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

Paradise Dive Center on Cozumel Island

Getty Images / Richard Cummins

A cruise ship port and a popular spot for scuba diving and snorkeling, Cozumel is a go-to beach destination on Mexico's Caribbean coast.

If you’ll be staying in Cozumel, you can look at options for flights that arrive at Cozumel’s International Airport (CZM). However, it may be difficult (and possibly more expensive) to get a direct flight to Cozumel; you may instead end up flying into Cancun, which is 60 miles away.

There are a few options to get to Cozumel from Cancun. You can fly, 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. Here’s what you should know about each of these options so you can choose the best one for you. 

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 takes 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 way 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 private transfer depends on the number of people in your group, but it starts around $50 for two.

While hiring a private vehicle is more expensive and traffic may slow you down, if you’re 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?

The regular ferry that runs between Playa del Carmen and Cozumel does not transport vehicles. If you would like to take your car on a ferry to Cozumel, 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 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’re 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.

What Is There to Do in Cozumel?

Cozumel is Mexico’s premiere diving destination, so if you would like to explore the marine life of the Mesoamerican Reef, this is the ideal place to do it. There are great options for both scuba diving and snorkeling. Cozumel’s beaches are great for a relaxing afternoon. You can also visit San Gervasio archaeological site, wander through the botanical gardens at Chankanaab Park, or go shopping in the island’s main town of San Miguel. Learn about more things to see and do in Cozumel.

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