all price ranges as well. A fabulous meal of steak and lobster can be enjoyed with five star ambiance and service, including a sweeping ocean view, for a reasonable price. Visitors may also wish to try authentic local cuisine at one of the many small, family run restaurants that are scattered throughout the city. Most of the small establishments serve up delicious meals for a very modest price, with smiles included, no charge.

Diving is one of the most popular pastimes for Cozumel visitors thanks to the extensive coral reef system and colorful marine life found just offshore. In the 1960s, renowned undersea explorer, Jacques Cousteau, introduced it to the world, forever changing the course of life on Cozumel. If you are not a diver but would still enjoy experiencing the dazzling beauty waiting under the warm, inviting Caribbean waters, snorkeling is a great alternative. Snorkeling does not require any real experience or training, and equipment can be rented at many of the local dive shops.

If booking a snorkeling excursion with a tour operator, equipment should be included in the price of the outing. Many of the local tour operators offer snorkeling excursions for all experience levels, via charter boat or catamaran. For the inexperienced, or those not familiar with where the best dive spots are, booking with a tour operator is probably the best bet. Another option for viewing the wonders of the sea without getting wet is to hire a glass bottomed boat. They are readily available for hire in San Miguel, and allow passengers a fabulous view of the sea life below.

For the vacationer in need of some peace and solitude, the East, or Windward, side of the island provides just the thing! It is mostly uninhabited, other than a few beach-front snack stands. Isolated beaches of gleaming white sand, buffeted by the restless wild surf, provide a continuous cadence that soothes away whatever stress you may have. It also provides a wonderful opportunity for those seeking to experience the island in its natural state.

Travel between Cozumel and Playa del Carmen, the nearest city on the mainland, is convenient, with ferries running throughout the day. The trip normally takes around 45 to 60 minutes each way, so offers the possibility of sight seeing to mainland destinations throughout the Yucatan Peninsula. The fascinating ruins of Chichen Itza, Tulum and Xcaret are just a few of the ancient remnants of the Mayan Empire waiting to be explored in this beautiful region of Mexico.