PUBLIC BEACHES, BEACH CLUBS, AND PARKS
Click here to see the ISLAND MAP for all beach clubs in Cozumel.
One highly recommended beach club is SkyReef. This is a real, Cozumel-style club with no crowds and attentive service. Great snorkeling too with snorkel equipment available.
Over the years, more and more of Cozumel’s public beaches have become concessions granted by the federal government to private homeowners and beach clubs. These beaches now have restricted access to the public. The few beaches on the island that remain open to the public are (and have access) are on the east side of the island (see Island map here). There are a few spots on the west side of Cozumel where the public can access the water that are not under a concession, but these spots have very little sand and are mostly rocky iron-shore. These are all off of the old highway south of town and can be seen from the road.
The law in Mexico reserves the entire Mexican coastline as a Federal Zone. This zone extends landward 66 feet, 10 inches from the high tide mark. This swath of Federal land is open to the public for their use and enjoyment, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, SO LONG AS YOU HAVE LEGAL ACCESS TO THE BEACH. More about legal access a little later.
The exception to this rule are Navy installations, Administación Portuaria Integral (API) installations, Caleta Marina, Fonatur Marina, the piers at Punta Langosta, Puerto Maya and the International Pier, the municipal piers and their surrounding areas, municipal, state, and national parks (like Chankanaab and the Eco-park at Punta Sur), and sections of the beach that the government has granted a special concession to the adjoining property owner. These special concessions are usually granted to Hotels, Condo projects, Beach Clubs, Bars and Restaurants by ZOFEMAT, the federal agency in charge of the Federal Zone.
Typically, a homeowner with beach-front property does not have a concession, but there are a few cases on the island where they do, and ALL beach clubs and beachfront hotels have a concession. However, wherever concessions have been granted, the public has only the right of ACCESS to the beach with the concession, and NOT the USE of the beach facilities (chairs, tables, etc.) of the concession without express permission of the concession holder. What all this means is, most of the beaches in Cozumel are open to the public…IF you can find a legal access to the beach and IF it is not under concession or restricted access due to one of the reasons cited above. You can’t just walk through someone’s property to get to the beach (that is trespassing, a serious crime in Mexico); there has to be some formal, open, public easement to walk or drive through.