Facts About Cozumel
Any vacation is better experienced by knowing a little bit about your destinations. When you learn a little about the history and the facts behind Cozumel, your experience on the island becomes that much more enriching and memorable. Here are some quick facts on the history of Cozumel as well as some information on the beaches of Cozumel.
History of Cozumel during the Mayan Era:
Long before the island was known as top scuba diving destination, Cozumel was a quiet and remote island off the Yucatan Peninsula that was actually sacred for the Mayan civilization. It is believed that Mayans inhabited the island from about 600AD to about 1200AD. While few actually lived on the island, many would make visits to the island. Women, in particular, were expected to make a pilgrimage to Cozumel at least once in their life. This is because Cozumel was considered to be the sacred island of the goddess Ixchel, goddess of fertility and of the moon. The goddess Ixchel was oftentimes depicted with sparrows at her feet, giving the island its name in Mayan, Ah-Cuzamil-Peten or Land of the Swallows. At the center of Ah-Cuzamil-Peten was the sacred temple and the main ceremonial meeting place for Mayans (what today is the San Gervasio ruins).
History of Cozumel after Spanish Exploration:
Things began to change rapidly in Cozumel, and the rest of the Mayan empire, when the Spanish explorers came at the beginning of the 16th century. In Cozumel, the legend has it that two main Spanish explorers, Geronimo de Aguilar and Gonzales Guerrero, were captured and held as slaves by the Mayans for many years. They learned the language and the ways of the Mayan. When other explorers started arriving on the island to fight the Mayans, Guerrero actually fought alongside the Mayans and today remains a respected and revered figure among Mayan descendants. By the year 1570, the island of Cozumel barely had any Mayans left on it, most of them having been killed by war or disease. For the next few centuries, Cozumel was mostly abandoned and only used by pirates and buccaneers like infamous figures Jean Lafitte and Henry Morgan. In the early 20th century, Cozumel saw a mini resurgence of interest and activity with the trade of zapote trees. But it wasn't until the 1960's that Cozumel's popularity began to soar thanks to Jacques Cousteau who features the gorgeous coral reefs of Cozumel on his television program.
Cozumel has some of the Caribbean's most gorgeous and unique beaches. Since it is an island, Cozumel has its leeward coast and its windward coast. This provides a large variety of beach settings for visitors. Conditions on the beach also vary greatly and even on the same day, conditions from one beach to the next can be quite different. The leeward (western) side of the island is preferred by people who want calmer and shallower waters, and also for those who want to go beach snorkeling. The windward (eastern) coast is preferred by those who like more remote beaches and for surfers.