||Planning Your Vacation
Fly directly into Cozumel Airport
US/Canada Carriers Flying Direct into Cozumel Airport: American Airlines, United (Continental) Airlines, Delta, US Airways, Mexicana, Sun Country, MLT Worry Free Vacation Charters, FunJet Charters and Adventure Tours Charters.
Mexico Carriers Flying Direct into Cozumel Airport: Interjet, Volaris & MayaAir
Sometimes it can be less expensive and faster to fly into Mexico elsewhere and then switch to a Mexican airline to fly into Cozumel. For example, those on the west coast of the U.S. might find better airfares to Mexico City and then switching to a domestic Mexican airline to get across the country to Cozumel.
Fly into Cancun and then taxi/ferry or fly over to Cozumel
Most major airlines now fly into Cancun Airport. A list of airline carriers serving Cancun is provided in the Over There - Cancun section
Arrive by Cruise Ship
There are many cruise lines that now stop at one of Cozumel's 3 cruise ship piers including Carnival, Celebrity, Disney, Holland America, NCL, P&O Cruises & Royal Caribbean.
|Travel Documentation - Passports and Important Paperwork|
Homeland Security Impact on Travel
On November 19, 2001 the US President signed into law the Aviation and Transportation Security Act (ATSA) which among other things established a new Transportation Security Administration (TSA) within the Department of Transportation. This Act established a series of challenging but critically important milestones toward achieving a secure air travel system.
The TSA website www.TSATravelTips.us is very informative. Here you will find everything you need to know about new airport security measures. You will discover a list of timesaving tips, information on assistance for special needs, the latest list of prohibited and permitted items as well as other information that will help guide you smoothly through the security process.
Due to law changes and initiatives attempting to increase national security, PASSPORTS ARE NOW REQUIRED of all US travelers.
Proof of citizenship is the most important thing to have in any foreign country. With proof, a person has some rights; without it, the first priority must be to PROVE identity and nationality.…not get assistance with a problem! Please make a PASSPORT COPY to carry while out and about on vacation and keep the original with other valuables.
The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (IRTPA) is what mandated that the U.S. Secretaries of Homeland Security and State Development implement a plan to require U.S. citizens and foreign nationals to present a passport or other appropriate secure identity and citizenship documentation when entering the United States. As a result of this legislation mandate, the two agencies developed a plan called the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) which was announced in April 2005.
The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) required all travelers entering or re-entering the United States from the Caribbean, Bermuda, Panama, Canada & Mexico to have a passport or other accepted secure document that establishes a traveler's identity and nationality to enter or re-enter the U.S.
This WHTI initiative was rolled out in phases providing as much advance notice as possible to the affected public to enable them to meet the terms of the new guidelines.
December 31, 2005 - Requirement applied to all travel (air/sea) to/ from the Caribbean, Bermuda, Central & S. America.
December 31, 2006 - Requirement extended to all air and sea travel to or from Mexico and Canada.
December 31, 2006 - Requirement extended to all air, sea and land border crossings.
February 15, 2008 - Passport requirement for travel strictly enforced.
Passport applicants should allow sufficient time to apply and receive passports in advance of travel.
Please allow 6-8 weeks for routine processing of passport applications.
Peak U.S. passport processing is between January and July. For faster service, it is recommended to apply between August and December.
For more information about obtaining a US PASSPORT visit www.dhs.gov or www.travel.state.gov or call the National Passport Information Center at 1-877-487-2778; TDD/TTY: 1-888-874-7793
On board the aircraft, passengers will be given an Immigration form and a Customs/Agriculture form to complete. Do yourself and everyone else in line a favor and complete the form in advance and accurately in order to speed up the entry process. Please check the FRONT & BACK OF EACH FORM because both Immigration and Customs forms require some passenger information on BOTH SIDES.
Typical vacation timeframes are 1 - 2 weeks so this is the "standard" approval time given on Temporary Visa Applications in Mexico. However, if you intend to stay longer than 1-2 weeks in Mexico, be sure to advise the Immigration Officer as he BEGINS his review of your documents. Mexican Immigration law allows vistors (not workers) to stay up to 6 months continuously without leaving the country or making further application for approaval. It is important to ask at the airport upon arrival for the approprate Temporary Visa timeframe required because extensions require a visit to the Immigration Office and payment of Visa Extension Fees.
|Traveling with Minor Children|
Traveling with Minor Children between the USA and Mexico - The following message was issued by the U.S. Consular Office in Merida on November 26th, 2004 and pertains to the travel of minor children between the U.S. and Mexico. The information was adapted from two recent notices they received, one from the Department of State in Washington (regarding parental consent for passport applications for minors) and the other from the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City (regarding travel authorization letters for minors traveling with only one parent or another authorized person). This is not a major departure from policies which have been in place for the past year or so, but just a reminder of things to consider when traveling with minor children.
