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Cozumel, Mexico

By John Sage

Cozumel Disabled Access Review One of the most popular Caribbean cruise destinations, Cozumel disabled access presents several accessibility challenges for visitors including steep ramps, steps at restaurants, and a challenging ferry to the mainland.

Nevertheless, Cozumel wheelchair access is sufficiently good enough that disabled cruise passengers can visit a wheelchair accessible beach, Tulum, and several shopping destinations!

I gave Cozumel a 4 Star Sage AccessibilityRating because it has accessible van transportation to get around the island and the island is fairly flat with wheelchair ramps into many attractions. 

It did not get a higher rating because many of the ramps are steeper than ADA standards, most bathrooms are not accessible, and one of the most popular attractions (Tulum) has multiple accessibility challenges.


View Cozumel accessible shore excursions


Best Aspects of Cozumel Disabled Access

Lots to do on the island and on the mainland– Disabled cruise passengers will be able to visit Cozumel again and again without running out of accessible things to do!  An accessible driving tour of Cozumel island, an ATV tour, accessible snorkeling, an accessible beach visit (shown on the left), and an accessible driving tour to Mayan ruins on mainland (shown on the right) are just a few of the Cozumel accessible shore excursion options.

Cozumel island Cozumel island

Numerous accessible souvenir shopping opportunitiesNumerous accessible souvenir shopping opportunities – You can get good prices on numerous souvenirs and other items in Cozumel.  Some of the shops have steps at the entrance, but there are many that have ramped or flat access (shown on the right).

Flat island – While islands like Jamaica, Puerto Rico, St. Maarten, and St. Thomas have hills that can present problems for wheelchair user, Cozumel is flat like Grand Turk, Freeport, Key West, and Cayman.

Accessible ferry to mainland – The wheelchair accessible Cozumel ferry to Playa del Carmen has ramps at both ferry terminals.  The Cozumel ramp is shown in the two photos below.  Go to the bottom of this page to see the Playa del Carmen wheelchair ramps and some of the challenges there.

Accessible ferry to mainland Accessible ferry to mainland


All three ports are step-free – Cozumel has three cruise piers.  Which one you arrive at will depend on which cruise line you use.  Puerta Maya is located furthest to the south and used by Carnival Corp cruise lines (Carnival, Holland America, Princess, etc…).  The International Pier is typically used by Royal Caribbean and Celebrity (photos of the two ramps shown below).  Punta Langosta is located near the town of San Miguel and is typically used by Norwegian and the remaining cruise lines.

Puerta Maya Puerta Maya

Ramps into some shops in Cozumel & Playa del Carmen – Cozumel wheelchair access ramps can steeper than wheelchair ramps in the USA and Canada.  A photo from shops near the International Pier is shown on the left and a photo from Playa del Carmen is shown on the right.

Cozumel & Playa del Carmen Playa del Carmen


Worst Aspects of Cozumel Disabled Access

Long walk/roll to exit port– The cruise piers extend far into the ocean on the west side of the island.  To get from your cruise ship to the port exit can require you walking/rolling up to 500 meters.

 Long walk/roll to exit port Long walk/roll to exit port


500 meter route from the cruise ship to the Puerta Maya port exit:

Route from the cruise ship to the Puerta Maya port  

Long taxi lines at piersLong taxi lines at piers – With thousands of people getting off 1 or 2 ships at each pier, getting a taxi can involve waiting in a long line.  If you don’t want to wait in line, you should book your transportation in advance.

Main attractions are not within walking distance of port – You’ll need transportation to reachTulum, accessible beaches, tequila tasting, and Punta Sur ecological reserve.

Extremely few accessible vans on the island – There are only twoCozumel wheelchair accessible vans for 5 or 6 ships in port each day.  That means the first 2 people out of ~130 disabled cruise passengers will get an accessible van. You should book your Cozumel accessible transportationmonths in advance!

Dune buggy tours are challenging to access – Getting into the dune buggies is possible for wheelchair users (I did it!) but it can be challenging.  There is no door on the vehicle so you need to slide over the side of the car (photo shown below on the left).

Dune buggy tours are challenging to access Bathroom


Many bathrooms on the island are not accessible – Some bathrooms have steps to enter them, and the ones that do have ramps (like the one at Punta Sur shown above on the right), can have small toilet stalls.

Entrances to restaurants usually don’t have ramps – Most restaurants have a step or two to enter them.

Entrances to restaurants usually don’t have ramps Entrances to restaurants usually don’t have ramps


Sandy beaches & rocky beaches are not wheelchair accessible– While some beaches allow wheelchair users to roll over pavement to get close to the sand (like the example shown on the left), no Cozumel wheelchair access ramps lead all the way to the water.  Some beaches have steps to reach them, like the Play San Martin beach shown on the right.

Sandy beaches & rocky beaches are not wheelchair accessible Sandy beaches & rocky beaches are not wheelchair accessible


Accessibility challenges on the ferry– While the ferry can be used by wheelchair users (I did it with my own wheelchair when I visited Tulum), assistance may be required.  The photos below show the wheelchair ramp in Playa del Carmen.  You can see that there are wooden boards along the ramp, and they are wide enough that my front wheels hit every one of them. 

In the photo on the right, you can see that the ramp does not come all the way down into the ferry so the height different is the size of a typical step.  Electric wheelchair users in particular may have difficulties with this.

Accessibility challenges on the ferry Accessibility challenges on the ferry

It’s also worth mentioning that there are two ferries and the ferry schedule can be difficult to figure out on your own.  You don’t want to miss your cruise ship departing!


Steep ramps and sand at Tulum – There are two flights of stairs (up and down) to enter Tulum and a ramp (shown below on the left) leads alongside them.  The ramps are among the steepest that I have encountered in the Caribbean and most (maybe all?) wheelchair users will need assistance to ascend it.  Some spots in Tulum have soft sand (shown on the right) so you’ll need to choose your route carefully.

Steep ramps and sand at Tulum Steep ramps and sand at Tulum



View Cozumel accessible shore excursions