Cozumel Cruise BeachClubs

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Cozumel's Beach Clubs

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.

LEFT, a shaded palapa near the bar at Paradise Beach on the island's wild side.

 

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. )

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 above.)

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 excellent snorkeling but wear surf booties for crossing the iron shore.

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.

ABOVE, Couple strolls one of the island's few natural white sand beaches near San Francisco Beach Club about 8 miles south of downtown.

Below you'll find our recommendations for best beach clubs. (The non-concession beaches you can find on your own. Just rent a car and drive south on the coastal highways.)

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. We have also included the island's two lovely National Parks in this listing.

Both Punta Sur and Chankannab National Parks are also beach clubs in terms of providing you with comfortable surroundings on the beach. But these two are federally -- not privately owned. Each charges $12 US admission. But they are both worth a visit at this price.

LEFT, snorkelers enjoy Chankannab National Park, one of the combo beaches that provides a large, man-made sand beach with rocky shore snorkeling.

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. We have only listed those that don't have cover charges and only ask that you purchase a few drinks or snacks while you use their beach furniture.

Dzul Ha Beach Club

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)

Comments nice covered wooden deck stretching out over the water with tables and chairs. Great for drinks or lunch and for people who just want to read and enjoy the view while others snorkel. Several easy entrances into the water. We like the one right next to the covered restaurant area.

 

Corona Beach Club

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)

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 no always supported by a railing.

BEST"COMBO" CLUBS & PARKS

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

 

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)

Comments Playa Azul has a small but picturesque sand beach and their is some decent snorkeling to the left and right of this along the shoreline. Watch out for strong currents on somedays, however. This club is 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.

Chankannab National Park
This really lovely and pristine national park is a must-see. The admission is $12 for adults and $6 for kids. But we think its good value for what you get. A long, beautiful man-made sand beach festooned with shade-creating palapas. Two open-air restaurants.
Serene and shady gardens surround a memorable lagoon and make for a great stroll when you've had enough sun..

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. Don't miss it. Do be sure to get there early, however, In high season if you arrive at 11:30, you may find there is not a single chair left in the shade.

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

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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.

Paradise Beach Club

 

Location:Approximately 8 miles south of downtown and an easy beach stroll from San Francisco Beach (Listed directly above.)

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

Comments: New and very clean with nice showers, lockers and dressingrooms. Food here is outstanding as the owner has lured away the chef from downtown's famous La Cocay restaurant. 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

Mister Sanchos

Location:Approximately12 miles south of downtown along the new island road.

Amenities: showers, changing rooms and bathroom, chaise lounges and lots of palapas, good, reasonably priced restaurant.

Comments: This beach club (like Playa Azul up north of town -- see above) is very popular with local Mayan and Mexican families on Sunday. So if you want to mingle and check out the local scene, this is a great club for people-watching. Personally, we much prefer Palancar Beach Club with its much more laid-back atmosphere. (See Next entry.)

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 hammacks, 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.

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.

Punta Sur National Park

.Not a beach club as you can tell from the name. But we've included it here because it's on the Wild Side Beach Club tour and a not-to-be-missed attraction of the island. Admission is $12/person. Less for kids. With it comes a trip up a lighthouse for a great view of the coast and the lagoon, a bird and croc watching pontoon boat trip and several opportunities for some safe snorkeling.

There is apparently a good snorkeling reef about 300 yards off shore at the beach that's the last stop on the tour. For a small tip a park ranger will be glad to accompany you out to the reef in a kayak and be your personal lifeguard while you check things out.

Get here early as they only allow a certain number of guests in per day. Plan to spend at least 4 hours here. Beverages and chips are sold. However, this would be a good place to pack a picnic and bring it in with you.

Chen Rio

A lovely little protected cove is the feature attraction of this ramshackle restaurant/bar. We think the food is way overpriced here -- but good. Great place to take a dip but be very careful and if you feel any kind of strong currents, hop out and join your friends back on the beach drinking cervazas under a palm tree!

Coconuts

This beachclub/bar has a breathtaking location up on a bluff overlooking the open ocean towards Cuba.

The view is something else.The bathrooms are clean and it's a splendid place for a drink and/or a light snack. Try not to miss it!

 

TIP: But if you have people in your party for whom a rocky stair climb is going to be a problem, give this place a miss.

 

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