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SCUBA DIVING IN COZUMEL
Cozumel is the largest island in the Mexican Caribbean. It is also the most populated island in Mexico boasting a population of more than 65,000.
Cozumel is situated near the eastern tip of the Yucatan Peninsula in the State of Quintana Roo. The island is approximately 30 miles [48 km] long and 10 miles [16 km] wide.
Isla Cozumel [or Cozumel Island] derives its name from the Mayans who once lived there and believed the island to be a sacred place. In Maya, Cuzamil translates to "land of the swallows," a reflection of the indigenous birds that inhabit the island.
The Mayans are believed to have settled the island over 2000 years ago harvesting the rich abundance of seafood for commercial use. Conch shells were collected as an ingredient for stucco, which was used extensively on the mainland. The ocean also supplied a large number of other valuable items such as shark teeth, stingray spines and seashells that were used for ritual purposes.
The Spanish explorer Juan de Grijalva first landed on the shores of Cozumel in 1518. The visit was proceeded a year later by the butcher Hernán Cortés. The conquistadors ruthlessly invaded the island destroying everything that lay in their path. Whether or not the Spanish knowingly imported smallpox on purpose is a matter of speculation however to the ravaged Mayans the disease soon eclipsed their very being. Those who did not die a miserable death were shackled and sent to Cuba to live out their lives as slaves.
Between 1519 and 1570 the island's population dropped from 40,000 to 30. By 1600 the island was desolate, its once flourishing community gone.
In 1848 during the "War of the Castes" the island was reclaimed by the Maya and used as a safe haven for those seeking refuge from the war. Slowly the island was reinhabted and in 1910-1917 the Mexican Revolution resulted in land reforms and freedom for the Isleños. By 1970, Cozumel's population had grown to 10,000 and with the influx of tourism this once desolate island has now become the jewel of the Mexican Caribbean.
When you get off the ferry in Cozumel you are met by a barrage of sales representatives for various dive and snorkel operations. Also in the mix are representatives for hotels and resorts who often carry photo-albums of pictures of the resorts. Once you get through this you are in the shopping zone. The merchants on the island are much more aggressive than those on the mainland. This is a stark contrast.
There are public information booths present however these are manned by sales representatives for time-shares. Once you ask a question you are a step away from a free lunch and tour.
There are numerous shops selling everything that is carried on the mainland so shopping is not a problem and one does not have to leave the island. In fact some people prefer to shop in Cozumel instead of Playa del Carmen although the two are quite similar.
Cozumel has some things that you don't find in Playa such as a Kentucky Fried Chicken. You just have to look around and you will be surprised. Because the island gets so many tourists from cruise ships the island is geared towards the international visitor coming for a day or even a couple of hours. In this respect the island is extremely transient and except for the locals you may never see the same face twice.
San Miguel, Cozumel's largest town was just a laid-back fishing spot until world-famous explorer Jacques Cousteau and his team discovered the wall of reefs just off the island's shoreline and declared them to be one of the most incredible diving destinations in the world.
The town of San Miguel, the airport, and the hotels are all located on the western side of the island. Fortunately, massive resort development is paralyzed by a lack of potable water and a desire to protect the island's delicate ecosystem.
Cozumel has an international airport as well as connecting routes to Playa del Carmen, Cancun and other destinations in Mexico, Belize and Guatamala.
The most common method of transportation is by boat. There is a ferry service that connects Cozumel to Playa del Carmen for pedestrians and a ferry out of Calica for vehicle transportation. The ferry connecting to Playa del Carmen runs quite frequently [there are 3 ferries on duty].
Ruin sites located within a reasonable distance from Playa del Carmen are:
View Ruin site Map for the state of Yucatan.
*** large site ** medium site * small site
View Ruin site Map for the state of Quintana Roo.
For more information regarding visiting ruin sites please investigate