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  • Writer's pictureChasingBuffaloesandBeyond

One Awesome Day at Chankanaab National Park - Cozumel

Updated: Jan 20, 2022

Palm trees, beach chairs and palapas line the beach at Chankanaab National Park
Enjoy a day in paradise at Chankanaab National Park
Welcome sign at Chankanaab National Park
Arriving bright & early to Chankanaab

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.



 Replica of a Mayan statue in Chankanaab National Park
Statue in the Mayan Village

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.

Large stone building in the jungle that is a replica of Mayan ruins in Chankanaab National Park
Although a replica - this was a fun area to explore at Chankanaab
Mother and son sitting on stone stairs in the Mayan village in Chankanaab National Park
Having fun in the Mayan village at Chankanaab


 Large crocodile sitting along the edge of the water at Chankanaab National Park
Watching the crocodiles!

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.

Baby sitting in a large colorful Cozumel sign representing the 'U'.
We loved Cozumel!


 Lounge chairs, palapas and palm trees  on the white sands of Chankanaab National Park
Tropical Paradise at Chankanaab National Park

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!

Row of hammocks await along the beach at Chankanaab National Park
Nothing more relaxing than swaying in a hammock with the tropical breeze
Easy stair access right down into the clear blue snorkeling waters of Chankanaab National Park
Easy access steps right into an amazing snorkeling area!
Beautiful rocky shoreline along the blue and turquoise waters of Chankanaab National Park
Stunning view looking down the beach at Chankanaab
Underwater statue along the snorkeling trail in Chankanaab National Park
Exploring the clear blue waters of Chankanaab

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.

Underwater statue on the sandy ocean floor at Chankanaab
One of the many underwater statues found along Chankanaab's snorkel trail
Tropical school of fish in the waters at Chankanaab National Park
Underwater was teeming with beautiful tropical fish



 Sea Lion trainer feeding a Sea Lion at Chankanaab National Park
Enjoying the 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!

Sea Lion and trainer putting on a performance at Chankanaab National Park
This was a fun show for the entire family!


Mother and son standing inside a large circular statue of dolphins at Chankanaab National Park
At the Dolphin Discovery area in Chankanaab

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!

View of the rocky shoreline and blue waters of the dolphin enclosure at Chankanaab National Park
Dolphin Discovery enclosure at Chankanaab


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!

Blue skies, palm trees and a small calm cove that offers a great place to swim at Chankanaab National Park
Shallow beautiful cove/inlet that is great for families
Mother and son enjoying the sparkling blue pool at Chankanaab National Park
Enjoying some splashing in the pool

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!

View of the large swimming pool at Chankanaab National Park
The beautiful pool at Chankanaab



 Straw covered restaurant of El Bucanero at Chankanaab National Park
Lunch at El Bucanero

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!

Palm trees and a row of lounge chairs line the sandy white beach of Chankanaab National Park
Tropical paradise at Chankanaab

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!

Baby sitting in the sand near a small palm tree with beach chairs and umbrellas in the background at Chankanaab National Park
Chankanaab offers something for everyone - we loved spending a day at this wonderful park!

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!

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