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Sand Dunes - Amazing Structures Providing Shelter & Food
Crystal Clear Caribbean Water

Cozumel is known for its miles and miles of pristine beaches and coastal areas. And all along the island's shoreline there are sand dunes piled up behind these beautiful beaches. As visitors walk along the water's edge and dig their toes into the soft sand, few realize that the health and beauty of the beaches are heavily dependent on the sand dunes just behind them. As more and more research is done on coastal eco-systems, scientists are now beginning to make us fully aware of the critically important role that sand dunes play in our global, coastal eco-systems. Hotel Bookings up to 50% Off Intrepid Travel Generic Red Small
Sand Dune Ecology

Sand dunes provide a wide range of habitats for a variety of unusual, interesting and adaptive plants that can cope with unstable habitats. Sand dunes form in relatively exposed locations. All over a dune, very specialized plants adapt to the accumulation of sand around them surviving the continual burial of their shoots by sending up very rapid vertical growth. With the help of these plant shoots, small mounds of vegetation and/or tide-washed debris can form and tend to enlarge as the wind-speed drops behind the mound, allowing blowing sand to fall out of the air stream and accumulate which constantly increases the size of a dune. The plants are physiologically adapted to withstand the problems of high salt contents in the air and soil. Sand dunes support a wide variety of colorful flowering plants, including a number of species of orchid.

On the inland side of dunes conditions are less severe, and typical grasslands develop containing a wide range of plant life. When enough humus has accumulated within the grassland sand, this more stabilized soil improves water retention and promotes further plant diversity development. Consequently, sand dune systems are excellent places for biodiversity, partly because they are not very productive for agriculture, and partly because these unstable and stable soil habitats are present in proximity to each other. Many dune areas are protected as nature reserves, and some are parts of larger conservation areas incorporating other coastal co-existing habitats like salt marshes, mud flats, grasslands, scrub and woodland.

All coastal dune ecosystems also support a population of animal species in addition to plant life. Since most animal life requires basic survival elements such as shelter, food and water, it stands to reason that species density in any one area would be dependent on their availability. Small birds, reptiles, crustaceans, and other coastal species commonly call the coastal dunes their home. As the dune system moves from the fore dunes toward the back dunes, with their increased vegetation, the ecosystem becomes more complex, supporting a larger amount of species. Sand dune systems are also very rich in invertebrates including butterflies, moths and burrowing bees and wasps.

The beach is a margin of sand in a dynamic ebb and flow controlled by tides, winds, currents and waves. The critical factor is the presence of a sufficiently large beach plain whose surface dries out between high tides. Off shore shallow sand banks release the initial energy from ocean swells as they break and send secondary waves with low residual energy gently up and down the beach. The dissipative beaches are wide, gently sloping, slow draining and quite firm underfoot because the fine sand particles fit close together. These beaches support a relatively high variety of burrowing organisms. Because of their shallow gradients, these beaches also act as traps for another group of organisms called diatoms. Diatoms survive between sand grains and provide the chief food for bi-valves and other filter feeders.

Recreation is a major land use on sand dune areas. Many dune systems are used extensively by tourists, mostly on foot but also for parking cars and in some cases for driving four-wheel-drive vehicles or motorcycles. Moderate pressure by pedestrians may cause little damage, however, excessive pedestrian use and vehicular use in particular, have caused unacceptable erosion on many dune sites.

Many dune systems also support one or more golf courses. Here much of the original vegetation may be retained in the rough, but the communities of the fairways, and particularly the greens and tees, are often severely modified by mowing, fertilizing and re-seeding. Sand dunes have also been affected in the past by housing developments, industrial development, and waste collection areas on or adjacent to them as well as sand extraction.

What can you do to help protect and conserve Cozumel’s sand dunes?

If you live part time or full time or vacation on the island:

  • Sign up & participate in ongoing beach cleanup efforts in Cozumel.

  • Keep your visits to the beaches “green” by not discarding trash. Leave the beach pristine. If you want to go beyond being an environmentally conscious visitor, there are a number of ways you can become proactive in the protection of our sand dunes. Pick up trash as you walk along the shore, and recycle or dispose of it properly. Encourage better behavior by other users; point out regulations and the reasons for them. Report any serious violation you see to the proper authorities.

