When was Cozumel Established?

A view of Cozumel's harbor

Cozumel is a Caribbean island with so much to offer that anyone who visits it will fall in love. A lot of tourists who visit always ask, “When was Cozumel Established”? If you have visited this beautiful island previously, you may have wondered this too. And for all those of you who have not yet been here, do not worry. We are about to give you a short history lesson where we tackle some of the most die-hard myths and legends repeated for years as being the truth regarding Cozumel’s past. 

The original settlers on the island of Cozumel were the Mayans, some 2000 years ago. That sounds too old, right? Spaniards gave the island the name Cozumel. This name derives from the word ‘Cuzam’ which means “swallow” and ‘Lumil’ which means “Land of”. Hence, in the Mayan Language, this refers to “Land of the Swallows”. In 1519 Hernán Cortéz landed, and his men destroyed many of the Mayan temples on Cozumel. Cortéz departed the island to further explore the peninsula, but he left something behind, Smallpox. This epidemic broke out and Cozumel’s population fell to less than 300 people by 1570. By the year 1600, Cozumel was abandoned. In the 1600s, British logwood cutters began settling Cozumel and shipping logwood (dyewood) back to Europe. The Spanish government considered these settlers to be piratas (the Spanish word for contrabandists because they paid no tax) and did not sanction their settlements. This is probably where the pirate myth started. The island became re-inhabited around 1848 when settlers from the mainland sought refuge there from the Caste War. This fierce war broke out when the Mayans avenged the wrongs inflicted on them and their lands by the Spanish. 

In the 1940s, Cozumel’s economy remained strong, owing to the construction of a US airbase here during WWII. When the US military departed, the island fell into an economic slump, and many of its people moved away. Those who stayed took up fishing for a living. Years later, Cozumel was still largely a fishing community until the 1960s. However, from then onward, the tourism industry pushed Cozumel to become a diver’s paradise. Then, in the 1970s, it was discovered as a tourist hub. Tourism really started to take off in the early 1980s following the construction of a commercial airport and the island’s first cruise-ship dock. Ever since, Cozumel has seen an acceleration in its fame and the number of tourists who love to visit the island. With its amazing parks, beaches, and water-related sports, we mark it as one of the most wanted travel destinations for travelers.

Today people absolutely adore Cozumel for its beauty and Instagram worthy scenery. If you have been planning a trip here, gear up because it will be amazing.

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