Dive into bright-blue waters, Mayan ruins and spicy specialties in Cozumel and Cancun.
Cruise to Cozumel and Cancun, two of the most-visited destinations on Mexico's Yucatan peninsula, where there's a lot more to them than beautiful beaches and world-class nightlife. Add an ancient component to your Yucatan adventure with excursions to the Mayan sites at Chichen Itza and Tulum. Or work off your margaritas with a spelunking expedition inside a Cenote cave. Experience cuisine, through stateside dishes like chile relleno and ceviche, but you'll also taste more regional-specific ingredients like local sour oranges and achiote paste, a bright-red blend of annato seeds, cumin and other spices. Discover the magic with a Cozumel and Cancun cruise.
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Your eyes weren't playing tricks as your cruise ship approached the Yucatan: The best Cozumel and Cancun cruises take you to stunning beaches, with perfectly white sand and water so clear and blue you'll think you're on a movie set. While you'll likely stay close to where the masses are in Cancun's Zona Hotelera, Cozumel's beaches are easier to explore, from bustling Dzul Ha to quiet Chen Rio.
One of the best benefits of the clear Caribbean waters off the Yucatan is world-class scuba diving. At Cozumel's Santa Rosa Wall, you can see large schools of grouper fish, while the Cancun Underwater Museum reveals a world of sub-surface art. The water in the Cenote caverns located in the inland part of the peninsula is just as clear— just be prepared for the close quarters of the caves.
Head south to see the Mayan ruins of Tulum, which sit right on a beach less than a two-hour drive from Cancun. After you finish exploring, sit down for a beachside Corona at one of the bars just outside the historical site. Or drive two hours inland to Chichen Itza: Its step pyramids are one of the greatest architectural achievements of the ancient world. Shop for Mayan-inspired trinkets from one of the friendly local sellers.
Cancun and Cozumel's town centers remind you that these places aren't just beach hot spots — they're every bit as "real Mexico" as cities in the country's interior. In Cancun, visit food-truck filled Parque Las Palpas, or stop into the shops and cafes of vibrant Avenida Tulum. In Cozumel, check out the understated, elegant San Miguel Cathedral, or learn about the local ecosystem at the Museum of Cozumel Island.
Mexico is ready for you to explore at any time of year. In general, the weather is best between December and April — there's little rain, and the temperatures are very comfortable. The wet season starts in May and ends in October, while hurricane season (affecting mostly the Caribbean side) starts in June and runs until November.
When you travel to Mexico, one of the best ways to enjoy the country is by immersion. Try the local food, shop the local markets, and choose excursions that allow you to spend time getting to know a specific neighborhood, historic site or natural wonder.
Brushing up on your Spanish will make your life in the Yucatan a lot easier, even if this region is the most Anglophone-friendly part of Mexico.
For a more local adventure during your stay, have any local hotel (you don't need to be a guest in most cases) order you a taxi to Cancun city.
Enjoy Cozumel's famed scuba diving, even if you're not licensed, thanks to the "SNUBA" experience offered at Chankanaab Park.
Many of the most popular local Yucatan dishes will be familiar to American palates, particularly if you reside in the southern part of the country. Still, even if you recognize the names of these dishes, you've never tasted versions as delicious as you find in Cancun and Cozumel, where the cuisine is defined by habanero chiles, citrus, smoke and the ever-present achiote paste.
There are many kinds of ceviche — sushi-grade raw fish marinated in citrus juice — but you can always go the classic route and choose ceviche simple, which pairs simple white fish (usually tilapia) with lime juice, tomatoes, onion and cilantro. Or order one with a more exotic choice of protein — ceviche de pulpo features tender octopus.
Chilaquiles, which you can essentially think of as a Mexican stir-fry, spotlights red and green Mexican chiles, though they're only one component of this culinary mashup. Many variations ofchilaquiles exist, but you can count on having eggs, tortilla strips, onions, cilantro and cheese in every bite.