The Best Cozumel Parks and Museums

By Michele Samal Kinnon

If you are struggling to put together a Cozumel itinerary with beautiful destinations and activities that will engage everyone in your travel group, I know. It’s easier said than done! Every time we visit Cozumel, I find something new to add to the “must-do” list. And there never seems to be enough time to do it ALL!

Whether you are planning a tropical vacation on Cozumel, visiting the island on a cruise ship or planning a day trip from Playa del Carmen like us, you will want to make the most of your time here. Of course, you are going to want to spend some time on the island’s beaches. But what else?

Nachi cocom beach club

Beyond swimming and sunning, it can be difficult to find things to do that will entertain and educate. If you are looking for an experience that goes beyond the beach clubs, there are several parks museums and immersive cultural experiences that you should consider. Some of them will let you combine beach-time with something that is uniquely Cozumel.

Cozumel Parks That Everyone Will Enjoy

The Foundation of Parks and Museums of Cozumel manages three beautiful parks – Chankanaab, Punta Sur and the San Gervasio archeological site and one museum, Museo de la Isla de Cozumel. Each of these destinations is unique and beautiful and worth a visit. Other options for fun experiences include the Mayan Bee Sanctuary and the interactive pre-Hispanic villages Pueblo del Maiz and Kun Che.

To be fair, some of these parks and experiences are pretty touristy. But hey! Even I am a tourist on Cozumel! If you look past the costumes and faux Mayan relics, there are some fun and interesting aspects to each of these destinations and activities.

A large iguana on a path at punta sur park in cozumel.

So, before you pack your bags, take a peek at our list of the best Cozumel parks, museums and interactive experiences. You are sure to find that one (or more) will help make your trip to Cozumel fun and educational.

Punta Sur Ecological Park

Located on the southern tip of Cozumel, Punta Sur Ecological Park is a sprawling natural state reserve showcasing the island’s diverse ecosystems. The park has over 1,000 hectares filled with a wide variety of flora, fauna and lagoon systems. This is one of the most incredible nature preserves in the Mexican Caribbean.

The lighthouse at punta sur, with the beautiful calm blue ocean behind it.

The park’s standout feature is the Celarain Lighthouse, offering panoramic views of the Caribbean Sea. Visitors can explore the surrounding nature trails and lagoon system, home to crocodiles, exotic birds, and iguanas. The park also boasts beautiful beaches, such as Playa Palancar, where you can snorkel in crystal-clear waters teeming with marine life. For history buffs, there’s the ancient Mayan ruin, El Caracol, believed to have been a weather station. 

Marine bird in a tree at punta sur eco park

Why visit? If you’re a nature lover or a photography enthusiast, Punta Sur is a spectacular place packed with adventure and stunning landscapes. It’s a place where you can disconnect from the world and immerse yourself in natural beauty. It’s the ideal place for nature lovers. With its white sandy beaches, turquoise waters and numerous sea fan gardens that extend throughout the reef.

The sign at the last corner of mexico at punta sur.

The Punta Sur Ecological Park is open to visitors Monday to Saturday from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM. (Closed Sundays) The entrance fee for adults is $16 USD, children ages 4-12 $10 USD. Children under age 4 are admitted free. The best way to get there is by taking a rental car or scooter. There is plenty of free parking onsite. You might also be able to hire a taxi for a few hours to run you out to the park and then back again when you are done exploring.

Another option is to book a tour that includes a visit to the Punta Sur Eco Park. Here are a few to consider.

Island Dune Buggy and Snorkel Tour 
Private Jeep Tour by Tortugas Cozumel
Punta Sur Eco-Park Electric Bike Tour 

San Gervasio Archaeological Site

Nestled in the heart of Cozumel, the San Gervasio archeological site is the best way to explore the island’s Mayan heritage. This archaeological site is known to be the center of pilgrimages where the Maya worshiped Ixchel, the Goddess of fertility and medicine. Besides being a sacred Mayan center it was a strategic site for commerce and the political development of the area.

