Murals With A Message In Cozumel

No More Blooming mural in Cozumel, Mexico
  • Post category:Travel

All around Cozumel, there are beautiful murals painted on walls, big and small.  In collaboration with Pangeaseed Foundation and their Sea Walls: Artists for Oceans program, artists from all over the world converge on Cozumel to showcase their talents while spreading an important message.

Cozumel has not only embraced street art but has done so in collaboration with an organization that is focused on spreading the word about how important the oceans are to the environment.

SeaWalls: Artists For Oceans Logo in Cozumel, Mexico

The program began in 2013 in Sri Lanka as part of an effort to bring awareness to the overfishing of Manta Rays which were used to produce phony Chinese medicine.  After that first mural, individual murals popped up worldwide with the same message – save the oceans and the marine life in them.

The following year, 15 artists converged on a small island off the coast of Cancun, Mexico, called Isle Mujeres.  The first murals painted were depictions of endangered Whale Sharks that gather off the coast of the island every year.  Those first 15 artists started something that has grown into an international campaign and produced over 300 murals in 14 countries.

While we didn’t locate all of the murals on the island, we did manage to find a few.  Each is a beautiful message of how vital the ocean is to the island and the world.

Protest What You Love mural in Cozumel, Mexico

Located in the main town square, ‘Protect What You Love”, created by Kelly Spencer from New Zealand in 2019 is designed to make you think, not just about what it says but how you can be part of the change.  Whether it’s stopping single-use plastic, making educated decisions on which souvenirs to purchase, or using sunscreen products that are safer for the environment, including reefs, we can all do our part to be more aware and help save what we love.

Life Is Borrowed mural in Cozumel, Mexico

This 2019 mural titled “Su Vida Es Nuestra Vida,” or “Life Is Borrowed,” is a collaboration of two artists who combined are known as Alegria Del Prado.  The artists are Octavio Alegria from Mexico and Esther del Prado from Spain.

Located on the side of the Cozumel Convention Center, the mural depicts the ocean that makes life possible.  The combination of marine life and nature shows the symbiotic relationship and importance they have with each other.

The dwarf Coati, located in the center, is an endangered species native to Cozumel. A closer look shows an earth mover destroying the natural habitat of the Coati as well as a spear in the side of the Humpback Whale, signifying the illegal hunting of whales, which still happens today.

Letinia mural in Cozumel, Mexico

“Letanía” or “Litany”, was painted by Mexican artist Secreto Rebollo in 2019.  Located near the city center, it brings awareness of the importance of sustainable fishing and to stop overfishing.  The golden line piercing the hand, fish, and then the heart of the man is a reminder of how overfishing can harm man, the environment, and ones we love.  If overfishing continues, there will be no natural resources for future generations.

By choosing more sustainable fish to eat, such as Sardines and not Tuna, we can help ensure that the population has time to renew itself and be around for generations to come.

One of my favorite murals, “The Last Bloom,” by Gina Kiel from Wellington, New Zealand, is a bright and colorful mural located in the parking lot of the MEGA store along the main road near the city center.

The Last Bloom mural in Cozumel, Mexico

Painted in 2019, the mural brings awareness to the damage being done to the coral reefs.   The artist’s depiction of the coral reef as a woman’s face is a reminder that the reefs are part of Mother Earth.

As more and more tourists and cruise ships descend upon the island, more and more people get into the water.  Many people do not realize that coral reefs are living, breathing, creatures and that they are rapidly dying due to pollution, global warming, and tourism.

Touching or stepping on coral will do irreparable harm, even killing it.  Chemicals such as body lotions and sunscreen can kill them as well.  The black and white lines in the mural depict the splitting and dying of the reefs.

When The Future Is Felt mural in Cozumel, Mexico

Some murals wrap around the sides of buildings, such as “When The Future Is Felt,” painted by Ness Lee from Toronto, Canada in 2019.  This mural is a little more challenging to find since it’s located in a more residential area of Cozumel.
With this mural, I wanted to illustrate the story of consumption that we can often partake in without being aware of the repercussions that are in store for us and the lives we affect.   Ness Lee

Focusing on the global issue of overfishing, the artist wants viewers to remember that they have a choice and a responsibility to do their part to ensure the longevity of the resources for future generations.

Hide and Seek mural in Cozumel, Mexico

Appropriately named “Hide and Seek,” the mural was completed in 2019 by Australian artist George Rose and is located on Avenue 65 near the Carnitas ElRey restaurant,

The mural focuses on conserving endemic species in Cozumel, primarily the endangered Splendid Toadfish and the Yagerocaris Cozumel.    With the increase in tourism that the cruise ship industry brings to the island every year, the coral reefs which the fish depend on to live are being destroyed.

The message is simple but clear, “Now you see me now you don’t,” once these species are gone, we will never see them again.

No Single Use Plastic mural in Cozumel, Mexico
No Single Use Plastic 2 mural in Cozumel, Mexico

This mural is so big it takes up a city block, and two photos to show it all.  Created in 2019 by two different Mexican artists, Bner and Rehos, it has no title, but it has an essential message in a futuristic way.

