While we visited Cozumel, we wanted to get off the beaten path after a day seeing the nearby attractions. We had the opportunity to leave the terra firma of Cozumel twice. We took a boat to the neighboring Isla Pasion, and we explored the underwater world off its shores in a real submarine.
Passion Island / Isla Pasión
Some of Cozumel’s best beaches aren’t on the hotel properties. Instead, you can visit beach clubs on both the west and (less crowded) east side of the island. For a fee, you’ll get access to the water and beach chairs and hammocks, and changing facilities. In many cases, there will also be a playground and water play equipment, and a bar or restaurant. One of these — Passion Island — is actually a small private island one mile off the coast of Cozumel, and only accessible by boat. It’s also one of the best beaches you may find anywhere, and completely worth the excursion.
When you arrive on Passion Island, either by a leisurely catamaran sail or a heart-pumping speed boat, you pass through a small collection of thatched-roof structures, including a casual restaurant and bar, a few shops for souvenirs and hair braiding, and even a small “spa” dispensing massages. Beyond that are rows of covered palapas with hammocks swinging underneath. From there, it’s about 50 feet across cool white sand to the calm aquamarine water.
Once you’re in the clear Caribbean Sea, there are even more hammocks hanging low enough so that you end up lying indulgently in the water! For the kids, there are inflatable structures you can climb on. My teenage son loved the challenge of trying to get across its long arm, although he looked like a competitor on the show “Wipe Out,” and quickly ended up in the surf.
The best feature for younger kids is the supervised play area on the beach, which included a play house, basketball nets, a row of painting easels, and even some hoop toss games.
Your admission fee to Passion Island is actually a daily “all-inclusive” fee, which includes food and beverages. The attentive wait staff will bring you drinks on the beach. When it’s time for a bite, the chef prepares not only basics like burgers and chicken fingers, but delicious fish dishes and fresh guacamole.
Cozumel has become one of the world’s most popular scuba diving and snorkeling destination, due to its location on the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, a 13-mile-long, 11,000-acre protected coral reef system. It’s the world’s second largest barrier reef, second only to the great reef in Australia.
If you want a different vantage point than what you can see through a pair of goggles, consider taking a ride on the Atlantis Submarine, a true submersible vessel that brings you to depths of more than 100 feet to get up close views of the reef’s underwater life.
Your submarine dive adventure begins on board a boat that takes you along Cozumel’s west coast to the dive site, where you climb into the submarine. Inside, the vessel seats nearly 50 people, and it’s completely climate controlled. The crew will explain, in both English and Spanish, what you’re seeing during the 45-minute excursion. There are also helpful illustrated cards hanging near each window with pictures identifying the most common fish that live in these waters. Through the large circular windows, we saw sponges, colorful fish like Red Snapper, Queen Angle Fish, and Yellowfin Grouper, eels, giant hermit crabs, and so many different types of corals. Depending on the season, you may see sharks and stingrays.
The visibility is amazing, especially when there are no clouds and the sunlight reaches the bottom. We reached El Pared, or “The Wall,” a drop off where the depths reach 2,000 feet, then turned around. A high point was gliding alongside the shipwreck Felipe, through which several scuba divers were swimming, their location obvious by the stream of bubbles from their tanks.
– Traci L. Suppa
Traci L. Suppa drags her small-town family to see a quirky array of the world’s largest, longest, or tallest things, and blogs about it at Go BIG or Go Home.