Do you love exploring life beneath the sea? Or are you a fan of tranquil, sandy beaches, stunning infinity pools, fantastic dining, and fresh, tropical cocktails? Either way, the IHG El Presidente Cozumel Resort & Spa needs to be on your travel radar!
This fantastic property is less than a 5-hour flight from much of the continental US and has the unique distinction of being the only property that we’ve ever visited multiple times. I’m just hard-pressed to find a better option for a winter dive/snorkel getaway.
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5 Features That Make El Presidente The Ultimate Dive/Snorkel Resort Near the US
- Proximity. As I mentioned before, Cozumel is less than 5 hours away from much of the continental US!
- Reef Access. Cozumel is home to the second largest and one of the most highly rated reef systems in the world.
- On-Site Dive/Snorkel Boats. Boat tours at the Presidente are run by Scuba Du, a highly rated dive/snorkel boat operation. Enjoy the convenience of being just steps away from your daily excursion while staying at this property. Another, notable benefit that distinguishes from competitors: Scuba Du does not accept cruise ship passengers on their dives/snorkels.
- Amenities. If you have kids or a non-swimming spouse with you, no worries! The Presidente has two large pools, several dining venues, a luxurious and recently revamped spa, a kids camp, bike rentals, pottery painting, and more.
- Ambiance. The El Presidente Cozumel feels very much like an upscale, residential property. Even when at capacity, things are rarely crowded. The clientele are pretty subdued (for the most part). You come here to dive/snorkel, relax and enjoy great food/drink!
The Ultimate Dive/Snorkel Resort: Reefs
Whether you’ve been snorkeling/diving for ages or have always been interested and would like to learn more, Scuba Du at the Presidente will help you out. First-time snorkelers can rent equipment on-site and those curious about scuba can sign up to get certified while at the hotel. If you’re not quite ready for that level of commitment, staff will take you on a short dive in the pool or close to shore so can get a feel for the experience.
The property sits right on top of a reef and you can see lots of sea life without ever leaving the hotel. On a recent trip, we viewed many types of tropical fish, several barracuda, and an eagle ray, right off the beach.
Dive trip locations vary by day of the week. Favorite spots include Palancar Caves, Santa Rosa, and Dalila. Specialty wreck and night dives are also available. Natty Guy took an excursion to the Devil’s Throat (a 120-ft deep tunnel dive) some years back and found it a thrilling adventure! Whether you bring your own gear or rent, the excellent staff will clean, dry, and store your equipment each day. No soggy wetsuit or schlepping stuff back and forth from your room!
You can enjoy four dining locations on the property. The food is quite good throughout with the Le Cap being our favorite destination, both for its ambiance and light, Mediterranean offerings. Check out all the offerings here.
- El Caribeno (Mexican). Fondly known as the palapa, this restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Grab a quick bite or coffee here then walk the few steps to catch your boat at the attached dock. Live music plays on alternating nights.
- Le Cap (Mediterranean). Great for lunch on return from your morning dive/snorkel trip as well as for dinner under the stars. Do NOT miss the grilled octopus ceviche, Niçoise salad, the Mahi puttanesca and grilled surf & turf here!
- Faro Blanco (Fusion). This restaurant has a lovely patio as well as indoor dining and focuses on a mixture of South American and Asian-inspired dishes.
- Alfredo di Roma Trattoria (Italian). Traditional Italian offerings with both indoor and outdoor seating.
Downtown San Miguel de Cozumel is a short, 15-minute cab ride away and offers everything from walk-up taco stands to sit-down dining. A few of our favorites include Guido’s and Kondesa. A short walk in the opposite direction of town will take you to Money Bar, a very casual waterside venue with great drinks and an extensive menu.
The Ultimate Dive/Snorkel Resort: Property
I’m usually content to grab a book and relax on the beach or by the pool after lunch but if you need something more, there are plenty of things on-property to fill your afternoon.
- The Spa. Recently remodeled with a full treatment menu, tri-temperature plunge pools, a steam room, sauna and more.
- Sports. Kayaks, jet skis and paddleboards can be rented on the beach. Tennis, table tennis and volleyball courts are available and the gym offers a nice mix of cardio equipment and free weights. Land or pool yoga classes are offered on occasion or can be arranged for privately. The front desk will give you access to a fleet of free bikes if you want to ride into town.
- Crafts and Games. Paint your own souvenir piece of pottery. Look for this in the afternoon near the spa/fitness room/children’s center. Or take in a game of chess using the giant chess board.
- Get Close to Nature. There are two iguana houses on property, one at the entrace/parking lot area and one near the south end of the property. Gorgeous tropical plants and a variety of sea-birds abound throughout the property.
- Go Back on the Water. Scuba Du also has a small pleasure boat, Cielito, for private rental, sunset cruises, etc.
Property Photo Tour
Part of what I love about this resort is that there are so many cozy, private areas to discover…hidden settees and lounges, private firepits, well-placed hammocks. When you come here, be sure to really wander around the property. I’ve been numerous times and still find new discoveries on each visit!
I rarely (i.e., never) say this but The Presidente is so perfect, there is really no need to go off-site. However, if you do, there are several notable sites for you to explore. Be sure to check out:
- Punta Sur – an ecological park and lighthouse with spectacular views.
- El Cielo – this sandbar is only reachable by boat (Scuba Du can arrange a trip) but is known for the many starfish and stingray that you’ll find in the crystal blue waters.
- San Gervasio Ruins – an ancient Mayan settlement.
- Jade Cavern (Chempita) – a scenic cenote hidden in the jungle.
- Isla de Pasion – a secluded island on the north tip of Cozumel that features a combination of mangroves, beach, dwarf forest and reef.
Kids may enjoy a visit to Pueblo de Maiz, near the San Gervasio ruins. This recreated Mayan village offers an interactive experience that gives visitors a taste of what village life was like in Mayan times. Food, drink, fiber, and dance demonstrations are among the highlights.
For dive/snorkel lovers, this resort is truly the best mid-winter getaway we’ve found! It’s the perfect combination of desired amenities and accessibility and we’re already hoping to return next year.
Let me know – is Mexico on your travel bucket list? Have you been before? What regions are your favorites? Happy travels!
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