A Travel Price Comparison for Families, Couples, and Backpackers Cozumel vs. Oahu for Scuba Diving & Snorkeling, Beaches, Families, and Couples

Should you visit Cozumel or Oahu?

Which is cheaper to visit? Which is more expensive for vacation?

Which city is more affordable and which is best for your travel style? If you're trying to figure out where to go next, comparing the travel costs between Cozumel and Oahu can help you decide which place is right for you.

Cozumel

Cozumel is a active, colorful, and scenic island. It's a beautiful place to visit, too. Visitors also love the food, scuba diving and snorkeling, and beaches.

Oahu

Oahu is a historic, energetic, and vibrant island. Since it's a large city, you'll find plenty of things to do. Many visitors also come because of it's amazing beauty. Other reasons to visit include beaches, hiking, and shopping.

Cozumel and Oahu: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Good scuba and snorkeling destination
  • Popular beach
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Very walkable
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Good music scene
  • Good scuba and snorkeling destination
  • Popular beach
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Impressive beauty
  • Home to Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial
Things to Consider
  • Less walkable


Is there more to do in Cozumel or Oahu?

Travelers will usually find more to do in Oahu. Although Cozumel and Oahu are popular destinations, Oahu has more sights and attractions for tourists. Oahu is very popular for its museums, music, hiking, big city activities, and impressive beauty, while Cozumel attracts visitors for its scuba diving & snorkeling. Cozumel is famous for its beautiful beaches and world class dive sites. Oahu is famous for its unique blend of cultures, stunning beaches, vibrant energy, and world class water sports (including surfing). It is also well known for Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial.

How is Cozumel different from Oahu?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Oahu and Cozumel. Then, you can decide for yourself which place is better for your next trip.

Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Cozumel or Oahu?

Cozumel
Oahu

Oahu is a great island for its historical sights. Also, Cozumel is not as popular, but is still a nice island for its sights and museums.

Many visitors head to Oahu specifically to visit some of its top-rated museums and other sights. The USS Arizona Memorial & Pearl Harbor is a moving and special place to visit, but tickets should be purchased in advance. Other landmarks around the island include the Tour Iolani Palace and the Battleship Missouri Memorial.

Cozumel offers a variety of museums and landmarks to choose from. Check out the Island Museum, the Coral Reefs Monument, and some of the local Mayan ruins. Also worth a visit is Cozumel's Lighthouse.


Is the Food Better in Cozumel or Oahu? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Cozumel
Oahu

Both Cozumel and Oahu offer a number of nice restaurants to choose from.

There are plenty of up and coming restaurants around Cozumel. You'll find a mix of tourist restaurants and hidden gems that serve up authentic Mexican dishes. Wander off the main streets to find the restaurants that are tucked away from the cruise ship crowds.

Visitors will find a budding food and restaurant scene in Oahu. Honolulu has a diversity of cuisines and a cosmopolitan vibe, giving it some of the best food in the Hawaiian Islands. The local restaurants are influenced by a number of countries and often incorporate Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, Korean, and Portuguese flavors. Dishes are often saucy, sweet, and starchy, but you'll also find fresh tropical fruits such as mango and coconut.

Is Cozumel or Oahu Better for Nightlife?

Cozumel
Oahu

If the nightlife is your priority, you'll find excellent options in both Cozumel and Oahu.

The nightlife in Cozumel has something for everybody. The nightlife scene is filled with cocktail lounges, beachfront bars, and wild weekend parties. There is something for everyone, whether you'll looking to sip wine by the ocean or party into the early morning.

Oahu offers plenty to do in the evening. Honolulu, and Oahu, have some of the best nightlife in the Hawaiian islands. There are tiki bars and posh nightclubs that keep buzzing late into the night. Head to Waikiki for some of the island's best nightlife. In Honolulu you'll find some local bars and clubs, but many resorts also offer a great nightlife scene and a fun atmosphere that caters specifically to tourists.

Is Cozumel or Oahu Better for Music?

Cozumel
Oahu

Oahu is adequate for live music. However, Cozumel is not a live music destination.

