Chankanaab Park is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Cozumel. It was dubbed Chankanaab National Park when it was made a refuge and reserve to protect wildlife in 1980. Because of the fact that it is home to some of the best snorkeling and scuba diving sites on the island, it can tend to be somewhat overrun with tourists during the high season. This is much less of a concern during the summer and if you are traveling during off season, just try to arrive at Chankanaab Park as early as possible to avoid the tour bus rush that arrives at the beach around 10 a.m.
The word Chankanaab is from the Mayan “chan” (small) and “kanaab” (sea or ocean). It is named as such for the formations filled with seawater in the interior of the Chankanaab National Park. Once you visit the park you will not at all have trouble understanding why this is the part of the island that became designated as a nature reserve. The stunning beauty of the coastline, beaches, limestone formations, and coral reefs will take your breath away. There is also an array of activities available including prime snorkeling in the Chankanaab Lagoon.
The Chankanaab Reef is one of the most renowned and popular dive sites in Cozumel, so if you are a snorkeler or diver staying in the area, you may not need to make any plans beyond diving nearby. If you are traveling with children it is also handy to know that the kids can enjoy snuba while you are snorkeling. Snuba diving is the newest and safest method for beginners or kids to experience the thrill of underwater exploration. A guide will submerge along with the divers who remain connected to a twenty-foot oxygen tube. Snuba makes it possible for everyone to jump right in without having to go through a lot of formal training. This is great especially when you are only on vacation for a short period of time. If you have not heard of snuba diving, check it out if you are interested in underwater exploration without the extra training.
Perhaps the most popular and unique attraction at Chankanaab National Park is swimming with dolphins. The Dolphin Discovery portion of Chankanaab Park offers a range of services including the popular Dolphin Encounter, Dolphin Swim Adventure, and Royal Dolphin Swim. Each program is simply a variation on what you get to do while in the water with the dolphins. The Chankanaab Lagoon only adds to the exotic appeal of the National Park as it is filled with colorful fish and marine life. In many ways, the Chankanaab National Park is something of a paradise inside a paradise on earth. Cozumel is so amazing that it is hard to imagine setting a particular part of it aside as a nature reserve. You can be happy that Jacques Cousteau headed to Cozumel in 1961 and introduced much of the world to the wonders of Cozumel. His trip and the subsequent commercialization of the island led to the need to put this amazing part of the island in safety. It is one of the most beautiful and pristine parts of Cozumel.