  • If you must cross the dune, pick your way between the plants and avoid already-eroded trails and steep approaches. If there is more than one person, select spots where the dune is shallow and spread out; return to the beach by a different route.

  • Do not build fires on the beach. While dried driftwood makes great campfires, this and other natural debris washed up by the lake help trap sand, and are the only source of nutrients available for plant growth on the dunes. Also, beach campfires leave unsightly scars and pose a fire threat to surrounding vegetation in this dry habitat.

  • Do not ride all-terrain vehicles on the beach.

  • Do not disturb water birds, migrating shorebirds, and nesting shorebirds. They are extremely intolerant of visitors and are easily denied nesting habitat by the very presence of recreational beach/dune users.

  • If you are a golfer, encourage golf course management policies and practices that are sympathetic to the flora and fauna of sand dune systems.

  • Support legislation for sound management of the world’s coastal areas with your government.

    Maintaining sandunes is essentional for Cozumel’s future.
    Thank you for doing your part to protect and conserve Cozumel’s sandunes.
  • Some Great Ways to Get Close to Nature!
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     Cozumel Butterfly Sanctuary Tour & PalMar SMALL Snorkel Beach Club
    Visit Cozumel's only Butterfly Sanctuary! See multitudes of colors, learn about butterfly habits and the miracle of metamorphosis. Take photos and then stay to enjoy snorkeling and the other ammenities of the Beach Club. Great family fun & excellent value!
    US $13 Adults /US$8 Kids Educational Family Fun!
     Cozumel Dolphin Royal Swim Program
    If "Action" and "Speed" are what you seek in excursions then the Royal Swim is for you! Action and Speed pretty much describe this popular dolphin program! Get a handshake, a kiss and then you give them one. Feel the strength of your new friends as they push you across the water from the bottom of your feet in the thrilling foot-push. It is "the experience of a lifetime!"
    US$ 149.00 Adults / US$ 89.00 Kids
     Cancun - Rio Secreto Expedition
    Dare to live a fantastic experience in one of the most incredible locations in the Riviera Maya that begins in the moment you arrive at the Natural Reserve.
    US$ 109.00 Adults / US$ 54.50 Kids
     Cancun - Whale Shark Adventure
    Enjoy an adventure tour getting to observe and swim or snorkel besides the biggest fish in the world: the impressive whale shark!
    USD$ 195.00 Adults /US$ 136.50 Kids
     Cancun - Xplor Tour From Cancun
    The longest and highest 1.86 mile zip lines of the region ending on a refreshing Cenote plunge, adventure jungle tours on amphibious vehicles, an underground universe of 437 yd rivers where you can swim while admiring rock formations, a stunning route across subterranean caverns with natural wells while paddling a raft, and finally a delicious light buffet, that will recharge your energy.
    US$ 149.00 Adults / US$ 74.50 Kids
     Cozumel - Punta Sur Ecopark, Lighthouse & Snorkeling
    Cozumel's largest natural eco-park featuring a lighthouse to climb, Mayan ruins to see, coves to snorkel, a nautical museum, sea turtle nesting areas, a crocodile sanctuary, an enormous mangrove lagoon where spoonbill flamingos nest and white egrets go hunting daily along with a multitude of other animal species that call the park home. Experience Cozumel's wildlife up close and personal during this unique tour excursion activity!
    US$125.00 Adults / US$ 115.00 Kids
     Dreams Puerto Aventuras - Dolphin Swim Adventure
    Your next vacations will have it all as Puerto Aventuras gives you the perfect place to spend your vacations with pristine waters, sun and great activities to enjoy adventure in the best destination. This vacations will be memorable and the best experience of your life!
    US$ 129.00 Adults / US$ 89.00 Kids
     Isla Mujeres - Dolphin Encounter
    "Isla Discovery Plus" Includes Dolphin Encounter, Sea Transportation R/T, Dock Fee, Lunch Buffet at location, National Open Bar, Fantasy Snorkel (stingrays and sharks), Bicycle tour, Isla Mujeres downtown tour.
