The isle of Cozumel, which was settled by the Maya 2000 years ago, has endured throughout the millennium. Located off the eastern coast of the Mayan Riviera in Mexico it is a peaceful alternative to its mainland neighbor and maintains a natural beauty, which acts as a healthy sedative as only pristine island beach environments can.
It was an important pilgrimage site for Maya women who traveled from the Yucatan Peninsula to visit where at one time stood a temple dedicated to Ixchel, the Goddess of fertility. The 30-mile long, 10-mile wide island survived smallpox and genocide brought by the Spaniards in the 1500s the aftermath of which left the Island pretty much deserted for almost two centuries.
A hideout for pirates back in the day it at one time also housed a U.S. military base during World War II and after the based closed Cozumel’s main economy was fishing. That all changed when a documentary by Jacques Cousteau aired in the 1960s, which resulted in the birth of tourism. Today it is a top destination for diving and snorkeling due to its clear waters and spectacular reefs and much of its shoreline is protected parkland.
Cruise ships dock and ferries from the mainland land at its only town San Miguel. Away from the crowds in town its rugged undeveloped east coast makes for a beautiful drive where you can stop at a few shack-like establishments along the way to refuel and enjoy the view.