Most of the larger establishments - from restaurants to shops, will readily accept US currency. The issue in that
case will be the exchange rate that they offer; it is advisable to ask first in order to avoid any
disappointments. Also, whether paying in Dollars or in Pesos, it is a good idea to carry small bills with
you, as it is often difficult for small shops or stands to make change for large bills. This is certainly true as you travel to the more remote parts of the island.
The peso presently values beween 9-10 pesos to 1 US dollar. Banks generally have the best exchange rates & open at 8:30am or 9:00am, make sure you check what hours they do money exchanges. In
addition there are private money exchanges or "casa de cambios" that stay open longer, offering
slightly less favorable rates than banks, but the convenience of a quick transaction at almost any time of
the day or night.
There are 24 hour teller machines (ATMs) that you can use, but you will be paid in pesos.
One of Cozumel's local residents
Most of the hotels, resorts and more upscale restaurants and shops will accept credit cards, with some or
no surcharge. However, you have to keep in mind that many other establishments - especially smaller ones with lower prices - do not accept credit cards. While you are planning your trip, make sure that you
carry - or have access to, enough cash or traveller's checks.
Time & Pace
Cozumel is in the Central Time Zone.
It is said that the pace of life is generally slower in Mexico. At times it
is true! Due to the hot temperatures in summer months, the residents of this area (Mexicans and Non-
Mexicans alike) have learned to slow down and pace themselves - especially when working outside under the sun.
Siesta or the mid-day break is a tradition that reflects the necessity of avoiding heat-related fatigue or the afternoon rains. It coincides with the hottest time of
day when people retreat to their homes to eat and rest in the shade. You may see businesses closed for "siesta" ranging anywhere between 1:30 pm to 4 pm, while being open till at least 7:00 pm afterwards.
However, the growth of the Mexico's resort areas is changing this tradition rapidly. More and more businesses are now opting for a "9 to 5" approach, eliminating the "siesta" times.
You can call (direct dialing) and fax to anywhere in the world from Cozumel, using the facilities at your hotel or a phone casita (telephone calling shop). Major US long distance companies have also established Mexican 800 numbers for making calls charged to "calling cards".
Internet access is now available in Cozumel, and some hotels may have access availability for their customers. There are a number of internet cafes on Cozumel for the convenience of both tourists and locals alike. Rates do vary, but are generally in the range of $3-$4 per half hour.
Flying in the Yucatan is becoming more and more common. The Cozumel International Airport (CZM) is located approximately 3 kilometers from downtown San Miguel. The airport is equipped with a restaurant/bar, shops & car rental & tour agencies. Most people fly into the Cancun International Airport (CUN) because it offers most of the international routes. You can take a bus from the downtown bus station (buses leave about every 1/2 hour and cost around $4US - it takes about one hour) or taxi (more expensive) to Playa del Carmen and then ferry over to the
You will need a valid passport or your original birth certificate along with a valid photo ID such as a drivers license (US and Canada). It must be presented at the airline check-in. Once on the plane you will be given two forms to fill out - one for immigration (Tourist Visa) and another for customs. There are restrictions as to what you can bring to Mexico......Some of these restrictions are limits for "duty free" and some are absolute, such as fire arms without a permit (not to mention drugs).
Most commonly encountered restrictions are:
- Most food items - especially plants, fruits and seeds.
- Cigars and cigarettes - over 20 packs per person may be subject to duty.
- Liquor and wine - over 2 bottles per person may be subject to duty.
- Controlled substances and drugs - a no no!
- Firearms - only for hunting and must obtain a permit from the Mexican Consulate in advance.
The Immigration counter is your first stop after you disembark the plane. Here you will have to present your passport (or birth certificate) along with the Tourist Visa you filled out on the plane. Your tourist visa and passport will be stamped to make your
arrival official. (You will need to keep your passport and tourist visa with you at all times while in Mexico - make copies in case you lose your originals) Next you'll proceed to the baggage claim area for your luggage.
