Getting from Playa del Carmen to Cozumel: A traveler review

Here’s a first-hand review of the Ultramar ferry ride from Playa del Carmen to Cozumel to read before booking your own ride. Spoiler: You will see flying fish!

View from ferry, arriving in Cozumel

If you’ve spent time in Playa del Carmen, the allure of Cozumel’s coastline has likely called your attention. And if not, then vendors trying to sell you a ferry ticket surely have. Whether you’re planning on traveling from Playa del Carmen to Cozumel as a day trip or a multi-night stay, I’ll share my experience here to help you prepare.

How to get from Playa del Carmen to Cozumel

Unless you own a private jet, the only way to travel from Playa del Carmen to Cozumel is by boat. There’s also a ferry to Cozumel from Cancun and the Cozumel International Airport, if you decide to travel from elsewhere. 

Two ferries operate out of Playa del Carmen: Ultramar and Winjet. I booked a Premium Plus ticket with Ultramar since, at the time, Winjet wasn’t offering ferry services to Cozumel. 

Distance from Playa del Carmen to Cozumel

You might be wondering—how far is it from Playa del Carmen to Cozumel?

The distance from Playa del Carmen to Cozumel is about 19 km. That equates to an approximately 35-minute ferry ride. 

Playa del Carmen to Cozumel ferry schedule

Ultramar requires passengers to choose their departure times upon booking their ferry ticket from Playa del Carmen to Cozumel. However, if you’re the type that prefers playing things by ear, you’ll love to hear this—you aren’t bound to the times you pick since Ultramar operates on an open schedule. So, regardless of the times you choose, you can opt to depart on an earlier or later ferry. 

Nevertheless, it’s good to have an idea of the times you have to work with. Below is the Ultramar ferry schedule from Playa del Carmen to Cozumel:

Playa del Carmen to Cozumel Ultramar ferry schedule
8:00 am
10:00 am
11:00 am
12:00 pm
1:00 pm
3:00 pm
5:00 pm
7:00 pm
10:00 pm

Cozumel to Playa del Carmen ferry schedule

Below is Ultramar’s ferry schedule for your return to Playa del Carmen:

Cozumel to Playa del Carmen Ultramar ferry schedule
7:00 am
9:00 am
10:00 am
11:00 am
12:00 pm
2:00 pm
4:00 pm
6:00 pm
9:00 pm

A note on weather 

I took the round trip ferry from Playa del Carmen to Cozumel on a sunny day with a gentle breeze. Both of my ferries departed a few minutes late and arrived at their destinations a few minutes early. However, if you’ll be traveling when the waves are rough, be prepared for delays; they often pause ferry operations for safety reasons. 

People prone to motion sickness may want to take medicine. Even when the waves are calm, the ferry still rocks gently.

Playa del Carmen to Cozumel ferry costs

Whether you travel one way or round trip, the Playa del Carmen to Cozumel ferry prices are the same—a one-way adult ticket (including children 12+) costs 250 pesos, and a round trip ticket costs 500 pesos. Children between 6 to 11 years old receive a discount of 50 pesos per way, while those under five years old ride for free. These prices are for Premium Plus seats, which is equivalent to economy class. You can upgrade to First Class for about an extra 50 pesos each way.

In my opinion, the Premium Plus class is plenty comfortable, especially for such a short ride. Plush seats with decent legroom and floor to ceiling windows are available on the first floor. You can also climb to the second floor, where you’ll be under a covered outdoor area, or the third floor, which is an open deck. The second and third-floor seats are plastic since they’re exposed to the elements.

Ferry port procedures

I was impressed by the efficiency of the ferry ports in Playa del Carmen and Cozumel. If you purchased your Ultramar ferry ticket online, you’ll need to visit the ferry desk so they can print out your ticket—e-confirmations aren’t accepted on board. They’ll ask for ID to verify the purchase, so make sure every traveler brings it. Driver’s licenses will do if you don’t want to carry your passports.

All passengers must pass through a security screening before entering the departure area. The screening involves putting your bags through a scanner and sending them through a metal detector. Despite how long the line gets at peak times, it was quick and easy.

Ultramar encourages its passengers to arrive at the port 40 minutes before any given ferry departure. While you have some leeway with this recommendation, I wouldn’t push your luck with arriving much later; they started boarding 30 minutes before my departure time. Plus, since there isn’t assigned seating, it’s nice to get there early to claim your seat.

Speaking of picking a good seat, try to grab a spot by the water. That way, you can keep an eye out for flying fish. If you’re skeptical, so was I. But after witnessing two fish flying beside my ferry for around 10 seconds each, I’m a believer!

Ultramar ferry amenities

The Ultramar ferry is spacious, so it’s fun to explore all three floors during the journey. If you’re traveling with small children, they offer a play area at the back of the first floor. A café and restroom are on board, but there aren’t any outlets or WiFi.

Food and beverages are expensive on the ferry and exorbitant in Cozumel. If you’re on a budget, I recommend stopping at an OXXO or 7-Eleven in Playa del Carmen before hopping on the ferry. There are also snack stands and ATMs at the Playa del Carmen and Cozumel ferry ports.

Some final thoughts

If you take the ferry from Playa del Carmen to Cozumel in the morning, sit on the passenger side to avoid the sun in your eyes. Also, if you’re traveling round trip, save your ticket—you’ll use the same one on your return to Playa del Carmen. 

In my opinion, taking the ferry from Playa del Carmen to Cozumel is well worth the trip. People who enjoy a quieter atmosphere will find it refreshing to trade Playa’s packed beaches for Cozumel’s secluded ones. 

Posted February 1, 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