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Cozumel


Description

Cozumel (Mayan: Island of the Swallows) (Kúutsmil in Modern Maya) is an island in the Caribbean Sea off the eastern coast of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, opposite Playa del Carmen, and close to the Yucatan Channel. The main reef formations of Cozumel are developed in the southwest of their insular platform, and are part of the second largest system of coralline reefs in the world, that begins in the northeast end of the Peninsula of Yucatan and finishes in the Gulf of Honduras.
Among the main biological components of these reefs, included around 45 species of corals that are forming the reefs, as well as a great variety of aquatic flora and fauna like; algae, annelids, anemones, sponges, mollusks, crustaceans, fish and soft corals. The algae, particularly the calcareous ones and the zooxantelas that live in symbiosis with the corals, play a very important role as primary producers in the energy flow of those ecosystems.
The Maya are believed to have first settled Cozumel by the early part of the 1st millennium AD, and older Preclassic Olmec artifacts have been found on the island as well. The island was sacred to Ix Chel, the Maya Moon Goddess, and the temples here were a place of pilgrimage, especially by women desiring fertility. There are a number of ruins on the island, most from the Post-Classic period. The largest Maya ruins on the island were bulldozed to make way for an airplane runway during World War II. The ruins of San Gervasio are located approximately at the center of the island and are the largest remaining ruins.

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