Cozumel has its own small airport at the north end of the island. It serves about a half a million people per year, and if you don’t mind the cost, it is very convenient to catch a one stop or direct flight in. Shuttle bus service to any hotel from the airport property, EASY!
Cozumel thru Cancun Airport
Many divers arrive in Cozumel by ferry after first flying in to Cancun International Airport. Here’s the inside scoop if you are going to Cozumel via Cancun.
It is NOT a good idea to rent a car in Cancun if you’re destination is Cozumel. The car ferry is expensive, has long waiting lines, and there are plenty of car rentals on the island. See our links page for some suggested Cozumel Car Rentals if you are interested in renting a car while on the island.
After you get off your plane you will be directed into the building to immigration. Once you have passed immigration and have collected your bags you will now have to queue again to pass customs. All bags pass first pass through an electronic scanner and at this point you hand in your customs form and if you have ‘nothing to declare’ you will be invited to press a button which will show either a green or red light. A green light indicates that you can pass whereas a red light will indicate that your bags will be hand searched.
After customs you will notice is that there will be many people thronging the arrivals exit. There will be a mixture of porters, van drivers, travel reps, and people handing out vouchers and brochures. It can be a little daunting at first, steer clear of the porters who want to carry your bags, your transportation may be very nearby and a healthy tip will be expected. Try not to get into lengthy conversations with people who are offering free trips or meals, these are typically timeshare representatives. However, DO look out for the ladies in Mayan dress handing out small plastic bags. These are filled with money off vouchers and useful maps and guides.
The most affordable way to get from the Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen to catch the ferry is the a public bus service. A bus leaves almost every hour during the part of the day when flights are arriving, and the ride to Playa takes about 45-60 minutes. Locate the bus counter at the airport or buy your Ado bus ticket online before leaving home! Other options would be a shared shuttle that makes many stops at various hotels along the way or a private shuttle, both options are much more expensive.
Upon arrival by bus you exit the bus station and walk downhill to the oceanfront and turn right. A few hundred yards south you will see the ferry pier. If you don’t have luggage with wheels there are locals who are glad to transport you gear to the ferry. They wait just outside the bus terminal with large three wheeled bikes that look like backwards tricycles with a cargo basket in the front. The small fee is worth the cost for many people. These friendly entrepreneurs will stay with you as you walk (or maybe ride) to the ferry pier and they will stop for you to purchase a round trip ferry ticket along the way. They ensure that you arrive to the dock and get your luggage manually tagged for boarding. The Ferry leaves almost every hour, we suggest to check the schedule carefully online or locally. Pinch yourself, you’re getting close!
Okay, now you’re getting off the ferry in Cozumel, and reclaiming your luggage. There will be another mixture travel representatives for just about any island service you can imagine. If you don’t want anything, please be polite and keep moving. These are the people of Cozumel trying to make a legal living. There are worse things they could be doing. Walk out to the end of the pier to the taxi stand on your left, and it’s off to your hotel. Time to pinch yourself again…You are in the diving capital of the Caribbean!