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Celebrate the Day of the Dead in Cozumel Island

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Every year, when the Autumn breeze brushes the atmosphere, the Mexican territory covers itself with altars, ancient legends, traditional dishes, and the remembrance of friends and family that have passed away. This tradition celebrated for many centuries, it’s not the “Mexican Halloween” as some people mistakenly call it, but the Día de Muertos! And Cozumel is the best place to celebrate it.

The Day of the Dead is a festival considered an Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. Aware of this, Isla Cozumel and its cheerful settlers relive the ancient tradition of remembering the dead. We present some activities that you can do from October 31st to November 2nd with your family and friends to live a fully Mexican Day of the Dead!

The colorful streets of Cozumel.

 

Activities to celebrate Day of the Dead

The streets of Cozumel fill with colors and party with the arrival of November. Public squares and alleys, restaurants and cafeterias become spaces for art shows, such as extramural galleries.

In the Benito Juarez Park, tourists and locals gather for the festivities, some disguised as characters of Día de Muertos, especially as Catrinas, the famous caricature of José Guadalupe Posadas. In addition, there are activities to enjoy as storytellers, as well as a contest of altars, dance competitions, the Cultural Autumn Night, snacks and impressive giant catrinas.

There will also be activities in the Chankanaab Natural Park: ofrendas, typical gastronomy, and music. The little ones will have fun with the free papel picado workshop, the typical Mexican chopped paper; as well as dances, seasonal food, and makeup.

 

The Mayan tradition of Hanal Pixán

For centuries, the historic Mayan people have celebrated a tradition known as Hanal Pixán. Hanal means food in Maya, while Pixán is soul, or accurately, the soul that gives life to the body. Thus, Hanal Pixán is “the food of the souls” that gives life to the souls of the deceased.

This typical food of the Yucatan Peninsula is a magical highlight for the relatives of the deceased, because, as legend tells, it is during these three days of autumn that the dead “receive permission” to visit their relatives.

The first day of the celebration, October 31st, is dedicated to children (hanal palal); the second to adults (hanal nucuch uinicoob); and November 2nd is dedicated to all the saints (hanal pixanoob), in a comunal mass in the local cementary.

 

Mukbil traditional chicken.

 

The three days of festivity include the elaboration of altars covered with beautiful crafts, such as embroidered tablecloths, clay frets, wax candles, and incense burners. But the main aspect is the food.

The exquisite chicken mukbil is a dish especially prepared for these dates. Mukbil literally means in Mayan “that has been buried”, because this aspect characterizes its cooking. The stew is prepared with corn dough, lard, chicken and different condiments forming a large tamale that is wrapped in banana leaves and cooked slowly under the ground. A gastronomic delight taught by grandmothers for centuries!

For tradition, gastronomy and beach party, visit Cozumel Island on Day of the Dead!

Live a weekend in Cozumel (part one)

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In the Caribbean Sea, surrounded by a turquoise mirror, lies Isla Cozumel, the best-kept secret of the Riviera Maya. Not for nothing, its beauty is transmitted by word of mouth, making it one of the most beloved destinations for national and international tourism.

 

Planning a few days in Cozumel is a great idea for any long weekend, so we give you some tips in case you plan to visit us soon.

 

 The beautiful turquoise sea of Cozumel.

The beautiful turquoise sea of Cozumel.

 

 

How to get there?

 

Just 13 miles away from the Yucatan Peninsula and 37 miles from Cancun, Isla Cozumel has different access points. The most practical way to get there is flying directly to the island’s airport, which has daily flights to and from Mexico City, as well as important cities in Canada and the United States. You can also fly from Cancun, on an air journey that lasts less than 15 minutes.

 

On the other hand, a ferry service sails from Playa del Carmen every hour with destination to the island. Some tours have salsa groups that enliven the 40 minutes boat trip through the calm Caribbean waters. For those who travel by car, ferries depart from Calica, next to the Xcaret park.

The dock of Isla Cozumel.

The dock of Isla Cozumel.

 

On the island…

 

In Cozumel there is a huge offer for lodging, including All Inclusive Package. Over fifty options to stay, from luxury hotels to typical inns.

 

After leaving the suitcases at the hotel, the tour of Cozumel Island begins. To the south is the Chankanaab National Park, which means “little sea”, whose lagoon has the only coral formation in the world. This natural oasis also has a crocodile preserve and a dolphinarium, as well as a show with sea lions.

 

If you want to know what else to do in your visit to Cozumel, wait for our next entry.

Gorgeous lagoon in Chankanaab.

Gorgeous lagoon in Chankanaab.

 

Discover the marine life in Cozumel

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Cozumel Island is one of the favorite destinations for sea lovers and the life that coexists under its depths. The famous island of Quintana Roo has countless reef formations, a vast diversity of species and crystal clear water, which makes the observation of marine life a colorful spectacle.

