(BLACK PR WIRE) -- Cozumel means "island of the swallows" in Mayan, one of Mexico's aboriginal languages. For tourists, it means just about anything you want your vacation to mean. This island lies only 12 miles off the mainland of the YucatÃ¡n Peninsula, on Mexico's eastern coast. With the coldest temperatures reaching the 70's, there is no undesirable time to visit, though autumn is the rainy season. Since tourism is the main source of the island's economy, most native employees and tour guides understand English. Still, it would be a good idea to brush up on some conversational Spanish. It will give you an advantage, especially if you engage in some friendly negotiating over souvenir prices.
If you want to see how it all started, learn about Mexican history and culture by visiting the Discover Mexico theme park and the Museum of the Island of Cozumel. The sites of San Gervasio, Castillo Real, El Cedral and El Caracol contain authentic Mayan ruins. Then visit the ecological reserve at Punta Sur to explore white sand beaches, mangroves and a vibrant ecosystem. There are docks at the bay where you can safely spot freshwater crocodiles. If you feel safer spotting from a higher distance, make the hundred-step trek to the top of the Punta Sur Lighthouse and get a both a bird's-eye-view of the island and an exercise workout.
Cozumel is renowned for its water sports opportunities, and with good reason. The Cozumel Reefs National Marine Park has successfully protected most of the island's diving sites, leaving several miles of pristine coral reefs in crystal-clear water. Expect to meet plenty of fish, dolphins, sea lions, eels, turtles and the world's only inland coral reef formation at Chankanaab Park. Submarine and glass-bottom boat tours offer other options for underwater exploration.
Your adventure does not end when the sun goes down. For dining, there's no better place for Mexican food than its very source. Cozumel is also the source for duty-free shops carrying jewelry, handicrafts, clothing, perfume, leather goods and a host of other items. Most stores accept payment by U.S. currency, credit cards or traveler's checks.
While many visitors tour Cozumel independently, the island's proximity to both mainland Mexico and the Caribbean lends it to be a popular destination within cruise itineraries. So get ready to answer if Cozumel calls for you.