Chankanaab National Park, a popular tourist attraction in Cozumel, features a man made beach, reef snorkeling, an archeological replica display, Mayan village, zip lines and several interactive marine experiences. One of the ladies in our cruise group had booked the Swim with the Manatees experience through the Shore Excursion Group website, but had not read all the details carefully. It wasn’t until the day before that she realized that she had to take a Taxi to the the park from the cruise pier for this activity. Transportation was not provided by the tour company. Since I had no major plans for Cozumel, I decided to go along with her and just pay the general admission to the park. This way she was traveling with someone from our group with fewer worries. It also gave me an opportunity to survey all the offering s at the park and be able to advise my clients as to the value of the park experience.
First, getting the Taxi at the cruise pier was no trouble and it was actually very easy to explain to the driver where we were going. His seat covers in his taxi were advertisements for the Chankanaab National park. Just 10 minutes from the cruise port, it was an easy ride and only $15 including tip. Once at the park my friend and I went to the admissions booth where her pre-reserved Swim with the Manatees ticket covered her general admission and I paid $21. Hard to gauge the value of general admission when all it does it get you into the lovely park and its beaches, but it probably has more value if you participate in some of the exclusive activities at the park like the Zip Line or the Swim with the Dolphins.
The park has a lovely garden area with replicas of archaeological finds from all over Mexico including Chacmool reclining figure offering statues, Olmec colossal heads and the famous The Moon Goddess Coyolxauhqui stone from Tenochtitlan. I knew enough about each of these statues to explain a little bit to my friend. The real disk depicting a dismembered Coyolxauhqui was found during construction in 1978 in Mexico City. Its discovery led to the excavation of the Templo Mayor. The display also had replicas of small Mayan temples like the ones found on the island of Cozumel. The park offers a guided tour of this area for those who may be learning about Mexican pre-Columbian history for the first time. The area also features a replica Mayan village with a food and culture lesson as well.
The park features a zip-line and beautiful man made beach with plenty of beach chairs and steps into the water where the snorkeling is supposed to be very good. To get into the water one must navigate over rocky coral. On a calm day this would probably be very easy, but the water was pretty choppy during our visit so I didn’t venture in. For those who are there on calmer days, the snorkeling and diving area features and underwater park with sunken statues. Certified divers can also visit an underwater cave. There are several full service, buffet, and snack shack type restaurants on the beach front as well as vendor kiosks with snorkel equipment and kayaks for rent.
Marine Life Encounters
The park features three different opportunities for visitors to interact with marine mammals with different levels of interactivity offered at different price points. My friend did the swim with the Manatees. They also offer Dolphin Encounters and Swim With the Dolphins. They have a sea lion show and the there is also a sea lion encounter offered in that arena. I enjoyed a cerveza and chips and guacamole while I watch several groups swim with the dolphins and interact with the manatees. Everyone who participated in these experiences seemed to really enjoy the experience. My friends who did the swim with the manatees was very impressed with the amount of time that they got to spend with the animals and the different personalities of the three manatees in the park. For those who have been wanting to swim with dolphins, this park offers an extensive experience in a large dolphin enclosure, with small groups and lengthy time with the animals.