Yucatan Peninsula transportation guide

Images of swaying palm trees and sipping margaritas on white-sand beaches may have you ready to plan a trip to Mexico. But as you start planning your Yucatan itinerary, you might be wondering: Where exactly is the Yucatan Peninsula, and how do I get around it? 

Luckily, transportation in Mexico’s Caribbean peninsula is abundant and (mostly) inexpensive. So, whether you want to kick it with locals on a bus or cruise through crystal clear water by ferry, this guide will help you get on your way.  

How to get around the Yucatan

By bus

When you start wandering around the Yucatan, you’re going to see a lot of red buses on the road. These shiny beauties are with the ADO bus company. Taking an ADO bus around the Yucatan has significant benefits compared to the shuttles and minivans we’ll cover next since they offer more leg and luggage room.  

©Stephen Rees/Flickr

Whether you want to know how to get to Tulum or any other popular (and unpopular, for that matter) Yucatan Peninsula location, ADO offers a bus to just about anywhere. To make life even easier, you can take an ADO bus from the Cancun airport directly to places like Playa del Carmen, Tulum, and Merida

Below are some popular ADO routes:

RouteFrequencyPrice
Cancun to Playa del CarmenUp to 42/dayStarts at US $6
Cancun to TulumUp to 9/dayStarts at US $13
Playa del Carmen to TulumUp to 25/dayStarts at US $5

Renting a car in Mexico is also an option, but people tend to treat traffic rules like guidelines. So, you may feel more comfortable letting a local do the driving. Plus, with the massive size of ADO’s buses, you’ll be riding in among the biggest vehicles on the road. 

By shuttle or minivan

Among the Yucatan Peninsula facts you may learn upon arriving in Mexico, such as a meteorite forming the cenotes you swim in, here’s a fact that will make your travels easier: You’ll have tons of options for taking shuttles and minivans throughout the Yucatan. 

©Lou Stejkal/Flickr

Forget taking an expensive taxi from Cancun. Instead, hop on a Cancun airport shuttle that can take you to an even wider variety of destinations than the ADO bus. Some popular tourist shuttle and minivan routes include:  

RouteFrequencyPrice
Playa del Carmen to ChiquilaUp to 14/dayStarts at US $20
Tulum to AkumalUp to 13/dayStarts at US $3
Cancun to XcaretUp to 23/dayStarts at US $14
Cancun to ChiquilaUp to 7/dayStarts at US $44

The shuttles and minivans travel almost anywhere ADO buses go, and in many cases, even more destinations. Although ADO buses are more comfortable because of their spaciousness, taking a shuttle or minivan in the Yucatan is a faster and (almost always) cheaper way to travel. That said, “cheap” is relative in Mexico—it’s unlikely you’ll balk at ADO’s prices!

By ferry

When you think of the Yucatan, getting out on the water probably comes to mind. And what better way to visit some of the best islands in Mexico than taking a ferry? 

©dockleaf/Flickr

Whether you want to lounge at a beachside bar on Isla Mujeres or dive at the Cozumel Reefs National Park, taking a ferry is a scenic and economical way to travel to these islands. Of the famous places in Mexico like Cancun and Chichén Itzá, Holbox is an island that has remained off the tourist radar. If you’re interested in hanging out with whale sharks (June – September) and reconnecting with nature, Holbox is an excellent addition to your itinerary. 

RouteFrequencyPrice
Cancun to Isla MujeresUp to 23/dayStarts at US $10
Chiquila to HolboxUp to 8/dayStarts at US $11
Playa del Carmen to CozumelUp to 8/dayStarts at US $14

Ferries in the Yucatan are comfortable and well maintained. You’ll have the choice to watch the views from a climate-controlled room or explore the outdoor decks. One item to be aware of is weather—like with a plane, if the weather conditions are poor, the ferry may temporarily halt operations. 

Speaking of planes…

By plane

Because it’s so easy to travel around the Yucatan by buses, shuttles, minivans, and ferries, taking a flight might not be your initial thought when planning your itinerary. However, some Cancun transfers, such as those to Holbox and Cozumel, require a combination of land and ferry transportation.

©Šarūnas Burdulis/Flickr

So, if you want to bypass the hassle of jumping between different transportation modes, you have the option to arrive at these Yucatan beaches by taking a plane. As you can imagine, this is a more expensive option than ground transportation, but depending on where you’re flying to and the number of people accompanying you, it doesn’t have to break the bank. The chart below indicates starting prices.

RouteFrequencyPrice
Cancun to CozumelUp to 1/dayStarts at US $130
Cancun to HolboxUp to 8/dayStarts at US $300

For the Cancun to Cozumel route, the price is lower because it’s a shared flight in a single-engine Cessna 208 light aircraft. On the other hand, the Holbox route is a private flight. Since the price above is based on one passenger and the plane can hold up to five people, the cost per person averages down accordingly. Once you arrive at either of these destinations, the best way to get around from there is by taxi or renting a car.

Regardless of how you choose to travel, I hope this Yucatan travel guide has shown you the many transportation options you have to choose from. Thanks to frequent departures and well-connected roads, it’s easy to criss-cross your way through the Yucatan without spending too much time away from sipping those margaritas on the beach. 

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