Cozumel is a popular Mexican tourist destination, and one that’s especially frequented by visitors from the US. Cozumel has wonderful sandy beaches, along with archaeological sites and natural beauty surrounding it.
It also has a relaxed, family-friendly atmosphere during most of the year. And there are many night clubs, bars and other forms of entertainment for the young folks travelling in groups and solo travelers interested in partying and nightlife in general.
The question however is whether Cozumel is actually safe to travel or not? From the travel information provided by the US State Department, along with testimonies from regular tourists, it’s definitely one of the safest areas in Mexico to visit.
But this doesn’t mean that Cozumel is all sunshine and rainbows. Like every tourist destination, it has its safe and not-so-safe features. These aren’t only related to crime, but also the shaky climate which can produce natural hazards such as hurricanes and extreme temperatures.
Taking these dangers into consideration, here are the top 16 safety tips for tourists travelling to Cozumel in 2019:
1. Avoid drinking tap water
Although it may sound a bit extravagant, it is true that travelers are advised to avoid drinking the water in Cozumel. Stick with bottled water and use it to brush your teeth, as well. Ideally, you should keep your mouth shut during your shower.
Consumption of local water will not always affect your body in a negative way, but there have been some records of health issues related to water. You will notice that even the locals usually prefer to consume bottled water.
2. Be careful with the sun
Tourists usually underestimate the impact of the sun. That’s a huge mistake since the UV radiation has been associated with a variety of health issues, including skin cancer.
Particularly in Cozumel, the climate and weather, along with the various shady spots can easily trick you into believing that the sun cannot affect you.
For this reason, you should be careful particularly during the midday hours and always wear a lot of sunscreen. Wearing a brimmed hat can also protect you considerably.
Hot weather and extreme temperatures can also lead to dehydration, so travelers are advised to carry a lot of cold water with them. Especially while exploring the surrounding archaeological sites and natural wonders.
3. Be aware of the hurricane season
As in most Caribbean islands, Cozumel has a hurricane season that can cause a lot of problems. That season usually lasts from August to November.
In 2005 the largest hurricane recorded in the Atlantic occurred, named Wilma. The island was devastated. Tourists and locals were evacuated to neighboring regions.
In order to stay safe, it is preferable that you pay a visit to Cozumel during the Spring season. June and July are also very popular months, but you should be aware of the daily rains that occur during this time period.
4. Avoid night swimming
Cozumel is well-known for its many currents. In order to reduce drownings and accidents in the sea, the State Department has placed big red or black flags in those beaches that are most dangerous.
Particularly during the night, when most of the beaches are deserted, you should avoid swimming. You should also, avoid swimming in remote beaches, because some attacks have been recorded to tourists who traveled alone and chose to walk along remote beaches.
5. The laws are more strict
When you visit Cozumel, you should be aware of the fact that their laws are a lot stricter compared to other countries, like United States or European regions.
For this reason, it is important that citizens stay out of trouble with the locals as much as possible. A bar fight or a car accident may lead you straight to prison.
If you get involved in this type of a situation, it’s best to immediately contact the local embassy or the U.S. Consulate office. They will give you important directions and they will be able to provide you with the necessary legal assistance.
6. Be careful with your belongings
Although there are not many recorded organized attacks against tourists in Cozumel, if you are not careful enough you can be easily considered a nave tourist and fall victim to pickpockets.
I recommend that you avoid walking around the region with your phone, wallet or camera in plain view. You should also, avoid bringing expensive items along with you. For example, why wear your diamond ring or your Rolex watch when you can as well bring along with you less fancy items? A
good idea is to keep copies of your official documents, as well. In that case, even if you have your bag with your passport or travel documents stolen, you’ll be able to use those backups in an emergency.
7. Be careful with liquor
Cozumel is well-known for its different types of Tequila. Gold, Silver, Blue are all really popular types of that liquor you will notice the locals consume in big quantities. That doesn’t mean however, that you should overdo it with liquid consumption.
Such a tactic may get you involved in unpleasant situations and it can make you look like an easy target for local thieves. Having control of your mind and body is really important, particularly when travelling alone or with your family who you have to watch out for as well.
In comparison, if you’re travelling with a group of reliable buddies, getting looser in the bar is generally safer as you’ll have someone to back you up in case you get a little too tipsy.
8. Set a budget and stick to it
Cozumel is the perfect place if you wish to spend a lot of money. There are so many local products, hand-carved items and woodworking products available on the various markets around the island, that you will feel the need to purchase more than what you are actually in need of.
