Is Cozumel Safe for Travel in 2018?
Cozumel is a hot tourist spot, a place many people visit when in the Riviera Maya, and a common stop for cruise ships in the area. It’s relatively easy to get to Cozumel from Cancun, and a beautiful place to check out. However, there has been a lot of news recently about violence in Mexico, and many of our readers want to know if Cozumel is safe right now. Is it safe to walk around Cozumel by yourself? Is Cozumel safe in general, or should it be avoided?
We hope to answer some of these questions, and give you a clear picture of what to expect, how to stay safe, and where you may be at risk. If you’re looking for a quick answer and just want to know if Cozumel is safe, the answer is basically yes. The news of violence may be scary, but it overall is about as safe as you can get while traveling to another country. One respondent to a poll of travelers in Cozumel said that she felt safer in Cozumel than back home in Cleveland, Ohio. Of the visitors polled, over 97% reported feeling safe while staying or traveling through. You can read about that poll here.
If you’re worried at all, I recommend reading our post Is Travel Insurance Worth It? to learn about ways you can gain some peace of mind while traveling!
Crime Rate in Cozumel
It’s difficult to find clear crime rates in many parts of Mexico, and the island of Cozumel is no different. However, we do have an idea about the state of Quintana Roo overall, and it shows a different story than the ones you may hear if you watch the news or find out about travel advisories. According to an article from the Miami Herald points out that the largest city in the state of Quintana Roo, Cancun, has a homicide rate of about 20 people per 100,000 inhabitants.
By comparison, here are homicide rates in other cities around the world, with Cancun included to show where it falls on this list:
- St. Louis – 65 per 100,000
- Baltimore – 52 per 100,000
- Detroit – 50 per 100,000
- New Orleands – 40 per 100,000
- Wasington, D.C. – 20 per 100,000
- Cancun – 20 per 100,000
- Philadelphia – 18 per 100,000
So, although there are parts of Mexico that are extremely dangerous, this area is not one of them. And, consider that we are looking at the murder rates in Cancun because that is where we have data available. Most experts agree that the homicide and violent crime rates are substantially lower in the rest of the state of Quintana Roo. However, even the most dangerous city in the state still has less than half of the homicide rate as several US cities.
Recent Crime in Cozumel
Now, you may have heard news of some recent crime in Cozumel, most notably the ferry bombs in March of 2018. However, this is pretty much the main piece of news coming out of Cozumel regarding safety. Yes, this was a scary event that impacted quite a few people, but it was one event. Not unlike these happenings in many other parts of the world. These stories grab our attention because they are newsworthy, go viral, and incite fear.
However, if you’re asking yourself, “Is Cozumel safe?” you should take into account the bigger picture, including other recent crime rates. Crime in Cozumel is not widely reported or super common. Unlike the current situation in Los Cabos, we don’t hear stories of people being beaten, hurt, robbed, etc. In general, Cozumel remains largely a safe place to visit. The crime, whether violent or not, is not somethign to obsess about when planning a trip to Cozumel.
Crimes Against Tourists
We can look at general crime and homicide rates all we want, but what about the Cozumel crimes against tourists? Basically, we don’t have clear data or numbers. However, it’s worth noting that crimes against tourists are still less common that crimes among locals. Many of the homicides and crimes that make the news surround organized crime and people behaving unwisely.
In general, the crimes against tourists often include things like pickpocketing, theft, and just flat-out tourist trapping. There are so many fun things to do in Cozumel, you just need to be smart. Watch your stuff, don’t go to the wrong places, and be careful with how much you drink!
Things to Know Before Going to Cozumel
There are many things you can do to help yourself stay safe while traveling. Essentially, it comes down to just a few things: be respectful, and don’t make yourself a target for crime. If you’re concerned about safety in Cozumel, you will likely be good. However, there are some people who aren’t cognizant of the dangers of major tourist destinations or big cities, and act in ways that put them at risk of crime.
Here are a few things you can do to make sure you’re safe while traveling to Cozumel in 2018:
- Do not start fights or arguments. If somebody on a street says something rude or aggressive, don’t engage. Often, the tourists who get attacked are ones who are intoxicated and creating disagreements.
- Keep your belongings safe. Don’t walk around with your phone, camera, or wallet in your hand all the time. This marks you as a naive tourist, and an easy target for pickpocketing.
- Be mindful of what you bring. Do you need your Rolex watch? Should you wear your big diamond wedding ring? If you’re concerned about safety, be safer by going more bare-bones.
- Ask for suggestions from trusted locals. Go to areas and businesses that are safe, comfortable, and have good reputations.
- As a backup plan of safety, take some precautions. Make sure somebody back home knows your itinerary, and get a copy of your passport or travel documents on your phone or email. Just in case anything gets stolen, you have an advantage when you have backups.
Overall, you should not be overly concerned about safety and crime in Cozumel. However, you can take action to be smart, in the same way you might do walking around any tourist destination or city in the United States. Be smart, not scared!