Please note that the second announcement, regarding permission letters, pertains to requirements imposed by the airlines themselves, and does not clearly state what age defines a "minor child". Therefore, to be on the safe side, it is best to contact the airline in advance and err on the side of age 21 and under and being a "minor". As always, please email the Consulate using firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the U.S. Consulate in Merida, Mexico, if you have any further questions.
Regarding Travel Permission Letters for Minor Children - The Government of Mexico, Interior Secretariat, Regulation of the General Law of Population (Article 215), requires that minors who will not be accompanied by one or both of their parents or legal guardians, have in their possession an original written permission form signed by the non-traveling parent(s), and notarized.
Both the U. S. and Mexican governments require that minor children have the written and notarized approval of both parents or legal guardians in order to obtain a passport for international travel. Parents must make sure to obtain the appropriate permission when one or both of the parents is not traveling with the child. Airline carriers require the written and notarized permission from the non-traveling parent(s) in order to allow the child to board the plane. Some carriers require that the signed statement be notarized within 30 days of the travel. Other companies require that the permission be dated within six months. It is always best to confirm the exact policy with the airline directly via their internet website or public information number or with a travel agent prior to international travel.
Parents are strongly encouraged to have an original permission form prepared for each child so that in the event of emergency or unanticipated travel alone or with only one parent, the child is able to travel internationally without delay.
|Become Part of the US Trusted Traveler Program|
Tired of long Immigration lines and missed flight connections when returning to the US from foreign travel?
If the thought of those long immigration lines or missed flight connections are holding you back from foreign travel, consider applying for the GOES Trusted traveler program. This 5 year pilot program gives approved travellers a direct ticket to the automated "fast lane" kiosk at the Immigration checkpoints of most major US airports.
Global Entry is a new pilot program managed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection which allows pre-approved, low-risk travelers expedited clearance upon arrival into the United States. Participants enter the United States by utilizing automated kiosks located, at designated airports. Although the program is intended for “frequent travelers” who make several international trips per year, there is no minimum number of trips an applicant must make in order to qualify. Participants may enter the United States by utilizing these automated kiosks located, at most all major airports now and seldom is there ever a line or delay in clearing Immigration.
In addition to more rapid Immigration clearance, another benefit of the trusted traveler program is the expedited Customs clearance line for the luggage of participants upon returning to the USA from abroad. Trusted traveler participants also enjoy a seperate airport security screening clearance line when departing on DOMESTIC flights.
Are the Benefits of Global Entry?
Bypass the traditional passport control line.
No more filling out a paper customs declaration form.
Expedited exit process.
Mutual benefits with other countries.
Conveniently located at airports throughout the country.
Cross the border with a minimum of customs and immigration questioning.
Bypass the traditional Customs luggage clearance line
Bypass the traditional Airport Security Screening line on DOMESTIC flights
Global Entry allows applicants to complete a single application and pay one fee. This form can be submitted online via the Global Online Enrollment System (GOES. Qualified applicants are required to come to a Global Entry Enrollment Center, for an interview). Global Entry allows United States border agencies to concentrate their efforts on potentially higher-risk travelers and goods, which helps to ensure the security and integrity of our borders.
For more information about the GOES program visit THEIR WEBSITE.
Pack Light for Cozumel - With reduced luggage limits on most flights these days and overweight bag fees doubling, just packing a suitcase properly can save you money on your vacation. Take advantage of Cozumel's tropical, casual ambiance and simply pack less clothing. Chances are you won't be wearing much while here anyway!
It's always difficult to know what things to take and what to leave behind when traveling. Some travelers swear by the "pack twice" method whereby you pack everything you think you'll need. Then go back and remove half of the items. This method not only ensures that you'll be under the baggage weight limits but also leaves room for those bargain purchases!
Clothing - The climate in Cozumel is typically tropical so alot of heavy fabric clothing just isn't necessary and will in fact be somewhat uncomfortable most of the year. Tropical means warm and humid so bring light airy comfortable clothing and footwear. Dress is casual in the tropics by necessity. However, despite what some travelers actually do, it is actually more proper and respectful form to dine/shop in the city fully clothed. Bathing suits are acceptable attire anywhere you go so long as a cover-up is worn as well.
