Los Cinco Soles (the five suns): If you're in the mood to buy souvenirs, go to...
This is the only place you will need to stop. Although they have the ubiquitous t-shirts and beachwear available everywhere, the also carry the very best selection of authentic Mexican handicrafts available. In travel to several cities in Mexico, I found no better selection of good quality items.
Local Shops: Handwork
I do not normally like to shop, but it is almost inevitable to do it in Cozumel in the evening. The first night we were there, I bought myself a black embroidered shift. It had embroidery all around the top and more on the hem (detail photo 4). I did bargain a little (starting to walk out at least once) and may have paid about $10 for it.
I later gave it to my mom because I don't like to wear black when we are on the boat because it is too hot. Also it did't have pockets - although my mom put some in because she likes to have pockets too. In the second picture, she is 95 years old.
What to buy: I got some small hammocks for putting on the bulkheads of the boat to put things in - they cost only a couple of bucks. I also got a small painting at a stand near the main square, and I bought a vest for my daughter, plus various items of clothing (T-shirts etc - photo 5) and key chains etc for Xmas presents for various members of the family.
I attempted to buy a topaz which is my birthstone, but after a difficult time with the language barrier, I determine that the jewelry was cheap because it was made with artificial stones, so I didn't buy any.
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When we travel we make a point to find a local supermarket-to stock up on drinks or snacks, to get a taste of local foods and to get a glimpse into how the people live.
David was fascinated with the giant tortilla maker which I somehow missed.
What to buy: If you are bringing back tequila, it's cheaper here although the selection is not as vast as the tourist shops.
What to buy: Silver is one of Mexico's natural resources, and is therefore a definite "BUY". Do not fall in love with the first piece of silver jewelry you see - but be sure to note the location of the store for when you go back - after a couple of hours and a couple of margaritas, you won't remember where you saw that special ring/pin/pendant/earrings...
And NEVER pay the asking price. The shopkeepers aren't pushy, but they'll test your bargaining mettle. The starting price will be steep, and dragging it down may take some time. The beautiful pin I'm wearing in my photo started at $75, and ended at $30. I may have been able to get it for less, but I had to catch the cruise ship and I really wanted this piece.
Before buying silver, examine it carefully and look for ."925" stamped on the back. This supposedly signifies that the silver is 92.5% pure, but the less expensive silver metal called "alpaca" may also bear this stamp. (Alpaca is generally stamped MEXICO or MEX, often in letters so tiny that they are hard to read and look similar to the three-digit ".925").
What to pay: Probably 30%-60% of the original asking price, if you hang in there long enough. And bring CASH - it is much easier to negotiate with cash.
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Various: You don't have to go far
Cozumel seems to be set up just for your shopping needs. As soon as you get off the boat, and walk through the large Duty Free shop, there's a shopping area just filled with souvenir, jewelry, clothing and "all things Mexican" stores and pushcarts. Oh, and bars too. You could just never leave the pier all day but let's hope you don't go and do that...
What to buy: Souvenirs, jewelry, Tequilla....
What to pay: As much as your little heart desires...
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If you are looking for good bargains, you can get the best if you venture further out from the main shops right by the hotels, pier, etc. The prices are hiked up at the main tourist areas because people will pay for the convenience of not having to walk very far. There are tons of shops on side streets. Bargaining is standard, and we found people would go down to between 1/2 and 2/3 of the original price quoted on most items.
What to buy: Standard touristy souveniers, Aztec and Inca items, sarongs, hammocks, silver jewelry.
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Pro Dive: A well-stocked dive supply store
What diver can resist a dive supply store? The kind of place with lots of little hooks and buckles to help you hang your stuff off your BC (not to mention new stuff to hook onto them) seems to draw divers like flowers draw bees.
And it seems that every dive resort has a store called Pro Dive. The one in Coz is the place you want to wander around in to see if they've got any little gadget you might "need."
Any shop or street vendor: Prices and Bargaining
As you go from shop to shop, do not be surprised to see the same items over and over again. All this means is that you have an unlimited number of opportunities to find a better price.
What to buy: The best items to shop for are items you can't find anywhere else. Don't waste your time buying American-looking plastic tourist shop-looking trinkets that say Cozumel on them them i.e. snowglobes, key chains, T-shirts, etc. That stuff has no meaning other than the word "Cozumel" on them.
Instead buy handmade crafts, jewelry with locally mined stones, sun dresses in colors and patterns you've never seen in any U.S. store, Mayan calanders that fit the decorative color and style of your house, glazed pottery with art painted by the artist as you watch, etc. These are the items that really say, "I was in Cozumel, Mexico."
