Off Road in Cozumel
Anyone been off-road in Cozumel lately? I rented a bike there the last time we went (Cycling In Cozumel Mexico | Cycling For Beginners), but I had a hard time finding places to go off road.
Now I'm hearing that you can head north on "the wild side" of the island. I'd like to know if this is actually legal, or trespassing? I'd rather not end up in a Mexican jail on my vacation.
Why? The island is flat, sandy and hot. Great for scuba diving though. Spend your time in the water and at the bar.
Don't you worry, I'll have plenty of time in the water and at the bar! However, I want to pedal around some too. Anyone else have some insight?
I would not recommend it. Havent you heard the travel advisories for Mexico? Once you stray off the touristy areas, you are easy pickins. I have ventured all over Cozumel and you are better off drinking, tanning, and diving.
While no place is ever 100% safe, Cozumel is a small island and almost all tourists/tourist industry. While parts of Mexico have severe travel advisories, there are none for Cozumel -- here's what the State Dept. says:
Quintana Roo: Cancun, Cozumel, Playa del Carmen, Riviera Maya and Tulum are the major cities/travel destinations in Quintana Roo -see map (PDF, 286 kb) to identify their exact locations: No advisory is in effect.
Anyone have any experience biking in the northern part of the island or where the jeep tours go?
Like I said, I HAVE BEEN there many many times and I have been over to the North side and its all very flat. Its a beach, or a perrennial rock garden. It may not be on the advisory list, but I can tell you I would not ride across the island and go exploring unless in a tour or with a group. There is nothing there worth the risk. If you are going there its to dive/lounge by pool and go to the clubs/bars.
I'll be diving, lounging and plenty of other things, but I will also be riding a bike somewhere. I understand it is flat, I've been to the island a couple of times too, I just don't know where the trails are. Last time we were there we stayed on the south side and I mainly cycled along the old main road over to the east side and around El Cedral.
Now we'll be staying north of San Miguel, and I'm trying to figure out if there are some trails (that are legal to be on) in the north -- either east or west side. I would rather be riding trails than on the roads, but I'm riding on something. Anyone have any actual TRAIL information?
No one has any info on mountain bike trails there because no one rides there. And any trails that do happen to be there are probably sand.
As I stated in my original post, I've heard of trails there and I'm trying to find out: (1) where they are, and (2) if it's legal to ride there.
I can find bits and pieces about riding trails there scattered across the internet (including: Off Road Biking in Cozumel - Playa Maya News,Playa del Carmen,Mexico), but can't find anyone to actually tell me about the trails. (Yes, I emailed the author of that and the email bounced).
I'm headed there in 2 days and was wondering the same thing. If I rent a bike I'd probably ride from San Miguel across to the east side and then up to Faro Norte to see the lighthouse. I was wondering if I could make a loop of it back to the city on the west side. I think the road (trail) on the wild side that runs north is pretty well traveled by jeep / ATV tours.
Why bike there? Because the trail to the north of the island isn't passable to cars. You can rent a scooter and travel all over the island, does that make you any safer? I don't think so. 100s of people do it every day.
Did you rent there on your last trip? (I'd read your blog post about it but the site seems to be down)
I assume you're seen this.
Cozumel: Mountain Biking
Hi bedwards1000, thanks for your helpful messages. To me there is no way I'm going to have a week or more off work and not ride a bike.
Yes, I saw that page (and the video) on TripAdvisor and recently exchanged a couple of messages to the author and from that and other research I learned:
1. The trails in that area (north of town, shown on video) is still there and is the same area the Jeep tours take their customers.
2. Some tour operators used to have a "Jungle Bike" tour somewhere near El Cedral, but don't any longer (see Jungle Bike & Mayan Ruins Excursion Cozumel). You can see the trails on Google Earth. A lot of the trails are just dirt paths. May be the same trails some ATV tours use now.
Don't know about the route you mention, but it sounds like fun. I've got a lead to another MTB rider on the island, and if I get in touch I'll post here to update.
Yes, last time I was there I rented a Scott Aspect 55 in fairly good condition from Sombrero Rentals. I'm planning to use them again. I recommend taking:
* Your own helmet and saddlebag full of tire repair items. Last time Sombrero loaned me a tube for $5 and returned my money when I didn't have to use it -- you have to ask for that or bring your own tube.
* Your own pump. I took this one with built in guage, with some extra zip ties: Topeak Morph G, which could quickly switch from presta to schrader valves -- good thing, my rental had one of each.
* Both sunscreen (very sunny there) and mosquito repellent.
* Some kind of dog repellent (I bought this one (Pet Parade Dog Repeller and Training Aid) from Amazon, but haven't tested it yet) as MANY locals let their dogs run free (I was chased a couple of times on local dirt roads near El Cedral).
* Bring your own water bottle and cage -- either a velcro cage like TwoFish Quick Cage or if you bring your own regular cage you should bring the bolts too -- my rental bike didn't have cage or bolts.
* Maybe pedals -- my rental bike had the plastic pedals that felt flimsy (but held up).
* I bought a cheap light set (Planet Bike Light Set) to use as flashers, as with our schedule I often ended up biking near dusk. Those lights are bright, with some side visibility, yet they go on and off quickly with velco mounting and are small enough to slip in your pocket if you park the bike.
