´Carnaval de Cozumel, and how safe, is it?
It really doesn’t matter what you call it, carnival, carnaval, Carnevale, Karneval, or Mardi Gras it means a fantastic time. The Greek influence is there for all to see in the masks, dancing, drinking and costumes flaunted on the festive streets during the “CARNAVAL DE COZUMEL”.
Every February the streets of Cozumel transforms into the magical world of loud music, Hot outfits, vibrant dancing and a wave of hype you only see once a year. Two weeks before, the excitement builds as the Cozumel Carnival King and Queen have to be elected. Candidates compete in the streets and on the radio to win the crown. During this time ´´Benito Juarez´´ the main square is full of stalls, where local cuisine and mexican beer can be purchased. Election day sees a show of candidates preforming for their supporters and fans. The following day the carnival royal couple perform in the park ´´Benito Juarez´. The following week competitions take place for ´best children’s performance´, ´best school performance´ to name a few. The main parade takes place on Saturday, Sunday and shrove Tuesday . Monday is a day of rest, recovery time for a margarita on the beach before the closing ceremony the following day . The traditional burning of “Juan Carnaval” a famous make-believe character brings the festive to an end.
Early history of carnival in Cozumel
After the Mayan population was wiped out from small pox, 40 years after Cortes (Hispanic explorer) and his army visited the Island. Pirates and Buccaneers from all over the Caribbean used the Island to stash treasure, hideout and do ship repairs until 1848 when their pirate hideaway was invaded by 29 Spanish families who came from the mainland to settle. And thrive they did.
Within 26 years carnival Party on Cozumel was born. By the time Mr C.L.Goodrich Noble wrote about his 6 months living on the island in 1874 the festival was in full swing.
"All Classes Ages Are Fond of Music, Dancing, gambling a Little, feast-day sports, the recurrence of which are frequent, the Innocent revelry of the pastories, the parade and pomp of the Carnival. The guitar and violin, bugle and drums are most of the musical instruments, and all these are sadly out of repair ¡No piano or organ has ever yet been taken to the island!". (Goodrich, C.L, Travel memories, Powell & Maynard, USA, 1874)
When a American magazine started publishing segments of his book praising the colorful costumes, choreograph and lively music tourists started flocking to the Island, year after year.
In 1904 a masquerade, Cuban in origin was introduced where protagonist were depicted as black and the woman parts where played by men. In 1908 formal permission was given by the Island authorities. Jose Azueta paid 4 pesos for a permit for a dance and 1.5 pesos for mestizas. Men played the roles of woman up to the 1940s.
The 70´s carnival took a dark turn, featuring graffiti & violence. The local government took control of activities, creating a bigger and more incredible fiesta for the people and families of Cozumel. They managed to provide a healthy and safe environment for all ages, that is set to delight and entertain with glamour, fun and festivities .
ITS FUN OVERLOAD! . It gives you a real insight to the beautiful warmth of the inhabitants , along with the amazing energy of this Caribbean Island. Its two parts Pre-Carnival and Carnival starting the 15 -21 February 2023. This is a family-oriented event, where families prepare for months -including the family pet.
The city shuts down completely from early morning till all thought-out the night. 7 days of intense partying, pace yourself and drink lots of water. This extravaganza attracts thousands of people from around the globe. This is more than just a parade and street dancers, its living your best life in this very moment.
But how safe is it??
Mexico has had a bad reputation for many years. But this isn’t accurate for Cozumel whose crime rate is relatively low. Most common safety issues for tourists are petty crime, illness (diarrhea, only drink bottled water), and natural hazards (hurricanes from June-Nov).
Even these concerns are relatively minor and the Island has very few problems with drugs or gang violence. There are no bad neighborhoods, the island is small and there is a substantial police presence, Armed Forces, and Marines. Adding strength to its zero-tolerance policy towards delinquents.
You can feel safe walking around the streets of Cozumel. But always use common sense, stick to well-lit areas. Be street wise. If you’re out late at night, take a taxi home. It’s what your mum would want you to do. Most importantly bring your positive vibrations everywhere you go.
Going to the Island
Thinking of visiting Cozumel?
Take longer than a weekend, even a week doesn’t feel like enough time.
Cozumel is famous for first class scuba diving and snorkeling, Boat trips to El Cielo (‘Cielo´ is Spanish for both sky and heaven) and exploring cultural sites like the Mayan underwater city. Dec-April is the best time to visit, the weather is perfect.
The Island has an international airport CZM, with direct flights to the USA. This is the fastest and easiest way by far to reach the island. You can also take a ferry from the mainland in Playa del Carmen, that departs on the hour, 7 days a week. Last ferry departs Cozumel at 10pm. Word of advice don’t buy a return ticket, two ferry companies Ultramar and Winjet operate alternately. Waiting a hour for your right ferry can take up precious beach time.
Take a cruise ship, fall in love with the sea. Cozumel is one of the most popular cruise ship ports in the world. With its ease of disembarking, moving around the island, and incredible views.
You can drive to Cozumel via the cargo ferry from Playa Del Carman. The two companies are Ultrama and Trascaribe . I recommend checking the timetable as they have limited sailings.
Care about the environment and yourself, take or buy sunscreen that is reef and fish friendly. If it’s not good for wildlife, do you really want to use it on you?
Pay in pesos whenever possible, it’s a great way to save money. (No need to pay high bank commissions on Credit card use)
When you’re here in Cozumel, live your best life possible!
By Santana Warner