Make plans to extend your race season and relax afterward on this active, tropical Mexican island.
Go: Late fall or winter, when average temps are in the mid-80s. You can fly directly to Cozumel, or take the cheaper option into Cancun, where you’ll have to take a bus (or cab) to a ferry across from Playa del Carmen.
Stay: Many of the Ironman host hotels offer transportation to and from race sites and are reasonable and all-inclusive. Allegro Cozumel ($125 for a single during Ironman, Allegrocozumelresort.com) is situated on San Francisco Beach and has unlimited food, four pools and a water park for the kids. For a more modern, intimate option, the Presidente InterContintental Cozumel Resort & Spa (starting around $230 during Ironman week, Intercontinentalcozumel.com) is situated on a private beach in front of Paradise Reef and features a deluxe spa and multiple dining options.
Dine: The best coffee on the island is at El Coffee Cozumel, which offers espresso drinks and an array of massive cakes and pastries. Arrive to a plate of ceviche and chips at Pescaderia San Carlos, then pick your own fish from the cooler to be prepared at the small open-air, family-owned restaurant. Go to the top of the El Museo museum restaurant for rooftop views and delicious breakfast with local flavor.
Chankanaab Beach Adventure Park
If you want to pack a lot into one day, Chankanaab ($21 entry, Cozumelparks.com) has no shortage of activities: Kayak in a clear-bottom boat, snorkel to see underwater statues, swim with dolphins, or skip all that and recover with a deep-tissue massage ($110 for 60 minutes, Naturalspacozumel.com).
Just Keep Swimming
Cozumel is home to the second-largest coral reef in the world, and the waters offer colorful wildlife galore. If you’re an advanced diver, a short ferry ride will get you to the cenotes, or underwater caves, of the Yucatan. ($125, Divechoicecozumel.com)
Train Like the Locals
Secluded Bike Path
If you want to test out the course on a triathlon bike, rent a carbon Quintana Roo from Sombrero Rentals ($100 per day, Sombrerorentals.com), and hop on the paved bike path, which is flat and safe—it’s completely protected from cars for more than 30 miles.
Scoot Around Town
The island is just over 30 miles long, and much of it is unsettled. The best way to see the secluded beaches is via scooter—you can rent one for around $20 per day (Ernestosrental.com or Htlrentals.com).
Cozumel is home to three major races: Ironman Cozumel (December), Ironman 70.3 Cozumel (September) and an ITU World Cup (October), as well as the Taste of Cozumel Festival with kids, age-group and elite races that renowned coach Brett Sutton helped put on this year. The Ironman features a down-current, point-to-point swim filled with tropical fish, a pancake-flat (but windy!) bike course along the coast and through town for three loops followed by a flat, crowd-supported, three-loop run.