You can use either, but we usually change money when we get there. There are several places, or cambios, where you can exchange dollars for pesos; near the plaza you'll find cambios. We don't recommend that you exchange at the airport or hotels (rates are usually not in your favor)
There are several automatic cash machines on the island.
Credit cards are widely accepted; note that some businesses may charge an additional fee to use a credit card so ask before you use.
It depends. If you go to the most expensive restaurants always, and need to fill all your time with diversions such as parasailing, deep sea fishing, scuba diving, special excursions, etc. you can drop a chunk of money; but no more (and probably quite a bit less) than if you were traveling in Florida. If you can do a few meals in, and try some of the smaller or less expensive restaurants, you won't have to spend much. There are several grocery stores, bakeries and fruit markets. Load up on soft drinks/beer so you don't have to pay the restaurant/bar prices. You can also pack a cooler with some snack foods to take along to the island. Ask us for tips on this, we do it all the time! The ferry is not expensive if you want to go to the mainland; however a day at Xcaret can be pricey if you have a herd of kids (it still won't cost as much as an amusement park in the states).
Travel can be very economical for friends or family traveling together. For example of group of 4 can stay in an in-town villa with private swimming pool, 2 BRS, full kitchen, etc. and have cook service for a week with 2 meals a day for 6 days for only about $300 per person for one week's accommodations and 12 meals! Or a group of 10 in a large oceanfront property with 2 meals a day for 6 days at just $475 per person for one week! You get more for you money when you choose to stay in a private villa or condo. That's one of the reasons we get so many repeat guests.
It doesn't cost a cent to go to the Sunday evening fiesta in the central plaza. You'll have live music and plenty of people watching. You can watch local artists create paintings and other artwork.
It's interesting and no-cost to visit the local market early in the morning. This is where local residents shop for the freshest fruits and veggies, seafood and meats. It's a great cultural experience, but do anticipate some less than pleasant sights and smells (I have a low tolerance for the smell of fish and meat . . . and the occasional pig's head on a counter definitely ruins my appetite).
Go to the beach and play (avoid Playa Sol, however, as it has an entrance fee). Build sand castles. Bury a friend in the sand (okay, be sure to let them out). Take a nap in the shade. Lie on the water's edge and let the waves lick your body. Run a race on the beach. Make an anatomically correct sand man and woman. Watch the people on the beach and try to decide what they do for a living. Make new friends. Join in a game of volleyball.
Walking is free! Take an evening stroll along the oceanfront in town; time it just right so you can catch the sunset. Explore a different street each night. Don't worry, you can walk anywhere in Cozumel and feel safe.
Grab your mask, fins and snorkel and head for the sea. The most fantactic display of colorful and exotic underwater sealife is on display and you don't have to pay anything for the show! There are several areas where you can snorkelalong the coastline. A few suggestions: Lobster Cove Restaurant, just off 11th; Plaza Las Glorias; the pier at La Cieba, or try north of the marina near the Presidente Hotel. Most of the oceanfront villas/condos have good snorkeling along the rocky shoreline.
Attend a soccer game or practice. The islanders are crazy about soccer as well as other sports and there are several fields. Ask around, there's sure to be a game or practice. they also have baseball and other sporting events on the island.
Window shop 'til you drop. You could spend days trying to take in all the goodies and gadgets. Don't forget the flea market! As long as you're only looking, it doesn't cost a cent.
Lounge in a hammock or on the beach and read a good book. Life doesn't get any better than this!
See how many parks you can find in the city. There's one with small "animals." Another is across from the Corpus Christi church. One park has a replica of Mayan buildings. Don't forget the central plaza which is a central gathering place and perfect for people-watching.
Bring your racket and play tennis at the public courts at the sports field on 11th St. There is no fee and the courts aren't too bad; they are lighted so you can play when it cools in the evening. There are public restrooms and you can buy Coke, Gatorade and a few snack items.
Go to church. This gives you a chance to rub shoulders with the locals. There are a number of churches on the island: Catholic, Presbyterian, Seventh Day Adventist, just to name a few. Maybe you'll pick up some Spanish! Some of the priests/ministers speak English, so you may have the opportunity to visit with them before or after the service.
Do a few meals in your villa or condo and save! It's easy to pick up a few eggs, fresh fruit and homemade baked goodies for breakfast; grill some burgers or make spaghetti for dinner. Or, have a cook prepare meals in your villa or condo (ask us to make arrangements).
Stock your refrigerator with soft drinks, beer and snacks and avoid paying bar/restaurant prices.
Drive around the island and stop at all of the beach areas and explore the undeveloped east coast where you can look for shells, climb the rocks or play in the heavy wave action (don't go out too far!).
Eat at the loncherias or small eateries located off the beaten track. You'll get large portions, excellent quality and reasonable prices; most are open for breakfast and lunch until about 2 or 3 p.m.
Not one peso will you spend to take a dip in the swimming pool at your villa or condo. Work on a tan, lounge by the pool, read a book; to cool off, slip into the refreshing water again.
Take a siesta any time you want!
Go to the movie; it is inexpensive. Cozumel has a new 5-screen cinema near the Chedraui grocery store. Yes, they have popcorn!
Take the ferry to the mainland; cost is pretty reasonable at $14 roundtrip.
You can stay within your budget and keep plenty busy.