The oceans provide food, and play a vital role in the regulation of Earth’s climate. Nevertheless, the impact of human activity is destroying marine life. The seas are suffering, and when they die, we will, too.

The message the artists wanted to convey is how important our choices are.  Whether it is stopping the use of single-use plastics, lowering our carbon footprint, or choosing more sustainable food choices, we must all educated ourselves in the impact we have on the earth.

These two untitled murals were painted by the Argentian artist Ever in 2019.  Located at City Hall, they focus on how vital the ocean is not only to the citizens of Cozumel but the entire country.

City Hall Mural Right Side in Cozumel, Mexico

Showing a man and woman wrapped in the colors of the Mexican flag and surrounded by marine life, the artist reminds viewers about the importance of respecting and protecting the ocean for the future of the island and country.

Plastic Fantastic mural in Cozumel, Mexico

Completed in 2015, “Plastics Fantastic” was created by the Brazilian duo known as Bicicleta Sem Freio or “Bicycle Without Wheels.”

Located on Avenue 65, Indepencia, not far from the Hide and Seek mural, the mural is a fun use of bright colors and characters.  If the title doesn’t give away the message, then perhaps the images of plastic water bottles and garbage alongside Spongebob and his friends will.   We must decrease the use of plastics to protect our oceans.

Mapache's Stare mural in Cozumel, Mexico

“Mapache’s Stare” is, by far, my favorite mural of them all.  Painted in 2019 by South African artist Sonny, it is on a wall near one of the two cruise ship terminals on the island near the city center.

Depicting a pygmy raccoon or Cozumel raccoon, one of 36 species native to Cozumel and critically endangered due to habitat loss at the hands of excessive tourism.

With 5 million people visiting the island by cruise ship every year, these creatures’ natural habitat is being destroyed.  With the potential of another cruise ship terminal, which will increase the number of visitors to nearly 10 million per year, they will have even fewer places to live on the island.

Mapache's Stare close up of eye in Cozumel

The murals focus is on endemic species conservation, plastic pollution, mass tourism, and coastal development.  While the mural itself is stunning, it’s what the raccoon sees in its eye that brings an even stronger message.

A landfill reflected in the eye of the raccoon represents how these animals can only watch as their habitat gets destroyed and taken over. The raccoon is painted to break and fade away, and if you look hard you can see a cruise ship in amongst the splatters.

Interestingly enough, while we were visiting the beach at Punta Sur, one of these fantastic creatures had no fear and was scampering about looking for scraps amongst the tourists.  Even though there were signs everywhere stating not to feed them, people were reaching out with food.

If you ever get to Cozumel, whether it’s for a day or a week, take some time and head into the city center to see these murals with a message.  We hope that they inspire you to stop and think about how vital the oceans are to our lives and the lives of everything around us.


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This Post Has 24 Comments

  1. Susan Pazera

    Fantastic street art with an important message! We have spent time on Isla Mujeres and also Tulum, but haven’t made it to Cozumel yet. Hope we can visit there someday and see these murals in person. Thank you for this post!

    1. Lynnette Vyles

      Hi Susan! We’re so glad you enjoyed the post. They are definitely worth finding. There are actually more but we didn’t have a lot of time on our tour to seek them out. Maybe next time. If you do get to Cozumel, check the website for ArtWalls and there is an interactive map that shows where all of the murals are. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. Nancy Hann

    Wow. Beautiful and impactful street art. I went to Cozumel a few decades ago via cruise ship. I can see how these small towns can be impacted by so many visitors. One silver lining with the pandemic is that maybe the cruise ship industry will slow down a bit and allow these places to set better restrictions to protect the environment that is drawing visitors there. There is such a delicate balance between feeding the economy and protecting the environment. I hope these places figure out how to do that before it’s too late for the creatures.

    1. Lynnette Vyles

      Hi Nancy! Thanks for taking the time to check out our blog. We are so glad you stopped by and enjoyed the post. We completely agree with you about the fine balance of tourism and the environment. Many islands survive entirely on tourism which is great but as you said, knowing when to cut back and set more regulations is key to keeping the environments stable. We had the same thought about the pandemic as well and have a theory that it’s Mother Nature’s way of saying enough. She needs the time to reboot and repair and hopefully, we’ll all learn from this. We cannot keep taking and taking and not giving back. We only have 1 planet Earth and once it’s gone, there’s no turning back.

  3. nadia

    Stunning Murals! love exploring street murals anywhere we travel! they tell you so much about a culture!

    1. Lynnette Vyles

      Hi Nadia! I agree completely! I think you can really tell about a city from its street art. Whether it’s a message of peace, saving our oceans, or diversity, they all have a message – we just have to stop and figure out what it is. We are glad you enjoyed the post and photos!

  4. I LOVE street art, and all the more so when it has such an important message behind it like these murals do. Thanks so much for sharing this!

    1. Lynnette Vyles

      Hi Wendy! We appreciate you taking the time to read the post and are so happy you enjoyed it. We agree that whenever there is a message behind the art, it just seem to tug on our hearts a bit more. Hopefully, we’ll get to find more as we travel the world and share their meanings and messages as well.

