1. Home
  2. Destinations
  3. Western Caribbean
  4. Shopping in Cozumel Cruise Port: 9 Popular Souvenirs
Pottery from Cozumel, Mexico (Photo: Adam Coulter)

Shopping in Cozumel Cruise Port: 9 Popular Souvenirs

Shopaholics of all types can have a field day shopping at the Cozumel cruise port and nearby San Miguel. If you'd like to pick up a branded souvenir, just stick to the two open-air shopping malls adjacent to Cozumel's three ports. You'll find Senor Frog's, Margaritaville and Pirana Joe stores selling all manner of branded merchandise, a Diamonds International and Colombian Emeralds and a number of stores selling overpriced trinkets and "authentic" Mexican goods.

But what if you're after something a little more local and authentic -- handmade in Mexico, rather than China, for example? We recommend heading to the Mercado Municipal (Calle Dr. Adolfo Rosado Salas), about a 10-minute walk east of downtown San Miguel, the biggest town on the island. It's the best place to pick up local goods at significantly lower prices than you'd find in the main street Quinta Avenida, just off the town square.

No matter which type of shopper you are, here are nine of the most popular souvenirs and our advice on what's worth buying when you go shopping in Cozumel.

Editor's note: There are a few natural items that you do not want to buy in Mexico because they will be confiscated on your return to the United States (or possibly before that, upon your return to your ship). These include coral (particularly black coral, which is endangered), turtle shells and any marine life, such as pufferfish and starfish.

Updated February 13, 2019

1. Hammocks

One of the few woven items that are made locally (at least in the Yucatan, specifically Merida) are hammocks (hamacas). At the Mercado Municipal, you'll find them on display in the tiny hole-in-the-wall stores just outside the central market (which mainly sells food), where the locals shop.

Hammocks from this region are among the finest and most comfortable in the world. There are six main sizes, but the most common are "matrimonial" (doubles), suitable for two adults, and singles, suitable for one adult or two small kids. Expect to pay around $35 to $55, depending on size, with singles costing roughly half the price of doubles.

You'll want to evaluate your hammock before handing over any cash. First, stretch out your hammock to its full size and make sure it's large enough; a matrimonial should be at least 16 feet long and between 10 and 15 feet wide, while a single should be roughly half that size. Then check the label to read the materials. You'll want to buy a cotton, rather than a synthetic hammock because those are the best quality and longest lasting.

A good-quality hammock will be tightly woven, without spaces between the threads, and the matrimonial hammocks should have 200 strings at either end (half that for the singles). There should be at least 15 strings along each edge, and the loops at the end should be tightly wrapped.

2. Blankets and Throws

Blankets and throw rugs sold by local merchants in Cozumel, Mexico (Photo: Adam Coulter)
Blankets are sold in every other doorway in Cozumel, but although they are made in Mexico, the majority is imported from Chiapas, in southern Mexico. However, there are shops that sell soft woolen blankets in a wide variety of designs that are handmade by the owners.

The best place to find these are in the Mercado Municipal, where you can pick up large blankets for as little as $11, or two for $20. These soft blankets make a lovely gift for small kids.

3. Ceramics

Day of the Dead pottery (Photo: Adam Coulter)
Your one-stop-shop for ceramics, pottery, carvings, trinkets and sculptures made in Mexico is Los Cinco Soles, which you will spot as soon as you get off the ship at the International and Puerta Maya piers, and also in San Miguel, a few blocks north of the main square. The goods here are not cheap, but they are authentic.

On each display, you will find a mounted card explaining the history and the provenance of the ceramics, as well as a sticker on each plate or bowl authenticating that it's made in Mexico. The majority is made by Alba Ceramica, in the central Mexican state of Guanajuato. You can get all sorts of designs and colors, but perhaps the most fun are the Day of the Dead-themed ones. Expect to pay around $14 for a midsize bowl.

4. Vanilla

At one time, Mexico produced the finest vanilla extract in the world. Vanilla is still a popular purchase in Cozumel, but beware: The majority of bottles labelled vanilla extract in Cozumel are imitation. How to tell? If it's in a large bottle, is a dark color and costs $20, it's a fake.

Look for the words "pure vanilla extract" -- not "pure vanilla flavor" -- if you want authentic, rather than imitation, stuff. A small bottle of pure vanilla will also cost $20. Our view: You are better off buying back home.

5. Tequila

You can't leave Mexico without a bottle of tequila, or mezcal. The good news is that there is an entire store dedicated to it downtown: Tequila House (Calle 2 Norte and 5 Avenida Norte), where before purchasing, you can sample the goods via a tasting experience with the experts. You may also be surprised to know that tequila does not have to be slammed -- that's really just for gringos -- it should be tasted, sniffed and sampled just like you would whiskey. Just make sure you look up current customs guidelines about bringing alcohol back into the U.S.

6. Leather Goods

Leather handbag on display at a local shop (Photo: Adam Coulter)
There are some fine leather goods you can pick up in Cozumel, including handbags, wallets, change purses and sandals. Deja Vu (Av. Rafael E. Melgar No. 26, Local 5 Entre 7 y 11) is rated highly on our parent site TripAdvisor and on the Cruise Critic forums for high-quality, reasonably priced leather goods, as well as hand-crafted jewelry. You can actually watch the jewelry being made, so you know it's local.

7. Diamond and Gemstone Jewelry

You can find plenty of chain jewelry stores in Cozumel. There are two branches of Diamonds International, one in San Miguel, the other in the main port. You can also find Tanzanite International, Milano Diamonds, Cartier and others.

