Cozumel, a mostly undeveloped Mexican island in the Caribbean Sea, is a popular cruise ship port of call famed for its scuba diving. At Arrecifes de Cozumel National Park, there's diving spots around a section of the Mesoamerican Reef and the Museo Subacuático de Arte’s submerged sculptures. Chankanaab is an eco park surrounding a lagoon with underwater caverns, home to dolphins, manatees and sea turtles.
Did you know: The Cozumel raccoon (Procyon pygmaeus), also called the pygmy raccoon, is a critically endangered species of island raccoon endemic on Cozumel Island off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico.
Cozumel (Spanish pronunciation: [kosu'mel], Yucatec Maya: Kùutsmil) is an island and municipality in the Caribbean Sea off the eastern coast of Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula, opposite Playa del Carmen. It is separated from mainland by Cozumel Channel and is close to the Yucatán Channel. The municipality is part of the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico.
The economy of Cozumel is based on tourism, with visitors able to benefit from the island's balnearios, scuba diving, and snorkeling. The main town on the island is San Miguel de Cozumel.
The name Cozumel was derived from the Mayan "Cuzamil" or "Ah Cuzamil Peten" in full, which means "the island of swallows" (Spanish: Isla de las Golondrinas).
The island is located in the Caribbean Sea along the eastern side of the Yucatan Peninsula about 82 km (51 mi) south of Cancún and 19 km (12 mi) from the mainland. The island is about 48 km (30 mi) long and 16 km (9.9 mi) wide. With a total area of 477.961 km2 (184.542 sq mi), it is Mexico's largest Caribbean island, largest permanently inhabited island, and Mexico's third-largest island, following Tiburón Island and Isla Ángel de la Guarda.
The majority of the island's population lives in the town of San Miguel (pop. 77,236 in 2010), which is on the island's western shore. The municipality, which includes two small areas on the mainland enclaved within the Municipality of Solidaridad with a land area of 10.423 km2 (4.024 sq mi), has a total land area of 647.33 km2 (249.93 sq mi).
Large parts of the island are covered with mangrove forest which has many endemic animal species. Cozumel is a flat island based on limestone, resulting in a karst topography. The highest natural point on the island is less than 15 m (49 ft) above sea level. The cenotes are deep water-filled sinkholes formed by water percolating through the soft limestone soil for thousands of years. Cozumel's cenotes are restricted to qualified cave divers with appropriate credentials.
Diverse coral reefs surround Cozumel, which are particularly developed on the western edge of the island. These reefs experience strong currents so divers should exercise caution. Cozumel's deeper coral reefs were historically famed for their black corals, yet black coral populations declined from the 1960s to the mid-1990s because of overharvesting and by 2016 had not recovered.