Cozumel Beach Clubs

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Cozumel's Beach Clubs

Palancar Post Wilma
LEFT, Folks relax and enjoy laid-back Palancar Beach Club which is alive and kicking again after taking a drubbing during Wilma. This photo along with many of the others on this page are brought to you courtesy of (www.antonioscozumel.com)

This is how it works here: All Cozumel's beaches are federal property and required by law to be open to the public and provide public access. If you rent a car and drive the east and west coastlines, you will pass numerous spots where you can park your car, hop out and either snorkel or take a swim, depending on the beach.

This is free. But it has the downside that there are no facilities. No shade or chairs is the biggie because the tropical sun is extremely harsh and you need to stay out of it when you're not actually in the water.

These places also won't have restrooms, places where you can rent snorkel gear if you wish to (Although we advise you bring your own if you think you'll do this activity more than once. )

Cozumel Wild Side

In short, if you just want to stop the car and rush in for a short, glorious swim on a deserted beach, there are plenty of places to do this -- particularly on the island's wild "east side" (pictured LEFT.)

Although the shorelines of Cozumel are public property, the government rents "concessions" to private businesses. The businesses create beachfront environments, "beach clubs" with varying amenities. A few have coverage charges. But most simply expect you to order drinks and/or snacks/lunch as the price of monopolizing a table and lounge chairs in the shade and using the showers and bathrooms.

 

These "Beach Clubs" are Cozumel's answer to providing inexpensive and comfortable oceanfront facilities to all comers -- from Mayan families on their Sunday outing to cruiseship passengers and "land visitors" spending a week or more on the island. They provide an excellent way for visitors to sample a variety of beachfront experiences at reasonable prices.

Cozumel Dzul Ha Snorkeling

If your goal is snorkeling, you can find places to get in without using going to a "club." But if you do this be sure to bring surf booties. Also be sure to check out our in-depth Snorkeling article.

Left a public-access section of beach near Dzul Ha Beach Club offers good snorkeling but wear surf booties for crossing the iron shore.

 

Below you'll find our recommendations for best beach clubs. (The wild side beaches and bars you can find on your own. Just rent a car and drive south on the coastal highways.) All are open and ready for business as of January 21, 2006 All photos on this site were taken in January of 2006.

Rule of thumb is that all open at 8 AM and close at 5 PM. We have divided them into categories based on the kind of activity you are interested in. This is not an exhaustive list of every beach club on the island -- just the ones we especially like.

TIP: If you're a cruise passenger doing research, beware of ship tours to beaches and clubs you don't see listed here.Suffice it to say that If a beach club doesn't make this listing, there's a reason.

 

BEST SNORKELING CLUBS

Note: All the clubs listed here are close enough to downtown and the international cruise ship piers that its as economical to get there by taxi as it is to rent a car.

Dzul Ha Beach Club

Cozumel DzulHa 2

Location:On the old beach road about 1/2 mile past the entrance to El Presidente Hotel and across from the old Club del Sol Hotel. 10 minutes from downtown by car or taxi, 6 mins from the southern cruiseship piers.

Amenities: lockers, restrooms, outdoor shower, tanning pool and lounge chairs. They rent snorkel equipment if you want to try for the first time. Bar and reasonably priced restaurant. ($2 US for soft drinks and beer, sandwiches and tacos around $7). No cover charge but you're expected to buy something for the use of the tables.

Dzul Ha lost it's deck and palapa that projected out over the water. But they are rebuilding fast and we judge it to be quite pleasant there as of this writing as you can see from the Jan 15, 2006 photo above.

 

Corona Beach Club

Cozumel Corona Beach

Location:Also on the old beach road about 1/2 mile past the main entrance to Chankannab National Park.

Amenities: lockers, restrooms, outdoor shower, tanning pool and lounge chairs. They rent snorkel equipment if you want to try for the first time. Bar and reasonably priced restaurant. ($2 US for soft drinks and beer, sandwiches and tacos around $7)

Cozumel Corona 3

Comments This stretch of shoreline has always offered some of the best shore snorkeling on the island. Easy, walk-in access over sand-bags make this a good club for people that don't want to deal with the more typical access of steps cut into rock which is usually but not always supported by a railing. This has always been a funky little laid back place where the staff are very friendly. No cover charge but you're expected to buy something for the use of the tables. They lost their pier to Wilma but the little gazebo on the water is still there and they have a very pleasant covered restaurant area offering a beautiful view of the water.

Uva Beach Club

Cozumel's Uva Beach Club

This beach club is currently charging a $7 cover charge but that comes with two free drinks which seems pretty fair, all told. This place makes our list for high season 2006 because they've done such a splendid job of pulling themselves back together after Wilma. The beach is just so so here although you might hit some okay snorkeling because of the location between two other clubs that have been renowned in the past for good snorkeling. Another plus could be the glass bottom kayaks for rent which sounds like fun to us. (Just be sure to wear plenty of sun block!) They used to take cruiseship tours to this club in which case, it will get crowded fast. But when we were there last week, it was pleasantly low key so you may want to check this place out particularly if you're buzzing by in a rental car and can pick and choose. Or ask your taxi to wait a couple of minutes while you scope it out and decide if you want to do this scene.

BEST"COMBO" CLUBS & PARKS

The listings below provide sand beaches with easy entrance to the water and also offer decent -- if not great snorkeling.

Cozumel Playa Azul Woman Bather

Playa Azul Beach Club

Location:3 miles north of downtown directly next door to the Playa Azul Hotel and across the street from the well-known restaurant, The Lobster House.

