Last Updated on April 6, 2023 by Janine
Wondering how to get to Cozumel, Mexico? Read on as I break down all of your options!
Located just 12 miles off the coast of Playa del Carmen, Cozumel is one of Mexico’s best beach destinations. The island may be an international cruise ship port and home to numerous all-inclusive resorts, but it also offers miles upon miles of undeveloped coastline.
If you’re vacationing in the Riviera Maya, a visit to Cozumel is a must, even if it’s just for the day (though you’ll undoubtedly want to stay longer).
Here’s how to get to Cozumel from Playa del Carmen and beyond.
1. Flights to Cozumel
You can easily reach Cozumel Island by air. It’s a major tourist destination and has its own international airport. The Cozumel International Airport (CZN) receives flights from major carriers every day. In 2021, the airport received over 500,000 travelers.
International airlines that fly into Cozumel include Delta, United, Air Canada, West Jet, and more. You can find direct flights from Toronto, Dallas, Houston, Miami, and other major airports north of the Mexican border.
Use Skyscanner to compare rates across multiple carriers when planning your Cozumel trip.
Traveling soon? Don’t forget to buy travel insurance for Mexico. Insurance gives you peace of mind knowing you can get the help you need if anything goes wrong. SafetyWing is the provider that I recommend.
2. Passenger Ferry from Playa del Carmen to Cozumel
The passenger ferry from Playa del Carmen to Cozumel is the best way to reach the island.
There are two Cozumel ferry companies that depart from Playa del Carmen: Winjet and Ultramar.
Both ferries leave from the maritime terminal (Terminal Maritima) in downtown Playa del Carmen on Calle 1 Sur.
To get there, follow La Quinta Avenida south until you reach Calle 1 Sur. Turn left toward the water and follow the street down, past Señor Frogs, onto the pier.
If you get lost, just ask someone where you can find el muelle (the dock).
For those heading to the ferry from the ADO bus station, you’ll be glad to learn that Playa del Carmen’s Terminal Turistico ADO station is just 3 blocks from the ferry terminal. The ADO station is at Juarez and La Quinta Avenida (5th Avenue), so just head to La Quinta and walk south to Calle 1 Sur.
Paste this address into Google for turn-by-turn directions to the pier: Calle 1 Sur Bis Manzana 7 Lote 17, 77400 Playa del Carmen, Q.R., Mexico
You’ll see a booth on your left just before the pier where you can buy ferry tickets. Alternatively, you can use BookAway to buy ferry tickets online.
There are two Cozumel ferry companies to choose from, and the differences between the two are minor, so I wouldn’t worry too much about which one you go with. I’ve taken both and don’t have a preference– I just go with whichever one is leaving soonest! Ultimately, it’s a 40-minute ferry ride, and both options are safe and convenient, so you can’t go wrong.
For the sake of comparison, here’s a breakdown.
Winjet is the more budget-friendly ferry option. An adult ticket from Playa del Carmen to Cozumel costs $235 MXN. A round-trip ticket costs $455 MXN, so you can save a few pesos if you book a return ticket.
Here’s the Winjet ferry schedule as of January 2022:
Ultramar costs a little more and has slightly nicer facilities (but it’s still a ferry, not a luxury cruise). A one-way ticket for an adult costs $250 MXN, and a round-trip ticket costs $500 MXN. There is also an option to purchase a first-class ferry ticket for $300 MXN ($600 MXN return), but it isn’t clear on their website what perks a first-class ticket includes.
Here’s the Ultramar ferry schedule as of January 2022:
Both ferries offer both indoor and outdoor seating. Grab a seat on the top deck if you want to enjoy the ocean views. Often there is live music up there during the journey, so it can be a fun scene.
There are restrooms on board, so there is no need to worry about bathroom breaks.
Will you get seasick on the Cozumel ferry?
If you’re prone to seasickness, here are my tips for making this journey more comfortable.
- Travel on the earliest ferry possible, as the ocean is usually calmer in the morning before the wind and swell pick up.
