With its reputation as being one the best places to go scuba diving in the world, the tiny Caribbean island of Cozumel is a sought-after destination among divers. As well as being great for lovers of white sand beaches, cerulean blue waters and the tropics.
Situated just off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, Cozumel International Airport is an option if you want to fly direct. But for visitors already in the country wondering how to get from Cancun to Cozumel, or if it’s cheaper or easier for you to get to Cancun first, this is article has got all your options for the final leg of your trip covered.
First things first…
How far is Cozumel from Cancun?
Cancun to Cozumel in terms of distance is around 113km via the easiest transport routes and slightly shorter as the crow flies. It’s usually a journey of between two and three hours depending on changes, whether you are coming from the airport or the city, or whether you prefer to simply fly.
If you’re wondering how to get to Cozumel from Cancun, here are your options:
Option 1: Take a Cancun to Cozumel flight
A Cancun to Cozumel flight isn’t usually incredibly expensive. So if you’re well provided for in terms of budget you can fly directly from Cancun International Airport to Cozumel International Airport.
The flight time is around 20 minutes and you can fly in both directions usually with several choices as to times every day.
Option 2: Take a Cancun to Cozumel ferry (from Playa del Carmen)
For those on any kind of budget, a combination of overland transport and a short ferry ride is the standard choice.
Whichever land transport option you choose, the journey takes around one hour. After that, the ferry takes around the same, probably slightly less. Combined journey time? Almost certainly less than three hours.
There is no direct Cancun to Cozumel Ferry. Instead, you’ll need to take a bus, coach, taxi or hire car to get to Playa del Carmen (this is the town on the mainland of the Yucatan Peninsula directly across from the island, also well worth your time to visit – especially if you’re an avid diver). Then from Playa, take the ferry to Cozumel.
The best way to do the overland portion of this will depend on your budget, your timeframe and where you’re travelling from:
a. Travelling from Cancun airport
For overland transport, your options are:
i. Airport transfer to Playa del Carmen, then take the ferry
Many people choose to pre-book an airport transfer directly to Playa del Carmen. There are several companies which offer this. Most will give you the option of prepayment, via PayPal for instance, or cash on delivery of yourself to the ferry terminal. They tend to be great value for money for groups.
This is a particularly good option if you are taking diving gear with you as you’ll have to contend with the fewest changes of type of transport.
ii. Take the bus to Playa del Carmen, then take the ferry
Almost certainly the most cost-effective way to get from Cancun airport to Cozumel is to take the readily available buses.
The ADO buses run directly from the airport to Playa from around 8.30am to 12.30am. There is generally no problem having diving gear with you if you’re taking the bus either. There will be plenty of storage space underneath. The buses are also air-conditioned and fairly spacious.
iii. Take a taxi
The travel distance from Cancun to Cozumel makes a taxi an attractive option if you have a slightly larger budget but still don’t fancy flying. Always get a quote from your taxi driver first.
b) Travelling from Cancun
If you’re travelling from the city itself, the journey is also fast and easy enough that a Cancun to Cozumel day trip is possible.
Your options for the land portion of your trip from Cancun to Cozumel are:
i) Shuttle van
In order of ascending price, the minibus will almost certainly be the cheapest way to get from the city to Playa del Carmen. These little white buses run often, are very cheap and quite speedy. They usually take an hour or less to make the trip.
The shuttle buses are, however, fairly limited in the way of luggage space. So if you’re taking anything more than a rucksack you’ll probably prefer one of the other options.
Getting to Playa via bus is also very cheap from the city. They run often – as in several times an hour – and are as well provided for with air conditioning and decent seats as the airport buses.
Once you’re on board, the trip to Playa takes around an hour. Then it’s only a short walk from the bus station to the Playa del Carmen ferry dock.
iii) Taxi or vehicle hire
Both of these remain solid and affordable options for the first part of your trip.
Be aware: the bus stops and terminals in Playa del Carmen
Do pay attention to the fact that there are two bus terminals in Playa del Carmen. Your bus may stop at both. If you’re getting the ferry, you want the stop on 5th Avenue.
The Playa to Cozumel ferry – where to get it, how long, what it costs
The second part of your journey will be on the ferry.
The ferry terminal is located very centrally in the downtown part of Playa del Carmen. If you know or can find the main square or Plaza Playacar, you’ll be very close by. It’s also located very close to the Playa del Carmen bus station on 5th avenue. In short, the Playa ferry dock is very easy to find.
The ferries to Cozumel run every hour from around 7 am to 9 pm. But do be aware that if you’re visiting in the low season – that’s usually March to September and can be a good choice if you’re trying to avoid big crowds and are mainly in it for the diving – the ferries do sometimes skip a run or two if there are very few passengers.
The ferry trip takes between half an hour and three-quarters of an hour.
Do be aware that there are two ferry companies, so it’s worth only buying a single ticket. This means you have full flexibility when it comes to getting back to the mainland. The Cancun to Cozumel ferry costs (from Playa del Carmen) around 200 pesos or less, depending on which company you choose.
It’s designed to be easy
All in all, this is a trip which you won’t struggle to make. There are many options suited to all budgets and timeframes.
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