Amenities: restrooms, outdoor shower, lounge chairs. Bar and reasonably priced restaurant. ($2 US for soft drinks and beer, sandwiches and tacos around $7)

Cozumel Playa Azul Couple

Comments" Playa Azul has a small but picturesque sand beach and there is some decent snorkeling to the left and right of this along the shoreline. Watch out for strong currents on somedays, however. This club used to be packed on Sunday afternoons as it is a favorite with locals. If you want to be part of the local Mexican scene, hit this club around 10 AM on Sunday morning to stake out a place and people watch. You may be one of the few gringo faces on the beach but we can assure you that people will be very friendly.

We say "used to be" because, like much of the northern beachfront on the island's west side, it was slammed very hard by both Emily and Wilma. It's opened up again now, however, and looks as good as it ever did. We were able to check this one out personally.

There are clean bathroom/changing rooms/showers. You can rent snorkel gear if you like. Snorkeling can be okay but won't be great. Still it's such a pretty place to spend half a day. And if you're staying in town, this is your closest nice lounging beach, just a short cab ride from centro.

BEST WHITE SAND 'N BEACH TOYS CLUBS

The listings below provide long stretch of natural, white sand beach. Snorkeling will be nonexistent here but you can't beat 'em for pretty.

San Francisco Beach Club

Location:Approximately 8 miles south of downtown where the old island road intersections with the new, faster road.

Amenities: showers, changing rooms, chaise lounges and palapas, pretty restaurant and bar with swings, beach toys, snorkel rentals

Cozumels San Francisco Beach Club.

Comments: More than half the sand beaches found on the west side of the island are artificially created with white sand trucked in to cover the natural, rocky ironshore.San Francisco is the first of several real natural white sand beaches that you'll come to if you travel south from the direction of downtown San Miguel. This club lost some of its beach but it had extra to spare. No cover charge. It's adjacent to Paradise Beach Club listed below so you can check out both these clubs in one fell swope.

Paradise Beach Club

Cozumels Paradise Beach Club Bar

Location:Approximately 8 miles south of downtown and right next door to San Francisco Beach (Listed directly above.)

LEFT, palapa covered bar at Paradise beach club is a great way to enjoy the beach scene while staying cool, mohn, cool.

Amenities:restaurant and bar, clean restrooms, lots of water toys which are free to guests including some floating mattresses, a water tramp and a floating iceburg. Entrance is free but there is a fee for use of the toys.

Comments: The owners of this beach club have the serious bucks as can be seen by how quickly they pulled the facility back into top-notch shape after Wilma. It was looking great when we visited in mid-January of 2006. Very clean with nice showers, lockers and dressingrooms. Down side is it can get pretty crowded as a lot of cruise passengers have started coming here. Hit this place no later than 11 to stake out a good spot Cozumel Paradise Beach Palapa

 

Cozumels Mister Sanchos Beach Club Mister Sanchos

Comments: This beach club (like Playa Azul up north of town -- see above) was very popular with local Mayan and Mexican families on Sunday before the nasty 2005 hurricane season rolled in. This club lost a lot of its sand and they are working feverishly to complete work on their large, covered restaurant area which we judge should be serving guests by Feb 1. In the interim, as you can see from the photo, they've provided comfortable places for you to sit down by the surf.

Palancar Palapas, Cozumel
Palancar Beach Club

Location:Approximately15 miles south of downtown along the new island road.

Amenities: outdoor shower, changing rooms/bathrooms, chaise lounges, swings, lots of hammocks, especially pretty restaurant. Many birds on the grounds -- parrots on perches, cages of smaller birds, peacocks

Comments: This beach club is our personal favorite because it is so laid back and will tend to be much less crowded than anywhere else on the west side of the island. This due to the fact that it's so far from everything that the most practical way to get here is via rental car. Not a lot of fancy water toys to rent here. Instead, you get the old fashioned, Mexican kind. We like them better. And we recommend this beach club if you want Mellow and Uncrowded at just about any time of the year. During high season, however, as with all beach facilities, we recommend arriving by 10:30 AM to get the best choice of where to stake your claim.

They took a serious sand hit, but fortunately, there was plenty to spare. Below, see the gouge carved in the sand by Wilma courtesy of www.antonioscozumel.com.

Cozumel Beach Drop

caved in sand area at Palancar Beach Club

WILD SIDE BEACH CLUBS

The island's wild side has had no electricity and hence no development since Hurricane Gilbert trounced the island 18 years ago. It is a lovely place for a drive and to stop in at one or more of the little beach bars along this coast line. We would urge you not to swim on this side of the island, however. There are dangerous rip tides and we personally know of 3 experienced local swimmers who have died over there in the past year alone.

We haven't had time to get over to the wild side to take the most current pictures. So a word picture will have to do for now. As with the west coast beach clubs, all are up and running although some are still making repairs to their larger palapas. Mezcalitos, Senor Iguanas, Chen Rio, Playa Bonita, Coconuts are all open and hoppin' -- although not nearly as busy as they would normally be during high season because of all the false promo the island has been getting in the US and Canadian press. Coconuts had a section of cliff cave in but there's still plenty left where that came from.

It's still very beautiful over there, very wild. You can still get a drink or shrimp on a skewer while gazing out over the crashing surf with its stunning caribbean colors. AND the road all the way from the transversal at Mezcalitos to Punta Sur where it connects up with the road going back up the west coast is completed and open to tourists.