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After we departed the Mississippi River Port of New Orleans on our cruise ship, the Norwegian Dawn, we cruised 160 kms down the river into the Gulf Of Mexico. Following a night and a full day of cruising we arrived at our first port of call, Cozumel.
Cozumel is a mostly undeveloped island in the Caribbean Sea off the eastern coast of Mexico‘s Yucatán Peninsula, opposite Playa del Carmen, and close to the Yucatán Channel.
It is a popular cruise ship port of call famed for its scuba diving. At Arrecifes de Cozumel National Park, divers can explore a section of the Mesoamerican Reef and Museo Subacuático de Arte’s submerged sculptures. Chankanaab is an eco park surrounding a lagoon with underwater caverns, home to dolphins, manatees and sea turtles.
Interesting fact: The Name Cozumel was given to it by the Spaniards; however its origin is derived from the words Cuzam (meaning Swallow) and Lumil (meaning land of). This is why the combination of the words “Cuzamil” is translated from the Mayan language as “Land of the Swallows”.
We hired our own taxi driver and tour guide and embarked on a sightseeing tour of the island. Mexico’s largest island, Cozumel is considered sacred by the Maya Indians who lived here for over 2,000 years.
Our first stop was at a Mayan village where we learnt the antiquated ways of preparing food – freshly ground corn made into tortillas and chocolate made from cocoa beans by the Maya people. We also witnessed a traditional fire dancing ceremony performed by a Maya Indian.
As many as 10,000 Maya lived on the island in the early 1500s, but in 1520, an expedition brought the smallpox contagion to the island and by 1570 only 186 men and 172 women were left alive on Cozumel.
Stop two was at the Mayan Archaeological Site of San Gervasio, the largest remaining Mayan Ruins dating back as far as 600-1000 AD, located in the centre of the island. The site consists of ancient temples, a plaza, residences and an archway which was at the main entrance to the central plaza of the village.
Our trek through the Mayan Ruins left us parched and overheated, so it was off to a Beach Club for some cool refreshments, an authentic Mexican Quesadilla for lunch and a swim in the sea. Naturally we were entertained by a Mexican Mariachi Band!
Unlike our public beaches here in Australia, beaches in Cozumel are privately owned and you have to pay to swim and hire a sun lounge at one of their Beach Clubs. However the Beach Clubs do come with some fringe benefits such as table service, a clean changeroom, showers and toilets and your own sun lounge and umbrella.
At the cruise ship docks at San Miguel there are several square blocks of stores selling Cuban cigars, jewellery, T-shirts, tequila, and a large variety of inexpensive souvenirs. There are also many restaurants in San Miguel that have a huge variety of different cuisines.
Cozumel was my very first foray into Central America and Mexico and one that I found to be educational and engaging. A small taste of Mexico gave me a longing for more of what it has to offer. Stay tuned for Port of Call #2 – Belize.
Linking up with Travel Photo Thursday
Kathy was a 50 something year old when she started up this blog 6 years ago, but has since turned over another decade and is now in her early 60s. She is married with two adult children and lives on the Tweed Coast of New South Wales, Australia. Kathy enjoys living life to the fullest and loves to keep fit and active by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Some of her interests include reading, photography, travelling, cooking and blogging! Kathy works part-time as a freelance writer but her real passion is travelling and photographing brilliant destinations both within Australia and overseas and writing about it.
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JohannaJune 5, 2015
Wandering around Mayan ruins must have been absorbing and so fascinating. What a lovely trip you had, and I bet writing about it makes you long for more. I’m waiting to hear about Belize as it’s somewhere I really want to visit :)
KathyJune 5, 2015
The Mayan ruins were fascinating as was their native village. All of the places we visited were interesting in their own right and those gorgeous blue jewell seas were breathtaking!
Rae HilhorstJune 5, 2015
The ruins fascinate me, paying to go to the beach, there are some areas in NZ where this happens
KathyJune 5, 2015
Paying to use the beach was something new to me, although in Thailand you do have to pay for a sun lounge at most popular beaches. We went to a small island off the island of St Maarten in the Caribbean and they tried to exhort 25 euros each from us to use a sun lounge. We very quickly found a spot on the sand under the shade of a palm tree!
Ruth - Tanama TalesJune 6, 2015
I have been to the Mayan Riviera but not to Cozumel. Hope I can go the next time I visit Playa del Carmen. I will like to explore on my own. I think you can rent small motorcycles or all terrain vehicles.
KathyJune 6, 2015
Hi Ruth, yes I think I have seen all terrain vehicles at most of the islands that we stopped at. They would be an ideal way to see the jungles and the deserts. Thank you for visiting my blog and leaving a comment :)
Marisol@TravelingSolematesJune 7, 2015
Hi Kathy, I heard a lot about Cozumel but first time I’m hearing about its history. I was amazed and saddened that its population was almost wiped out by a colonial disease. It seemed that you enjoy your first port of call. It definitely looks like a lovely and manageable destination given the time you had. The authentic quesadilla alone would make it wort a stop for me.
KathyJune 7, 2015
Yes it is sad what happened to the Mayan race. Most of the islands we visited were only small so we were able to see a lot of them in one day. The Mexican food was to die for!
Michelle Weaver (@pinkypoinker)June 9, 2015
How amazing Kathy! The furthest I got in Mexico was Tijuana but I guess that doesn’t really count. The beaches look stunning. How strange the beaches are privately owned. The Mayan culture is fascinating isn’t it?
KathyJune 9, 2015
Yes paying to go to a beach! We don’t know how good we’ve got it in Australia. We only have to deal with Blue Ring Octopus, Sharks and Stingers! I found the Mayan culture to be very interesting. Most of the islands we visited had Mayan ruins.
NancieJune 12, 2015
Hi Kathy. Looks like you had a great day. I’ve been to Mexico, but not Cozumel. I love those ruins. Thanks for linking up last week, and sorry I am so late in getting here. End of semester is always a bit frantic. #TPThursday
KathyJune 12, 2015
Cozumel was a fabulous first port of call on our cruise. We also visited Costa Maya in Mexico which was equally as good. You will hear all about that in a later post. :)