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Port Description

Shopping

San Miguel is a duty-free zone filled with stores and boutiques selling a wide variety of souvenirs along with an assortment of jewelry. Stores in the hotels offer a selection of fashions, casual attire, perfumes, Mexican crafts, and souvenirs. Easily the most distinctive and fabulous store on Cozumel is Los Cinco Soles, which sells gorgeous Mexican crafts, silver jewelry, and fashions. Several specialty shops sell indigenous black coral in the form of jewelry and sculptures. Adjacent to the Plaza del Sol is the modern Villa Mar Complex, an air-conditioned mall with several good silver shops.

Staying in Touch

The Calling Station (Plaza Orbi - Local 1, Av. Rafael E. Melgar 27) is open Monday through Saturday and offers Internet connections and email, faxing services, cell phone rentals, money exchange, and more.

Where to Eat and Drink

Pancho's Backyard is a great place for margaritas and wonderful Mexican specialties.

Guido's is considered the island's best Italian restaurant. Choice tables are located on the patio out back.

For atmosphere and tradition don't miss Casa Denis which has been here since 194205 and has some amazing historic photos on the walls including a young Fidel Castro.

Some of Cozumel's best home-cooked cuisine is served up daily at La Choza, a family-run restaurant.

Carlos and Charlie's is the island's cornball, always-crowded tourism hot spot which specializes in ridiculously huge tropical drinks and bar food.

What to See and Do

San Miguel revolves around its two landmarks: the "zocalo" (town square), known as Plaza del Sol, and the downtown pier.

Along with Grand Cayman and Belize, Cozumel offers the best diving and snorkeling sites in the Caribbean. Prime sites for "divehards" include Palancar Reef, Chankanaab Caves, and La Ceiba Reef.

Glass-bottom boat tours provide a glimpse of the reefs for aqua-phobics and others who prefer to stay dry; some of these tours also stop occasionally for snorkeling breaks.

While the best preserved Mayan ruins are located on the mainland, there are several smaller Mayan sites scattered around Cozumel. The best of the local sites is at San Gervasio, located approximately seven miles from San Miguel.

Generally speaking, the best beaches for swimming, snorkeling, or lounging under the sun are on the western side of the island, where the winds are light and waters usually calm. The surf on the eastern side of the island tends to be much rougher.

Getting Around

On Foot: Beyond the aforementioned dock-to-town travel, downtown San Miguel is very walkable, with most shops, bars, and restaurants clustered around the waterfront.

Taxis: Taxis line up at the entrances to the piers and cost about $205 per ride. Rates to the beaches can cost $10 to $1205; to avoid being ripped off be sure to settle on a fare before departing.

Renting a Car: Some passengers who don't take one of the shore excursions and want to travel on their own may want to rent a Jeep or four-wheel-drive vehicle. Rates begin at about $4205 per day and can go as high as $80, plus additional charges for insurance and gas.

Where You're Docked

There are now three large piers serving Cozumel. Punta Langosta is the newest and closest pier to San Miguel, located just a short walk into town.

The two other major docking sites, the International Pier and Puerto Maya Pier, are located about two and three miles from San Miguel, respectively. Depending on your pace, downtown San Miguel is about a 30- to 4205-minute walk from these piers. Since it can get very hot en route, most passengers opt to take a taxi into town.

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