While it's not known for it's music scene, Oahu has some options for casual listeners. There are a few good venues that offer live music on Oahu.

Cozumel is not a live music destination.


Is Cozumel or Oahu Better for Resorts?

Cozumel
Oahu

Luxury resorts are fairly comparable in Cozumel and Oahu.

Vacationers can choose from a number of terrific resorts in Cozumel. There are hotels in the city center, and resorts by the beaches. For diving and snorkeling, stay in Southern Cozumel. Golfing and waterfront properties are popular in Northern Cozumel.

Oahu is a popular resort destination that attracts visitors from everywhere. The island has a diversity of resorts, from luxury 5 star accommodation to family-friendly resorts that are fun for all ages. Ko Olina is where you'll find Aulani, the Disney Resort. Waikiki is one of the most famous tourist areas on the island and you'll find high rise hotels and condos along the beach.

Is Cozumel or Oahu Better for Scuba Diving and Snorkeling?

Cozumel
Oahu

Cozumel is a world-class destination for its diving and snorkeling. Also, Oahu is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for snorkeling and scuba diving.

People travel to Cozumel specifically to enjoy its famous scuba diving and snorkeling areas. Many people visit Cozumel specifically for the world class diving. Palancar Reef is one of the best dive spots in the area, and thanks to conservation efforts it is rebounding and offers a diverse environment.

Oahu is an extremely popular place to visit for scuba diving and snorkeling. Snorkeling and diving on the island is among the best in the world. There are 3 marine life conservation parks and miles of coastline to explore.

Is Cozumel or Oahu Better for Beaches?

Cozumel
Oahu

Cozumel and Oahu are terrific choices for a beach vacation.

With world-famous beaches, Cozumel is a very popular vacation destination. The island is lined with beautiful beaches and you'll find great snorkeling and tourist-friendly amenities. Some of the best beaches are Playa Punta Morena, Playa El Cielo, and Playa Chen Rio.

The beaches in Oahu are among the best in the world. From the energetic Waikiki Beach to the family-friendly Ko Olina, Oahu has some of the most famous beaches in the world. The beaches are lined with sand and some areas offer better swimming conditions than others. You'll also find beaches with snorkeling or sea turtles, and some with world class surfing waves.


Is Cozumel or Oahu Better for Hiking?

Cozumel
Oahu

Oahu is a must-visit destination for hiking. However, Cozumel is not a hiking destination.

Many people visit Oahu specifically for its hiking. World famous hikes on the island include Diamond Head and Koko Crater Railroad Trailhead. There are hikes ranging from easy to challenging and views that will take your breath away.

Cozumel is not a hiking destination.

Is the Shopping Better in Cozumel or Oahu?

Cozumel
Oahu

If you're looking to go shopping, Cozumel and Oahu both offer plenty of excellent spots.

Shopping is a popular activity when visiting Cozumel. For the best shopping head to Plaza del Sol, the Royal Village Shopping Center, or Los Cincos Soles. Expect cruise ship crowds and no shortage of tourists.

Oahu is a popular shopping destination with plenty of stores. There are shopping centers and malls in Honolulu that have major department stores as well as island favorites. For a local experience head to the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet or wander along the Waikiki Beach Walk with its many boutique shops. Also worth a visit is the Honolulu Chinatown market.

Is Cozumel or Oahu Better for Families?

Cozumel
Oahu

Oahu is a must-visit destination for its kid-friendly activities. Also, Cozumel is not as popular, but is still a nice island for its family-friendly activities.

Oahu is one of the most popular family destinations. There are plenty of outdoor activities, places to learn about Hawaiian culture, and world class beaches. The most popular family-friendly area is Ko Olina, which is where you'll find the Disney Resort, Aulani. Kids will also enjoy the area's snorkeling and kayaking. Surfing lessons are a fun activity for the whole family as well.

Cozumel is a very kid-friendly island. The area is filled with water parks, snorkeling opportunities and, of course, fun-filled beaches. There are also wildlife reserves and Mayan ruins that aren't too far away.