San gervacio ruins cozumel

The area is constituted by six architectural sets and other isolated temples joined by a network of white roads called “sacbés” They are of great interest and give us an idea of how the Maya conducted their religious, administrative and daily life activities. Today, visitors can wander through the ruins, including several temples and plazas, set amidst a lush jungle setting. 

Ruins being preserved under a palapa at san gervasio on cozumel.

While not as large and well-known as other Maya archaelogical sites such as Chichen Itza and Tulum, San Gervasio is the most important and well-studied prehispanic site of all the documented settlements on Cozumel Island and should not be overlooked. The site’s tranquility and the energy of the ancient ruins make it a unique cultural experience. 

Why visit San Gervasio? It’s a perfect spot for history enthusiasts and those looking to connect with the spiritual and cultural aspects of the Mayan civilization. It offers a peaceful retreat from the more touristy areas of Cozumel.

Jim by7 one of the ancient raodways at san gervasio ruins, cozumel parks

The San Gervasio Archeological site is open daily from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM. We recommend coming early to avoid the heat of mid-day and the mosquitos in the afternoon. If you are lucky, you may have the entire ruin site to yourself. There is a small gift shop and a snack bar onsite. You should bring your own sunscreen and insect repellent. 

The entrance fee is $216 pesos / $13 USD. There is no charge for children under 3. Mexican citizens and permanent residents get free admission on Sundays. It is very easy to get to the archaeological zone. The most popular option is to rent a car or scooter and visit the site on your own. There is plenty of free parking available if you have your own vehicle.

Jim stroking a coati at the san gervasio ruins in cozumel.

You can also get to the ruins site with a taxi but you will have to have him wait to take you back. A better option is to hire a private driver for the day to take you to the ruins and all the sites on the island you want to see. You can also combine a visit to San Gervasio. with other fun activities on the island. Here are some popular tours that include exploring the archaeological site.

Cultural Tour to Mayan Ruins and Cenote
Jeep Tour to San Gervasio and Punta Sur Eco-Park

Chankanaab Park

Located within the Marine National Park of Cozumel, Chankanaab offers a blend of adventure, relaxation, and cultural experiences. Here you can enjoy the beautiful beach and explore the vibrant underwater world through snorkeling or scuba diving in the most beautiful reefs on the island. The word Chankanaab means “little sea” in Maya and refers to a beautiful land-locked pool connected to the sea through an underwater tunnel.

Chankanaab park cozumel

Its lagoon was formed naturally over thousands of years and is home to a diverse range of marine life, making it a self-sustaining ecosystem. While snorkeling in the protected lagoon is forbidden, there is great snorkeling on the shallow reef just a few meters from the park’s beach area. Chankanaab also features an eco-archeological tour through a botanical garden full of exotic flora and replicas of Maya temples and a traditional Maya home.

Other fun recreational activities include a tasting at the Tequila Museum, a traditional temazcal and much more. For thrill-seekers, Chankanaab offers SCUBA diving, SNUBA and SeaTrek tours and zip lines.

Why visit Chankanaab? It caters to families, couples, and solo travelers looking for a day filled with varied activities. Whether you’re into snorkeling, lounging on the beach, or exploring nature trails, Chankanaab National Park has something for everyone.

The lagoon at parque chankanaab cozumel

Chankanaab Adventure Park is open Monday to Saturday from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM. (Closed Sundays) The cost of admission is $29 USD for adults and $20 USD for children ages 4-12 years. Children under 3 enter free. Chankanaab also offers an all-inclusive option that includes food and beverages and access to most amenities. 

Chankanaab is considered Cozumel’s #1 attraction and as such can get very busy, especially with cruise ship passengers. We recommend you book in advance.

Chankanaab Adventure Beach Park All-Inclusive Day Pass
Chankanaan Park Scuba Diving

While Chankanaab Park offers some wonderful activities and amenities there are some we cannot recommend. This facility maintains sea lions and dolphins in captivity and offers activities such as “dolphin swims” that we do not support. If you choose to spend a day at Chankanaab beach, please do not participate in these activities.

