We are staying for a week at Occidental Cozumel. What things should we consider, both in resort and for outside experiences?
Well since you considered an AI, you are at the South end of the island, with no real infrastructure nearby unless you rent a vehicle. That would be your best option as a one way taxi into town will be around 20USD one way. That ads up in the long run. Cozumel is meant to be explored, the only negative, is that you are kinda far away from all the happenings around the island. Therefore, rent a vehicle.
As far as a renting a vehicle, you almost always need on for the east side, regardless of location or style of vacation. Or pay a cab to sit while you frolic (I've done that). A car or cab works for most beach clubs, as they have parking and cab service. If you are going in town, parking may be an issue, I prefer a cab for that. A cab into town and back, at $20 each way is $40.00. How much is a rental, if that's all you use it for?
Now to your question, what to do. On resort, relax and enjoy the amenities and service. When you get the itch to get out, by all means, do so. There are many beach clubs that will offer things you won't get at your resort. For example, the snorkeling is not so good at the Occidental. Sky Reef, Playa Corona, Money Bar, Playa Azul, and more offer so much better snorkeling. There are the ruins of San Gervaiso. The dining in town is so good, you may want to try some of that. I love being in the town square Sunday night, it's family time there.
Did I mention going to the east side? Beautiful scenery, good eats. Yeah, I'd suggest that once a trip. Second time gets old to me (Did I just say that?), but I really enjoy the east side.
If you rent a car, I recommend going to Punta Sur Eco Park for at least part of one day, especially since you are pretty far South already.
If you do a cab, you'll have to pay him to wait for you, since cabs are a scarce there and on the East side.
The park has a lighthouse you can climb for a spectacular view of the southern tip of the island. IMHO it also has the most beautiful beach on the island, and its a very safe area to swim, with no undertow and usually little or no swells. It also has the best snorkeling on the island IMHO. Go to the end of the road to get to the snorkeling/swimming area. The reef is in very shallow water, so everything is up close and well lit. Its a good swim out to the white buoy (where the reef starts) but my 80 year old mother did it, so its not too extreme. Once there, you just relax and drift along until you get to the orange/red buoy. Then its time to swim back. The current will have carried you pretty far down the beach so, so its a good walk back along the beach to where your car is. But it a beautiful beach, beautiful water and you're in paradise...Also, unless the winds are behaving unusually, you shouldn't have the seaweed issues the East side is currently having.
Like Uphill, I enjoy the old main square on Sunday nights. However, there's also often organized groups doing different things at the new square on other nights as well.
If you like to shop, I recommend Cinco Soles, right on the Melgar, North of the square. Interesting stuff, and they won't hassle you to buy something.Edited: 08 June 2018, 23:38
Seeing the gorgeous, rugged east coast is always the highlight of our visits to Coz! So renting a car is a good idea, we use ISIS when in Coz, very good to work with and no worries, jjust obey the traffic regs and drive safe.
Thank you all for your suggestions. We don't necessarily expect to leave the resort more than a couple of days. Is there a reasonable option for getting a car for just a couple days? (Our package already includes transport to and from the airport and Occidental)
If not, we'll probably cab into town, rent a car for a couple of days, drive back into town and return the car, then cab back to the resort.
That's a lot of expensive cabbing. Just rent a car through your resort. You can rent cars anywhere for 24 hours, a couple of days or more.
There is a car rental agency right out on the main rod from your resort. While you may find a less expensive option in town, by the time you pay for the cab each way picking it up and returning it, you won't save much if any $$. And look at the lost time in the cab, unless you make it part of your trip.
Once, we wanted to leave the Iberostar, visit the east side and the ruins, then into town. The cost of a single day with the rental car was more than hiring a taxi for 5 hours ($90.00). Then there was gassing it up upon return, making sure no phantom scratches appeared, finding parking in town. We were very happy to have a cab driver who was willing to point out places to us, take our pictures, etc.... And he had working AC!