A how-to guide for traveling from Cozumel to Playa del Carmen

Pack your swimsuit and sunscreen—traveling from Cozumel to Playa del Carmen is easy, and Playa’s vibrant beach scene awaits you.

Ferry pier in Playa del Carmen

Cozumel is Mexico’s largest Caribbean island, so it has a lot to offer visitors. But when the inevitable moment comes that you get curious about exploring the mainland Yucatan Penninsula, Playa del Carmen is a must-see. In fact, we can take the “see” right out of it—if you don’t want to fly, you must travel through Playa del Carmen to get to the mainland.

So, I’ll walk you through how to take the ferry from Cozumel to Playa del Carmen so that you can breeze through the ferry ports like a pro.

Accounting for distance and timing

I’m not a mind reader, but I imagine one of your first questions is, “How far is Cozumel from Playa del Carmen?” 

The distance from Cozumel to Playa del Carmen is about four miles, which equates to an approximately 35-minute ferry ride. These times assume that you’re traveling from Cozumel’s ferry port to Playa del Carmen’s port. 

In contrast, if you’re wondering how to get from the Cozumel airport to Playa del Carmen, you’ll need to tack on an extra 7 – 10 minutes to drive from Cozumel’s airport to the port. That’s assuming, of course, that you haven’t arranged a private jet to fly you from the Cozumel airport to Playa del Carmen.

The Cozumel to Playa del Carmen ferry schedule

The ferry route from Cozumel to Playa del Carmen is popular, so you’ll have plenty of choices for Playa del Carmen ferry times. Furthermore, two ferry companies run this route—Ultramar and Winjet

Depending on demand, these companies sometimes alternate their days of operation. However, you can rest assured that their ferry times from Cozumel to Playa del Carmen are similar. Furthermore, between the two of them, they run 365 days of the year.

Below is a typical timetable, which includes a combination of Winjet and Ultramar departure times.

Departure from Cozumel Arrival in Playa del Carmen
18:00 18:45

If you’re renting a vehicle and would like to take it to the mainland, the Cozumel car ferry schedule differs from the times listed above. You’ll need to book a cargo ferry with either Ultramar or Transcaribe. 

Pulling out your pesos

The Cozumel ferry cost to Playa del Carmen is an economical journey, especially given that the alternative is to book a private jet. There aren’t any commercial flights. 

The Ultramar ferry from Cozumel starts at $13 per person and the Winjet ferry at $10 per person. Your ticket will be valid for any time with the company you purchase through, which you’ll see is especially advantageous once we talk about weather delays.

What to expect at the Cozumel ferry port

It’s impossible to get lost at the ferry port in Cozumel. Playa del Carmen is the destination for all ferries departing from there. If you’re reading between the lines, this means that a Cancun to Cozumel ferry doesn’t exist, nor can you travel to islands like Isla Mujeres and Holbox by ferry from Cozumel.

As you line up for your ferry, you and your belongings will need to pass through a security check before boarding. It’s a quick one, and it feels like a laid-back version of an airport security screen.

Once you hop on your Cozumel ferry to Playa del Carmen, you’ll find informal open seating. So, pick a spot by a widow in the air conditioning or make your way to the second story where you can get a head start basking in the sunshine. 

Regardless of where you end up, keep an eye out for flying fish. They sometimes perform for ferry goers, hovering over the water for a mind-boggling amount of time.

Arriving at the Playa del Carmen ferry port

The Cozumel and Playa del Carmen ferry ports both sit in the heart of their respective towns. That means when you arrive in Playa, you’ll be within walking distance to most of its main attractions. In fact, the small street leading away from the ferry port intersects with Playa’s renowned 5th Avenue.

If you’re traveling with luggage, you’ll be able to pick it up on the first floor of the ferry where it was stored when you boarded. The luggage area is informal and operates on an honor system.

Day tripping it

If you’re wondering about the possibility of taking a Playa del Carmen to Cozumel day trip or vice versa, the answer is a resounding yes. Between the many ferry departure times and central port locations, you can see many of these destination’s attractions in a day. 

Playa del Carmen is an especially great option for a day trip since you don’t even need to rent a car to see it well. 

Juggling the weather

The trip from Cozumel to Playa del Carmen can be a beautiful ride on a day with little wind. If you suffer from seasickness, you might not even need to take medication on days like those. However, rain keeps the Yucatan the lush place it is, so it’s common for storms to arise, particularly in the afternoon. 

Ultramar and Winjet take safety seriously. So, if unfavorable water conditions arise, they’ll delay their ferry departures. Sometimes these delays are brief, but other times they can do serious damage to your itinerary if you’re running on a tight schedule.

Needless to say, some people take the ferry from Cozumel to Playa del Carmen to catch a flight home or to an onward destination. If that’s your plan, great! Just consider building in some buffer time in case the weather delays your ferry.

All that’s left for me to do here is to wish you buen viaje. When it comes to taking the ferry to Playa del Carmen, the journey is as stunning as the destination.

Posted December 20, 2021
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Laura Olds
Laura Olds of A Piece of Travel is a digital nomad who adds twice as many destinations to her bucket list with each one she checks off. She's a full-time writer and part-time street dog whisperer. In her free time, she enjoys running, yoga, and taste-testing her way through the world.
image of blog writer Laura