The “Land of the Swallows” as Cozumel was called in the days of the ancient Maya (300AD), was a Holy Island dedicated to the Goddess of Fertility, IX Chel. Mayan woman were expected to make the arduous journey there at least once in their lives.
San Miguel is a great place for shopping for Mexican crafts, silver, leather, Kahlua and Tequila. Taxis are plentiful, but negotiate for the best rate. Pastel buildings house major shops and boutiques located along the main street or the main town square. For those on the Tulumn tour you may shop at Tulum and Xel-Ha. Most tours offer you the option of being dropped off in downtown San Miquel at the end of your tour. Bargaining is the name of the game!!! The best bargains in Mexico are silver – both silver-plate and sterling can be found. Sterling silver is .925% pure and should be marked with that number or the word “sterling”. The US dollar is readily accepted as well as credit cards.
A short cab ride from the ship is Chankanaab, a beautiful little park and botanical gardens with a great beach that is ideal for novice snorkelers. There are lockers and showers and all are clean. There is a admission charge, which included the use of beach chairs and umbrellas.
Catching the “bug” is a concern of most people who visit Mexico. If you are worried about this, just return to the ship for all of your meals. If you want to sample authentic Mexican food, a few precautions are in order. First of all wash your hands before eating or drinking anything. Eat at restaurants at the hotels or along the street and beaches frequented by tourists. Ask for drinks to be served in bottles or without ice. Many tourists eat the food and drink beverages over ice with no problems, so if you wish, try some of the local foods.
Admiral’s Tip: For shoppers, take small denominations of money. It is easier than trying to get change for large bills. Black coral jewelry is a delight. To really enjoy the island, we recommend taking a taxi for 3-4 hours and have the driver give you a tour of the island. There is only one road around the island, but it goes along the shore much of the way, affording a magnificent view. Stop at Chankannab and Playa San Francisco for some beach time while your driver waits for you. There are a couple of small restaurants by the water on the far end of the island where you could stop for lunch. If you want to see some Mayan Ruins, have the driver stop at SAN GERVACIO. There are lesser known than the Tulumn Ruins, but will give you the same experience. Your tour will take you through the residential area of San Meguel and hotel zone. You can have the driver end the tour in the shopping district so you can browse through the shops for awhile. Then take a taxi back to the ship when you are finished shopping.