A few months ago my family and I took a vacation to Cozumel, Mexico. There are many reasons to like Cozumel (nice beaches, clear water, friendly people, good food, Mayan ruins, and more!), but one thing I was excited about was cycling in Cozumel.
While I’ve been to some places where I would not feel comfortable cycling alone, in Cozumel the small size of the island, the friendly people and the mostly tourist-oriented economy combine to make Cozumel seem to be about as safe from crime as any place can be. Safe from crime, that is — traffic in the town of San Miguel can be a bit crazy!
So, I set out to see about renting a bike in Cozumel, Mexico. While I normally do most of my riding on a road bike, I did not find any bicycle rental companies in Cozumel that rent road bikes. Actually, it seems most bike rental companies in Cozumel rent either mountain bikes or cruiser bikes, and maybe a few tandems. So, given the possibility for some off-road riding and some bumpy side roads, I decided to rent a mountain bike in Cozumel.
Mountain Biking in Cozumel, Mexico
I did a bit of research on mountain biking in Cozumel, and didn’t find too much information on trails open to the pubic. From the research I did, it looked like most of the off-road riding in Cozumel that people talked about were actually where you had to trespass across other people’s property – and I just didn’t want to take the risk of getting arrested, assaulted, or chewed up by a dog (more on dogs below). Then I looked at the map for the eastern side of the island (the “wild” side without hotels) and thought perhaps I could ride north from where the main road ends, but I was told that this was off limits.
After researching bike rental places in Cozumel, I ended up renting a Scott Aspect 55 from Sombrero Rentals. The folks at Sombrero Rentals were good about responding to my emails with questions. The bike was in pretty good condition, and they delivered it and picked it up from my hotel for a small fee. I would be glad to recommend Sombrero Rentals to any readers who are thinking of renting a bicycle in Cozumel (they also have cruisers, tandems and scooters).
Cozumel Cycling Tips and Accessories
Cycling in Cozumel was fun, with the nice weather and some great scenery. But, if you decide to rent a bicycle in Cozumel I’d advise you to take a few items with you:
- Water bottle and cage – It gets hot, and there aren’t many convenience stores, so plan ahead for water. Because you can’t count on mounts/bolts being on the rental bike, I would recommend a bottle cage that uses velcro, like my Two Fish water bottle and cage.
- Helmet – while many bike rental companies will provide helmets, I prefer to use my own. While some may prefer not to wear helmets, on bumpy and unfamiliar roads, I decided to wear one. You can fit most of your other cycling items in the helmet when you pack.
- Frame mounted air pump – Most bike rental places don’t rent these, so unless you are near their offices you won’t have access to a pump. You’ll want to air up before rides, and if you get a flat you’ll definitely need one. I brought my Topeak Morph pump with built-in gauge and some extra zip ties to fasten it (don’t count on mounts/bolts being on the rental bike).
- Saddlebag with flat repair items – I took my saddle bag, stocked with tire levers, a multi-tool, and the rental place sold an extra inner tube to me, and gave my money back when I did not have to use it (awesome!). You might also take a patch kit in case you get a flat that can be patched.
- Dog repellant – Apparently many people in Cozumel let their dogs roam free. I was chased a couple of times, so when I go back next time I will definitely take some type of dog repellant: Either something like Halt Spray or an electronic dog repellant. You should check airline regs and local laws before packing the Spray (which is like pepper spray).
- Lock – My rental came with a small cable lock that would probably be o.k. if you had to take a quick bathroom break. I also used it on our hotel balcony. If you plan on longer parking, you should probably bring a bigger lock.
- Lights – Bring your own. I wasn’t planning to ride at night, but I took my Planet Bike Spok Light Set, which gave me extra visibility in daylight and especially helped me be seen when I stayed out a little too late and was cycling home at dusk (it’s easy to lose track of time in Cozumel), and lights are required by law after dark. The Spoklites are small enough to fit in a pocket when you park, but still bright and also give some light off to the side. These were ideal for my purposes, but if you are planning more cycling at night, you would want to bring bigger lights (see my Tips for Cycling at Night).
- Sunscreen and Mosquito Repellant – Don’t forget that the sun is strong down nearer the equator, so put on sunscreen before you ride (I used a “sport” version that didn’t get in my eyes when sweating). Also remember that you’ll be riding near or in the jungle, so definitely use mosquito repellant. You’ll need both of these whether you are cycling in Cozumel or not.
- Eye Protection – Sand and other road debris can be hard on your eyes, so I recommend some type of eye protection — be it sunglasses, proper cycling glasses, or my cheap alternative to cycling glasses.
- Cycling Gloves – I also find that cycling gloves can make a big difference in comfort when riding over bumpy roads or trails.
This may sound like a lot, but it is best to be prepared when you are away from home, and most of it can pack inside your helmet. With a little preparation, you can then have an great time cycling around Cozumel.
Other cycling articles of interest: