An island of sugar-soft beaches and coral reefs so packed with fish and turtles that you’d think you were in an aquarium, Cozumel is understandably up there with the most alluring destinations on the Mexican Caribbean coast. But is Cozumel expensive?
That’s what this guide is here to help you with. It will outline all the expenses that we think you’ll have to account for when you plan a trip to this sun-kissed corner of the land of tacos and tequila. It’s got info on the overall costs of your average vacation to Cozumel, along with the lowdown on what hotels will set you back, what the main must-do activities (scuba diving, we’re looking at you!) will cost, and what’s the price tag for food and drink.
We’ll also try to give you some idea of how to save money when putting together a trip to Cozumel, whether that means traveling in the low season or picking hotels that are a bit further from the main tourist areas. You know, just in case the budget is tight but you’re still dreaming of a tropical adventure to this fabled diving mecca…
What’s the average cost of a vacation to Cozumel?
We think the average cost of a week-long vacation to the island of Cozumel will be in the region of $1,345 per person. That’s for a full seven days of accommodation and food, but also includes around $300 for the trip over in the first place, with the price of flights from the US and the cost of ferries from the Riviera Maya factored in.
It’s important to note that this is a rough estimation of outgoings, based on stays in midrange hotels. You can certainly spend a whole load less if you don’t mind hostel accommodation and street food. But you can also spend loads more by choosing the peak season and stays in luxury hotels.
Let’s take a closer look at all the individual costs associated with a trip to Cozumel…
Is Cozumel expensive to get to?
Getting to Cozumel shouldn’t break the bank. The vast majority of travelers bound for the reef-ringed island still make use of the ferry service that comes over from the riviera town of Playa del Carmen. That’s despite the fact that Cozumel now has its very own international airport with direct flight links to Canada, the US, and Mexico City. The thing is, flying in is usually pricy and there’s nowhere near the same array of arrival options as there is to Cancun airport just a touch to the north.
For that reason, we’ll assume that you’re jetting into Cancun International and then crossing to Cozumel from there. The average cost of a flight from a major US hub like New York to there is about $305 return. It’s then $20 for an airport shuttle bus to Playa del Carmen, which takes about 45 minutes. Finally, you need a ferry ticket. There are two options: The fast Ultramar ferry (takes 20 minutes and costs $10.25 per person), or the slower Winjet (takes 40 minutes and costs $7 per person).
Overall, that puts the cost of getting to Cozumel in the first place at around $335 for a traveler originating in the United States.
Is Cozumel expensive for accommodation?
There’s quite a considerable spread of accommodation prices in Cozumel. Hotels that cost just a handful of dollars rub shoulders with uber-cool resort hotels that flaunt that coveted boutique epithet. There are also a couple of larger complex hotels like you get over in the Cancun Hotel Zone, which are great for all-inclusive holidays and families.
What you pay will depend on what you go for, but also on the location of your hotel. Generally speaking, establishments in the Centro area of San Miguel, close to the cruise port, or down the western coastline are the priciest of the lot. Go inland a little or head to the eastern side of the island and you are likely to pay less. As a ballpark, we’d put the range of hotel prices in Cozumel at between $38/night for the cheapest hostels to around $850/night for the slickest honeymoon resorts.
Here’s a look at a few highly rated options from all price brackets:
- The Explorean Cozumel All Inclusive ($$$) – Treat yourself to some pampering courtesy of this elegant hotel on the west coast. It’s got modern rooms and a gorgeous pool.
- Kinta Kan Hotel Boutique Cozumel ($$) – An inviting midrange hotel that’s got a charming garden and pool, located right in the midst of Cozumel’s main town.
- Hostel Auikyani ($) – Uber-cheap Hostel Auikyani gets plaudits from backpackers for its social vibe and comfort.
As a rough estimation, we’d say a budget of between $60 and $95 per night will get you a very nice midrange hotel in Cozumel. That’s about $543/week.