Today we share with you 3 ways to explore the wonderful aquatic ecosystem of Cozumel Island. Are you ready to plan your next adventure in the Caribbean Sea?

Explore the Caribbean Sea.

Explore the Caribbean Sea.

 

 

Expedition in submarine

That’s right, in Cozumel Island you can have the experience of immersing in the depths of the ocean without having to be an expert in diving. How? Atlantis Submarines offers the unforgettable experience of enjoying the Caribbean Sea on board a modern submarine. Dare to explore the crystal clear waters, the coral formations and the treasures hidden under the ocean.

Sea turtle at Punta Tunich.

Sea turtle at Punta Tunich.

 

 

Dive among marine fauna

If what you are looking for is diving, you are in the right place. Cozumel is one of the main tourist destinations for this activity thanks to a variety of options to choose from.

Paraíso is ideal for those who want to start in this incredible experience but have no previous training. It is divided into two zones: South Paraíso, with 45 feet deep, and North Paraíso, with depths that reach 55 feet. In its depths, you can see sponges, marine cucumbers, barracudas, and fish of all kinds.

For more expert divers, we recommend Punta Tunich, which, despite not having an extensive variety of species, will give you the opportunity to observe colorful formations, turtles, and green moray eels.

 

 

Snorkel

This is perhaps the number one activity on the island and there are several places to practice it. You can visit El Cielo, ideal for people with little or no experience. In Dzul-Ha you will be able to appreciate colorful fishes and crustaceans, as well as Palancar and Villa Blanca, two other incredible options to live the experience of snorkeling in the Caribbean.

Cozumel Island is full of activities that will allow you to discover the life in the ocean. Do not think twice and visit us on your next holiday!

Snorkeling on Cozumel Island.

Snorkeling on Cozumel Island.

 

 

Discover the Mayan Rally of Cozumel

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Isla Cozumel is one of the most visited Mexican islands on a national level and a favorite of international travelers for being a meeting point between marine and terrestrial nature. Within the framework of the 500th anniversary of Cozumel, this Caribbean oasis became the venue for an event that combines nature with luxury: the Mayan Rally Mexico 2018.

Celebrated this year for the fifth time in the city of Valladolid, this Rally is already considered one of the ten best in the world by different federations of classic vehicles, including the prestigious Federation Internationale des Vehicules Anciens (FIVA).

1st place winner, Porsche 914 - 1974. Photo taken from Rally Maya.

1st place winner, Porsche 914 – 1974. Photo taken from Rally Maya.

 

The main event

The Mayan Rally is not a competition of speed, but of distinction and elegance. Vehicles over 40 years old and with 90 percent of their original parts participated in this tour around different emblematic points of the Yucatan Peninsula. Seeking to recreate the journey that the god Kukulcan makes through time, the route of 745 miles traveled through different landmarks of Cozumel and the Peninsula, such as San Gervasio, Punta Sur, El Cedral and Playa Mia.

This edition was the first of its kind to have a stage of the rally within an island, which continued later in the territory of the Mayan Riviera.

During this edition, legendary automobiles such as Porsche, Rolls Royce, Alfa Romeo, Mercedes Benz, Renault, Chevrolet, VW, Pontiac, among others, were among the favorites. The winners were those vehicles who maintained a level of speed according to their marked indexes for most of the competition.

2nd place winner, Porsche 911 Coupe - 1975. Photo taken from Rally Maya.

2nd place winner, Porsche 911 Coupe – 1975. Photo taken from Rally Maya.

 

Due to the celebrations for the 500 years of Isla Cozumel, the Mayan Rally departed started on the island. The event brought together national and international participants, who were prepared to achieve the desired prize. The absolute winners of the competition were: a Ford A Baquet of the year 1929, in the third place; a Porsche 911 Coupe, 1975, with the second place; and the highest winner was a Porsche 914, from 1974.

As part of the celebration, activities were also carried out for the benefit of the inhabitants of the region.

What do you expect to know thoroughly Cozumel? Do not think twice and discover everything that Isla Cozumel has to surprise you!

3rd place winner, Ford A Baquet - 1929. Photo taken from Rally Maya.

3rd place winner, Ford A Baquet – 1929. Photo taken from Rally Maya.

El Caracol, a fascinating archaeological zone in Punta Sur

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Traveling to Cozumel Island is entering a wonderful place in the Mexican southeast that unfolds an unknown world. The experiences of Cozumel go from aquatic activities and gastronomic delights, to cultural discoveries in millenary sites.

