It’s no secret that there are many fun things to do in Cozumel, especially scuba diving. You’ve set your sights on the beautiful and tranquil island of Cozumel, great! Now how do you actually get there from Cancun, Playa Del Carmen, Tulum, or beyond? Many people are often confused about how to get to Cozumel, but no matter where your starting location is, this guide will help you find your way there with ease.
Whether you’re traveling from Cancun/Playa Del Carmen to Cozumel directly, or from elsewhere in Mexico, use this post to find out how to get to Cozumel by ferry, plane, car, or bus. So without further ado, let’s get into it!
*Please note: All of the products listed in this post are my personal tried and true recommendations and may contain affiliate links. You won’t be paying a cent more, but in the event of a sale, the small affiliate commission I receive will help keep this blog running. Thanks!
WHERE IS COZUMEL, MEXICO?
Cozumel is a go-to beach destination on Mexico’s Caribbean coast. Cozumel is the largest island in Mexico, located in the State of Quintana Roo on the Yucatan Peninsula in southern Mexico. It is a 34-mile-long by 11-mile-wide island off of Mexico’s Riviera Maya that consists of mostly undeveloped land. To the west of the island is Playa Del Carmen.
Cozumel is best known as a cruise ship port and a popular spot for scuba diving and snorkeling.
HOW TO GET TO COZUMEL, MEXICO
You can get to the island of Cozumel by plane or by ferry. There are a few ways to fly into Cozumel as well as a few ways to get to the ferry located in Playa Del Carmen.
The main rule of thumb for figuring out how to get to Cozumel is this: unless you have chosen to fly into the Cozumel airport, you will have to take a ferry to Cozumel.
GETTING TO COZUMEL BY PLANE
If you’re traveling from internationally or somewhere else in Mexico, one of the easiest ways to get to Cozumel is by plane.
Did you know there is actually an international airport right within Cozumel? That’s right it’s Cozumel International Airport (CZM) and flights going to and from Cozumel are surprisingly affordable. A lot of the major airlines from the USA and Canada often fly here directly.
If you haven’t booked your flight to Mexico or Cozumel yet, be sure to consider flying into CZM.
GETTING TO COZUMEL BY FERRY
If you’re already in the Cancun or Riviera Maya area, the best way to get to Cozumel is by ferry. Ferries to Cozumel depart only from Playa del Carmen. That means if you’re starting from anywhere else (Cancun, Tulum, Merida, etc.), you will need to get to Playa del Carmen from wherever you are.
The ferry terminal is located right in downtown Playa del Carmen, about a block and a half from the main square and Plaza Playacar. There are 2 ferry companies running back and forth to the island, both operating the same route and charging the same price. Both will depart every hour on the hour, from about 6 am to 9 pm. The ferry crossing takes about 30-40 minutes. For the latest ferry schedule and reservations, refer to the Ultramar website. It will look something like this:
You can book a one-way ticket or a roundtrip ticket. I’d go with the roundtrip ticket so that you won’t need to stand in line to purchase your return ticket later.
In terms of ferry costs:
- Adults and children 12 or older: $500 pesos round trip ($25 USD)
- Children 6 to 11 years old: $400 pesos round trip ($20 USD)
- Infants and children under 5: Free
Once you have your ticket, head inside and get in line. Keep an eye out for the line of the ferry company you booked. All ferry passengers (regardless of which company) will all enter together and have to go through security before being allowed to hop on the ferry.
Once you’re on board, you can either grab a seat outdoors for the best views, or grab a seat indoors where there is air-conditioning.
Alright now that you understand the ferry process, let’s get into how you’ll get to the Cozumel ferry in Playa Del Carmen. There are several ways to get to Playa Del Carmen from wherever you are. The method you choose will depend on your budget.
HOW TO GET TO COZUMEL FROM CANCUN
If you are going to be in the city of Cancun (either downtown or the Hotel Zone), you will need to reach Playa del Carmen in order to get to Cozumel. There are many ways to get to Playa Del Carmen including private transfer, the ADO bus, colectivo bus, or taxi.