What to pay: Price is negotiable. If you want to buy and run, so be it. If you enjoy the art of haggling, or are willing to visit multiple shops, then finding a good deal can be a source of entertainment. Most items and services should not be purchased without haggling/finding 25% - 50% off the typical price. Sometimes you'll get the best price by haggling, sometimes you'll find the same item in another shop for less. Following is a list of items we purchased with the original/typical price and our final cost (USD):
Cow bone carving in the shape of a Predator head - from $65 to $35
Pure Mexican Vanilla 250 ml - from $6 to $3
Stone and shark tooth necklace - from $15 to $10
Cab ride from beach to hotel - from $15 to $10
Eight silver bracelets with stones - from $10 each to $5 each
Two large, quality cuban cigars - from $20 each to $10 each
I don't claim to have received the best prices. I only claim to have haggled or shopped my way to a 25% to 50% discount on everything I purchased.
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Various: Shopping in Cozumel
The main shopping district in Cozumel is Avenida Rafael Melgar in San Miguel. You will find some great discounts on jewelry here, along with clothing, fragrances, crystal, and liquor.
If coming on the cruise ships, the real gullible tourist bargain hunter won't make it out of the International Pier area. There are all kinds of souvenirs and trinkets to buy here.
What to buy: Cozumel is Mexico's #1 port for jewelry.
Los Cinco Soles: Souvenirs!
This is a big store with lots to buy! Jewelry (bought a gorgeous Moonstone ring), Dia de los Muertos memorabilia, food, salsas, clothing and many, many, many varieties of Pottery. Very pretty, very reasonably priced.
What to buy: Everything Mexican!
What to pay: You can spend a lot or a little....!
next to Mezcalito restaurant: Souvenir shop, US$2 blankets
The sign says, "BIG BLANKETS, 2 US". Yeah right !
The sign was a good hook to pull me in the shop. I needed a blanket to put on the seat of the Volkswagen, because the "leather" cover of the seat was very hot for my bum. I thought a "souvenir" Mexican blanket would do the trick. Back home, we already have a lot of Mexican blankets, I really do not need another one. But since , I thought, it was US$2, as the sign says so, I could afford to lose it later on.
When I came in, I was showed all sorts of blankets, with prices from US$25 up to US$95. No, I said, I just want to see the US$2 blanket.
It was not a blanket at all. It looked like a rug for the bathroom floor. About 21 inches by 38 inches. Blanket ? Maybe for a doll. But not for a person.
I just used our wet towel to line the seat of the convertible Volkswagen.
What to buy: From this souvenir shop, there were Mexican blankets and some beach wear.
This one is next to Mezcalito restaurant on the east coast of Cozumel. But there are souvenir shops with big signs of what seems to be incredible prices. Be prepared to be hooked into getting inside the store. It is a technique, of course, to get buyers inside the store.
What to pay: Any price, supposedly from US$2 up to US$95 per item
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Ultra Jewels: Buying a luxury watch in Cozumel
Ultra Jewels staff is very friendly and knowledgeable. The made every effort to make our shopping a good experience. We spent a good deal of money here, and they were reassuring in every way that our purchase was legitimate. I had my watch checked out once we returned to the states, and it was determined to be legit. I've read posts on the internet about this store claiming they do not sell what they advertise, but our experience was good
What to buy: Any first rate watch or piece of jewelry
Centro Comercial Punta Langosta
Locales B 14 Av. E. Melgar # 551
Col. Centro C.P. 77600
UltraFemme Perfumes & Cosmetics
UltraJewels, Timepieces & Gifts
UltraFemme 10am-10pm; UltraJewels
(52) (987) 869 1471/1577;
UltraJewels: (52) (987) 869 1605/1607
What to pay: lots
Cariloha: Green Bamboo Products
Cariloha is a shop that sells apparel and housewares made from bamboo. I definitely wanted to stop in this store since I have several shirts and towels at home made from Bamboo. Bamboo is so soft yet strong; I love that it's cooler and more breathable than cotton. My wife loves that the bamboo towels dry quickly and are anti-bacterial.
The store had a nice selection of tee shirts, towels, bedding and other items. I managed to find a nice blue tee shirt with a simple design on the front right corner and the back. Pricing wasn't bad with the tee shirt costing $25.
Different stores: Gifts of arts and crafts in Cozumel
There are many stores in Cozumel selling various arts and crafts. Some are expensive and some are cheap. Some stores sell woodcarvings of sea turtles, jewelry boxes, arts and crafts.
Shop around first because there are many neat things to buy. Always remember that when you buy something fragile, to request the shop owner to pack them for you.
I love the Mayan woodcarvings of masks, chess sets, domino sets, Last Supper and the turtles made of abalone.
What to buy: Arts and crafts
What to pay: Make sure to shop around for the cheapest price.
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Tucan: Mexican Made Crafts, Jewelry and Souvenirs
Tucan is basically a one stop store for any quality souvenir you could want to find. This is not the typical shot glass and tee shirt place; this is hand crafted unique items. There was a large selection of pottery, silver jewelry, dolls, housewares, spices, condiments, Christmas ornamnets, linens etc.
We picked up several types of hot sauces to bring home as well as some ceramic bowls for the kitchen.
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