I have known about Cozumel for years and years. In my diving days it was (and still is) heralded as an amazing place to go diving. When we visit the Mayan Riviera, we always see the lights of Cozumel on the horizon just a few kilometres across the channel. However, we hadn’t really thought about visiting just because we thought it was more of the same. You know…like Cancun but on an island. Thankfully, this trip we got the chance to visit Cozumel for 3 days and we can’t wait to go back. I will write more about Cozumel as a whole in a future post but I wanted to give you a bit of grounding around what we knew about Cozumel before this trip.
Cozumel has quite a few amazing parks on the island. You can find all of them under the umbrella of Cozumel Parks. They are all quite different from one another so I will write a post about each of the three we visited. The first is possibly the most well known of the parks. Chankanaab is a frequent stop as an excursion from the multitude of cruise ships that stop off in Cozumel. Knowing that visitors on a one day pass from the cruise ship don’t have a lot of time to explore, they’ve tried to bring everything Cozumel has to offer together into one fun stop.
Chankanaab in the Mayan language means “small sea”. The gorgeous lagoon is at the center of the park and is absolutely breathtaking. Tropical fish swim around in the crystal clear water. To keep it pristine, visitors are not allowed in the water but it is definitely worth a visit for a picture (see ours at the top of this post) and to watch the fish.
Chakanaab has reproductions of many important objects from the Mayan and Aztec cultures around Mexico. The tour guides are vastly knowledgeable and can help you get a good understanding of the ancient cultures of Mexico and how they fit together. We learned so much in a very short time. While I love seeing the real ruins, this is still a great option if you have a short stay.
Chankanaab also has a Mayan home built in a traditional way. You can go in and see how life was for a Mayan years ago and try a handmade tortilla prepared traditionally. Yum! Snacks!
Next we headed off to get up close and personal with the dolphins at Dolphin Discovery which operates within Chakanaab. Dolphin Discovery Cozumel is the only dolphinarium in the Island where all dolphins were born under human care. As we walked along the boardwalk with to our dolphin encounter, we saw a few dolphins swimming around. Many of them came up and clicked their hellos to us as we walked along.
The boardwalk areas are divided into different areas for different groups doing dolphin encounters. Along the edge there is a platform that you stand on. Everyone also wears a life jacket. This makes the experience very comfortable for people of different ages and different levels of swimming proficiency. We did the Dolphin Swim Adventure so we got to meet the dolphin and learn about how she breathes, eats, communicates, etc. We then did a kiss, a handshake and a hand touch for the camera. Then we got to do the really fun part…a boogie board push and a fin pull.
It was amazing how fast you went while the dolphin pushed you along on the boogie board! This was my first experience being that close to a dolphin and it was very cool. After we got done with our dolphin encounter, we got to meet a baby manatee as a special extra. The baby manatee stole my heart. It was so cute and I got to feed it a bit of lettuce. Did you know that manatees are such slow swimmers that algae grows on their backs? Totally true!
The dolphin encounter includes your entrance to Chankanaab, lunch and more. After lunch and your dolphin experience, you can hang out at the Chankanaab pool or on the beach. Make sure to bring your biodegradable sunscreen and towel with you. Cameras, sunglasses, etc are not allowed during your dolphin experience. There is a photographer present and they make every effort to get amazing photos for you that you can purchase.
Chankanaab National Park
Adults $21.00 USD | Children $14.00 USD (3-11 years)
Monday – Saturday 8:00am to 4:00pm
Dolphin Discovery Cozumel (within Chankanaab)
Prices and times depend on which program you go with. Options here.