One of the things I love about Playa del Carmen is that there are so many fun options for day trips. Whenever I have friends or family visiting, I almost always recommend a day trip from Playa del Carmen to Cozumel. It’s such an easy excursion and offers some pretty spectacular beaches and activity options. In this post, I’m detailing how to day trip to Cozumel from Playa del Carmen and how to make the most of your day on the island.
Cozumel is a small island located just 18 km to the east of Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Just 30 minutes from Playa del Carmen by ferry, the island is known for its beautiful beaches and incredible reefs for snorkeling and scuba diving.
How to Get from Playa del Carmen to Cozumel
If you’re visiting Cozumel on your own, the easiest way to get there is by taking the ferry to Cozumel from Playa del Carmen. There are some organized snorkeling and scuba diving tours that leave directly from Playa del Carmen but those must be arranged in advance.
Cozumel Ferry Location
The ferry terminal is located in downtown Playa del Carmen just off of Avenida Juarez and 5th Avenue. Depending on where you’re staying, the terminal can be reached easily by walking or taking a taxi. Once you arrive to the terminal, you will likely be bombarded by sales people on the street offering ferry tickets. From my experience, I’ve found it safest to purchase your ferry tickets directly from the counter, which you’ll see just outside of the terminal.
Cozumel Ferry Companies
It can be a bit overwhelming when you first arrive at the ferry terminal but there are just two ferry options to choose from – Ultramar and Winjet. The Ultramar ferries are blue and yellow in color and the Winjet ferries are orange. Both ferries to Cozumel from Playa del Carmen are large and comfortable, and offer food and beverage options. The downstairs is usually air conditioned and the upstairs offers open deck seating. Some of the ferries even have a Starbucks barista bar and a live band – not too shabby!
From my experience, the Ultramar ferries have been newer and nicer in quality but I would recommend just checking the overhead signs to see which one will be departing next. The two companies usually alternate their schedules but they are both going to the same place.
Cozumel Ferry Price
Roundtrip ferry tickets cost $440 pesos ($20 USD) on Winjet and $500 pesos ($23 USD) on Ultramar. Credit cards are accepted or you can pay in Mexican pesos or USD. On Ultramar, you also have the option to upgrade to a first class ticket, which grants you access to an exclusive upstairs lounge with food and beverage service. Both companies also offer discounts for Playa del Carmen locals and Quintana Roo residents. Once you’ve purchased your tickets, be sure to put your return ticket in a secure place as you’ll need it for the return trip.
Cozumel Ferry Schedule
You can check the Ultramar schedule and the Winjet schedule online in advance. This is definitely useful for planning your departure and return times, as your return ticket is an open ticket and does not need to be scheduled at the time of purchase. The ferry schedule varies throughout the year but there is typically one that departs every hour. You’ll want to be extra mindful of when the last ferry departs so you don’t miss the last ferry to Playa del Carmen.
Getting Around Cozumel
Cozumel is a small island but you’ll definitely need to hire transportation to get around. The easiest way to do this is to grab a taxi from the ferry terminal. There is always a line of taxis waiting outside the terminal and there is a price list posted on a board at the taxi stand, which will show you the cost to popular destinations on the island. You’ll definitely want to check this list to make sure you are getting a fair price and it’s always best to confirm the price before getting into the taxi.
Keep in mind that taxi prices in Cozumel are much more expensive than in Playa del Carmen. You might pay $15-$20 USD for a one way trip so make sure you have enough cash on hand. Taxis do not accept credit cards for payment. If you’re heading to a well known spot on Cozumel, there will more than likely be taxis waiting outside for your return trip, which makes it easy to get back to the ferry terminal.
Things to Do in Cozumel
You could easily spend 3 days in Cozumel, but if you’re only visiting for the day, below are a few recommendations for what to do in Cozumel. There are many activity options on Cozumel whether you are looking for something adventurous or simply some relaxation.
Visit a Beach Club
Visiting a beach club is always at the top of my list whenever I visit Cozumel. My favorite beach on the island is Playa Palancar, which is located on the southwestern tip of the island and about 30 minutes driving from the ferry terminal. This part of the island rarely gets hit with the seaweed that can sometimes be found in other parts of Riviera Maya.
Once you arrive at Playa Palancar, you’ll walk through the restaurant of the Playa Palancar Beach Club, where you can dine at tables or head down to their beach loungers. I would actually recommend bypassing Playa Palancar Beach Club and going towards the right side of the beach, where you’ll find another better looking beach club. I’ve been to both beach clubs and the one on the right side is a little more expensive but has better chairs, and the food and beverage is definitely better quality.
No matter which beach club you choose, you’ll be able to enjoy the stunning Playa Palancar beach, which has clear blue turquoise water and usually little, if any, seaweed. It’s the perfect place to spend the day being a total beach bum.
Go on a Snorkeling Tour
Cozumel is known for its coral reef system, which is actually the second longest in the world and makes for an amazing snorkeling experience. There are many options for snorkeling tours in Cozumel but by far the most popular tour option is visiting El Cielo, which is a shallow snorkeling spot known for its abundance of starfish. On the tour you’ll get to snorkel at three different reefs, as well as visit El Cielo and a super stunning beach called El Cielito. You can find my full guide to visiting El Cielo here.
Explore Downtown Cozumel
If you’re looking for a leisurely activity in Cozumel, I would definitely recommend exploring the downtown area. It’s located directly across from the Cozumel ferry terminal so it’s just a short walk once you arrive on the island. The downtown area has a cute square where you’ll find street vendors and souvenir shops. There are benches around the square where you can relax or enjoy a refreshing treat from one of the food vendors. It’s also a cool area for discovering some colorful graffiti.
Rent a Jeep in Cozumel
Another fun and more adventurous Cozumel excursion is renting a jeep to explore the island. Jeeps can be rented from the vendors at the ferry terminal or you can book a fun jeep tour in advance online. I rented a jeep with some friends when I visited Cozumel on a cruise and it was so much fun! It really gives you the freedom to explore the island at your leisure and discover some places that are off the beaten path. Throwback pic with some of my besties below!
What to Bring on a Cozumel Day Trip
Below are a few items I would recommend bringing for a day trip to Cozumel. You’ll want to pack light so you don’t have too much to carry on the ferry. Biodegradable reef-safe sunscreen is a must to protect the coral reefs! You can pick some up on Amazon here.
Getting Back to Playa del Carmen from Cozumel
Once you’re done with your Cozumel day trip from Playa del Carmen, you can head back to the ferry terminal to catch the return ferry. Keep in mind that if you purchased a round trip ticket, you’ll need to use the same ferry from Cozumel to Playa del Carmen for the return trip. Depending on your schedule, it might be best to purchase one-way tickets so you’re not limited on the return ferry schedule and can just hop on the next one that’s departing. If you’re leaving towards the end of the day you might be able to view the sunset over Playa del Carmen, which makes the trip all the more special!
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