Cancun to Playa del Carmen – Transportation Guide
The Riviera Maya is well-known as the most important tourism destination in Mexico. It takes less than a minute inside the Cancun International Airport to spot all kinds of travelers: backpackers, all inclusive guests, honeymooners, families, culture-lovers and so on. Every traveler has their own way to move around the city, so let us show you all the options, and then you can pick the best for you. However, choosing Sandos as your home in Mexico is already a great head start!
Getting from the airport to Playa del Carmen
Once your reservation is made, check if transportation is included. When booking through our web page, the answer will be no. However, when booking through a travel agency, it might be included.
Don’t worry if you haven’t booked airport transportation yet. It’s simple to do and highly recommended since transportation companies in the Riviera Maya are super professional. The best one is called Seek N Go. It’s the best option when traveling as a family or in a group of more than four people. As soon as you step outside the airport, you will meet your personal driver.
There is also the popular shared bus, and they will take you to Playa del Carmen for $10 USD. The Cancun airport has four terminals, and all of them offer this service every half hour during the day and evening. (There is no bus service from 11:30 pm to 5 am.)
After the luggage claim, you will also find the rental car agencies, from well-known international companies to local agencies. They are certified and ready to give you the attention needed. Everything is completely regulated by law. It’s normal for car rental agencies to require a deposit and your driver’s license. Don’t worry about the time of day when returning the car as these agencies are open 24 hours a day, but check the time of your return flight so you can set aside enough time to get back to the airport and return tha car. The procedure for returning the car usually takes 30 minutes. If you pick this option, we recommend the use of GPS the whole time.
If none of these ideas appeals to you, you can always take a taxi from the airport. The cost to Sandos Caracol is $90 USD and to Sandos Playacar is $120 USD; this price includes up to four people. For your own safety, taxis cannot take more than four people in a ride. So, either you split into different taxis or pick a taxi van (12 people max).
Playa del Carmen’s main pedestrian street runs north-to-south along the entire city, which is the main reason why it’s so simple to get there. There is always an easy route from your hotel.
There are some residential areas and resort complexes that have their own routes or different transportation options, despite being part of the city of Playa del Carmen. There’s no better example of this than Playacar, where you’ll find most of the hotels in the city. (Sandos Playacar beach resort is part of this area.) The Playacar neighborhood has its own security gates, but if you’re staying there, they will identify you by your hotel bracelet. Don’t worry about walking through Playacar and enjoying the lush greenery on your way to the entrance, which takes you right to the beginning of 5th Avenue!
For those who prefer to reach 5th Avenue by car, you can take a taxi. As long as you’re within Playa del Carmen, the taxi rate will never be more than $20 USD (up to 4 people). And of course, there are hotels like Sandos Caracol, that even when they are addressed as Playa del Carmen, it’s better to take a taxi to get you closer to 5th Avenue. Ask the driver to drop you off at Paseo del Carmen, and then explore to the north.
Sandos Playacar has another advantage regarding 5th Avenue: they lend bikes, chain and locks to their guests! The ride will last around 15 minutes and you can park it on any corner on 10th Avenue before walking over to 5th; this is also the perfect way to enjoy 10th Avenue’s lovely bike path.
How to travel from Playa del Carmen to Tulum, or south of the Riviera Maya?
It will always be better to book an excursion from the hotel, especially since you’re traveling within a foreign country. You simply don’t know about prices, plans or the best package deals unless you speak with a professional who will assist you in personalizing the best tours for you.
Especially if you’re on a family vacation, do a web search to book prior to arrival. Keep in mind that every person in your family has different needs, and then contact an excursion agency via email. This will lead you to a direct, personalized service. The expert may actually be able to give you a better deal and a package specifically for you.
When visiting nearby towns, we recommend taking the public transportation available on the corner of 15th Avenue and 2nd Street; you’ll easily spot the white vans with red stripes.
Getting to Cancun from Playa del Carmen
Make your way to the bus station located on the corner of Juarez Street and 5th Avenue (close to the entrance to the Playacar area). The trip is comfortable since the bus is well-equipped with air conditioning, TV, and reclining seats. As soon as you arrive to the Cancun bus station, you can hop on the city bus to the Cancun Hotel Zone.
For the absolute cheapest option, you can try the public vans. For Sandos Playacar, we recommend taking the vans from their terminal (corner of 15th Avenue and 2nd Street), but if you’re staying at Sandos Caracol you can flag down the public vans from the National Highway (outside the resort complex); they go by every five minutes throughout the day. We do not advise this option for big families or large groups as the vans are not that big.
Remember that on the way to Cancun, there is a small and popular beach town called Puerto Morelos, a top destination for divers and snorkelers, and of course it’s well-known for its fresh seafood. Puerto Morelos is 25 minutes away from Sandos Caracol and 35 minutes from Sandos Playacar.
Cozumel and Isla Mujeres
A visit to the nearby island of Cozumel is completely worth it. Use our above tips to get to 5th Avenue, and from there head to the ferry dock (click here for a map) where you can buy the boat tickets.
Round trip is $300 pesos. The advantage of these ships is that you do not book a specific time to use them; instead, you just show up 15 minutes before the one you want to take. The ferry includes live music when you choose an outdoor seat, and a/c and tourism videos indoors. In just 35 minutes, you will be at Cozumel.
The second most popular nearby island is Isla Mujeres, located just off the coast of Cancun. Use our above tips to reach Cancun, then locate the nearest ferry station: there is one in Puerto Juarez and others in the Hotel Zone. Both are fully-equipped but with a different time table. The good thing about the Hotel Zone is that it’s closer to the bus station, while Puerto Juarez offers a less expensive and shorter trip to the island. Rent a golf cart while you’re on Isla Mujeres; you’ll love it!
These are some of the most common routes that our travelers use when visiting the Riviera Maya. However, there is a lot of places to explore in the area. If you have any specific questions, leave them in the comments. Bon voyage!
*Prices are subject to change.