Diana Spechler

The Mexican island of Cozumel—part of Quintana Roo state and a quick ferry ride from the Riviera Maya—derives its name from a Maya phrase meaning “Island of the Swallows” (you’ll see the bird on everything from souvenirs to street art). While the skies above the island are a colorful swirl of avian creatures (including swallows), it’s mostly what goes on under the water that draws people here. Cozumel is regarded by many to be the best place to scuba dive in Mexico, thanks to its “drift diving” (no fin work required; the current does the work), exquisite reefs, diverse marine life and alluring underwater tunnels. It’s also home to stunning beaches, tropical forests, delicious restaurants and ruins from the ancient Maya civilization. And, with the island measuring a little under 190 square miles, you don’t have to fret about missing any of it during your stay.