- Sit on the bottom level of the ferry toward the back. This is the most stable part of the boat, so you’ll feel less motion.
- Pick up some Gravol at a local pharmacy before your trip to combat nausea.
- Candied ginger is a popular seasickness remedy.
What to expect once you reach Cozumel
The ferry will let you off at the Cozumel maritime terminal, and from there, you will find everything you need to make the most of your time on Cozumel.
Bookmark the ferry terminal address, so you can find your way back: Av. Rafael E Melgar 1, San Miguel Cozumel, 77600 Cozumel, QROO, Mexico
The Cozumel ferry terminal is located near the downtown core, and there are tons of shops and restaurants within walking distance. You can also walk along the malecon, a seaside boardwalk with views out toward Playa del Carmen. But, to reach Cozumel’s beaches, you’ll need a taxi or a personal vehicle.
As you leave the ferry, you’ll be bombarded by salespeople offering tours, vehicle rentals, and other services. It’s best to make activity and vehicle reservations in advance because excursions and rental cars often sell out. Cozumel is a cruise ship port, so if your visit coincides with a port day, the island may be inundated with visitors. Plan ahead!
Plus, booking in advance helps ensure you get the most favorable prices. Especially when it comes to rental cars. Use Discover Cars to compare rates.
Related Reading: 8 Beachy Things to do on Cozumel Island
3. Take a Vehicle Ferry to Cozumel from Playa del Carmen
Wondering if you can take your car to Cozumel? There are two ferry companies between Playa del Carmen and Cozumel that take vehicles: Ultramar and Transcaribe.
These ferries leave from the Calica Maritime Terminal (Terminal Maritima Calica) at Punto Venado Calica, about 15 minutes south of downtown Playa del Carmen. To get there, take the main highway south toward Tulum and watch for signs indicating Calica (it’s just past XCARET).
Do you need to take a vehicle to Cozumel? Unless you’re planning a long trip to Cozumel (say, a week or more), it’s probably not worth the money to take your own vehicle over to Cozumel. Instead, rent a car once you reach the island.
Ultramar Cargo Ferry
Ultramar offers two departures daily from Playa del Carmen to Cozumel; however, one of these sailings doesn’t allow family vehicles. There are two departures daily from Cozumel back to Playa del Carmen, and both of them permit family vehicles.
Here’s the most recent Ultramar cargo ferry schedule (January 2022):
The Ultramar cargo ferry has higher fares than the passenger ferries. The base fare includes the car and driver, but there is an additional fee for each passenger beyond the driver. Here’s a fare sheet (in pesos) for your reference.
Transcaribe Cargo Ferry
The Transcaribe ferry leaves from the same port as the Ultramar ferry but has a slightly different schedule and fees.
Here’s the Transcaribe schedule:
The sailing times with the caution symbol next to them are for cargo only and do not allow family vehicles.
The fares for the Transcaribe ferries are a little bit confusing. I found their website challenging to interpret, but it looks like they charge extra for bookings made online (pagina web) versus at the ticket booth (taquilla).
They also seem to charge more for SUVs (camioneta) than for compact cars (compacto).
Based on the fare table below, Ultramar seems like the cheaper option.
The journey to Cozumel from Playa del Carmen on the cargo ferry takes about an hour. The ferry docks at the cargo ferry pier on Cozumel. It’s located on the eastern edge of town, near the Wyndham Cozumel Resort.
Paste this address into Google maps to find your way to Cozumel’s cargo ferry terminal: Calle 31, Av. Rafael E. Melgar &, Colonos Cuzamil, 77600 San Miguel de Cozumel, Q.R., Mexico
How to Get to Cozumel from Cancun
The best way to get from Cancun to Cozumel is through Playa del Carmen.
There is no ferry from Cancun to Cozumel, so you must first make your way to Playa del Carmen and then catch a ferry to the island.
