Shopping on the island is an exuberant, colorful, and unique experience. Shoppers will find a variety of modern, high-end stores nearby traditional Mexican markets and artisan shops. Bring your pesos, American dollars and be prepared to barter a little bit!
Prices on Cozumel are among the highest in the entire Yucatan Peninsula. But deals can still be found! If you have the time, shop around. In all likelihood you will always find another store selling what you want so you can compare prices. The further away from the waterfront you go, the cheaper things get.
The best variety of shopping within easy walking distance is centred around and between the cruise ship piers and ferry dock. You won’t find much shopping on the east coast of the island, as it is mostly undeveloped. (There are, however, a few scattered hammock stores with artisan items, textiles, pottery, liqueurs, etc.)
As soon as you exit the ferry dock from Playa del Carmen, you are smack dab in the middle of the tourist shopping zone of San Miguel. If, instead, you are arriving by cruise ship at the Punta Langosta Pier, you land in a fairly large and modern outdoor mall. Just cross the walkway overpass and you’re in the heart of downtown Cozumel!
TIPS: There are currently 3 cruise ship piers, soon to be 4. Punta Langosta Pier is in the core of downtown. The stores closest to the coast and primarily at the Punta Langosta Pier are the most expensive, catering to cruise ship passengers, with little time to search for bargains. The International Pier and Puerto Maya are a few miles further south on the island. You’ll need to catch a taxi from those piers if you want to shop downtown.
Q: What does it mean when your cruise ship advises you to shop at the many stores featured in Cozumel’s recommended shopping program?
A: It means they get a kick-back if you shop in the stores they recommend.
San Miguel is a duty-free zone, so you may find bargains on watches, alcohol and fragrances. The shopping zone in the city of San Miguel itself (centred around the ferry dock), is clean and easy to navigate. There are ample sidewalks and pedestrian-only streets. Police guard the crosswalks, direct traffic and offer directions to tourists.
Shoppers will find a large variety of unique souvenirs such as:
Mexican Handicrafts and Talavera Pottery
Hand-loomed wool blankets
Leather boots, purses and bags
Handmade Nylon or Cotton Hammocks
Silver, gold, coral, onyx, and amber jewelry
Quality Tequila and Vanilla Extract
Fine Cigars and specialty liqueurs
TIP: Having a hard time distinguishing true vanilla extract from imitation vanilla? Check the alcohol content. Pure vanilla extract has an alcohol content of AT LEAST 35%.
Local shops on the island are generally open all day, but take long lunch hours for a siesta! During high season (December – April), shops often extend their hours. Most places stay open at least until 10pm.
Shoppers may choose to pay in cash, either in pesos, or US dollars. Cash is recommended! It’s just easier to keep track of and gives you more freedom with where you want to shop. Know your exchange rate before you use US dollars, though, to ensure you’re not getting charged a “gringo tax”!
ATMs on the island are plentiful and fairly easy to find. But beware of using stand-alone machines that are not affiliated with any particular bank. Fees for these machines can be excessively high. Choose instead to use a cash machine at a bank branch like HSBC, ScotiaBank, or the Mexican Banks Santander and Banamex. The bank machines at Chedraui and Mega grocery stores are reputable.
Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover credit cards are commonly accepted.
TIP: Don’t assume all the local shops will accept credit cards for purchases. Check first. If you do use your credit card, write down the date and description of EVERY transaction on your trip. Ask for receipts and certificates of authenticity for jewelry purchases.
NOTABLE STORES AND SHOPS
The Cozumel Market is a fun place to visit, and you’ll find lower prices here than at the cruise ship piers or downtown malls. Goods sold range from fresh fruit, vegetables and spices to home products, dishware, pottery, clothing and shoes. Grab some breakfast, fresh-squeezed orange juice, and wander through the stalls. Heads up, English is not widely spoken and it’s best to use pesos for purchases. The market is located on Adolfo Rosado Salas, between 20 and 25th Avenues (just a few blocks from the waterfront).
This is an upscale chain of stores that showcases premium-quality goods, including jewelry, art, Mexican pottery, handcrafted wooden ornaments, unique children’s toys, beautiful garments, fine liquors and more.
DÉJÀ VU LEATHER & JEWELRY
Looking for custom-made leather sandals? Look no further! The shop owner here creates unique custom pieces from this convenient location and will deliver the finished product to your resort if needed. Also for sale are beautiful Mayan home-décor items.
This is a great place to find quality, one-of-a-kind jewelry. Staff will pour you a taste of smooth tequila will you browse, with no pressure to buy. Beautiful pearls, tanzanite, and certified silver pieces are among the treasures here.
Check out this lovely little gallery if you’re looking for beautiful artwork, blown glass ornaments, lamps, metal sculptures and more. Bring home a gorgeous vacation memento that’s sure to become a conversation piece!
ROYAL VILLAGE SHOPPING CENTER
This is a new open-air shopping complex with a variety of stores, restaurants and bars (Hard Rock Café, for one). It’s conveniently located and you’ll find some well-known stores here mixed in with local vendors trying to pull you in to spend money in their shop.
With a knowledgeable staff and a stunning inventory, you’ll enjoy your shopping experience here, especially if you’re on the hunt for something specific! The prices are somewhat higher than other locations but it is worth a look.
TIP: Caution should be exercised if you are interested in purchasing black coral. The selling of endangered black coral has been illegal in the past, but as of September 2009 it is now federally regulated. A small group of black coral craftsmen have the registered trademark “Cozumel Black Coral” to distinguish their pieces as genuine and legal.
If you need to buy groceries, there are several grocery stores located around San Miguel. Beyond downtown though, you won’t find much other than a few scattered convenience stores, if that.
Cozumel’s newest and biggest grocery store. It’s a very large air-conditioned supermarket, with shaded lower level parking, ATMs, and some English-speaking cashiers. You’ll find well-known American brand name products here as well as a good selection of meat, produce and alcohol. It’s located on Rafael E. Melgar Avenue, just south of the Punta Langosta pier. Taxis line up here so it’s easy to come and go.
A large Mexican-owned chain grocery store. It’s located at the beginning of the southern hotel zone. It has a good selection of fresh fruits, vegetables, dry goods, liquor/beer, soft drinks, meats, cheeses, and freshly baked breads and pastries. There is also a pharmacy, and sections for household goods, hardware, clothing, baby goods and personal care products. Chedraui is easy to find, it’s also located on the main waterfront street (Rafael E. Melgar) near Cozumel Palace. Behind Chedraui is a strip mall and cinema.
San Francisco de Assis
Similar to Chedraui but not as big. There are two locations: Avenida 30 and Juarez and south on Avenida 65. Other, smaller grocery stores include Bodega Aurrera, Aki and Soriana Super. Throughout the downtown core you’ll also come across dozens of OXXO convenience stores, which sell numerous snacks, drinks, alcoholic beverages, cigarettes, along with some toiletries, groceries and beach gear.
A deli that sells fine wines and liquor as well. Here you’ll find everything from champagne to moonshine, alongside fine cheeses, meats, and specialty imported items.