Off Season in Cozumel

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Off-Season.”

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In Cozumel, Mexico, off-season means empty streets and empty beaches. Switch the sun screen for an umbrella and you’re good to go.

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During the tourist season, cruise ships bring 25,000 visitors every day, to an island with a population of 100,000. During the rainy months that number drops in half, and many passengers stay on board.
Travel tips for off-season Cozumel:

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Rain? Pshaw.
1. Swim. The water is still warm.

2. Visit San Miguel, where most locals live. Waterfront businesses are priced for cruise ship passengers, but a few blocks inland is a vibrant community of shops and businesses, some willing to bargain.

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Souvenirs, anyone?
3. Visit the national preserve Punta del Sur at the south end of the island. Miles of undeveloped coastline, large lagoons, complete with crocodiles and flamingos, and a great beach for snorkeling. During high season the place is mobbed by visitors tearing up and down the access road in four wheel drives vehicles. When the weather isn’t so nice, the place empties out.

4. Visit Mayan ruins.

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Mayan Temple at San Gervasio. Take the staff up on the offer of mosquito repellent.
5. Sign up for a turtle release party.

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Turtles need protection from vultures, feral cats, dogs, poachers and tourists.
Two species, loggerhead and green turtles nest on the island, and several others migrate through and feed in the vicinity. Nesting season runs from May to November. The Parks and Museum Foundation’s Punta Sur Park Turtle Salvation Program, takes visitors out with turtle brigades (maximum of 15) to assist with release of hatchlings, and for study and guard duty. The City of San Miguel’s Volunteer Turtle Salvation Program, also helps protect nesting turtles. Both groups are in need of volunteers and financial support.

6. Eat. Our two favorite restaurants: Kinta Mexican Bistro and Kondesa, owned by chef Kris Wallenta and his brother Jason. Kinta focuses on traditional Mexican flavors and dishes with an imaginative twist — wonderful sauces, cozy setting. Kondesa’s bar opens to a garden restaurant with a zen theme, and it’s menu features locally caught fish. The guak (guacamole) trio appetizer was fantastic.

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7. Learn about recent history, politics and environmental issues. Visit the museum, learn about the impact of six boa constrictors released from a film set, of resorts on turtle nesting sites, how the island was affected by Hurricane Wilma in 2005, and by the 2008 financial crisis.

8. If all else fails.

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