    US$ 109.00 Adults / US$ 89.00 Kids
     PalMar SMALL Snorkel Beach Club
    Bring your group and spend the day at our PalMar small, private beach facility and enjoy a day of snorkeling at Cozumel's premier beach entry snorkel spot! No crowd here and gates close daily with a maximum of 50 people on site!
    US $13 Adults /US$8 Kids Includes FREE Beverages!
     Playa del Carmen - Dolphin Swim Adventure
    Meet, greet and touch one of the most amazing marine animals of the Caribbean Sea, the dolphins that have captivated humans since we know they existed. The program has a great opportunity for an up-close interaction with our friendly and playful dolphins. You will learn everything you wanted to know about their diet, activities, behavior and many more facts. The Dolphin Swim Adventure program includes the famous belly ride. The belly ride consists of you holding on to the dolphin’s fins as he swims backwards. Beside this exciting activity, you will play with the dolphin, receive a kiss, a handshake and will learn how they sing and dance on the water.
    US$ 129.00 Adults / US$ 89.00 Kids
     Riviera Maya - Dolphin Swim Adventure
    Share a series of sensational and safe activities while establishing a unique bond of trust. With a handshake, kiss and belly ride will enjoy moments of great spontaneity during your free time together. It is an unforgettable experience!
    US$ 119/Adult & US$ 89/Child
     Riviera Maya - Hidden Worlds Ultimate Adventure
    Incredible package tour for extreme and safe adventures.
    US$ 89.00 Adults / US$ 69.00 Kids
     Riviera Maya - Rio Secreto Expedition
    Dare to live a fantastic experience in one of the most incredible locations in the Riviera Maya!
    US$ 109/Adult & US$ 54.50/Child
     Riviera Maya - Whale Shark Adventure
    Enjoy an adventure tour getting to observe and swim or snorkel besides the biggest fish in the world: the impressive whale shark!
    US$ 205/Adult & $143.50/Child
     Riviera Maya - Xplor Full Day Admission
    This eco adventure park has the longest and highest 1.86 mile zip lines of the region ending on a refreshing Cenote plunge, adventure jungle tours on amphibious vehicles, an underground universe of 437 yd rivers where you can swim while admiring rock formations, a stunning route across subterranean caverns with natural wells while paddling a raft, and finally a delicious light buffet, that will recharge your energy.
    US$ 119/Adult & US$ 59.50/Child
     Riviera Maya - Xplor Tour From Playa del Carmen
    This tour from Playa del Carmen.
    US$ 149/Adult & US$ 74.50/Child
     Riviera Maya - Xplor Tour From Riviera Maya
    This eco adventure park has the longest and highest 1.86 mile zip lines of the region ending on a refreshing Cenote plunge, adventure jungle tours on amphibious vehicles, an underground universe of 437 yd rivers where you can swim while admiring rock formations, a stunning route across subterranean caverns with natural wells while paddling a raft, and finally a delicious light buffet, that will recharge your energy.
    US$ 149/Adult & US$ 74.50/Child
     Cozumel to Holbox Whale Shark Snorkel Day Trip
    Spectacular day trip whale shark snorkel experience with boat departing from Isla Holbox! Personal service from a professional guide who escorts guests the entire way from Isla Cozumel to Isla Holbox!
    US$ 210 per person
    Personal Experiences
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    This tiny little jewel of a place made our trip to Cozumel so memorable and is perfect for a cruise ship passenger. It is a quick and inexpensive taxi-ride from either port used by the cruise ships (10 minutes or less). The stately well-maintained estate, grounds, and pool are gorgeous. Just a few steps away, across the street is the private beach owned by PalMar right on the Dzul Ha reef area. I'm not a diver, but even with just my goggles, I saw dozens of fish within just a few feet of the beach. We booked this an affordable excursion and we got so much more than we expected! We arrived early and sat on the private beach reading and enjoying the view. Very soon, the caretaker came over to invite us in, even though we were early. This sweet gesture typified the excellent service we received throughout our stay.

