How to Travel From Cancun to Cozumel by Bus, Car, Ferry, and Plane

TripSavvy / Julie Bang

Located off the coast of the Yucatán Peninsula, Cozumel is one of the most popular beach destinations in Mexico. The country's largest Caribbean island, Cozumel offers excellent scuba diving and snorkeling, scenic beaches, Mayan ruins, and excellent shopping in the town of San Miguel.

If you’re in Cancun and planning a trip to see this side of Mexico, which is located 60 miles away, you'll find a few options that will take you between the two destinations. You can fly to Cozumel International Airport (CZM), which is an expensive but fairly quick trip. Alternatively, you can opt to travel by land (via a private vehicle or bus) to the Mexican city of Playa del Carmen; from there, you will have to travel by sea (via ferry) to Cozumel, 8.5 miles away.

To help you decide which mode of transit is the right one for you, we've broken down each option below.

How to Get From Cancun to Cozumel
  Time Cost Best For
Plane 20 minutes from $60 Arriving on a time crunch
Bus & Ferry 2 hours, 30 minutes from $33 Traveling on a budget
Car & Ferry 1 hour, 30 minutes from $75 Traveling in a group

What Is the Cheapest Way to Get From Cancun to Cozumel?

The bus-to-ferry transfer is the cheapest option, although it does take the most time. The ADO bus company runs a direct service to Playa del Carmen from both CZM and a bus station in downtown Cancun (a five-minute walk from the ferry pier). A one-way trip in a comfortable, air-conditioned bus costs between $8 and $12. Buses depart every half-hour or so between 9 a.m. and 10 p.m., and more frequently during peak times. The bus ride takes roughly an hour and 10 minutes.

When arriving in Playa Del Carmen, you will either be dropped off at the bus station or a few blocks from the ferry pier, located on 5th avenue. There are two companies that provide ferry service: Ultramar and WinJet. Departure times vary seasonally, but there are generally departures every half-hour between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. (and less frequently later in the evening). The last ferry departs around 11 p.m. 

Tickets for the ferry cost $25 per adult and $15 per child; these can be purchased just before departure. The ferries leave very close to schedule. It’s usually a smooth, 45-minute ride, but if there’s inclement weather, the trip can be rough and take a little longer. 

Before choosing this mode of transit, note that when you factor in traffic, getting to—and waiting for—the ferry, this option may 2.5 hours or more.

How Long Does It Take to Drive to Playa del Carmen?

For those who want to speed up the journey, a private vehicle can get you from Cancun to Playa del Carmen in about 45 minutes. From there, you can take the ferry to Cozumel. In total, this option will take you roughly one and a half hours.

There are several companies in Cancun that offer private transfers to Playa del Carmen. It’s a good idea to arrange the service in advance, however (if you don’t, you can get a taxi, as Uber does not operate in Cancun). The cost for a private transfer depends on the number of people in your group, but it starts at around $50 for two.

While hiring a private vehicle is more expensive and traffic may slow you down, if you are traveling in a group, this may be the most economical choice. Plus, this option is quicker and more convenient than the bus.

Can I Catch a Ferry or Boat Directly to Cozumel from Cancun?

There is no ferry service that runs directly between Cancun and Cozumel. Ferries in Cancun run to Isla Mujeres only. You could hire a private boat, but it would likely take longer and be quite expensive. If you want to make a day of it, though, you can charter a yacht and ask them to drop you off in Cozumel when you're done.

Can I Take My Car on the Ferry to Cozumel?

If you rented a car while in Cancun, be aware that the regular ferry that runs between Playa del Carmen and Cozumel does not transport vehicles. However, if you would like to take your car onboard a ferry, you will have to drive further south to Puerto de Punta Venado - Calica, an approximately 15-minute drive. Use the Transcaribe ferry service, which is 500 pesos (about $25) for a family vehicle. 

How Long Is the Flight?

The flight duration is about 20 minutes, but that does not include time spent getting to and from the airport, checking bags, or clearing security—so it may not be that much less time than the other methods of transportation. One-way trips start at around $60.

The regional airline MAYAir offers three flights a day on this route, and tickets to Cozumel must be booked separately through their website. If you are planning to depart to Cozumel directly after you land in Cancun, be sure to leave enough time between flights. If your previous flight is delayed, you will be charged to change your reservation.

Can I Use Public Transportation to Travel From the Airport?

While Cozumel's public bus system does not serve CZM, you can pick up a shuttle bus at the airport. To purchase your ticket, exit customs; the shuttle ticket window is the last booth on your right.

Many hotels offer pick-up service, so check with your hotel about pre-arranged transportation before you arrive.

Playa Palancar in Mexico

TripSavvy / Jamie Ditaranto

What Is There to Do in Cozumel?

Cozumel is the country's premiere diving destination. Sections of the Mesoamerican Reef—the world's second-largest barrier reef—can be found just off the coast of Quintana Roo, and houses some 262 species of fish and 105 species of coral. Consider planning a trip to the 29,600-acre Parque Nacional Arrecifes de Cozumel (Cozumel Reefs National Park)—which protects the reefs on the southern part of the snorkel and welcomes scuba divers and snorkelers to discover hawksbill sea turtles, splendid toadfish, black coral, and more.

If you'd prefer to relax, the 34-mile-long island offers plenty of beaches to enjoy, including Playa Palancar, Punta Sur Eco Beach Park, and the family-friendly Playa Mia Grand Beach Park. You can also visit the San Gervasio archaeological site, where you can learn about the pre-Columbian Maya civilization that used to live there, or shop for pottery, jewelry, Mexican chocolate, and other handicrafts in the island’s main town of San Miguel. If you're here with the whole family, Chankanaab Park is a popular water adventure park with tons of attractions, including a botanical garden, saltwater lagoon, beach, and activities like zip-lining and swimming with dolphins.

For more ideas on how to spend your trip, check out our roundups of the top things to see and do in Cozumel. Or, if you're looking to post up in one spot for the duration of your vacation, we've put together a list of the best all-inclusive resorts in Cozumel.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • How long is the ferry ride from Cancun to Cozumel?

    There is no direct ferry between Cancun and Cozumel. You can, however, take a bus from Cancun to Playa del Carmen, which will get you to the city in just over an hour; from there, it's a 45-minute ferry ride to Cozumel.

  • What airport do you fly into to go to Cozumel?

    If you're flying to Cozumel, you'll arrive at Cozumel International Airport, which is just a five-minute drive to the town of San Miguel.

  • How much is a transfer from Cancun to Cozumel?

    It depends on which method of transit you take, but at roughly $33, the bus-to-ferry transfer is the cheapest way to travel between the two ($8–12 for a bus ticket; $25 to ride the ferry). If you're looking to travel between the two destinations as quickly as possible, however, it's about a $60 one-way flight to Cozumel.

  • How do I get from Cancun to Cozumel?

    There are a few ways to get to Cozumel from Cancun. One option is to fly to Cozumel International Airport, which will take you about 20 minutes from tarmac to tarmac. Or, you could travel by bus or rental car to the city of Playa del Carmen, about 34 miles from Cancun; from there, it's an approximately 45-minute ferry ride to Cozumel.