Is Cozumel or Oahu Better for Couples?

Cozumel
Oahu

Oahu is a must-visit destination for romance. Also, Cozumel is not as popular, but is still a nice island for its romantic activities.

For those traveling as a couple, Oahu has plenty to offer. The island offers a beautiful and adventurous honeymoon destination that is perfect for anniversaries and other romantic getaways. It's an island paradise with world class beaches, stunning vistas, and countless water sports.

Cozumel is a very popular place to visit for couples. Beaches, resorts, and adventure sports make this the perfect couples destination. There are also great restaurants and plenty of interesting places to explore.

Is Cozumel or Oahu Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Cozumel
Oahu

Cozumel is a very popular place for backpackers and budget travelers. Also, Oahu is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for backpackers.

Many backpackers visit Cozumel. There are a few hostels in town and it's a safe and easy place to explore independently.

Oahu is a good island to visit for backpackers. There are a couple of hostels on the island. Public transportation is also a bit better than the other islands, so it is one of the better Hawaiian islands for backpackers.

Is Cozumel or Oahu Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Cozumel
Oahu

Cozumel and Oahu both offer reasonable public transit to get you around.

Public transit is mostly limited in Cozumel. Local buses don't efficiently travel to the beaches or the hotel areas, so most tourists don't use them.

Public transit is generally limited in Oahu. Honolulu has a fairly good bus system, but once you're out of the city, public transportation is limited.


Is Cozumel or Oahu a more walkable city?

Cozumel
Oahu

Cozumel is a very popular place for its high level of walkability. However, Oahu is lacking in good options for its ease of walking around.

Cozumel is a very walkable island. It's easy to walk around the downtown as it's compact and fun to explore on foot.

Oahu is generally not very walkable. There are some walkable neighborhoods in Honolulu, but if you really want to explore the island, you'll want to have a car.

For even more information, also check out Is Cozumel Worth Visiting? and Is Oahu Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Oahu or Cozumel?

How long in Cozumel or Oahu?

Both Cozumel and Oahu have a number of activities to choose from. In our opinion, Oahu has more to see and do, so we recommend spending more time in Oahu than Cozumel. However, 3-7 days is a good amount of time to spend in either destination.

Families should spend more time in Oahu than Cozumel. Because of the many family-friendly attractions and fun things to do for kids in Oahu, it's a great place to visit with the whole family.

Couples should spend more time in Oahu than Cozumel. You'll find plenty of romantic sights and fun activities in Oahu that are perfect for a weekend getaway or a longer couple's trip.

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Cozumel than Oahu if your budget allows for it. With a larger number of budget-friendly sights, good nightlife, and active things to do, anyone traveling on a budget would have a good time in Cozumel.


  • How many days in Cozumel or Oahu? Ideal Length of Stay
    Cozumel 3-7 
    Oahu 3-7

One day in Cozumel or Oahu?

Visitors enjoy the nightlife and food when visiting the destination of Cozumel. People usually spend lots of time at the beach. Take your pick from the many activities offered here. With so much to do, one day is probably not enough time to see everything.

In Oahu, you'll find shopping and museums. Travelers enjoy the resorts in the area as well. This island offers something for everyone. One day is usually not enough time for a trip here as there is plenty to do.

A weekend in Cozumel or Oahu?

Cozumel is a fun place to experience. You can also relax and pamper yourself at one of the resorts. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than a weekend exploring. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.

In Oahu, you'll find museums and nightlife. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. Since there is so much to do in the area, a weekend is probably not enough for all of it.


Five days in Cozumel or Oahu?

Visitors enjoy the scuba diving and snorkeling and shopping when visiting the lively destination of Cozumel. This island offers something for everyone. It's a great spot for a beach vacation. Plenty of people spend five days in the area when traveling. Five days is often enough time to do most activities.

Oahu is a great place to explore. It is common to spend five days here. You can also relax and pamper yourself at one of the resorts. Five days is a great amount of time to relax and see the many things that Oahu has to offer. Anyone can find something fun to do here.