Museo de la Isla de Cozumel

Located in downtown San Miguel, the Museo de la Isla de Cozumel provides a comprehensive overview of the island’s geological, colonial, and Mayan history. Housed in a historic building,  Recently renovated, the museum dates back to the 1930s and in housed in a building that was one of the first hotels on the island. Today, the museum features four exhibit rooms filled with artifacts, photographs, and bilingual displays. 

The Museum’s main purpose is to protect and preserve its cultural heritage. There are 11 interactive exhibits discovering the origins, natural diversity and resilience of the people of Cozumel. There are also 2 temporary exhibit rooms for local and international artists and a special room that pays tribute to Cozumel’s famous Carnaval tradition. The rooftop restaurant offers stunning ocean views, making it a pleasant spot to relax after exploring the exhibits. 

The entrance to museo de la isla

Why visit? Visit the Museum to learn about Cozumel’s origins, development and customs of the island’s population. It’s a great place to visit on a rainy day or when you’re looking to investigate the island’s past and present. The museum offers a fun yet insightful look into the cultural history of Mexico in a way that is interesting for the entire family.

The Museo de la Isla is open Tuesday to Saturday from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. (Closed Mondays) General admission is 170 MXN per person. Children 3 and under enter for free. For more information, you can email [email protected].

Arrecifes de Cozumel National Marine Park

Spanning most of the island’s southern coast, the Cozumel Reefs National Marine Park is a paradise for divers and snorkelers. The park is a part of the UNESCO Isla Cozumel Biosphere Reserve, a protected section of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the second-largest coral reef system in the world. The marine park is home to more than 1000 unique marine species and is widely considered one of the world’s top diving destinations. 

A scuba diver looking at a starfish at arrecifes de cozumel marine park.

Arrecifes de Cozumel National Marine Park encompasses the island’s best-known diving and snorkeling spots, including the Palancar, Columbia, and Paradise reefs. Within the protected area you will also find the  “Devil’s Throat” at Punta Sur and the wreck of the “Felipe Xicoténcatl”, a minesweeper ship used in WWII. With both shallow coral reefs and deep drop-offs, this is an ideal spot for snorkelers and divers of all experience levels.

A map of cozumel showing the ref locations around the island.

Map Courtesy of BayAdventures

Why visit? If you’re passionate about marine life or an underwater photography enthusiast, the park offers an unparalleled experience. From the famous Palancar Reef to the lesser-known but equally stunning Colombia Reef, the beauty beneath the waves is mesmerizing.

While some beautiful beach areas in the marine park are accessible by land, you can only reach some of the most desirable destinations on a tour. Here are a few that we can recommend:

Cozumel Snorkeling Tour: Palancar, Columbia and El Cielo
SCUBA 2-Tank Dive in Arrecifes de Cozumel Marine Park
Starfish, Stingrays and the Turtle Bay Experience

Kun Che Park

Kun Che Park is a cultural and gastronomic park located in the community of El Cedral. It offers visitors a unique opportunity to experience Mayan culture with a guided tour through the Maya Reserve, traditional cooking demonstrations, and a tequila tasting. The highlight is an enactment of the ball game, Pok-A-Tok an ancient Maya sport with ritualistic significance. 

A woman performing a purification ceremony at kun che park in cozumel

The cost of admission includes a buffet-style lunch featuring regional cuisine. Other attractions include a Maya purification ceremony and demonstrations of prehispanic and Mexican folkloric dances.

A woman making sikil pak from pumkin seeds at kun che park in cozumel.

Why visit? It’s a fantastic way to immerse yourself in the local culture and history and sample authentic Mayan cuisine. A visit to Kun Che Park is a great choice for those looking to experience something beyond the beach and dive sites, offering an exploration of the traditions that have shaped the Yucatan Peninsula.

Kun Che Park is open Monday-Saturday from 8:00 AM until 4:00 PM (Closed Sundays). Admission is $55 USD for adults and $35 USD for children. Passing through El Cedral requires a land access charge of $2 USD per person. 

If you have a rental car or scooter, Kun Che is easy to visit on your own. You can also take a taxi or hire a private driver for the day to see multiple sites on the island.