Sunscreen & Insect Repellent - Don't forget to pack these items because the lack of or improper use of these two items cause a vast majority of traveler discomforts! Cozumel's tropical sun is more intense than most visitors are accustomed to enduring so when selecting a sunscreen err on the side of HIGHER protection and look for the bio-degradable, waterproof brands. Do yourself a favor and carry the sunscreen with you ALL DAY for reapplication.
If going out in the evening, apply insect repellent at least to your ankles, feet and exposed forearms. While restaurants and stores do all they can to reduce insects, learning to manage mosquito bite risk is just part of tropical island living and vacationing! So do yourself a favor and plan to take a small pocket size bottle of insect spray with you each night to ensure you can enjoy Cozumel's open air dining and shopping to its fullest.
Small Wallet - Since you’re on vacation, why would you need the entire contents of your purse or wallet? Library & video cards and the 45 keys you use at work can easily be left behind. Pick a couple of major credit cards and your house key to take on vacation. This way, the trauma of loss is not as significant should it occur at all.
Camera, Film, Batteries & Media Cards - Unless you enjoy paying a premium for regular things, bring your own supply of film, media cards and batteries. Yes, film is available but that 24 exposure roll you buy at Wal-Mart for $3.00 will be $10 on the island and the same holds true for media cards. If you are even able to locate what you need the price will typically be about 3x what you are used to paying. Put fresh batteries in your camera before leaving, bring extras or a recharger since the small NI-CAD or special camera batteries are difficult to find. These items take up so little space in luggage and look at the savings!! Three rolls of film purchased at home vs. 3 on the island gives you enough savings in your pocket to pay for half of a snorkel tour!
Electrical Plug-ins - Electrical supply and receptacles for Cozumel are the same as in the USA - 120 VAC
Gifts/Tips - While cash is always appreciated as a tip for excellent service, sometimes a small trinket from your home country is more appropriate for a new found island friend. Many people from Cozumel seldom leave the island much less the country of Mexico. The population as a whole is exposed to a lot of merchandise in the stores, on TV and the Internet but availability is another thing all together!! Here are some inexpensive suggestions of things to stick in your bag “just in case.”
- Music CDs (they don’t have to be new)
- DVD's (they don't have to be new)
- Music Players (they don't have to be new)
- Small keychain type flashlights
- Small pocket knives (remember to put in a checked-in bag!)
- Brass or stainless clips (fishermen can’t get enough of these)
- Small Address Books
- Small scented candles
- Perfume samples
- Crayons or colored pencils/pens
- Wine openers
I only bring some emergency cash and pay for everything with my credit card?
Is it difficult to cash traveler's checks in Mexico?
Where can I get the best exchange rate for my dollars?
The answer is - it depends.
Cards: Don't' bring all of them, but be sure to carry a major charge card that has available credit. You will need your card when you check into your hotel as well as if you decide to rent transportation (always request that the original voucher and all copies be returned to you if elect not to pay with your card).
In the unlikely event that you need emergency medical care, the care provider will request a credit card before you can be discharged if you don't have sufficient cash available.
Generally you will not want to actually charge items or services to your card while you're in Cozumel. There is often a bank fee of up to 10 percent that will be added to the purchase price and you will have no control over the exchange rate you are given.
's Checks and American Dollars: No matter which way you turn in San Miguel's plaza you're bound to spot a bank or money exchange (casa de cambio) place. Exchange rates at the banks are usually the same as those offered at money exchange houses, but you can get the job done much faster at the money exchange. There should never be fee involved in changing money.
We recommend that you change your traveler's checks or dollars into pesos a little at a time and only consider paying for something in American dollars if the business is giving you a higher exchange rate than you might find in the bank or exchange house.
In 2009, most all banks in Cozumel suspended currency changing services except for bank clients with checking or savings accounts. So save time and head straight away to a money exchange office instead of standing in line at a bank if wanting to change money.
