First declared a National Park in 1980, Chankanaab National Park is wonderful place to spend the a day while in Cozumel. In Mayan, 'Chan' means small and 'kanaab' means ocean or sea. And so 'Chankanaab' refers to the small natural lagoon that is found within the park. Activities here include snorkeling, diving, visiting the crocodiles, watching the sea lion show, swimming with dolphins, tequila tasting, exploring the Mayan ruins (replicas), zip-lining, swimming in the pool, or just relaxing.
With so many things to do at Chankanaab, it's hard to know where to start. Below I will walk you thru how we spent a wonderful day at Chankanaab National Park, and all the different activities we were able to enjoy with one day. Arriving early in the morning just as Chankanaab was opening for the day, we first set out to enjoy the Mayan Village. While the village is all replicas, it was fun to wander thru and see features that were common within a Mayan community.
CROCODILE EXHIBIT AND CHANKANAAB LAGOON
As we continued exploring, we came across the Crocodile Exhibit which were fun to see, my son loved seeing the Crocs! Next, we came across the Chankanaab Lagoon, in which the area is named after. This beautiful lagoon provided a great spot to spend some time viewing the fish below in the crystal clear waters. Also near the lagoon was a colorful Cozumel sign providing for some fun photo opportunities.
CHANKANAAB BEACH & SNORKELING
After a bit of exploring, it was time to head to the beach. Arriving on Chankanaab Beach you are met with the brilliant turquoise-blue waters, soft sand and idyllic swaying palm trees. Take your pick from of the many palapas and lounge chairs available along the beach or enjoy some time simply lounging in a hammock and enjoying this paradise! For some, just laying in a hammock watching the palm leaves above could be all that is needed for a memorable day of relaxation!
For us, we decided it was time for some snorkeling! Taking turns to snorkel, while one of us stayed to play in the sand with our son - my husband was the first one to set off to try some snorkeling. We had our snorkel gear that we brought with us, but if you need gear, snorkel gear can be rented for the day while visiting Chankanaab. With steps right down into the ocean, the access couldn't be easier! Within just a few feet of leaving the steps, you are immersed in a beautiful underwater world teeming with marine life. Also fun is the Chankanaab snorkel trail that has been created underwater where you can swim along and find different statues that have been strategically placed underwater.
SEA LION SHOW
After some time snorkeling, we figured it was time to do some more exploring around Chankanaab. First item on our list was to take in a Sea Lion Show as we figured our son would love watching the Sea Lions. And yes, we were right - he had a blast! This was a great show for the entire family to enjoy and runs multiple times during the day. Just don't sit too close to the front it you don't want to get wet! The sea lion are quite the splashers!
We then made our way to the Dolphin Discovery area. Swimming with Dolphins is another great experience that is available at Chankannab. While we did not do this activity (our son was a bit too young for this), we did walk around the around the area where you could see the Dolphins and the area they are kept. It looks to be a really nice natural looking enclosure and is definitely on our list of things to do when we return to Cozumel someday!
SWIMMING IN THE INLET & POOL
With all this walking around, it was getting hot out! It was time for a swim, so we stopped at the small inlet/cove swimming area to cool off. This was a wonderful family location with soft sand leading to the shallow waters. The views of this lovely inlet or cove are picture perfect! We enjoyed being able to swim here with our 1 1/2 year old son!
With so much to see and do in Chankanaab we next headed to the giant swimming pool! Trying to see and do all we could during our day in Chankanaab, we made a quick stop to swim in the beautiful pool and enjoy some pina coladas! This pool is a nice alternative to the ocean if you have small children!
LUNCH & RELAXING ON THE BEACH
By now, it was getting quite late in the afternoon and we realized we needed lunch! So off we headed back toward where we had snorkeled earlier in the morning to El Bucanero. There are a total of five different restaurants/snack bars to choose from in Chankanaab but this is one we had scoped out earlier in the day as the place we wanted to eat. Of course the prices were slightly steep - but the food was actually quite good here! And don't forget to order a tropical drink or two - we enjoyed the Mango Margaritas!
We then spend the rest of the day enjoying the beach. While our son was wiped out and took a nap sleeping on a beach towel, we enjoyed a super relaxing afternoon snorkeling and enjoying a couple more tropical drinks - Pina Coladas and Chi Chi's definitely made for a perfect afternoon under the sun in Chankanaab National Park! Visiting this park is a must do if you are visiting Cozumel!
Interested in planning your own trip to Chankanaab National Park? Below is our summarized itinerary for you to follow or adjust to your own preferences. ENJOY!
Day 1: Arrive early to take in a full day. Explore the Mayan Village replicas, visit the Crocodile Exhibit, enjoy the views around the Chankanaab Lagoon, hit the beach (snorkel & soak up some sun), take a break from the beach and take in a Sea Lion Show, wander by the Dolphin Discovery area (if time - sign up to swim with the dolphins), Swim in the inlet/cove, swim in the pool, spend more time lounging at the beach & snorkeling!
Looking for other activities to enjoy while visiting the island of Cozumel? Click Here to read more!