The majority of the island's population lives in the town of San Miguel (pop.
77,236 in 2010), The island is covered with mangrove forest which has many endemic animal species.
) is an island and municipality in the Caribbean Sea off the eastern coast of Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula, opposite Playa del Carmen, and close to the Yucatán Channel.
The municipality is part of the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico. There are a number of visitors to the island's balnearios, scuba diving, and snorkeling.
The cenotes are deep water filled sinkholes formed by water percolating through the soft limestone soil for thousands of years.
Cozumel's cenotes are restricted to qualified cave divers with appropriate credentials.
Other water activities include para-sailing, kitesurfing, and a tourist submarine. At the cruise ship docks there are several square blocks of stores selling Cuban cigars, jewellery, T-shirts, tequila, and a large variety of inexpensive souvenirs.
San Miguel is home to many restaurants with a huge variety of different cuisines, along with several discothèques, bars, cinemas, and outdoor stages.
The Grijalva and Cortés expeditions were both received peacefully by the Maya of Cozumel, unlike the expeditions’ experiences on other parts of the mainland.
Even after Cortés destroyed some of the Maya idols on Cozumel and replaced them with an image of the Virgin Mary, the native inhabitants of the island continued to help the Spanish re-supply their ships with food and water so they could continue their voyages. As many as 10,000 Maya lived on the island then, but in 1520, infected crew members of the Pánfilo Narváez expedition brought the smallpox contagion to the island and by 1570 only 186 men and 172 women were left alive on Cozumel.
The Maya are believed to have first settled Cozumel by the early part of the 1st millennium AD, and older Preclassic Olmec artifacts have been found on the island as well.
The island was sacred to Ix Chel, the Maya Moon Goddess, and the temples here were a place of pilgrimage, especially by women desiring fertility.
Despite Emily being a powerful storm, it was the larger, stronger, slower-moving Hurricane Wilma that caused the most destruction when it hit the island in October. There was some damage to the underwater marine habitat.