  5. Nicky

    What a great article. I’m a great lover of street art and murals and this is so well researched. Kudos to you for taking the time to tell us about each artist too, that for me is hugely important. If you ever get to Valparaiso in Chile there’s a great street art walking tour which is hugely interesting. I think you’d love it as much as I loved this! Thank you!

    1. Lynnette Vyles

      Hi Nicky! Thank you so much for your kind words, we are so happy you enjoyed the post and were inspired. I think it’s so important to give credit where it is due, especially when it comes to street art. The artists spend so much time creating and painting the murals and put so much love into them that not giving credit would be a disservice. Hopefully, we will get to Chile one day, it’s on my wish list. When we do, we’ll definitely check out the tour.

  6. Chirasree

    Love reading about the story behind all these beautiful murals. I would love to visit Cozumel someday.

    1. Lynnette Vyles

      Hi Chirasee (love the name)! I’m so glad you enjoyed the post and learning about Cozumel’s beautiful murals and the important message behind them. Cozumel is a beautiful island and so full of fun things to see and do. You definitely need to add it to your travel bucket list. If you’re a SCUBA diver or love to snorkel, it’s ideal and full of beautiful places to see marine life. Thanks for stopping by!

  7. Jackie S.

    Love how these artwork have a powerful message to preserve Mother Earth and the environment. It’s a good reminder to visitors and residents that we all need to do our part with helping the environment. I can’t wait to see them on a future trip to Cozumel. When we went to Ly Son Island in central Vietnam, one of the smaller islands has artwork with similar messages – reduce plastic usage, save the oceans, etc. To be honest, the island is very small and can only do so much. For change to occur, the government needs to do more education on reducing plastic and remind people to not dump garbage in the water.

    1. Lynnette Vyles

      Hello Jackie! Thank you for stopping by. I am so glad you enjoyed the post. It’s good to know that there are murals with messages all over the world. I agree with you that it’s up to the governments and tourism boards to better educate not only tourists but locals as well. We were a bit disappointed that several places were still using single-use plastic which is what is filling up their landfill on the island. It’s going to take every one of us to spread the word and decreasing single-use plastic use to make a change.

  8. Barbara Fava

    Cozumel is a paradise. I didn’t make it to visit it and it is on my bucket list. I have been living in Mexico for six years and my heart is absolutely there.

    1. Lynnette Vyles

      Hi Barbara! Cozumel is definitely a paradise. The people are so friendly and there is so much to see and do. I would love to spend a few months living in Mexico and trekking all over the country. You definitely need to get to the island when you can, it’s well worth a trip. Thanks for stopping by, I’m so glad you enjoyed the post.

  9. Zack Litchfield

    All of these murals are amazing! Street art like this really helps to make a city come alive and is definitely something I love to seek out when I visit. I think my favorite one has to be the raccoon. The sheer detail in adding the garbage to the reflection in the eyes is wonderful.

    1. Lynnette Vyles

      Hi Zack! Thanks for stopping by. We are so glad you enjoyed the post and we agree with you, the Racoon is our favorite too! I must admit, at first I didn’t see the garbage dump, I thought it was a destroyed coral reef. It wasn’t until I was editing that I noticed it. Regardless, it is an amazing mural and has such an important message. We love finding murals everywhere we travel as well. It’s like having a huge outdoor art gallery.

  10. Lizzie Lau

    These murals are so beautiful. I lived in Cozumel for 5 years and can’t wait to visit again with my daughter now that she’s ready to learn to dive.

    1. Lynnette Vyles

      Hi Lizzie! Thanks for stopping by, we’re so glad you enjoyed the post. We had such a great time finding the murals and learning about the artists and the messages. The island is beautiful and we were so thankful to be able to be there right before they shut down because of COVID. The diving is amazing, hopefully we’ll get back soon and do some more diving and exploring. It’s a beautiful island and the people are so gracious and nice.

  11. Angela

    As an avid lover of street art, I was engrossed in reading about the art in Cozumel and the meanings behind each piece. I have heard about the Sea Walls movement and think it is a fabulous way of bringing the world’s attention to this subject through art.

    I love them all but my two favourites are the diver above the multi-coloured lined face and also the racoon looking over all the plastic waste.

    A great post and so good to read.

    1. Lynnette Vyles

      Hello Angela! Thank you for stopping by. We are so happy that you enjoyed the post and learned something about the SeaWalls program and its mission. Your favorites are my favorites as well. I could sit and stare at the raccoon for hours and see something different in the eye each time.

  12. Narielle

    These are fantastic! I will be in Cozumel in November. Are these walkable from the cruise ports? I would love to see them!

    1. Lynnette Vyles

      Hi Narielle – We are so glad you enjoyed the post. The murals are located all over the island. Some may be within walking distance of the cruise ports, it would depend on the cruise line and which dock you are going to arrive at. We actually scheduled a jeep tour and I specifically asked about seeing the murals and our guide knew exactly where they were. If you have the time for that, I would highly recommend trying to do a jeep tour. You can book those through the Viatar link on our blog, that is who we booked through. Have a great time in Cozumel!