Playa Del Carmen Ferry

…getting from Playa to Cozumel…

One of my neighbors in Playa Del Carmen used to be a fisherman.

I always talk to him about the history of Playa Del Carmen.

This dude’s old!

He was in Playa Del Carmen in the 1960s when it was nothing but a fishing village.

He tells me when he was young there were no women on the beach.

Now there’s women, but they don’t want to talk to an old man with a walking stick.

The other day he told me a fascinating story about how Playa Del Carmen developed.

It was all down to the Playa Del Carmen to Cozumel passenger ferry.

History Of The Playa Del Carmen To Cozumel Passenger Ferry

Cozumel has the second largest reef system in the world.

When Cancun developed in the 60s and 70s tourists also wanted to visit the reef.

They couldn’t build a boat dock in Cancun so they chose Playa Del Carmen.

My neighbor says all the locals laughed because for centuries they’d had boats and no need for a dock.

As tourists came for the ferry they started hanging out on the pristine beaches in Playa Del Carmen.

They loved it, and Playa Del Carmen became a day trip from Cancun.

Eventually the big hotels took notice and established somewhere to stay in Playa Del Carmen.

So in a way, Playa Del Carmen only initially developed because tourists got distracted on their way to Cozumel.

Enough History Rufus! Tell Me About This Ferry

Two different high-speed ferries scurry back and forth between Playa Del Carmen and Cozumel every day of the year.

The journey takes approximately 45 minutes.

They call themselves high speed, but both ferries go at the same speed, so I’m not sure what they’re comparing themselves to.

Although, they are definitely faster than a wooden Mexican fishing boat.

It’s not a speed boat.

But in good conditions the journey could only be 30 minutes.

However, with the casual Mexican way of doing things by the time you’ve got off it’s always 45 minutes.

They definitely look different than the other boats.

The UltraMar ferry is a bright yellow and blue catamaran.

I’m not sure of the exact capacity as they have different boats.

But it’s around 200 – 300 passengers, and I’ve never known a ferry to be sold out.

There is always room to sit.

What Can You Do On The Playa Del Carmen To Cozumel Ferry?

In the afternoon on the ferry they have a live band on the upper deck.

They’re actually quite good.

They’re only playing for tips, so if you give them a few notes they get a real party going.

Of course you can buy beer!

In the afternoons people have a few drinks and dance to the band.

Although if the sea is rough, this isn’t a good idea.

That’s because you can’t tell if people are stumbling because of the beer or the waves.

The best thing is to sit back, enjoy the ocean breeze, and admire the scenery.

No, not the drunk women dancing, but the turquoise ocean.

There is also free wifi on board.

Where To Sit On The Ferry?

The lower deck is air-conditioned and quiet.

It’s the best choice if the sun has already turned you into a lobster.

They also have televisions down below, but they’re always turned off.

When the ocean is rough most people sit downstairs.

Although I’ve found that if you’re seasick, then it’s best to sit upstairs and stare at a point on the horizon.

The upper deck is open and many people disembark with hideous sunburn – don’t be that person!

Wear a cap, especially if you’re bald.

But there is better views on the top deck and a good atmosphere because of the band.

When Does The Ferry Run?

Each ferry runs every two hours, but the two three (Playa now has three ferry companies) alternate their schedule.

That means there is a ferry leaving on the hour, every hour from 7am to 10pm. Except for 9am, 2pm, 4pm, and 9pm when all the captains are taking a snooze.

Costs And Buying Tickets For The Playa Del Carmen To Cozumel Ferry

The prices for the ferry are always changing.

As of December 2013 they are approximately $11.50 USD for a one-way ticket.

A round-trip ticket costs $23 USD.

So you don’t save any money buying a return instead of two singles.

However, there are different tickets for the two ferries.

So you can only use a Ultramar ticket on an Ultramar ferry.

There are places along Fifth Avenue to buy tickets, however the best tactic is to go to the ferry terminal and see which ferry is about to leave.

IMPORTANT HINT: Don’t buy a round-trip ticket.

If you have a round-trip ticket you must use a particular ferry. So you may have to wait over an hour at Cozumel.

Anything Else?

In essence, the ferry that runs between Cozumel and Playa was the main reason Playa Del Carmen developed.

Taking it to Cozumel should definitely be in your plans.

Turquoise ocean, beer on board, and a live band; even my neighbor thinks the ferry is cool!

I will see you on the ferry soon…

Lots of love,


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Do you have some experience with the ferry in Playa Del Carmen? Tell us about it in the comments section below!

2 comments on “Playa Del Carmen Ferry

  1. Thanks for the tip about buying one way tickets.
    We’ve been here almost 3 weeks now and every helpful tip is appreciated.

    • Sara,

      This advice may no longer be useful. Two years ago (when this article was written), there were only TWO ferry companies here in town. Now there are three. At that time, the price was the same for everything – one way tickets were exactly the price of 1/2 of a round-trip ferry ticket.

      In all honesty, I think there was a complete and total monopoly over the price of tickets that had been negotiated between these two companies. They wanted to get along and had an interest in keeping prices high. In the US we call this “price fixing.”

      However, that changed when a third company entered the market. Today, there is some real competition, and the prices/marketing reflect this.

      Take the following steps to get the best prices:

      1. See what the best price is.
      2. Check that price for both one-way and round-trip tickets.
      3. Find out the schedules of each.
      4. Buy whichever is cheaper and most accommodating for your schedule.

      This is the only reasonable way to make sure that you get the best Playa Del Carmen ferry prices.

      Hope this helps, Sara, and thanks for the comment!

      Lots of love,


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