Customs is the last step, here you will need to have your Customs Declaration Form handy (the other form you were given on the plane). Recently Mexico adopted a "Red Light - Green Light" system for customs. If you have put "Nothing to declare" on this form, you will be asked to push a button....... If the light is green you can exit without inspection; if the light is red you will be subject to inspection. This is a random system, and therefore there is no way to know whether you will get a green or red light. Consequently you need to be honest on your Customs Declaration and declare anything over and above what is allowed, paying all applicable duties. If you do not, and are caught by a red light, the fines may be very steep. One note, Mexican customs officials may assume you know about the "Red Light - Green Light" system and not say a word. No problem, step up & push the button.
Now that you have fully arrived in Mexico, there are several transportation options to get you from the airport to your final destination:
Airport Transfer Rates are controlled and it is currently $4-$10 per person one way, depending on the distance to your
hotel or vacation home from the airport. Due to the local union, you must take the vans in front of the airport to your hotel or destination. The return trip to the airport is usually a bit more expensive if by private taxi, but if you have more than one person in the taxi it would be less expensive.
Car Rentals reservations can be made at the airport, before arriving or at some of the major hotels. Car rentals run from US$30-$80 daily. Cars, motorcycles and scooters are available for rental. Ask if your price includes taxes and insurance. Also, if there is a discount for cash/travelers checks.
Confirm your airline reservations at least 24 hours before your return date, and arrive at the airport at least one hour before your departure time. Please also note that when you are checking in at the airport, you will be asked to return your tourist visa to the airline, which will be returned to the Immigration Office.
By Land & Ferry
Strictly passenger ferries are available over 10 times daily from and to Playa del Carmen (information - (9) 872-1508 or 872-1588). Current fare is in the $7 range one way and the crossing takes between 40-45 minutes.
There is a car ferry which arrives from the Puerto Morelos on the mainland and docks at the International Pier. The price can be expensive ($75US* one way - includes one driver, additional passengers $7US), and sometimes you might have to reserve a spot a day or so in advance. Have exact change & your car license and papers ready. The information number is (9) 872-0950. It leaves daily at 5am, depending on weather/water conditions. Vehicles should be in line 2 hours before departure time. If the newer ferry is running, the crossing will take 2 hours. If it's the old one, it'll be 4 hours. Sometimes there is an afternoon ferry leaving around 2pm. Leaving Cozumel for Pto. Morelos, the ferry leaves at 8am.
*As of 2/15/01
Cozumel has two gas stations, five blocks from downtown at Av. Juarez and Av. 30 open daily. The second is on Juarez at the corner of Ave. 70 (on the way to the other side of the island). If you choose to drive your car or a rental car to the resorts, please check with a Mexican consulate for all rules & regulations before you leave. Remember Mexican car insurance is mandatory.
Cozumel now has a public bus system, ask your hotel for more information.
If you plan to sail to Cozumel, you will need to follow all Mexican regulations for entering their territorial waters. Also, upon arriving at the marina or your anchorage, you'll need to submit your papers to the Captain of the Port for legal entry. Please contact the Mexican consulate nearest you.
During your stay in Cozumel transportation requirements will be dictated by where you are staying and where your intended destination is. Most of the time, you will have more than one option.
If you plan to see the island's archaeological ruins or visit remote beaches, taxis and buses are by far the best way to get around. Taxis are plentiful, clean and reliable, and fares are reasonable and fixed. Taxis are usually lined up in front of hotels. Your hotel can call a taxi for you. Buses run regular routes, but may only get you part of the way there.
The average fare from the southern hotel zone to downtown San Miguel is about $5 U.S. From the northern hotel zone and Plaza Las Glorias, it's only a couple of dollars. The entire island has essentially one road. It stretches from the northern tip and hugs the western shore, before looping around the southern tip and returning to San Miguel.
Rental cars and motorcycles are available from major rental car agencies. They have locations at the airport and in San Miguel. You can also rent mopeds or bicycles in San Miguel. Boat rentals are also available and some fisherman will take you to exotic beaches for a fee.