Cozumel is one of the most popular cruise ship destinations on the planet, with millions of passengers stopping there every year. In fact, if you are sailing to the Caribbean anywhere from Galveston to Miami, then the odds are high your trip will include a stop at the Mexican island.
Of course, when you think of Cozumel, you think of beach. The island sitting in the Caribbean just off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula is well-known for its turquoise water and sandy beaches.
What most people don’t realize, however, is that just because Cozumel is an island doesn’t mean you are always close to a beach.
The truth is that while the water is beautiful, beaches around the island are not always nice. On the western side of Cozumel where the cruise ships dock, the coast is made of sharp coral rock in most places. It’s not a nice spot to enjoy the day on the beach.
So while you might have to travel some distance to files miles and miles of uninterrupted sandy beaches on the east coast of the island, there still are some small pockets of beach near the cruise ships.
Unfortunately, the closest beaches to the cruise ports are going to require a fee to access. If you are looking for free access to beaches on the western side of the island, your options are either less-than-perfect spots or to travel some distance from the cruise ship docking.
Despite having to pay for access, you can get a lot in return — like all-inclusive food and drinks. So while you pay, you have a place to spend the day within close proximity of the cruise ship.
Here are your closest beaches to the Cozumel cruise ports…
Puerta Maya or International Pier | Park Royal Cozumel
If you are on Carnival or Royal Caribbean, you are most likely docking at Puerta Maya or the International Pier, south of the main city in Cozumel. In this case, your closest beach is at the Grand Park Royal Cozumel Resort.
This hotel is about a 10 minute walk north from the Puerta Maya pier and about 5 minutes from the International Pier.
A day pass can be purchased for $40 per person from the main hotel, and the beach is accessed through an underground tunnel. The day pass gives you access to the hotel pools, swim-up bar, and beach, as well as a line-up of drinks and food until 5 p.m.
One other cool feature? The location gives you a stunning view of the cruise ship dock — perfect for taking some photos to remember your trip. Visit this page for reviews and photos of Park Royal Cozumel.
Punta Langosta | Playa Azul Beach Club
If you are sailing into Punta Langosta, then you are likely aboard a Norwegian Cruise Line ship. You’ll know the pier by the fact that it is in the middle of downtown.
From Punta Langosta, technically Park Royal Cozumel is still the closest beach. That said, there is a northern option for you to visit — Playa Azul Beach Club. The club is located at the Playa Azul hotel, about 15 minutes by taxi from the cruise pier.
Unlike Park Royal, access to Playa Azul is free. That said there is a restaurant and bar at the beach, which you are expected to buy from if you use the facilities.
The beach isn’t huge, but it is normally a quiet place on cruise days. It also has some great snorkeling for the kids. Visit this page for reviews and photos of Playa Azul Beach Club.
Now you may have noticed that these aren’t the huge, wide expanses of beach that you may have envisioned in Cozumel. For those, you’ll want to travel down the island a bit. Beach clubs on the southwest side of Cozumel offer access to beautiful beaches and facilities (lockers, showers). You can try one of these beach clubs, or also check out Chankanaab park.
Have you visited one of these beaches? What are your thoughts or recommendations? Let us know in the comments below.