see + do
Concierge.com's insider take:
Nearly half of Cozumel's low jungle and wild coast remains undeveloped, and crocodiles, egrets, and pelicans make themselves at home in lagoons and mangrove swamps. Much of the sea is protected as well in the Cozumel Reefs National Marine Park, allowing tropical fish to swarm about coral heads in abundance. Adventurers find plenty of natural attractions and activities on land and in the sea, and can rest assured that locals are intent on protecting their piece of Paradise. Here are two of our favorite parks.
Chankanaab National Marine Park
Established in 1980 as one of the first natural sanctuaries in Mexico, Chankanaab National Marine Park has recovered nicely after taking a direct hit during the 2005 hurricane season. The native trees and shrubs in the extraordinary botanical gardens are coming back to life, and snorkeling and dive shops and restaurants are in business again. You'll find playgrounds and plenty of hammocks for leisurely siestas facing the tranquil sea and one of the best snorkeling spots on the island.
Faro Celarain Eco Park
Faro Celarain Eco Park (formerly Punta Sur Park Ecological Reserve) covers more than 2,700 acres of mangrove swamps and long, pristine beaches on the island's southern tip. Visitors check in at the palapa at the park entrance and choose from activities including catamaran rides on the lagoon, where you can spot flamingos, egrets, and perhaps the odd crocodile or two. Private cars aren't allowed on the park's sandy roads; instead, guests ride on bench seats in open trucks to the lighthouse (climb to the top for tip-to-tip island views) and a museum dedicated to navigation. The beaches here are usually nearly deserted, and concessionaires provide lounge chairs, umbrellas, kayaks, and cold drinks and snacks. You can easily spend a full day exploring the park as if you're lost in a Robinson Crusoe fantasy.
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