Cozumel and Los Cabos, Mexico’s Coasts
by Candyce H. Stapen
Cozumel, along Mexico’s Caribbean, offers white sands as well as first-class snorkeling and diving. In Los Cabos on Mexico’s Pacific coast, the desert meets the sea and jagged mountains rise. The sands turn coral in the sun and blue waves send plumes of white spray crashes against the shore.
The sea surrounding Cozumel, a 40-minute ferry ride from Playa del Carmen, nourishes the Great Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the second largest reef system in the world. Los Cabos encompasses a 20 mile stretch along the Sea of Cortez at the bottom of the Baja Peninsula. The resort town of Cabo San Lucas anchors one end and the traditional Spanish colonial city of San Jose del Cabo is at the other end. The water here has strong currents and beaches warn against swimming.
It’s the underwater life that draws vacationers to Cozumel. In the crystal clear Caribbean visibility nears 150-feet, making it easy for snorkelers and divers to view the boulder-size gardens of brain coral as well as sponges, nurse sharks, grouper and schools of rainbow colored fish. Popular dive and snorkel sites include Paradise Reef for its sea fans and sponges as well as the Junkyard, a wreck swarming with fish.
For those who like their beaches more wild, head to Punta Sur about fifteen minutes away. The largely undeveloped, 247-acre ecological reserve boasts deserted shores and mangrove lagoons. Nearest the visitors’ center, the “main” beach, with its palapas (thatched shade umbrellas) and calm waters, attracts most of Punta Sur’s visitors. For truly secluded strands, board the park’s tram to an out-of-the-way beach, but be careful: don’t swim unless the park rangers say you can as the currents can be deadly.
In Punta Sur, you can glide through the Colombia Lagoon.. Here crocodiles hide in the mangrove thickets, and the cries of spoonbills and cormorants fill the air. From November to March, nesting pink flamingoes also take up residence.
People watching rules at Los Cabos. The best beach for getting wet is the town’s Playa Medano. At Playa Costa Azul or Playa Acapulquito, you can watch surfers. From Cabos’ San Lucas’ marina, try kayaking –the current is strong--to El Arco. The area’s symbol, this rock arch has the jade colored Sea of Cortez on one side and the deep blue Pacific on the other. A small beach separates the two bodies of water.
In Cozumel, the upscale Presidente Inter-Continental Hotel Cozumel is a good place to stay. The resort has a mile-long sand beach (some of it man-made), a calm lagoon for swimming, a spa and a children’s program. Sprawling hillside on the western side of the tip of the Baja peninsula about a fifteen minute ride from Cabo San Lucas, Pueblo Bonita Sunset Beach offers relief from crowded Cabo plus suite-like rooms with kitchenettes.