Faro Celarain Eco Park
Also known as Parque Punta Sur, Faro Celarain Eco Park (Carr. Costera Sur Km. 27, tel. 987/872-0914, www.cozumelparks.org.mx, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. daily, US$10 adult, US$5 child over eight) spans over 1,000 hectares (2,500 acres) of coastal dunes and mangroves at Cozumel’s southern tip.
Declared a national reserve in 1996, it harbors dozens of animal species, including 30 types of seabirds and a vast array of sea creatures, reptiles, and amphibians (including some huge crocs). Just past the gate, a visitors center has displays about the history and ecology of the park.
A bit farther is a small Maya ruin known as El Caracol, believed to have been used for navigation; nearby there’s also a high platform overlooking Laguna Colombia for spotting birds and crocodiles. Farther still are the park’s famous lighthouse and its small maritime museum.
Finally, visitors reach the beach area, where a catamaran or kayak tour of the Laguna Colombia (US$3 pp, 45 minutes) and snorkel trips (US$20, 1 hour) can be arranged. Or just spend time sunbathing, swimming, and snorkeling on your own along the two kilometers (1.2 miles) of beautiful beaches.
There is a small restaurant on-site, and binoculars and snorkel gear can be rented at the visitors center. Though this is a popular shore excursion for cruise-shippers, it can still be rewarding for indy travelers. Be sure to arrive before 1 p.m. if you want to take full advantage of all the park has to offer.
© Gary Chandler & Liza Prado from Moon Yucatán Peninsula, 9th edition