A week in Cozumel or Oahu?

Visitors enjoy the shopping and museums when visiting the lively island of Cozumel. You'll find plenty of activities on the beach. Many people spend one week here. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel. Because of this, one week is usually enough time for a trip here.

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Oahu. In Oahu, you'll find food and scuba diving and snorkeling. It's also a relaxing resort destination. With all of its activities, you can easily fill one week here.


For some great organized tour ideas, see Tours for Outdoor and Nature Lovers in Mexico, The Best Adventure Tours to Mexico, The Best One Week (7-Day) Tours in United States of America, and The Best 2-Week Tours in United States of America.


Which place is cheaper, Oahu or Cozumel?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in Cozumel is $117, while the average daily cost in Oahu is $333. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each destination. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Cozumel and Oahu in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Cozumel $70
    Oahu $237
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Cozumel $140
    Oahu $474
Compare Hotels in Cozumel and Oahu

Looking for a hotel in Cozumel or Oahu? Prices vary by location, date, season, and the level of luxury. See below for options and compare which is best for your budget and travel style.

Hotels in Cozumel


Hotels in Oahu


Kayak helps you find the best prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars for destinations around the world. Compare prices for multiple destinations when planning your next trip.


Our Analysis
We've analyzed the average and typical hotel prices based on guest reviews, star ratings, and hotel amenities here: Cozumel Hotel Prices and Oahu Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Cozumel $23
    Oahu $21

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Cozumel

Also for Cozumel, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Wild Jade Cavern Private ATV Tour With Transfer: $86
  • Private Transfer from Cozumel Airport: $110
  • Mexico Cozumel Airport (CZM) to Cozumel Cruise Port - Arrival Private Transfer: $44
  • Mexico Cozumel Airport (CZM) to Cozumel -Arrival Private Transfer: $44
  • Mexico Cozumel Airport (CZM) Cozumel - Roundtrip Private Transfer: $87
  • Cuban Cigar Master Class & Beach Break® with transfer: $153
  • Shared Transfer from Airport to Hotel: $30
  • Cozumel to Mexico Cozumel Airport (CZM)Departure Private Transfer: $44
  • Cozumel Island hotels to Cozumel Cruise Port - Departure Private Transfer: $44
  • Cozumel Island Transfers: $70
  • Cozumel Cruise Port to Mexico Cozumel Airport (CZM) - Departure Private Transfer: $44
  • Cozumel Cruise Port to Cozumel hotels Arrival Private Transfer: $44

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Oahu

Also for Oahu, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Private Transfer from Beach Resorts to Honolulu Airport by SUV: $211
  • Private Transfer from Kawela to Honolulu (HLN) Airport: $205
  • Private Transfer from Honolulu (HLN) Airport to Kawela : $205
  • Private Transfer from Honolulu (HLN) Airport to North Shore : $205
  • Private Transfer from Pupukea to Honolulu (HLN) Airport: $203
  • Private Transfer from North Shore to Honolulu (HLN) Airport: $203
  • Luxury Transfer Between Ko Olina and Honolulu Airport, Vice Versa: $192
  • Private Transfer from Honolulu Airport (HNL) to Honolulu / Waikiki: $164
  • Private Transfer from Beach Resorts to Honolulu Airport HNL by Executive Sedan: $157
  • Private Transfer Waikiki to Honolulu Airport HNL by Executive SUV: $148
  • Private Transfer: Honolulu to Honolulu Airport HNL in Luxury SUV: $137
  • Private Transfer from Honolulu (HLN) Airport to Ko Olina: $128

Is it cheaper to fly into Cozumel or Oahu?

Prices for flights to both Oahu and Cozumel change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.