This can be quite dangerous however, since you may wake up one day and realize that your credit card has only a few bucks left. For this reason, it’s advised by many travelers to set a budget before travelling to Cozumel and stick to it as much as possible.
9. Don’t carry too much cash
As mentioned above, some attacks to travelers have been recorded in the wider area of Cozumel. That being said, carrying a lot of money along with you will most probably make you target to dangerous locals.
Although cash is widely used in Cozumel, particularly in open-air markets, it is preferable that you keep most of your money in your credit card.
If you wish to be even more safe, you can use a specialized travel wallet-that way you will avoid having your card hackered by crooks of any kind.
10. Always keep in touch
Cozumel has a lot of deserted or sparsely occupied regions. In order to avoid something bad happening to you, it’s preferred to travel in groups and most importantly, you need to keep in touch with others via your phone.
Before you take a walk around the region on your own, inform a close person of your whereabouts and stick to the most densely occupied spots of the island.
11. Be careful while shopping
As mentioned before, there is a variety of local items you will be able to purchase when you travel to Cozumel. The local people are popular for their impressive jewelry.
However, what tourists are usually unaware of is the fact that many of those jewels are actually fake. Vendors try to pass them off as authentic and they will usually ask for a lot of money in return. You should therefore, be really careful and ask for official documents that guarantee the authenticity of any jewels or stones that catch your eye.
So, take a look at the various shops, compare the prices of the products and do not hurry to purchase something from the very first vendor you meet on your way.
12. Choose your means of transportation carefully
Hailing a foreign cab on the streets can be extremely dangerous and should be avoided. Besides, there are many licensed and safe means of transportation you can use. Apart from public transport, there are registered ”sitio” taxis you can rent and call them from your hotel, restaurant or nightclub.
Moped rental is also highly popular in Cozumel. This has led to a lot of accidents and it’s true that locals are not that careful when they ride around the city. Therefore, if you wish to rent a moped, you really need to watch around carefully when riding one.
13. Be careful in bars and nightclubs
Cozumel offers visitors with a wild nightlife in particular regions of the island. When you decide to spend your night in a bar or nightclub, it is important that you never leave your drinks unattended. Travelers have been robbed after they have been drugged.
The quality of liquors is also not always that good. Tainted alcohol causing nausea, vomiting and general illness or blackouts may occur and get you involved in unpleasant incidents. Women should be even more careful with their drinks, because the danger of having them drugged on purpose is even more present.
14. Pay attention to various traffic signs
A common problem tourists come across when they visit Cozumel and wish to rent a car is to get used to the multiple traffic signs. Unfortunately, most of them are in Spanish and some of them are different from the ones you may be used to.
You really need to pay special attention on the road, because the involvement in an accident may lead to serious fines, even arrest. For this reason it’s important to drive carefully, with patience and if you have any questions, ask the locals for help or advice. Especially avoid talking on the phone while driving.
If you plan on driving a vehile, a good idea would be to study the signs before your arrival and try to learn some simple Spanish words so you can move around more easily and safely.
15. Always wear insect repellent
The unique natural beauty of Cozumel comes with an unpleasant prize: the presence of mosquitoes. Those little insects are quite aggressive and they can transfer a variety of illnesses.
For this reason, travelers in Cozumel should wear a satisfactory quantity of repellent, particularly during the early morning hours and when the dusk falls. Having a body full of bites is not a pleasant feeling nor a nice look for the beach.
16. Invest in travel insurance
I always get travel insurance before my trips, especially when I’m going abroad. Travel insurance is really the only way to secure your belongings in advance and deal with expenses in case of medical and similar emergencies in a foreign country.
Regardless of whether you’re an Indiana Jones type character or you’re staying in a safe resort, unexpected accidents can happen. Not having to worry about the monetary side of things will reduce your stress levels and can actually help in case anything happens.
Final Word: Is Cozumel Safe to Travel in 2019?
Cozumel is one of the safest areas in Mexico for regular tourists. Drug cartels are generally concentrated around the border and don’t bother with Cozumel and the surrounding region, which is also well protected by the local authorities. This has made Cozumel a popular destination for tourists from the US and elsewhere who are looking for a tropical atmosphere along with affordable prices.
But just like any other tourist location, there are dangers involved. Pickpockets looking for cash-strapped victims, and local service providers looking for innocent tourists to overcharge. Especially be careful about putting drinks on a tab without checking the price first. Furthermore, make sure to negotiate taxi prices before entering the cab.
There are also natural hazards to keep in mind, such as hurricanes and extremely high temperatures. Be prepared for high temperatures if you visit Cozumel in the summer. Avoid visiting during the hurricane season from August to November.