Cozumel's Marine Park

Written on 01/11/2020

Cozumel is part of the mesoamerican barrier reef, the 2nd largest barrier reef in the world (second only to the great barrier reef) and as such, the diversity of coral and marine life is extensive and important.   In 1996, a large part of the south-west area of the island coast was declared a national park and is protected under federal law.

Starting at the International Pier on the west coast of the island and extending south, wrapping around the furthest southern point, "Punta sur" and approximately 1/3 of the way back up the east coast, the marine park has rules in place that must be respected and adhered to.  These rules are enforced by the Marine Park Authority, with help from the post authority and Navy.  

As with anything, rules are sometimes broken, sometimes by simple ignorance or mistake.  If you're diving or on an excursion and you believe you've witnessed behaviour that goes against park rules, please ensure the boat captain is notified or owner of the business that has taken you into the park.  

Marine Park Rules


  • Stand on, touch or take hold of the coral reefs

  • Fish, collect, disturb in any manner, or to keep any marine life organism found in the Park (fish, corals, shells, starfish, etc.)

  • Carry spears, hooks, harpoons or explosives

  • Carry, or use, gloves or knives (Dive Masters and Instructors may register these items for use with the Marine Park).

  • Disturb or remove fauna and/or flora from their refuge.

  • Feed any fish or animals in the Marine Park

  • Dispose of any kind of solid waste in the ocean.

  •  Dump fuel, grease, oil, detergents, or any other liquid substances into the ocean

  •   Use sun block or suntan oils which are not certified reef-safe

Picking up or touching marine life for a "selfie" is not only illegal - it can kill the animal.  Many people don't realise this.  Please don't engage in this behaviour and speak out to inform others if you see them doing so.

When diving, be aware of your bouancy and gear.  A dragging octopus, flashlight(s) or other gear, as well as kicking or finning the reef, will all cause damage.

Double-check lablels when purchasing sunscreen.  No sunscreen at all is reccommended (wear a rash guard and hat instead) but if you find it necessary, be sure it's certified reef-safe.  Bio-degradable is not the same as reef-safe.   "Kiin Sun" and "Maya Solar" are both reef-safe brands and available in island stores.