GETTING TO PLAYA DEL CARMEN BY PRIVATE TRANSFER
If you are looking for how to get to Cozumel from your hotel in Cancun, the easiest & fastest way is by arranged private transfer. Arranged transfer options include shared shuttles, shared vans, private cars/vans, and even luxury options. With all of these options, your driver will pick you up at the airport or hotel and bring you to Playa Del Carmen where you’ll hop on board and cross over to Cozumel.
For the best prices/rates, you’ll need to book online in advance to arrange your trip date and time. Whenever we travel in Mexico, we always book our private transfer as soon as we know our final travel plans. They’re so much cheaper than taxis in Cancun. Choose what works best for you, depending on your budget and how fast you want to get to the ferry.
Tip: Transfer companies are all cheaper than taxis. I would recommend you set up a transfer ahead of time on Booking.com (what I used to book all my Cancun transportation ahead of time), as I’ve found that they’re 40-50% cheaper than what you’d pay through a taxi cab, even after negotiating down the price.
GETTING TO PLAYA DEL CARMEN BY BUS
The cheapest way to get to Playa Del Carmen from Cancun is by public bus. The ADO coach bus provides locals and tourists with transportation all over the Yucatan. The bus from Cancun to Playa Del Carmen takes around 1 hour and bus tickets cost around $10-15 USD per person, depending on when you travel. Check for the latest fares, schedules, and other info on the ADO website.
Buses run regularly, have air-conditioning, and are generally pretty comfortable. The bus will drop you off at the Playa del Carmen ADO bus station, which is very close to the ferry to Cozumel. From the bus station, you can simply walk right over to the ferry terminal.
GETTING TO PLAYA DEL CARMEN BY TAXI
Getting to Playa Del Carmen by taxi is probably going to be the most convenient, but I wouldn’t recommend this option as you’ll probably be paying an overpriced rate for a taxi ride. If you do opt for a taxi, be sure to agree on the price before you get in the taxi. Ask to be dropped off at the Cozumel Ferry. While they can’t drop you right at the ferry, they’ll do their best to drop you off nearby and it’ll be just a short walk away.
Personally speaking, there’s a lot of pressure from taxi drivers to use their mode of transportation (and sometimes even to tip well). I typically just avoid them altogether to avoid the stress of peer pressure.
HOW TO GET TO COZUMEL FROM CANCUN AIRPORT
You can get to Playa Del Carmen from the CUN airport with many of the same options outlined above.
BY PRIVATE TRANSFER
If you are looking for how to get to Cozumel from the Cancun Airport, the easiest & fastest way is by arranged private transfer. At the airport, there will be someone there waiting for you at the airport baggage claim/exit to bring you to the car. See above for details on private transfer options.
You can also take the bus for a cheaper option. From Cancun Airport, head to one of the ADO bus stations and book a ticket to Playa del Carmen. After buying the tickets, proceed with your luggage outside and veer toward the right, where the bus terminal is located. The bus ticket will cost around $10-15 USD and the ride will last about 1 hour.
The buses run regularly, have air-conditioning, and are generally pretty comfortable. Once you arrive in Playa, you’ll notice that the ADO bus station in Playa del Carmen (where you’ll get off) is very close to the ferry to Cozumel. From the bus station, you can simply walk right over to the ferry terminal.
You can also potentially fly from Cancun Airport to Cozumel, but many of the companies that make this route only operate during peak season, plus, you will probably need to rent a private plane to make this journey. Since this requires you to book a private plan transfer, this method of transportation won’t come cheap. Expect to pay at least $500 USD for the entire plane. You can get a quote and book here.
If renting a private plane to get you there is out of your budget, then you are going to have to go by land and sea. Again, booking private transfer is my preferred method of traveling by land.
HOW TO GET TO COZUMEL FROM TULUM
From Tulum, you will also need to get to Playa del Carmen first. The same few transportation methods are applicable here as well: private transfer, ADO bus, or taxi.
