An in-depth guide to getting to Cozumel

There are a million and one reasons why you should visit Mexico. Maybe you want to explore the vast and varied cultural influences of the capital, Mexico City. Or, perhaps, you want to try your hand at avocado farming in Michoacán. Maybe you’d like to do some tequila tasting in Jalisco.

One thing is for sure though: You want to get some r&r on the largely undeveloped island of Cozumel. From scuba diving to relaxing on Caribbean beaches to underwater caverns to swimming with dolphins, manatees and sea turtles in their natural habitats; Cozumel is a 34-mile-long by 11-mile-wide island of pure paradise.

You may be thinking to yourself, “This is too good to be true,” but alas, it is very much within reach. The distance from Playa del Carmen to Cozumel is only 19 km (12 mi) and just 76 km (47 mi) from Cancun. From high-quality ferries to low-cost flights, we break down everything you need to know about getting to Cozumel.

Taking a ferry from Playa del Carmen

Whether you’re planning a day trip from Playa del Carmen to Cozumel or prefer to spend a few days on the island, getting there could not be simpler. It usually takes around an hour to arrive by car ferry and 30-45 minutes by passenger ferry, offering beautiful views of Riviera Maya until you reach the sunny shores of Cozumel.

Which ferry company should you book with?

It may seem daunting at first, but you actually have just three ferry companies you can book with: The Ultramar ferry company – which can be identified by its blue and yellow colors – the Winjet ferry company – which can be identified by its orange color – and Transcaribe – which operates the car ferry to Cozumel from Playa del Carmen.

Both passenger ferries to Cozumel from Playa del Carmen are large, comfortable, offer food and beverage options and typically offer open deck seating as well as air conditioned, indoor seating. Some ferries even have a Starbucks and live band on board!

Pro tip: Ultramar and Winjet usually alternate their schedules, so it’s worthwhile to book in advance online to ensure you know which company you can travel with on the day you want to leave.

Online ferry schedules to Cozumel vary throughout the year depending on the season, but there is usually one ferry departing every hour or so. Ferry schedules are updated regularly.

The Ultramar ferry to Cozumel

You have two options when going to Cozumel with this company: The Ultramar car ferry or the Ultramar passenger ferry. Ultramar prices typically run around 400 Pesos ($20 USD) per passenger vehicle each way or around 285 Pesos ($14) per person for the passenger ferry. We’d recommend arriving to the port an hour to an hour and a half before your departure time if you’re taking the car ferry, just to be safe.

©ironypoisoning/Flickr

The ferry terminal is just off of Avenida Juarez and 5th Avenue in downtown Playa del Carmen and can be accessed by foot or by taxi, depending on where you’re coming from. You’ll be brought to the Ultramar Pier in Cozumel.

The Winjet ferry to Cozumel

The Winjet ferry is typically the cheapest ferry option to Cozumel, with prices reaching only around 200 Pesos ($10 USD) per person.

©prayitnophotography/Flickr

The passenger ferry terminal in Playa del Carmen is the same as mentioned above for Ultramar: Off Avenida Juarez and 5th Avenue. You’ll be brought to the Api Maritime Terminal in Cozumel.

The Transcaribe car ferry to Cozumel

Leaving from the Calica port, about 10 minutes south of Playa del Carmen, and arriving at the Cozumel ferry pier, the car ferry costs 817 Pesos ($40) each way for non-residents. If you’re a resident of Cozumel or Quintana Roo, you’ll pay less.

©Roger W/Flickr

If you’ll be taking a day trip to Cozumel, you’re better off renting a car once on the island, as the price of shipping a car far outweighs the cost of renting. The ferry crosses four times a day from Monday through Saturday, and twice on Sundays.

Taking a ferry from Cancun

Contrary to popular belief, you cannot actually take a ferry to Cozumel from Cancun. What you can do, however, is take a bus or a private transfer to Playa del Carmen (get a taxi or rent a car), and then from there take a ferry to Cozumel. This takes about 3 hours total each way.

You can also fly directly from the Cancun International Airport to the Cozumel International Airport, which takes a mere 20-30 minutes. Flying from Cancun to Cozumel is, of course, the quickest albeit more pricey option. Plus, you get to see the coastline from up above, which is a perspective everyone loves to see.

Flying from Mexico City

Flights from Mexico City to Cozumel cost less than $2,000 Pesos ($100 USD), they arrive in just 3.5 hours, and are operated by Volaris, a Mexican low-cost airline. You also have the option of flying to Cancun from Mexico City for around $1,000 Pesos ($50 USD). Spend a few days exploring Isla Mujeres and the surrounding areas, then take a bus from Cancun to Playa del Carmen to explore Tulum, and THEN take a ferry from Playa del Carmen to Cozumel.

©Matt Kieffer/Flickr

Yes, this route is a bit lengthy, but why not make a whole trip out of it if you’re already there?

With such a well-connected transportation network in place, Mexico offers plenty of opportunities for travelers to get around the Yucatan Peninsula. Make use of the buses, private transfers, ferries and even flights, and take on this exciting journey. You’ll remember it for many years to come.

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