From the Cancun airport, take the ADO bus to Playa del Carmen and then make your way to the ferry dock at the Terminal Maritima on Calle 1 Sur. The bus from Cancun to Playa del Carmen takes about an hour and costs $210 MXN ($11 USD). Click here to book your ticket.
If the bus isn’t your style, you can book a private airport transfer to Playa del Carmen. This is a really great option for families or those traveling in groups. You’ll get to share a private vehicle, and you don’t have to wait impatiently for other passengers to load on and off the vehicle.
Related Reading: How to Get From Cancun to Playa del Carmen
Getting to Cozumel from Tulum
To get to Cozumel from Tulum, you’ll need to first travel to Playa del Carmen and then take the ferry. Fortunately, Playa del Carmen is only about one hour from Tulum, so the journey isn’t too arduous.
The most convenient way to get to Playa del Carmen from Tulum is via the ADO bus. The bus costs about $100 MXN ($5 USD), and there are several departures from downtown Tulum every day. Click here to book your ticket.
Colectivo is another affordable way to get from Tulum to Playa del Carmen. These small passenger vans operate almost all day long. They don’t run on a schedule though. Colectivos leave when they are full (which doesn’t take long because they only hold about 14 passengers). Fortunately, another one usually comes along within a few minutes. Colectivos between Tulum and Playa del Carmen cost about 50 pesos, but they don’t have room for luggage beyond a daypack.
A colectivo will drop you on Calle 2 Norte in Playa del Carmen. From there, walk several blocks toward the water until you reach 5th Avenue, then turn right and follow 5th for two blocks until you reach Calle 1 Sur. Turn left toward the water, and you’ll be at the ferry dock. This walk will take you 10-15 minutes, depending on how much luggage you have and whether you stop for tacos along the way.
Related Reading: The Ultimate Guide to Riviera Maya Transportation
Getting Around on Cozumel: Island Transportation
The best way to get around on Cozumel is via rental car. This way, you’ll have the freedom to explore every corner of the island and really make the most of your visit. Unless you’re planning to take a tour for every single excursion, a rental car offers the flexibility you’ll need to hit the best beaches, tour the eco-parks, cruise the palm-tree-lined highway, and scout for hidden gems.
Cozumel is a popular destination, so rental cars do sell out. Reserve your vehicle in advance just to be safe.
Discover Cars is my preferred car rental platform. Click here to check rates.
Spanish Vocabulary for Getting to Cozumel
The following are a few Spanish phrases you may find helpful during your journey to and from Cozumel. These words and phrases will help you interpret ferry schedules and ask questions about travel logistics in Spanish.
- Ticket – boleto, ticket
- Ferry – ferry
- Car – carro, coche
- SUV – camioneta
- Vehicle – vehículo
- When – a que hora?
- Where – dónde
- Maritime terminal – terminal maratima
- What is the schedule? – ¿Cuáles son los horarios?
- When does it leave? – ¿Cuándo se va?
- Ticket booth – taquilla
- Online – en linea
- Website – pagina web
- One way – sencillo
- Return – redondo
- Trip – viaje
- Departure – salida
- 8 Awesome Things to do in Cozumel, Mexico
- Top Riviera Maya Safety Tips For Female Travelers
- Hotel Review: The Westin Cozumel
Continue Planning Your Trip!
Mexico Guide Books
This Mexico phrasebook will help you communicate, even if your Spanish skills are lacking.
This Mexico travel guide is packed with all the info you could ever need.
I use a combination of Booking, Airbnb, and VRBO to find accommodation throughout Mexico.
Some cities in Mexico have more listings on VRBO than Airbnb (or vice versa), so it’s best to check both to find the perfect place!
Rental cars add tons of flexibility to your travel plans. If you opt to rent one, I recommend using Discover Cars to find the best rates!
Skyscanner is my favorite tool for finding the best deals on airfare.
Never leave home without travel insurance.
SafetyWing offers super-affordable policies that cover things like medical expenses, trip interruption, and lost luggage. They even offer coverage for some expenses related to COVID-19. Their policies are particularly great for long-term travelers, making them a great option for Mexico.
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