If you'd like your vacation to include some quality family time, the Mexican islands of Cozumel and Isla Mujeres offer a quiet departure from nearby Cancun's fast-paced activities and busy beaches. Both islands offer plenty of amenities and are worth a visit to combine a relaxing, warm-weather beach vacation with a destination that has true Mexican character.
Cozumel is Mexico's biggest island and can be reached by a 40-minute ferry ride from the mainland's Playa del Carmen, or via air, because the island has an international airport. It's famous for its idyllic soft, white sand beaches and calm turquoise waters on its western shore. The island is surrounded by three massive reef systems -- the Santa Rosa, Colombia, and Palancar -- making it a mecca for snorkelers and divers. The eastern, Caribbean side of the island has rockier beaches and rougher waters.
Two favorite stops are Chankanaab National Park and Chankanaab Lagoon, both located within Isla Cozumel's Reefs National Marine Park. The crystal clear waters of the sheltered lagoon are home to more than 60 species of fish, and its calm water makes it a perfect site for beginning snorkelers.
For a history lesson on the island's Mayan culture, visit the Museum of the Island of Cozumel, located in downtown San Miguel. Its exhibits include a scale model of the island and information about the reef and its inhabitants.
Isla Mujeres is just seven miles from Cancun, and despite the day-trippers who come to play on its beautiful beaches, it remains a serene and peaceful retreat. Most of its hotels are located at Playa del Norte, a large expanse of beach on the northern tip of the island. Isla Mujeres is also a popular spot for divers and snorkelers. It is bordered by two reef systems that create a natural aquarium. You cannot rent a car here, but mopeds, bicycles, and golf carts are available, as are taxis.
Continue your family vacation to Los Cabos, and drink in the spectacular views while enjoying the water sports.
Mexican Vacation Information
Mexico Tourism Board - Los Angeles
Address: 1880 Century Park East, Suite 511
Los Angeles, CA 90067