However, you do have one other option–the colectivo bus. Some colectivo buses leave from Tulum to Playa del Carmen every 5-10 minutes. The ride takes about an hour, but is really dependent on how many stops the bus driver needs to make (depending on who’s on the bus and where they need to go).
To get to Playa Del Carmen from Tulum on the colectivos it is best to catch them from the center or south of Tulum along the 307 main road as they can fill up and you might have to wait longer to catch one that isn’t full.
HOW TO GET AROUND COZUMEL, MEXICO
You can safely walk to most destinations in town so renting something on wheels really isn’t all that necessary. Getting to outlying hotels and beaches requires a rental car, moped, or taxi. Let’s break down the five main methods to get around Cozumel.
By walking: The first is simply to walk. The best way to get around Cozumel is on foot, as most of the attractions are centrally located.
By renting a moped: You can certainly rent a moped to get around Cozumel, but unless you’re used to riding a moped already, I would advise against this option, especially if you’re not accustomed to local traffic. Moped rentals are readily available and cost about $30 for 24 hours, which includes a helmet but not insurance (insurance will cost another $15).
By taxi: Taxis provide cheap and easy transportation around town, and rates have been standardized to curb rip-offs. With that said, there is no haggling for taxi prices here. Taxis operate on a zone system, and it costs anywhere from 25 to 35 pesos to travel within each zone.
Here are a few sample fares for two people:
- island tour – 800 pesos
- town to southern Hotel Zone – 100 to 200 pesos
- town to northern hotels – 50 to 70 pesos
- town to Chankanaab – 120 pesos for up to four people
- in and around town – 50 pesos
Do note, with taxis, there is an additional charge for extra passengers to most destinations.
By bike: If you’re up for it, you can rent a bicycle to get around town. There are many options available, from single-speed cruisers to 21-speed mountain bikes. With a bike, you can cover more ground with less effort. A lot of the restaurants and bars have places to park your bike out front.
By renting a car: Because so many activities are centralized in San Miguel, there is very little need for a car rental. People generally walk to destinations within town, and cab to the areas where the hotels and beaches are. If you intend to explore the southern or eastern parts of the island, renting a car can be a good option.
WHERE TO STAY IN COZUMEL, MEXICO
You’ll want to pair your Cozumel experience with an unforgettable place to lay your head at night. There are so many great lodging options on Cozumel, from all-inclusive resorts to oceanfront boutique hotels, from condos to apartments, not to mention everything is so affordable!
Here are a few options we recommend:
Villas El Encanto Cozumel – Gorgeous set of full apartments and rooms offering contemporary décor, air conditioning, kitchens, mini-bar and a private bathroom. Guests at Villas El Encanto Cozumel will find a wide range of restaurants within 5 minutes’ walk.
Hotel B Unique – Hotel B Unique is a 4-star hotel that provides accommodations with a restaurant, free private parking, sun terrace, outdoor swimming pool, and a bar. Best of all, a complimentary breakfast is available daily!
If you’re going to Cozumel with a larger group, I recommend renting an apartment, house, or villa. Yes, you heard that right, a whole villa! Often, you can find entire villa rentals that fit anywhere from 2 to 16 people for the same price as hotel rooms. Check out VRBO for some really amazing and affordable beach rentals.
ESSENTIAL PACKING LIST FOR COZUMEL, MEXICO
- Lightweight Packable Day Bag | Inside my larger travel backpack, I always bring a lightweight, packable backpack to use for day-to-day exploration. The Fjallraven Kanken Mini is perfect for carrying a few snacks, a lightweight jacket, cameras, phones, a water bottle, and whatever else I need for the day.
- Packing Cubes | Start packing the smart way. The key to smart packing is going to be compartmentalization, aka your packing cubes. This set comes with a bunch of different sizes, so you can create a separate compartment for undies and socks, one for clothing, one for toiletries, and one for anything else you may want to organize. By using packing cubes, it’s so much easier to pull out only what you need, rather than dig through all of your luggage to find that one thing you’re looking for.