There was a time not long ago when Cozumel had only two different banks and those downtown locations were the extent of alternatives. Needless to say the bounty of money exchange houses that Cozumel has now grew out of necesity to avoid the excessively long lines at the banks. However, with time and economic development, more financial institutions have moved into the region and begun service.
|Banking and Currency Exchange|
Still today, the majority of Cozumel's banks can be found in the Main Downtown Plaza area, however many of the banks do have branch locations located on major avenues (like Ave. 30) throughout town. Typical hours of operation are Mon-Friday between 9 - 4 but some banks are open on Saturdays. All of the banks have ATMs that dispense pesos, although US Dollars are available at some ATMs near the cruise-ship piers. Banks also exchange currency although customer service lines can be very lengthy and time consuming.
Cozumel Bank Locations
Avenida 5 in Plaza 987-872-0142
Corner of 30th & 11 Sur 987-872-3080
Avenida 5 in Plaza 987-872- 3411
Avenida 5 in Plaza 987-872-0550
Avenida 5 & Juarez 987-872.0718
Corner of 3 Sur & Avenida 10 987-872-2853
Currency Exchange Services
Because Cozumel bank lines can be very long (especially on Mondays), most locals just utilize the Money Exchange Houses (Casa de Cambio) for convenience. While it is true that these Casas de Cambio do not give as good of an exchange rate as the banks give, the trade off vs. time spent in line is well worth it most of the time since there is literally one located on every block.
Do NOTE however, that Casas de Cambio located farther away from downtown (away from the bank competition) will NOT be the best choice for changing money simply because their pricing strategy takes advantage of the 'distance from alternatives" factor.
Although there are many, many Casas de Cambio in Cozumel, here are 2 locations that seem to always have very decent rates as compared to the banks and very little wait time:
Punta Langosta Pier, Av. Rafael E. Melgar Monday - Friday 9am - 5pm 987-869-1389
Promotora Cambiaria del Centro
Avenida 5 Sur between Calles 1 Sur and Adolfo Rosado Salas No phone
|Cozumelinsider's Handy Currency Conversion Table!|
|Various Exchange Rates in Mexican Pesos
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Sherri ~ WOW!!! We just returned from our cruise! What a wonderful time we had!! Your COZUMELINSIDER.com bookings for our Dolphin snorkel adventure and Sea Trek were the highlight of the cruise. They were easy and saved us about half the cost of booking through the cruise line. We simply hopped into a cab and spent the day at the Park (we could have spent a week there.) They were even able to work us into the Sea Trek early. All the people were friendly, helpful and overall just treated us great. While we were standing around waiting a short little man came up and ask if we wanted a snorkel tour. I instantly remembered what you had said and looked at his name tag. It was Mario! His tour was fantastic! If you see him ask him if he remembers Señor Ed and his family (he never caught that my name was Ted, but that’s okay!) I had a waterproof digital camera and he snapped lots of pictures of us. We had a wonderful time and much of it was thanks to you, your website and staff!
I know you probably get lots of pictures but I had to send you three. Look at the smiles on my boy’s faces. That says it all! Thank you so much for all your help and advice. We can’t wait to return. Your website is the first place we will stop! I wish we could have met in person. We will next time! T. Mahler Family ~ Howe ,TX
Stay (02/24/2012) - To the IslaMar Staff: Thank you so much (gracias) for the wonderful service in Cozumel. We have learned to respect and “enjoy” the “pace” of living here. The island and events have been beautiful. Again, gracias for your kindness and service during our stay here. God Bless! Mike C. & Marlyce F. ~ Ettrick, WI
Stay (02/23/2013) - This has been an awesome three (3) months in Cozumel. So sad to go home. Thank you Zuri for everything, you are wonderful. Sherri, you have a great group of people working for you. Thank you very much for everything. Hopefully I will return. I love all the people I met, from everywhere. This is really paradise!!! Jean St. H. ~ Augusta, MA
Thanks once again for letting us borrow your piece of paradise. We told you that we’d be back. Zuri is the BEST! Hope to see you again for Carnival in 2009. Thanks as always for treating us like FAMILY! “Viva Cozumel” Jed & Paula C. ~ Huntersville, NC
Hello Sherri ~ I met you back in 2001 (12 years ago!) when my husband and I along with another couple were involved in a wreck and you were behind us and helped us out as to our rights in the matter. A motorcycle ran into the side of us pretty bad if you recall. I believe you said you lived in Addison, Texas like us. I have booked a trip and will be in Cozumel next Tuesday. Any recommendation on vehicle rental you can suggest for me? LATER: My date and I had a blast in Cozumel. He loved the island. It was a very short trip. I am including a photo of us on the cruise. He would like to go back and stay for a few days at your place. Hope you are doing good, please keep in touch. C Bronstad ~ San Antonio, TX