Among the attractions that can be found on the island, there is an architectural testimony of the Mayan civilization, whose structure and decoration stands out in the region. Its name is El Caracol, a millenarian archaeological site that captures its visitors for its history and meaning.

Located at the southern end of Cozumel Island, to get to El Caracol, you must take a small dirt road that leads to the Punta Celerain lighthouse. It is located in the ecological reserve of Punta Sur, which is managed by the Cozumel Parks and Museums Foundation.

The Punta Celerain lighthouse in Cozumel, near El Caracol.

The Punta Celerain lighthouse in Cozumel, near El Caracol.

 

What is El Caracol?

It is a set of structures built during the Late Postclassic that includes vestiges of two main temples. The roofs of both temples are collapsed, but very close to them is the building of El Caracol, which served as a miniature temple that was surrounded by larger structures.

It owes its name to the shells that crown the dome of the temple, decorated with four rows of natural shells embedded in the stucco. It is also known as Caracol Tomb, because of its small size and shape that resembles a burial mound. From this place, you can enjoy an exceptional view of the sea of Punta Sur.

El Caracol, in the Punta Sur park in Cozumel. Photo: Saúl Peláez S.

El Caracol, in the Punta Sur park in Cozumel. Photo: Saúl Peláez S.

It is believed that the temple was dedicated to Ixchel, the Mayan goddess, although there is no conclusive proof of this. In addition, it is said in the popular imagination that the blowing of the wind makes the shell whistle.

Because there is no permanent staff on the site, the visit must be requested at least five days in advance at the INAH Center. The visiting hours are from Monday to Saturday, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

El Caracol is another jewel than the Riviera Maya offers, the perfect pretext to visit Cozumel and enjoy the hospitality of its inhabitants and the magic hidden in the Island. When will you visit us?

Culture and nature coexist in Cozumel Island.

Culture and nature coexist in Cozumel Island.

5 interesting facts about the Cozumel Museum

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Located in the Mexican Caribbean, full of reefs, crystal clear waters, humid climate and surreal landscapes, Isla Cozumel is a paradise on earth. Also known as the Island of the Swallows, Cozumel is forty minutes by ferry from Playa del Carmen.

During your stay in the Riviera Maya, you must visit is the Museum of the Island of Cozumel. We share with you five reasons not to miss it.

The first tourist hotel on the Island becomes a museum

The museum is installed in what was the first tourist hotel on Isla Cozumel; in a building built during the 30s.

(more…)

2018, the International Year of Coral Reefs (2nd part)

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As seen in our last blog, 2018 is the International Year of Coral Reefs and all around the world, people and NGOs are taking action for saving them.

Mexico, an example for other countries

A contributive factor of the destruction of the reefs is sunscreen. A laboratory experiment found that some sunscreens contain oxybenzone, a chemical that exposes corals to whitening.

Marine fauna in Cozumel's Reef.

Marine fauna in Cozumel’s Reef.

Due to the above, in the main marine parks of Mexico, harmful sunscreens have been banned, and only “reef-friendly” are allowed. Also, after seeing this initiative, the United States has asked tourists who visit national parks to use eco-friendly products.

The largest reef in the Hemisphere

Isla Cozumel, in the Caribbean Sea, is surrounded by coral reefs. On the western coast of the island lies the Cozumel Reef National Park. This barrier reef is part of the Mesoamerican Reef System and has been a protected habitat since 1996.

Be a responsible diver and take care of nature.

Be a responsible diver and take care of nature.

The Great Mayan Reef, the largest of the Western Hemisphere, with a length of 1,000 kilometers. A reef shared by Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras. This reef system is home to more than 500 species of fish! In addition to being a refuge for manatees, whale sharks and sea turtles.

Thanks to the beauty of its reefs, Isla Cozumel is one of the best places in the world to dive and get to know this wonder of nature up close. On the island, you can find certified instructors for all kinds of divers, from beginners to advanced. And best of all: with a permit from the local authorities, it is possible to observe the nesting of sea turtles.

 

The world belongs to us all: take care of it and discover its wonders in Isla Cozumel.

Sea turtle feeding from a coral reef in Cozumel.

Sea turtle feeding from a coral reef in Cozumel.

2018, the International Year of Coral Reefs (1st part)

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The United Nations Environment Program officially launched last January the International Year of Coral Reefs in a ceremony held in Fiji. This campaign aims to raise awareness of the importance of coral reefs in the biosphere. And most importantly: it pretends to motivate the general public into taking action.

2018 is the year for rescuing the coral reefs.

The undeniable beauty of a coral reef, in Cozumel.

The importance of conserving coral reefs

The conservation of coral reefs is of utmost importance to millions of people around the globe, as they are a considerable source of food. Also, they harbor 25% of the life that inhabits the oceans.