The Cruise Critic Forums and TripAdvisor reviews are fairly consistent about buying jewelry in Cozumel; they recommend you do not do it, unless you know exactly what you are doing. If you want to buy, do your research in advance. Prices should, in theory, be cheaper than in the U.S. as you can claim back taxes, but much of the time there is a significant markup and you will have to spend some time bargaining the price down. Yes, the diamonds are authentic, but it goes without saying they are not native to Mexico.

If you are on a time constraint, i.e., you've dropped in here on the way back to your ship, you may feel pressured into making purchase. Don't buy anything in haste because you're likely to regret the decision later.

Senor Frog's gift shop in Cozumel, Mexico (Photo: Adam Coulter)
Restaurant-bar chains Senor Frog's, Margaritaville and Pirana Joe all have standalone shops selling logowear and other branded items. You will find branches of all three of these brands as you leave your ship and enter the open-air shopping mall. There is also a branch of Senor Frog's right by the Playa del Carmen ferry port, also selling branded merchandise.

9. Pharmaceuticals

The Mexican federal drug administration is not quite as stringent as the United States', and you'll find farmacias selling all sorts of pharmaceuticals, including Viagra and Cialis, over the counter that would require a prescription in the U.S. You can also pick up Valium, Ambien and Temazepam over the counter. If you take anything more than a reasonable amount for personal use, you could be arrested either on the ship or when you return to U.S. shores. (Refer to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection guidelines for information on how to legally purchase medication abroad to transport into the United States.)

If you do want to purchase pharmaceuticals, make sure you do so from a licensed farmacia, not from a counter in a warehouse discount store.

The contents of this article are for informational purposes only and reliance on such content is solely at your own risk. Cruise Critic does not encourage or promote the purchase of any medications illegally or without a prescription, either abroad or domestically. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider before purchasing any new medication. Never substitute the information on this website for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment or disregard or delay seeking professional medical advice because of something you have read on this website. Cruise Critic makes no endorsements, recommendations, representations or warranties with respect to any specific medications, products, procedures, opinions or other information referenced in the above article, nor is any warranty created or extended by providing such information, and Cruise Critic shall not be liable for any damages arising therefrom.

Find a Cruise

Popular on Cruise Critic

6 Cruise Ship Cabins to Avoid
You might expect loud noises, close quarters and crazy maneuvers in the dance club onboard your cruise ship -- but not in your cabin. Even if you don't plan to spend much time there, it should be a restful and private place so you can maintain that much-needed vacation stamina. To help you do so, we've compiled a list of cabins you'll want to avoid booking if closet-like dimensions or scraping chair sounds overhead aren't appealing to you. Heed our advice, and you might be feeling a bit less claustrophobic and a tad more refreshed come disembarkation.
How To Choose a Cruise Ship Cabin: What You Need to Know
Your room on a cruise ship is called a cabin (or stateroom) and is akin to a hotel room, but typically much smaller. Choosing a cruise ship cabin can be fun and challenging at the same time, and not just a little bit frustrating on occasion. Cabins fall into different types or "categories," and some cruise lines will present as many as 20 or more categories per ship. Before you get overwhelmed, it's helpful to remember that there are essentially only four types of cabins on any cruise vessel: Inside: the smallest-sized room, with no window to the outside Outside: a room with a window or porthole (a round window) with a view to the outside, often similarly sized to an inside cabin or a bit larger; also known as oceanview Balcony: a room featuring a verandah that allows you to step outside without going up to a public deck Suite: a larger cabin, often with separate living and sleeping areas, and a wide variety of extra amenities and perks It's the permutations (size, view, location, amenities and price, for example) of the four basic cabin types that can make choosing difficult. In addition to knowing your cabin options, you need to know yourself: Do you tend to get seasick? Do you prefer to nest peaceably on your balcony rather than hanging with the crowd around the pool area? Conversely, is your idea of a stateroom simply a place to flop into bed at 1 a.m. -- no fancy notions necessary? Are there certain amenities you are willing to splurge on, or can you simply not justify paying for unnecessary perks? The answers will help guide you toward selecting the best stateroom for your money. If you're feeling overwhelmed by choice, we'll help you get started with this guide to choosing the best cruise cabins for you and your travel party.
8 Best Luxury Cruise Ships
The moment you step aboard a luxury cruise ship, a hostess is at your arm proffering a glass of bubbly while a capable room steward offers to heft your carry-on as he escorts you to what will be your home-away-from-home for the next few days. You stow your things (likely in a walk-in closet) and then emerge from your suite to get the lay of the ship. As you walk the decks, friendly crew members greet you ... by name. How can that be? You just set foot onboard! First-class, personalized service is just one of the hallmarks of luxury cruise lines. You can also expect exotic itineraries, varying degrees of inclusivity in pricing, fine wines and gourmet cuisine as well as universally high crew-to-passenger ratios. That being the case, you might think any old luxury cruise ship will do, but that's not quite true. Like people, cruise ships have their own unique personalities -- and some will be more suited to your vacation style than others. Lines like SeaDream might not offer the most spacious suites, but their intimate yachts can stealthily visit ports that large ships can't manage. Regent Seven Seas and Oceania Cruises are owned by the same parent company but Regent offers a completely inclusive vacation experience, while Oceania draws travelers with a more independent streak. Take a look at Cruise Critic's list of best luxury cruise lines and ships to see which one resonates with you.