My Top 5 Tips On Shopping in Cozumel, Mexico
Cozumel, Mexico known as the Island of Swallows to the Mayans, is a tourist destination. It is an island off the eastern coast of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, opposite Playa del Carmen. The main town on Cozumel is San Miguel de Cozumel.
Cozumel is famous for it's shopping, snorkeling and water sports like scuba diving. As well as it's bartering vendors, ceramics, unusual arts and crafts.
As a tourist destination it is also great for exploration and discovery.
It is 12 miles from the mainland, and 37 miles south of Cancun. Cozumel is Mexico's third largest island. The island is a flat based land mass built on limestone.
The ancient culture of Cozumel is linked with the Mayans. They built temples to the Mayan Moon goddess, the women of the island concerned with fertility made pilgrimages to her temple.
The first outsiders were the Spanish, arriving in the early 1500's. By the 1570's the island's population was destroyed by smallpox, leaving behind about 30 of the original Mayan peoples.
In the following years Cozumel was deserted except for the occasional presence of pirates using the island as a hideout.
Cozumel is now a renowned tourist destination, where it's waters are used both to sustain it's population and entertain it's tourists that come to explore the Mayan history, it's culture, temples, jungles, animals, jewelry, restaurants, crafts and water activities.
As a tourist destination it offers all of the excitement to be found anywhere in the Caribbean and in the world. It offers all the things most people are looking for when they go on vacation, like sun, sand, beaches, alcohol, jewelry, colorful arts, crafts and clothing. And lots of bargains.
Preparation before shopping
When preparing for your shopping experience in Cozumel:
1. carry a large bottle of water.
2. wear comfortable walking shoes
3. wear comfortable cotton clothes, something that is breathable and loose
4. wear a hat and shades
5. carry a camera, Cozumel has lots of photo opportunities, an umbrella is good depending on the season you arrive on the island
6. carry a tote or backpack
7. wear pants or shorts with lots of pockets
Shopping in Cozumel
Bargaining begins in Cozumel before you even get to the port shops. It begins with the bicycle taxis waiting on the dock as soon as you step off of the ship and onto the concrete walkway leading into the port shopping area.
But i don't suggest you start shopping just yet.
Don't even start in the port shops either, you may find yourself bombarded and lots of things may appeal to you but the best thing to do is to head out of the port area, headed for the downtown shopping. If you have the time have the driver point out the flea market and the Walmart of Cozumel.
You will also be offered a chance to barter at the taxi stand, you can either be dropped in the town for a negotiated price or you can go on a tour for about 3 to 4 hours and still get in some shopping.
If you grow frustrated by telling people 'no' and 'no thank you' as you pass the shops and the vendors on the street, just remind yourself that they are only doing their jobs. They can be annoying and it can become wearisome but the shopping experience is worth it if you can pick up a few great pieces.
Tips to shopping in downtown Cozumel
1. Walk the street, don't ever buy from the first store you are dropped off at by the taxi. So go ahead and look in the stores, get some understanding of the pricing then move on, so that you have a better understanding of what the prices are really supposed to be.
2. Take some of the side streets, they are off the beaten path but they can save you a lot of pesos, or US dollars.
3. Buy from the street vendors, they are more willing to barter. Also make a venture to one of the street vendors that sell fruit and local candy.
4. Know what you are looking for, and try to purchase them from the vendors on the streets. The shops will not bargain. Things like Tequila, vanilla and alcohol are offered at great prices but only in the stores. Real jewelry can be found all up and down the streets, but look for the unique items you can't find anywhere else.
5. Carry small bills, fives and ones are great, anything higher will cause your bartering to be a struggle.
My recommendation, go for a tour first then go shopping downtown. If you leave the ship early enough you can see everything on the island as well as have a blast shopping. Explore the unusual, there are stores filled with unusual ceramic goods, shell jewelry and craft items made from local leather goods and local indigenous materials.