Our three favorite getaways on the south coast of the island
Over the years, the island of Cozumel has morphed from a low-key scuba diving destination into a major cruise ship port, often hosting up to a half- dozen of the big ships each day. But once you escape the shore leave crowds, time-share hustlers and gift shop clutter of downtown San Miguel, there’s still much to like. Savvy travelers head south, and check in to one of the beachfront all-inclusives scattered along Cozumel’s southwestern shore. Not only do these resorts provide privacy and space, they are also sitting on the island’s best beaches, and overlook prime diving and snorkeling reefs. Here are three top picks down south.
If you are seeking a more private and natural setting for a beach vacation, the Occidental Cozumel is the place to be. This upper-end property is the southernmost resort in Cozumel, and it is tucked into the wooded grounds of a nature preserve. Here, a collection of hacienda-style buildings with red tile roofs are set in beautifully landscaped grounds that include fountains, courtyards and flower-lined pathways. Guest rooms are large and comfortable, decorated in bright colors that create a cheerful and welcoming atmosphere. The resort attracts both families and couples, and offers all-suite options at the Royal Club for those seeking a bit more space to spread out or keep everyone together. There are dedicated facilities and activities for children, including a dedicated youth pool. Overall, however, the vibe remains low-key, and the atmosphere will please adults looking for a relaxed getaway.
While rooms are set back from the beach in the garden-like grounds, the main pool deck sits on the edge of the beach, offering ocean views and easy access to the white sand beach. The all-inclusive plan includes a range of water sports such as kayaking, sailing and snorkeling, and guests have access to a spa, gym, beach club and six restaurants. A favorite dining option is the beachside terrace, where evening meals are accompanied by sunset views. Nightly entertainment programs are over before ten o’clock, leaving time for guests to enjoy the sounds of the forest as they fall asleep. There is also a dance club for those seeking an extra helping of nightlife, but the music doesn’t intrude into the rooms, or disrupt the tranquility of the setting.
Just for Two
If you are looking to score points with your significant other by creating a romantic getaway, Secrets Aura is the resort of choice. This adults-only, all- suite resort edges into the five-star category, with upscale touches such as 24-hour room service and the island’s best wine cellar. The resort is spread out around a number of courtyards that hold bars, shops and clubs. This allows guests to choose between the lively scene at the Party Pool or the ultimate tranquility of the beachfront Relax Pool. For even more luxury, the resort offers Preferred Suites, which include soak tubs, rainforest showers, a dedicated pool and access to the Preferred Club. In addition to the waterfront buffet station, there are four gourmet a la carte restaurants to choose from, and guests also have full access to the amenities and dining options of the next-door Sunscape Sabor Cozumel.
Active guests have access to a full-featured gym, weight room and yoga studio and the island’s only clay tennis court. There is a full menu of water sports that includes concierge-level snorkeling and scuba diving services, with boat pick up at the resort’s private pier. Those who prefer relaxation have even better choices, as the 14,000-square-foot Secret’s Spa by Pavonia is the largest and best on the island. Unique experiences at the spa include fish tank pedicures on arrival, and access to a hydrotherapy area that includes hot and cold plunges, water massage stations and waterfall experiences. In keeping with its couple-centric theme, Secrets offers a number of special packages for weddings, honeymoons, anniversary and romantic getaways. These can include special experiences such as couple’s massages, breakfast in bed, private beachfront dining and vows ceremonies.
You don’t have to bring the kids when you stay at Allegro Cozumel, but if you do, you won’t have to worry about keeping them busy. You can drop the younger ones at the resort’s kids’ club, where they can enjoy a full day of age-appropriate games and activities. If they are good on their own, there are dedicated play areas, but you will probably find them splashing about in the water park that sits within the resort’s activity pool. Don’t worry; there are three more pools on the property for those seeking tranquility. Teens can hang out in their own club, get active on the tennis or basketball courts, pump up at the fitness center, or hit the beach for beach volleyball or water sports.
Mom and dad aren’t forgotten either. The beach is one of the islands finest, perfect for napping or snorkeling. The on-site spa offers a range of pampering treatments, and hot tubs and saunas to enhance the relaxation. Allegro sits on the edge of the famous Palancar Reef, which is one of the Caribbean’s best. Daily snorkeling and scuba diving trips can be arranged, and the shores can be explored by kayak or stand up paddleboard. When it’s mealtime, there are four restaurants to choose from, and five bars for happy hour. Like a number of Cozumel resorts, Allegro provides an all-inclusive plan that covers room, meals and activities. What makes this 261-room property especially appealing for family groups is not only the amenities, but also the value. Rates are often some of the most attractive of any comparable property on the island, making it possible to bring everyone along without breaking the bank.