- Laundry Bag | Summer = lots of sweaty, smelly worn clothes. Don’t soil your entire bag by mixing worn clothes with your unworn clothes! Definitely bring a laundry bag to separate your clean clothes from your dirty clothes to maintain the utmost freshness.
- Clothing | Pack your usual summer clothes, as well as a few layers for unexpected cooler temperatures. This includes tanks, shorts, swimsuits, and swim coverups!
- Light Rain Jacket | Traveling to tropical areas does not necessarily mean there won’t be rain or wind. Packing a light rain jacket will definitely come in handy in unpredictable tropical climates. This one for men and this one for women are some of the best jackets for any kind of travel. They’re ultralight, wind and water-repellent, and take up virtually no space so they’re easy to carry wherever you go.
- Adventure Sandals | Tevas and Chacos are my go-to brands for multipurpose summer sandals. If you’re planning on having an adventurous day or two, you should definitely consider getting adventure sandals — comfortable for long-distance walking, safe for submerging in water, and super durable.
- Walking Shoes | One pair of closed-toed shoes (walking shoes or running shoes) is always crucial for any trip. These ones that I’ve been traveling around with are super light and breathable. I can even walk 15+ miles in them before getting sore feet.
- Cooling Facial Mist | When you’re faced with mid-day humidity, it can be very hard to deal with. Keeping a small bottle of facial mist in your purse or backpack on a hot day will save your life. This mist takes all the cooling, soothing ingredients you can think of—aloe, cucumber, and green tea—and combines them into one refreshing spritzer for your face.
- Dry Shampoo | Bring some dry shampoo to use in between washes to instantly revitalize and freshen your semi-dirty hair.
- Leave-In Conditioner | I recommend bringing a leave-in conditioner to help nurture your hair after spending time in pools and the salty ocean. As someone with naturally frizzy hair, my hair tends to get tangled, coarse, and even more frizzy after it’s submerged in water. This leave-in conditioner is a cult favorite – just put it in your damp hair after your shower and comb it through.
- SPF 30+ Sunscreen (For Face) | COOLA sunscreen is my new go-to facial sunscreen. My face doesn’t feel sticky or goopy, which is so important for feeling comfortable when you’re out and about in humid areas. If you’re going anywhere in the tropics, you’ll be close to the equator so you really want to use a high SPF – I don’t go below SPF 30 in hot and sunny climates. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s reef-friendly!
- Sunscreen (For Body) | Applying sunscreen to your body is absolutely necessary for tropical destinations. Even if it’s overcast and cloudy, the UV index can be very high, so be sure to apply whenever you’re outdoors. If you plan on snorkeling near the reefs, choose a coral reef-safe brand like Coola or Sun Bum, as traditional sunscreen contains chemicals that damage and even kill the precious reefs.
- After Sun Cooling Spray| Let’s be real– you’re probably going to be spending the majority of your vacation outdoors under the sun. Chances are, you’re going to get a nice tan, and maybe even a sunburn or two! Even if you don’t get sunburned, you should still treat your exposed skin to some much-needed hydration with an after-sun cooling spray or after-sun lotion.
- Hand Sanitizer | Hand sanitizer gel or wipes are a must any time you’re going to be in contact with surfaces many other people have touched. Never leave your hotel room without it! And if you do happen to forget it, remember to wash your hands often, especially before eating or touching your face.
- Body Wipes / Feminine Wipes | Feeling a bit gross but don’t have the time to shower right in that instant? Just whip out one of these body wipes for a quick refresher. The feminine wipes I like are infused with cucumber and aloe. Trust me, you will feel and smell so much better. Always good to have a few handy in your travel bag.
- Oil Blotting Sheets | On a typical day in a hot and tropical place, your makeup will slide/sweat off your face in exactly three seconds after stepping outside. Rather than layering on more makeup, first, focus on tackling your shiny, sweaty glow. The solution? Use blotting sheets whenever your face starts getting sweaty.
