Can Cozumel be visited on a backpacking or shoe string budget?
Cozumel is more than just a luxury destination for cruise ships and scuba divers. The island has a reputation for being one huge dock for cruises, and to an extent that is true. There ARE a ton of cruise ship day trippers in San Miguel (the main town on the island).
BUT…step away a few blocks from the main streets in San Miguel and suddenly you are away from the crowds, and the true nature of Cozumel opens up to you.
Cozumel is a gem, truly. While San Miguel itself is a bit meh, the island is ringed by excellent coral reefs, and lined with pristine (and often empty) beaches. There are a thousand and one water based activities to partake in. While you are on land and not enjoying the sea, Cozumel’s shoreline begs exploration.
Visiting Cozumel does not have to be an expensive endeavour. We spent over a week on the island and found it to be very affordable, if one spends their money wisely and avoids the rather obvious tourist traps.
Below you can find a breakdown of common prices on Cozumel, from groceries and hostels to scooter rentals. We hope this helps you plan your budget for that awesome trip to Mexico you are about to book (seriously, book it!)
Cozumel on a Backpacking Budget
Our budgeting goal for Cozumel was $40 USD a day per person. With a little bit of frugal spending, we were able to stick to that on most days. Yeah, forty dollars is a bit on the high end for backpackers, but we did indulge ourselves a bit, to be honest.
However, our vital daily expenses on Cozumel were pretty darn low. By limiting the amount of food we ate out, cooking our own meals, eating fruit and bread for lunch, and staying in a hostel dorm our minimum daily expense was 201 Pesos or about 16 dollars USD per day. That’s 16 dollars a day while chilling on a really sweet island in the Caribbean. Pretty neat, huh? The best part is, by not spending money on private hotels, or over priced tourist restaurants we had about 160 dollars each for the week to spend on fun activities and outings!
So yeah, you can totally backpack Cozumel on a budget. You don’t have to be a backpacker to enjoy the island without breaking your wallet. There are some decently priced private rooms available a tad outside the center of town.
Check out our price guide below to see what prices are like on the island, and start planning your trip to Cozumel on a budget!
Want to book accommodations in Cozumel, Mexico? We recommend using the following sites:
- Local “Street” Food – 30 Pesos/$2.50 USD for 3 tacos
- Dinner and a beer at a “Nice” Restaurant – 120 Pesos/$9.60 per person
- Beer at a Supermarket or 7/11 – 14 Pesos/$1.12 USD per local beer
- Beer in a Bar – Starting at 25 Pesos/$2 USD for local beer
- Cup of Coffee at local convenience store – 16.5 Pesos/$1.32 USD per cup
- Liter of water in convenience store – 14 Pesos/$1.10 USD
- 5 Liters of bottled water in super market – 26 Pesos/$2.08 USD
- Groceries for Breakfast – 15 Pesos/$1.25 per person per day
- Groceries for Dinner – 30 Pesos/$2.50 per person per day
- Ferry from Playa Del Carmen to Cozumel – 162 Pesos/$13.00 USD per person
- Scooter rental – 312 Pesos/$25.00 dollars a day per scooter, not including gas
- Snorkeling – 300 Pesos/$24.00 USD per person for 3 hour boat ride, guide, and equipment
- Snorkel and mask rental – 240 Pesos/$12.00 USD per person for daily snorkel rental
- Pack of (20) Marlboro Cigarettes – 45 Pesos/$3.60 USD
- Waterproof Band-Aids – 50 pesos/$4.00
- Tampons – 45 pesos/$3.60
- Laundry – 50 pesos/$4.00
Expenses for scooters and snorkeling, or any other activity you might want to partake in should not be factored into your daily budget. This becomes overly complicated. An easier way of going about things is to calculate your minimum daily costs and then set aside all left over daily funds into a “activities” pool. Thus on a day when we rented scooters and had a few extra beers with dinner we did not consider ourselves over budget even though we spent more than $40, we just subtracted it out of the pool.
You need to remember to set aside some money for things like bus or ferry tickets if you plan on being on the move often. That aside the above formula should be a great place to start when budgeting the trip of your dreams to beautiful Cozumel.
Disclaimer – We have included a few handy little affiliate links in case any of our readers want to book accommodations. We receive a small commission for any sales made, without any additional cost to you, our dear reader.