The beautiful island of Cozumel is a top tourist destination, welcoming over 4 million visitors annually. Of course, since the events of the past couple of years, the numbers have reduced, but we are expecting them to go back to normal this year with the resurfacing of tourism.
Now, deciding your holiday destination is the most significant part of planning for a trip, but choosing the best method of transportation is just as important, and that's why (as you can read in the title) we will be discussing it today.
If you choose to stay on the island for an indefinite number of days, you will most likely arrive by plane. Cozumel's International Airport handles flights for some of the following airlines: Air Canada Rouge, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, United Airlines, Volaris, Viva Aerobús, etc.
One of the pros of coming by plane is that you get more time to wander around the place you're visiting and become acquainted with the area's traditions.
There is also a possibility for a charter flight from Cancun to Cozumel or Playa to Cozumel, this is not commonly mentioned because of its cost, but it’s a flight that takes about 25 minutes from Cancun and around 10 minutes from Playa Del Carmen.
- Cruise ship
Cruises have become extremely popular because they serve as a method of transportation as well as an all-inclusive resort. They are perfect if you are coming with children since they offer plenty of activities for them while the parents can relax, but they aren't limited to families; you can find cruises for single people, the elderly, rock fanatics, etc. Here in Cozumel, we can expect up to 40 cruise ships weekly during the high season.
If you are coming on a cruise, there are three different pier options where you might arrive at; On the South Side, there are Puerta Maya Pier (Carnival, Princess, etc.), and the International Ferry Pier (Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, etc.), and downtown you can find Punta Langosta Pier (Norwegian Cruise Line, Disney, etc.). MSC, Aida, Virgin Voyages, and Holland America don’t have a fixed Pier, and they could arrive at any of the three.
- Playa Del Carmen-Cozumel Ferry Pier
Since Cozumel is an Island, in order to make it to the mainland, you must take a ferry which makes this the most common method of transportation for locals and visitors. Two ferry companies currently operate the Playa Del Carmen-Cozumel route: Ultramar and Winjet. Every hour on the dot, a boat leaves the dock. Since the pandemic, they alternate between companies.
I recommend the people's ferry if you are planning on spending the day, a couple of hours on the island or a couple of days, but you haven't rented a car on the mainland.
Some pieces of advice I would give to those taking the Ferry:
- Make sure to be at the Pier with a ticket in hand at least 15 minutes before the ferry leaves during low season.
- During high season, ensure you're at the Pier between 30-40 minutes before the ferry you intend to take leaves.
- Carry cash to buy the ticket. It makes it easier and faster.
- DON'T buy a round-trip ticket. It's best to buy each ticket when you arrive at the Pier since they aren't interchangeable between companies, meaning if you purchased a round trip one for X and you want to get back to the mainland, but you missed the X's Ferry for a few minutes, you will have to wait two hours to get in the next X departure (That is hoping it wasn't their last one of the day) or you'll have to buy one from Y, which is a waste of money.
- If you booked a tour on the island, remember the Ferry ride takes about 35-45 minutes. I always round it up to an hour to make it in time for any appointment.
- Cargo Ferry
The way we get our necessary supplies and an excellent way for locals to get to and back from the mainland, but I wouldn't recommend it for tourists unless they rented a car on the continent and are planning on staying a couple of nights here at Cozumel. If that's your intention, then it's great because you can move around the island; if not, I suggest the people's ferry.
I have gotten plenty of people tell me they plan on taking the cargo ferry in the morning, spend the day on the island, and return late in the afternoon; though this theoretically sounds like a good plan, the chances of it working are slim because this option is a little tricky since there are usually two departures a day. If you do manage to make it to the island in the morning, you will have to reduce the time you spend visiting spots because you need to get back to the Pier 2 hours before it departs to secure a spot. Please be warned if this is your plan.
Truthfully, whatever transportation method you choose to visit the island will work, but my job is to make it work GREAT with your needs. Now that you have the transportation bit covered, continue planning your long-awaited trip to this breathtakingly beautiful island. We can’t wait to have you.