Mayan Bee Sanctuary

The Mayan Bee Sanctuary, situated in a quieter part of Cozumel far from the tourist crowds, is dedicated to preserving the endangered Melipona bee, a stingless bee species revered by the Mayans for its medicinal honey. Visitors can visit the “meliponaria” and learn about traditional beekeeping methods and the importance of bees in Mayan culture. You can also participate in a Maya purification ceremony and finally taste the locally harvested honey. 

Mayan bee sanctuary entrance

Why visit? It’s a rare opportunity to engage with an ancient tradition and understand the ecological importance of these bees. Ideal for families and anyone interested in sustainability and conservation, the sanctuary offers a sweet blend of education and environmentalism. Be sure to bring some extra spending money for the very nice onsite boutique. You are going to want to bring some of the delicious honey home!

Melipona bees being kept at the mayan bee sanctuary.

The Maya Bee Sanctuary is open Monday through Saturday from 9:00 Am until 3:00 PM. (Closed Sundays) The cost of admission is $8 USD for adults, $6 USD for children. Tours run on the hour, every hour until 3:00 PM. You can book in advance or just turn up during operating hours and join the next tour. 

The easiest way to get there is with a rental car or scooter and there is parking onsite. The Mayan Bee Sanctuary is located near the San Gervasio ruin site so if you are on a private tour or have a driver, definitely add this to your itinerary! 

Pueblo del Maiz

Pueblo del Maíz in Cozumel is an immersive cultural park designed to offer visitors a deep dive into the rich heritage and traditions of the Maya civilization that once thrived on the Yucatán Peninsula and its surrounding areas, including Cozumel Island. This interactive experience is set up to resemble a traditional Mayan village, providing a hands-on journey back in time to understand the daily lives, beliefs, and practices of the ancient Maya.

Pueblo del maiz entrance

One of the highlights is the opportunity to learn about and help prepare traditional Mayan cuisine. Visitors can grind corn the ancient way, make tortillas, and taste traditional dishes, offering a flavorful insight into the culinary practices of the past.

A woman in traditional mayan dress making corn tortillas.

Another station educates guests about the Maya agricultural techniques, including their use of milpas (crop-growing systems) and the importance of corn in their society. Craftsmanship is another key aspect showcased in the village, with demonstrations of traditional pottery and weaving techniques. 

A man in traditional mayan dress with a jaguar headpiece at the pueblo del maiz prehispanic show.

You’ll learn a bit about the Mayan language and their calendar which is renowned for its accuracy and its ability to predict solar and lunar eclipses. The park offers insights into the Mayans’ religious beliefs and their reverence for the natural world, which played a central role in their daily lives and ceremonial practices. 

A man in traditional mayan dress making sisal from the native leaves.

Why visit? Visiting Pueblo del Maíz is more than just a historical tour; it’s an educational experience that engages all the senses. It’s designed for visitors of all ages, making it an ideal destination for families, history enthusiasts, or anyone interested in learning more about the Maya and the fascinating cultural history of Mexico. 

A man in traditional mayan dress making sisal from the native leaves.

Pueblo del Maiz is open Monday through Saturday from 9:00 Am until 4:00 PM (Closed Sundays).

Which of these Cozumel Parks Will You Visit?

Each of these Cozumel parks and attractions offers a unique slice of life on the island, from its natural wonders and ancient ruins to cultural experiences and conservation efforts. 

While these may not be as grand as some of the adventure parks on the mainland like Xcaret and Xel Ha, each spot has its own charm and is worth a visit depending on what you’re into. Whether you’re a history buff, nature enthusiast, or cultural explorer, Cozumel has something special for you.

Remember, prices can change, so it’s always a good idea to check the latest info on official websites or social media pages before you go. Happy exploring! 

About the author

Michele Samal Kinnon

Despite the strong reservations of family and friends, in 2004 I moved from the United States to Mexico with my young family. Since then, I have made the Riviera Maya my home. I have raised two remarkable children here. I have celebrated amazing successes, made countless mistakes, and in the process, fallen in love with this beautiful country.