The price of food and drink in Cozumel
There’s good news on the food front when it comes to Cozumel – this island is almost 50% cheaper for grub than the mainstay resorts of the Riviera Maya. While in Cancun you can easily drop $40-50 on a meal for two in a restaurant, here you’re looking at more in the region of $10 a head. Eating casual chow like tortas and tacos from the roadside stalls and in markets is even cheaper again – you’re looking at under $5 a pop for that.
Beer and cocktails also tend to be less. The local stuff is the cheapest, with Mexican-made lagers coming in at about $1 a drink. You can pay more for imported beers and mixed drinks. Up to $3 is normal for the first, and up to $8 for the latter, though that’s the most expensive you’re likely to find anywhere on the island. Just remember that Cozumel isn’t a party hub a la Playa del Carmen or Cancun. It’s more chilled here, with reggae bars that see you through to sunset but not many big clubs that go all night.
We’d budget something in the region of $35 a day for food in Cozumel. That’s $245 per person, per week.
The cost of things to do in Cozumel
Again, you can explore Cozumel for cheap or push the proverbial boat out and do all the bucket-list draws. It’s really up to you and how packed you want your travel itinerary to be. The main thing that people come for is diving. Sadly, that’s also one of the priciest pursuits, though it’s still nowhere near what it will cost in other major diving destinations around the globe. You’re looking at about $69 for a single tank dive with a reputable provider and around $250 for a full PADI Scuba Diver Course.
Here’s a look at some of the other top things to do in Cozumel and how much they’ll set you back:
- A bike rental ($20/day) – This will let you explore the whole island if you’re feeling up to it. The route around Cozumel is about 65km from start to finish.
- A whale shark tour ($220) – Head out to these the famous whale sharks, the largest fish species on the planet. These tours only happen during the whale shark season between May and August.
- Entry to the San Gervasio Ruins ($9.50) – Calling all history buffs, this is the main Maya archaeology site in Cozumel.
You probably won’t do a planned activity EVERY day of your trip. That’s why we’d estimate that most travelers will spend around $200 on activities throughout a whole holiday.
Budget saving tips for Cozumel
A trip to Cozumel doesn’t have to break the bank. Here are just a few tried-and-tested money-saving tips that you can use to keep the cost of your holiday on the down low…
- Travel during the low season – The low season here is the summer. May to August is officially the wet season on the Mexican Caribbean, though it’s still possible to get hot, dry days. However, you do run the risk of getting caught up in tropical storms. The good news is that the seaweed blooms that hit the mainland don’t really impact the beaches of western Cozumel since they face the wrong way. It’s also peak time to see whale sharks!
- Stay away from the coast – Hotels close to the shoreline are almost always the priciest. If you can forgo the sound of the lapping Caribbean Sea, then this is certainly a money-saving tip worth considering.
- Swap scuba for snorkeling – Scuba diving is likely to be one of the priciest activities on the menu in Cozumel. However, the snorkeling on this island is almost just as good. If you’re not fussed on diving down deep, then stick to the shoreline coves and reefs where you can still see turtles and starfish and sponge corals.
- Cycle – Renting a car to explore Cozumel can be $80 a day when you add on insurance requirements. Bikes are $20 a day. You do the math!
- Eat street food – There are some fancy boho eateries and artisan coffee joints in the main town and down the west coast, but there are also loads of cheap and cheerful roadside stalls where you can get tacos for just a handful of pesos.
Is Cozumel expensive? Our conclusion…
Cozumel isn’t the cheapest place in Mexico but it’s actually a whole load cheaper than its next-door neighbors on the Riviera Maya. We think most travelers will spend something like $1,345 a week here, give or take. That includes the cost of accommodation, food, and travel, but also some activities along the way. You can spend 10 times that if you really want luxury or try and go cheaper with low-season trips and budget accommodation. It’s really up to you.