Food
  • Food Meals for one day
    Cozumel $24
    Oahu $52

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Cozumel

For Cozumel, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:

  • Authentic Mayan Cooking Class in Cozumel: $61
  • Private Mexican Trompitos Cooking Class in Cozumel: $78
  • Cozumel Food Tour: $90

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Oahu

For Oahu, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:

  • 2-Hour Dinner Cruise in Honolulu: $97
  • Lunchtime Walking Food Tour in Honolulu: $99
  • Moonlight Dinner Cruise in Honolulu: $106
  • Sunset Dinner Cruise in Honolulu: $107
  • Honolulu Sunset & Fireworks Dinner Cruise: $107
  • Ka Moana Luau Dinner and Show at Aloha Tower: $129
  • Honolulu Food Tour & Beautiful Sights: $170
  • Hawaii Semisub Classic Friday Fireworks Dinner Cruise: $170
  • Germaine's Traditional Luau Show & Buffet Dinner: $191
  • Waikiki Walking Food Tour Eat Like a Local: $199
  • Private Off-Road Sunset Dinner: $208
  • Friday Fireworks Dinner Sail from the Hilton Hawaiian Village : $211

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Cozumel $44
    Oahu $27

Tours and Activities in Cozumel

Also, here are some specific examples of entertainment, tickets, and activities for Cozumel.

  • Private Cozumel Jeep Tour & Jade Caverns Cenote: All-Inclusive: $85
  • 1 Hour and Half Private Tropical Fitness Experience in Cozumel: $6.23
  • 15-minute Private Parasailing Experience in Cozumel: $72
  • 2 Hour Diving Experience in San Miguel de Cozumel: $88
  • A snorkeling adventure in a glass-bottom boat at Cozumel's reef.: $70
  • ATV Adventure to Mayan Jade Cavern plus Snorkeling and Lunch: $79
  • ATV Off Road Adventure to Jade Cavern Tequila and Beach : $75
  • ATV Seashore Combo: Adventure to Mezcalitos plus Optional Snorkeling at Playa Uvas: $70
  • ATV Tour in the Jungle in Cozumel: $75
  • Amazing Cozumel Buggy Adventure with Snorkeling Tequila and More: $39
  • Amazing Cozumel Race: Scavenger Hunt/Sightseeing Tour: $79
  • Atlantis Submarine Experience in Cozumel: $105

Tours and Activities in Oahu

For Oahu, here are a few prices for actual activities, tours, and tickets provided by various companies:

  • "Tour de Honolulu" Foodie Bike Tour: $189
  • Guided Kayak Tour to Kailua’s Twin Islands: $219
  • New Year’s Eve Midnight Cruise: $246
  • 1.5 -Hour Guided Whale and Marine Life Tour: $89
  • 1.5 Hour Whale Watching Cruise With pick-up and drop-off: $45
  • 12pm Turtle Canyon Snorkel Adventure: $95
  • 18 Minutes PRIVATE Helicopter Tour in Honolulu: $248
  • 18 Minutes SHARED Helicopter Tour in Honolulu: $218
  • 2-Hour Private Botanical Facial with Hand Dip Experience: $175
  • 3 Hour Waikiki Waterslide, Snorkel and Diamond Head Cruise: $158
  • 3-Hour Honolulu Bottom Fishing Adventure : $87
  • 30 Minutes SHARED Helicopter Tour in Honolulu: $284

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Cozumel $11
    Oahu $6.47

Sample the Local Flavors in Cozumel

Some specific costs for nightlife related activities in Cozumel:

  • Cozumel 5-Hour Private Bar Crawl Tour: $110

Sample the Local Flavors in Oahu

Also in Oahu, these are the prices for nightlife and alcohol related activities from various tour providers:

  • Whiskey Tour - Ko Ľolau Distillery - Kailua, Hawai'i 96734: $25
  • WINERY OENO Island Style Wine Tasting: $39
  • Waikiki History Tour Pub Crawl: $45


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Cozumel and Oahu, we can see that Oahu is more expensive. And not only is Cozumel much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Cozumel would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Cozumel and be able to afford a more luxurious travel style by staying in nicer hotels, eating at more expensive restaurants, taking tours, and experiencing more activities. The same level of travel in Oahu would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Oahu than you might in Cozumel.

If you're trying to decide if either of these two destinations are within your price range, also see Is Cozumel Expensive? and Is Oahu Expensive?.