Cozumel Bars, Nightlife & Other Things To Do

A nice way to start the evening and the chance to absorb some local color is having a cocktail and spending some time people watching at one of the outdoor bars or restaurants on the Central Plaza.  Beer, mixed drinks, lemonade, espresso, cappuccino and light snacks are available at the Cafe Centro Comercial, an outdoor cafe towards the back side of the Square. The service is friendly if a bit slow but prices are very reasonable.  In the evening, if you look just inside the entry, you may notice a table of gentlemen and perhaps a lady or two.  The distinguished older gentleman at the table will likely be Don Nassim, the owner of this building and one of the most influential men on the Island of Cozumel, the State of Quintana Roo and in fact, all of Mexico .  On occasion, we have seen 2 different presidents of Mexico as well as governors of Quintana Roo and other dignitaries, both Mexican and foreign sitting at this table kissing the ring of the Don.

  1. credit: purpleslog on Flickr
  2. credit: hutchike on Flickr

While not unique to this island, the two for one Happy Hour in Cozumel is an interesting concept. Here’s the deal: if there are two of you and you each order a beer, the waiter will bring 4 beers. With this knowledge in hand, you might think that if you both would say: “I only want ONE BEER” that the result would be a total of 2 beers.  Not so; the waiter will bring each of you two beers. If you each really only want one beer, only one person should order ONE BEER. The other person should say they don’t care for anything. The waiter will bring both of you a beer.

If you’re going to be in Cozumel over a Sunday night, you should try to be on the Central Plaza for at least a little while between 8-10 pm for the band concert. It’s a great chance to mix with the island natives and absorb some of the local color.

The square in front of the Corpus Christi church on Ave. 20 between Calles 15 and 17 also occasionally features local band concerts on weekends.

A Cozumel institution changed forever in December 2001 when Carlos ‘N Charlie’s moved from their crowded, dirty and smelly home of over 20 years into a new pristine location. Old time regulars will note some changes, mostly in hygiene and atmosphere…more of the first and less of the second. But this is still the place to watch the tourist from the cruise ships go crazy. The new location is impossible to miss; it’s right across the street from the cruise ship pier closest to downtown & next to the Punta Langosta shopping mall.   Depending on your mood, it’s either going to be a lot of fun or a bit too much. If you’re feeling wild and crazy, this is a “can’t miss” place. While not a very relaxing atmosphere, they offer a passable restaurant. The ribs and shrimp are actually quite good.

Upstairs over Carlos ‘N Charlie’s is the Señor Frogs Disco. Both are owned by Grupo Anderson and you’ll likely notice a lot of similarities.

There are a couple Fat Tuesday’s locations in Cozumel. One is on the main plaza near Los Palmeras Restaurant and the other a little further south on Ave. Melgar. Both are pick-up and drinking bars pure and simple and the source for many of the souvenir glasses you’ll see people carrying around town.

Hard Rock Cafe opened a Cozumel location in 1994 on Ave. Melgar across from the downtown pier. Despite the tasteful facade, the impression we get is that the entire operation is an excuse to sell T-shirts to cruisers. The first floor is a T-shirt shop and warehouse.  The second floor is a tiny, overpriced restaurant where you can also buy t-shirts.  The third floor is a business office where they total the daily T-shirt sales receipts. Despite what you might read in some other guides, don’t go there expecting to see live music.

If you’re looking for a spot to watch a ball game from back home or just a taste of home (chili dogs, Rueben Sandwiches, Irish Stew and southern-style Chicken Fried Steak with mashed potatoes) stop in at Kelly’s Sports Bar and Grill. on Grill on Ave10 between AR Salas and 1st.

Some long time visitors to Cozumel may remember when the “Green Door”, half a block off the waterfront on Calle 2, was the only place in town to buy a good Cuban cigar. (For an update on the Green Door, see below.) Well, you can now find what are purported to be Cuban Cigars all over town either in dedicated smoke shops or in many of the better restaurants.

However, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention that some of what is being sold in Cozumel as genuine Havanas are in fact, counterfeit so some care should be exercised when buying premium cigars in Cozumel

The Havana Club is an upscale cigar bar that also features live jazz some evenings. It has a large climate controlled humidor room and a nice collection of historical cigar bands and ribbons. It’s located upstairs at Ave. Rafael Melgar between Calle 6 & Calle 8. Telephone 87 22098 or 87 26599.

A newly opened franchise of the La Casa Del Habanos chain of cigar bars can be found on the 2nd floor above Fat Tuesday’s on Ave. Melgar across the street from the ferry pier.  There is a smoking room with comfortable furnishings and a 10×10 climate controlled walk-in. There is also a small bar with a nice view of waterfront.  This is one place you can be pretty sure is selling the real thing.

With the increased competition in Cozumel for cigar business, the owners of the “Green Door” have converted the place into The Greenhouse Cigar Bar. You can still find a decent selection of smokes from Cuba and Mexico in the front entry room but once you pass into the bar area, you will see that the main product for sale at this location has changed. If you are offended by the presence of female companionship for hire, you may want to steer clear.

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  2. credit: liveu4 on Flickr

The largest disco in town is Neptuno on the corner of Calle 11 & Ave. Melgar..

Across the street from Neptuno you’ll find 1.5 Tequila Lounge is a bit more upscale than most of the bars in Cozumel.  You’ll be able to tell the locals from the tourist…the locals are the more nicely dressed ones.  It’s located on the waterfront side of Ave. Melgar at Calle 11 Sur.  Phone: 987-872-4421.  Web: www.1punto5.com

Cozumel Mini Golf is located on one of the very few hills in town at the corner of Calle 1 and Ave.15th. Putters are given walkie-talkies to carry so that they can order drinks to be delivered or request changes in music. The course carries off the tropical theme in a not too terribly tacky manner.

One recent addition to the “things to do” list for Cozumel is bowling. Caribbean Bol is located at Calle 13 Sur and Ave 5.   phone  878-4321  

The Cozumel Country Club, is a Jack Nicklaus designed 18-hole track located about 4 miles north of the center of town. Posted rates are $105 greens fee but some hotels, Like the Playa Azul,  can offer better rates to their guests.   

For some reason, we get a kick out of the name of the Cozumel Cinepolis (pronounced Sin knee POLICE) movie complex located behind the Chedruai Supermarket. This is a modern theatre with comfortable seats and 5 screens. There will usually be at least a couple US productions in English with Spanish subtitles. Most kid features, even those made in the US will be in Spanish.

If you don’t mind the drive, Coconuts Bar & Grill has “full moon” parties with live music on the ocean side. On a clear night, the view of the moon rising over the ocean is awe-inspiring. Editors note: we’ve heard a rumor that one too many drunk tourist fell while walking down the hill here at night and the bar no longer is open for the full moon parties. But if you are there as the sun goes down, they won’t throw you out.

You may want to start one day in Cozumel with a good reasonably priced breakfast on the rooftop of El Museo, the local museum located about 4 blocks north of the ferry pier on Melgar.  After breakfast, spend some time viewing the cultural and artistic exhibits, including some works by local artists that are for sale.

For a true Mexican experience that many tourists miss, consider spending an afternoon at a local cantina or two. The routine at the cantina is that as long as you are buying an occasional beer or soft drink (at a cost of about $1 each) they will bring you small snacks for free. In addition, there is usually free entertainment in the form of a small combo with a girl singer or two. In some clubs the act might include several dancing girls.

Some cantinas are “Adult Oriented” but many are PG rated. As often as not, the dancing girls are dressed more like they just walked out of an exercise gym than a night club and never remove a single article of clothing.

Migalito’s is a family friendly cantina. It is located on a side street between Ave 25 & 30. Plan to arrive around 2pm.

There is another cantina with fully clothed dancing girls on the right between Ave 20 & 25 (about a block before the PEMEX gas station) on Ave. Bonito Juarez. In the same general area on Juarez is Platino’s, an American style strip tease bar.