    The entry fee included two drink coupons and we enjoyed diet sodas with a meal of chicken quesadillas, guacamole, pico de gallo, and chips. The fare was simple (as the best food always is) and excellent. We also ordered tasty frozen cocktails (mango margarita and piña colada), and we definitely felt like "spoiled girls" as we swam, relaxed, and enjoyed delicious food with a view of the ocean.

    When it was time for us to go, one of the employees hailed a taxi for us and getting back to the cruise port was quick and easy. I am delighted to give the PalMar Small Beach Club five stars for excellent service and a lovely facility. V. Hallenbeck - October 2015 ~ Winston-Salem, NC USA

    Last year we visited your Palamar beach club while on a cruise. We felt like we were in a true paradise. We are really into snorkeling so your location is tops on our list. You took the time to talk with us and tell us a bit about your self and the businesses you have. It was very good to meet and talk with you. We felt like we were visiting family and were treated as such. I am pleased to say that we are again coming in on a cruise and can’t wait to return to paradise. I hope you are there so we can stop by and say hi if you are not too busy. T. Lemons ~ Cruise Passenger

    My son and I decided to avoid the cruise ship excursions for snorkeling and try Pal Mar Estate Beach Club. I read a number of reviews and figured it was worth a shot. We have gone on 4 cruises now and always done the cruise line sponsored excursions and without a hesitation this is by far the best thing we have done. Pal Mar was nice, clean, very quiet and the staff was beyond awesome. One of the most relaxing times we have had. The Pico de Gallo was fresh and hand made and son wont touch tomatoes and such and he ate it all up...wonderful! The snorkeling was a lot of fun and we saw tons of fish, starfish, coral, etc. and even a Moray eel. Very cool and spooky too to be honest. We had a blast and would do it again in a heartbeat. With cab fare both ways, Pal Mar admission, 4 beers for me and two sodas for my son along with chips and Pico we spent only 65$. We snorkeled for almost 4 hours....exhausted but a blast! We must have seen at least 8 excursion trips come through the area we were at and they are there maybe 45 min to an hour and gone. It would have cost us 3 times what we paid to do the ship excursion and we got to relax and snorkel all day. Can't recommend it enough and we will definitely be back when our next cruise stops in Cozumel. Thank you so much for your hospitality!! M. Schomaker-Feb. 2015 ~ Elk River, MN USA

    Just wanted to thank COZUMELINSIDER for getting us booked for our activities while we were in Cozumel. The dolphin swim was fantastic! I'd do it again in a minute. We didn't get to do the SNUBA diving ..... we ended up doing the Helmet dive instead for the same price. We plan on visiting Cozumel again possibly next year and will be contacting you to book some excursions prior to our vacation. We saved a significant amount of money booking the excursions through COZUMELINSIDER instead of the cruise line. Thanks again! S.Forgette and G Wichtowski ~ Not Given

    What a great Experience!!! We booked our excursions through this website with a slight bit of apprehension. We figured it would be safer to book through our cruise ship since this was our first time going to Cozumel. Boy am I so thankful we didn't. Our cruise ship (which we thoroughly enjoyed) had many excursions organized with tons of people in each excursion. By booking through INSIDER we were definitely given smaller groups to be with. We did the Atlantis Submarine excursion and we saved almost 100 dollars right there!!! We also booked a Resort Scuba with Eagle Ray Divers. We had 1-on-1 attention with Antonio (the owner), our own boat to go out on, and got personalized attention with the lesson/dive. I know if we had booked on the cruise ship there probably would've been many other people ...
    Also, we originally booked a car rental for that Saturday morning. Jacqueline @ Cozumel Insider, called us at home prior to our cruise to inform us of some minor scheduling changes. She then suggested that the rental car may not be neccessary due to our number of excursions and our limited time. Due to her advice we cancelled our car rental which was the wise thing to do. This shows that this company has a lot of integrity and is not out there just to make a buck on the unsuspecting tourist. Next year we will definitely book through Cozumel Insider, we will recommend this company to all our friends, and we plan on booking with Antonio for more scuba next time!!!! M Carson ~ Tullahoma, Tennesseee

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