Coral organisms are also the source of medicines, such as antivirals and the anticancer Ara-C. The latter is an essential treatment for lymphoma and leukemia.

Over the last three decades, we have lost half of the corals worldwide. The main reason is the acidification of the waters and the increase in the temperature of the oceans. Similarly, activities related to fishing, such as the contamination of plastics and chemicals and overexploitation, contribute to the destruction of these ecosystems.

Colombia Reef in Cozumel.

Colombia Reef in Cozumel.

Global action for the reefs

In all four corners of the world, different countries are taking action to save the reefs from the destruction of man. For example, Australia and Belize, two nations separated by the immense Pacific Ocean, have joined forces under the Sister Reef project.

This project for the environment was born thanks to the joint association of the World Wildlife Fund and the Belize Tourism Board. The project seeks to raise funds for the restoration of the Great Barrier Reef of Australia and the Barrier Reef of Belize.

 

Cozumel’s Reef is the largest in the Western Hemisphere. Learn more in our next blog.

Coral reefs harbor a quarter of all living species in the oceans.

Coral reefs harbor a quarter of all living species in the oceans.

Celebrate the 500 years of Cozumel!

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An ancient Mayan legend tells that the Goddess of love and fertility lived on a beautiful island. As a sign of respect, the inhabitants built magnificent temples in her honor. She, eternally grateful, gave the villagers the gift of the swallows. The island received the name of Kusamil, or Land of the Swallows. With the passage of time, the word became Castilianized, and now we call that island: Cozumel.

This 2018, Cozumel will celebrate on May 3 the 500 years since the arrival of the Spanish colonizer Juan Grijalva. The whole year will be full of activities and celebrations!

A beautiful swallow, originally from Cozumel.

A beautiful swallow, originally from Cozumel.

As part of the festivities, the Island will recreate the millenarian journey that the Mayans made to obtain the favor of the gods. In the same way, it will take place a recreation of the arrival of the Spanish galleons to the shores of the island.

Finally, the traditional vaqueria, consisting of three celebrations, will be carried out: starting with a mass, following by a bullfight, and concluding with a folkloric dance accompanied by jaranas. All this with one intention: to commemorate more than 500 years of history and culture.

A traditional celebration of 'vaqueria'.

A traditional celebration of ‘vaqueria’.

Celebrating 500 years

The festivities will cover the entire Cozumel Island. The program contemplates activities of great variety, such as the Gastronomic and Artesanal Peninsular Fair in the Benito Juárez Park, the inaugurations of the Park and the Memorial Chapel, or the presentation of the book “Memories of Cozumel,” a photographic archive.

The famous "Monument to the diver."

The famous “Monument to the diver.”

Also, there will be a ‘500 years Commemorative Festival’ for the meeting of Mayan and Spanish cultures. Of course, we could not miss the massive concert “Mexico-Spain” and the legendary Mesoamerican Ball tournament.

You can enjoy all this and more visiting Isla Cozumel. Mark on your calendar the month of May for a 500 years celebration.

To celebrate 500 years, how about a ball game?

To celebrate 500 years, how about a ball game?

Celebrating the Cozumel Carnival 2018

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Algarabía, revelry, music, and extravagance were the protagonists of the Cozumel Carnival 2018, which took place on the Rafael E. Melgar pier from February 9 to 14. As every year since 1874, families from Cozumel and visitors from around the world crowded the center of spectacles venue.

This edition of the Carnival was titled “The Caribbean Festival”. A great name, if we take into account that the Cozumel Carnival turned 144 years.

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More than 2,700 carnival participants attended the celebration, enjoying the music, dances and traditional meals the island has to offer. Both Cozumeleños and foreign visitors applauded the originality of the parade and the traditional comparsas dance.

Fernando Ferraez, the host of the event, kept the carnavalera spark on while the audience was amazed by the carnival’s official ballet. Each of the eight comparsas presented their choreographies, with extravagant costumes and spectacular color. After thorough discussion, the judges chose the winners of this regional dance.

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Hail to the new kings!

As every year, the audience votes for the queen and the king of the Carnival. The four candidates that competed for the crown tried to win by encouraging the public with their dances.

The first to light the stage were Frank Alonso and his comparsa, presenting a choreography dressed in extravagant costumes made of fruits and kitchen utensils. On the other hand, the elegant Ana Zetina presumed a dress inspired by the 500 years celebration of the “encounter of two worlds.”

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Finally, Eva Romo and Michelle Emporio cheered up the audience thanks to their eccentric and Cozumeleño style.

At the end of the presentations, the votes were counted, which declared Ana Zetina and Frank Lozano as “Carnival Kings,” with more than a thousand votes each. Finally, Eva Romo and Michelle Emporio were crowned as “Kings of Joy.”

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