I'll let you know if I hear any more soon. I'd appreciate hearing how things go on your trip.
Last edited by BeginnerCycling; 04-26-2012 at 11:56 AM.
Thanks for the info. I'm 50/50 on renting a bike for a day. Sombrero rentals is where i was going to go. I was going to bring a hydration pack, pump & patch kit. Too late to pick up anything extra since I am leaving Sat at 1:30 to start.
The trail i was talking about is the one that starts where the center road hits the shore on the east side of the island. It goes up about 12 miles to the lighthouse. Easily visible on google.
Rogelio from Sombrero talked me out of riding the north side to the lighthouse. If I had a strong riding partner I'd give it a try but it is to remote to do alone and my wife only bikes occasionally. He said it is miles of sand in places. Too bad they don't' rent fatbikes. I may skip the bike rental all together. Too bad you aren't going to be there next week.
Well shoot, that seemed like an interesting route. There's still a decent route from San Miguel up to Passion Island (both low-traffic road and the off-road route you mentioned on TripAdvisor).
As for the trails near El Cedral, I hear there's a guy named Polo at the Aqua Safari dive shop who knows the trails -- but you'd basically have to go there and talk to him around 7:30 one morning. Rogelio at Sombrero Rentals did say that he had some information on trails he could provide.
There are paved lanes for bikes on the old main road also, if you just want to get some saddle time. Have a good trip, and let us know what you end up dong.
I was there last year. I could probably use a break from saddle time but taking the less traveled path to the lighthouse seemed like good adventure. Who knows, I may still try it. I threw the patch kit and pump in in case I get inspired. It's probably down to a 20/80 chance now.
OK, no riding in Cozumel for me. I got my open water scuba certification instead. I did walk the first 1/4 mile or so of the trail to the north tip on the west side. What I saw was plenty passable on a bike. My gut feel is that it could be done by 2 experienced bikers with a lot of water. You'd probably end up walking a few of the miles.
I kept my eye open for other trails and nothing really jumped out at me other than this one. If I were going to try biking on Cozumel - this would be the trail. Report back if you try it!
I'll let you know if I try it. I'm also hoping to learn more about the other trails in the north and down near El Cedral. Less than a month now before I go (Hooray!).
I've been to Coz a few times and Playa del Carmen quite a few times. I haven't ridden in either place (yet), as I spend my mornings diving, but I would suggest you could expand your search to the PDC side. A one-hour ferry will open up more options. You can combine a ride with a visit to a Mayan village.
Another source to post questions is cozumel my cozumel
As to safety, Coz is a very safe island, the people are warm and friendly, and they love tourists, that is how they earn their living. On the PDC side, as in Cancun, you have larger town/city where typical street smarts will prevent simple petty theft. The drug violence you read about is virtually non-existant in Q.R. The police are the ones you need to watch out for the most, they'll pull you over and try to extract a bribe. Many people carry a decoy wallet with a small amount of cash to use in these cases. Better yet, don't drive.
Either way, let us know what you find. Enjoy!
Thanks dirtyjack, while I'm not sure if I'll leave the island for a full day, that Mayan village bike tour certainly sounds interesting!
We rented bikes in Cozumel and the biking was aweful... and we had a guide.
Who did you get as a guide? And what parts did you bike on?
I'm not expecting it to be great (or even good) mountain biking. But I've got a week where I don't have to work and I'd rather get my exercise from pedaling a bike than a hotel gym treadmill. I know I can ride some on the roads, just hoping to get off the pavement a little.
I dont remember the name of the outfit but it sucked.
Originally Posted by BeginnerCycling
Just realized I never updated after my trip. Briefly stated: no real mountain biking to be had (without trespassing), but we rented mountain bikes and my son and I still had a good time riding.
There used to be MTB packages, but not any longer. Also, on the net you will find references (and a video or 2) about riding in the same area as jeep/4-wheeler tours. However, those areas are marked "no trespassing" -- and from the video I'd say that the riding in those areas is not worth risking time in a Mexican jail.
Almost every day we rode from the resort to the boat launch for Passion Island, and that road goes from paved, to sandy/bumpy paved to dirt with holes and bumps, so a mountain bike is better for those roads. There are some abandoned subdivision cobble-type roads to explore on the way.
Then one day I got up early and rode my rented MTB around the island -- about 47 miles -- just to say I did it. Pretty ride, but the cheap saddle on my MTB killed my posterior (even with padded shorts), so I took lots of breaks.
I left from the resort north of San Miguel and headed south on the main road, following the secondary road when possible, then bypassed most of town coming back by turning right at the big conch shell statue (as if to go to the airport) and going all the way down -- turning left at the end to head back to the coast near the northern resorts. If anyone decides to do this bring your own saddle, plenty of money for water (it gets quite hot) and leave early in the morning -- to avoid arriving cruise ship/tourist traffic while heading south on the main road through town. Pro tip: the little convenience store on the other side of the road from the entrance to the ruins has ice cold Gatorade for $1.
Yeah, but what about the road on the east side headed north to the lighthouse at the northern tip? That's my goal. Nice job riding around the island.