- Cooling Face Mask | After a long day of exploring, nothing will feel better than propping your feet up and slapping on a cooling face mask for 10-20 minutes. Lay back and relax!
- Insect Repellent Lotion | Mosquitos love hot climates, so I would definitely recommend packing insect repellent with a high DEET percentage, no matter the season you’re traveling. Sawyer makes some really great bug repellent products, and they’re travel-friendly too!
- Permethrin Insect Repellent Spray for Clothing | This clothing insect repellent spray is a game-changer. If you’re going to be outdoors in areas where mosquitos are prevalent, I’d highly recommend preparing your clothes with this fabric spray!
- How does it work? This is a treatment spray for clothes that adheres only to fabrics, leaving no smell or residue on clothes and doesn’t harm human skin. Permethrin spray lasts for up to 6 machine washes, which is more than enough for most tropical trips. Real life story– I hiked Machu Picchu after treating my hiking clothes with this, and I only got a total of 2 mosquito bites after the 4-day trip, whereas some of my friends got 20+ bites. Worth it.
- Pro Tip: Buy and use before you leave for your trip. A few days before departure, spray all of your clothes, plus anything else made of fabric that you’d like treated.
- Insect Repelling Lightweight Pullover | Too lazy to treat your clothes with insect repellent? I know, it’s a process. The ExOfficio BugsAway pullover is the next best thing– it’s super lightweight too.
- Hat, Bandana, or Buff | Keep the sun off your skin with a fancy sunhat, bandana, or a Buff. All three can be used to shield your neck or forehead from the sun. As a bonus, bandanas and Buffs can be used as headbands to keep hair and sweat off of your face. Soak your bandana or Buff then put it on your head, face, or neck for a quick cool down.
- Cooling Towel | Perfect for working out, a day at the beach, or simply sitting there baking in the sun—you’ll feel Chill Pal‘s cooling effect as soon as you take it out of the package. To activate the cooling towel, just soak it in water and wring it out, then wear it as a bandana or use it as a towel. Another hot weather game-changing travel essential.
- Travel Towel | These are light and quick-drying, which is exactly what you need in hot, humid climates. Super useful if you plan on having beach days or staying in hostels. This one is a great option.
- Travel Clothesline | This is a small and portable clothesline that allows you to hang up your wet clothes almost anywhere. I’ve found that it’s really handy whenever I have wet bathing suits or towels that need to be air-dried. I love it for its multi-purpose functionality!
- Dry Bag | Another multi-purpose item on the list! Dry bags are completely necessary for keeping your dry belongings (clothes, electronics, money, etc)… dry. Don’t set foot on a kayak, boat or canoe without putting your stuff in a dry bag. Trust me, it’s better than ending up with a phone or camera submerged in water in the case where the boat tips or something. It’s also super handy for carrying around wet bathing suits and towels. Or even doubling as your laundry bag!
- Underwater Smartphone Housing | Don’t want to invest in an underwater camera? That’s fine, just stick your phone in the AxisGo’s underwater housing! It’s designed to protect your phone from the harshest weather conditions while offering the freedom to safely capture those special moments underwater.
- Portable Power Bank | You’re probably going to be out all day, snapping away taking pictures, GPSing to all the great food spots… the last thing you want is to be stranded with no phone battery! A portable power bank is a must-have, and Anker’s ultra-light, ultra-portable power bank is tried and true by so many travelers! I never embark on a day of exploration without it.
- Soft Hydration Flask | Stay hydrated in the warm weather with a water bottle that can go anywhere with you—and fold up when not in use. I love the packability of these bottles!
- Snorkel Set | If you plan on snorkeling a lot, bring your own set to save on rental costs.
- Medicine | If you get motion sickness, consider bringing a motion sickness reliever like Dramamine for the ferry ride over to Isla Cozumel. If you need other meds, don’t forget your pain killers, antacids, etc.