Playa Del Carmen to Cozumel

…an excursion worth doing…

Some things in Mexico can be very confusing.

Like trying to get home after 15 cocktails.

Or working out which bottle of tequila to buy.

Or waking up and being unable to locate your shoes.

But some things in Mexico are really really easy.

Like going from Playa Del Carmen to Cozumel.

Loads of people don’t bother with Cozumel because they think it’s going to be a mission getting there.

Playa Del Carmen to Cozumel is actually one of the easiest and most enjoyable journeys you can take in Mexico.

They even have a live band on the boat.


Three Companies That Offer Service To and From Playa Del Carmen to Cozumel

There are only three companies that go from Playa Del Carmen to Cozumel and back again. There used to only be two, but about a year ago (2015) another company joined the mix.

They all offer fairly similar service, but as with anything else – you usually get what you pay for.

From what I have seen, UltraMar appears to be the best.

MexicoWaterjets is somewhere in between.

The final company Barcos Caribe is the new kid on the block (so to speak).

The fact that they charge foreigners a completely different fee than Mexicans makes me very angry – in addition to the fact that (at the time of this writing) the entire website is in Spanish.

That’s right! No English whatsoever – even though a significant percent of people going to and from Playa Del Carmen and Cozumel are American/Canadian! Obvious disrespect to us tourists who keep them in business. A**holes!!!


Following the links above will take you directly to each company’s ferry schedule. But before you go ahead and make plans, make sure you understand how the ferry schedule works.

Scheduling Your Ferry Ride / “Why Do Mexicans Have To Make Everything So Complicated?”

Before I go on to tell you about how each company does the scheduling, please realize that for two out of the three companies, the schedule changes every day/month/season. Why? I have no idea!!!

Ferry Ride Video

The following video is a glimpse of what you should expect when writing one of the ferries.

In this case, the person doing the filming was riding on an UltraMar boat.

You can see the live music, people enjoying themselves, the amazing view as they travel across the channel, and you even get a glimpse of what Cozumel Island is like upon arrival.

Why go to Cozumel

Now that I’ve told you all that nonsense about the ferry ordeal, let me tell you a little bit about Cozumel Island.

Cozumel is this funky little Caribbean Island.

Well I say it’s in the Caribbean, but it’s less than an hour by boat from Playa Del Carmen. It’s actually only 45 minutes by ferry.

There’s very little development on the island.

You’ll find a cool little town, a string of private beaches, and then this idyllic near deserted coastline.

It’s perfect for having some quiet time with a loved one.

Or with a person of the opposite sex that you’ve just met.

It’s also perfect if you want to try cuddling some rays and dolphins.

The snorkeling is immense.

It’s like you’ve walked into a waiting room for Finding Nemo actors.

FACT: The reef around Cozumel is the second largest in the world.

Eagle rays, seahorses, turtles…you name it…you’ll probably find it.

It’s understandably popular for scuba diving, especially the famous dive sites at the Palancar Reef, Santa Rosa Wall, and the Columbia Reef.

The western beaches have calm currents and developed private parks.

So you’ll have to pay entrance fees or buy a drink to chill there.

But they’re still quiet.

The eastern coastline has some pounding waves and wind.

It’s near deserted and has a real Lost type feel.

How To Go From Playa Del Carmen To Cozumel

Going from Playa Del Carmen to Cozumel is very easy.

Unless you’ve got a helicopter or private boat, the only way across is by the public ferry.

Cozumel does have an airport, but flights arriving here are astronomically priced.

Here’s the confusing part:

There are two rival ferry companies that run a service from Playa Del Carmen to Cozumel.

Each ferry leaves every two hours, although the companies alternate their schedule.

So in effect, there is a direct ferry on the hour, every hour.

Don’t buy your tickets in advance.

And don’t buy a return ticket.

To go from Playa Del Carmen to Cozumel just rock up at the ferry terminal about ten minutes before the hour.

Then ignore the ticket pushers.

Just buy a ticket from the main office of the ferry company.

Why You Shouldn’t Buy a Return Ticket From Playa Del Carmen to Cozumel

The prices for the ferry are always changing.

As of September 2014 it was about $12.50 USD one way.

A return tickets cost the same price as two singles.

So you don’t save any money.

However, the two ferry companies have different tickets.

That means you can only use a Ultramar ticket on an Ultramar ferry, for example.

If you buy a return ticket then you cut your choice of return ferry by 50%.

It’s much better to stay flexible.

You can buy beer at the ferry terminal.

But do you want to be waiting for an hour because you got conned into buying a return ticket?

Some of the lying degenerates will try convincing you that the other ferry is sold out.

Or that aliens abducted the captain so you absolutely MUST buy a return ticket right now or else.

It’s all bullshit.

Rock up, check out which ferry is leaving, and buy a ticket.


About the Cozumel Ferry Schedule

You can buy a ferry ticket on Fifth Ave or near the ferry port.

But again, that’s going to limit you to a ferry every two hours.

Keep it open and buy a ticket at the dock.

These ferries never sell out; there is always more room!

Even if they did, they would still stuff a hundred extra people onboard anyway.

If you’re going from Playa Del Carmen to Cozumel, the boats leave every hour from 7am to 10pm, except for 9am, 2pm, 4pm, and 9pm.

I think that’s the time when the captains are sleeping.

If you’re going from Cozumel to Playa Del Carmen, the boats leave every hour from 6am to 9pm, except for 8am, 1pm, 3pm, and 8pm.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s an Ultramar ferry or Mexico Waterjets ferry as long as you don’t have a ticket.

Both Playa Del Carmen to Cozumel Ferries Are The Same Onboard

There’s virtually no difference between the Ultramar and Mexico Waterjet ferries.

The best part is that a live band rocks the upper deck in the afternoon.

They’re quite good, so give them a tip and start boogying with a sombrero on.

There are bathrooms onboard.

Most importantly, they sell beer and it’s pretty cheap.

Downstairs is air-conditioned and generally quiet.

They have some TVs, but I think they all broke about ten years ago.

Upstairs is best for a fiesta atmosphere, getting sunburned, and enjoying the ocean views.

Wear a cap. Especially if you’re bald. Or British.

My pale-skinned buddy once got sunburnt through his t-shirt on the Playa Del Carmen to Cozumel ferry.

It doesn’t sound possible. But it is.

He wasn’t very successful with the ladies after that mishap.

The Ancient History of Cozumel

Before finishing this piece of travel advice, I feel compelled to write about the funky history of Cozumel.

The Mayas lived on the island since the 7th century, and it was sacred for the Maya Moon Goddess, some heroic chick named Ix Chel.

Honestly, I wish I would have met her.

Mayan women would make a pilgrimage to the island and visit one of the Moon Goddess’s temples.

How they managed to row across, I don’t know.

But they were obviously keen on fertility treatment because that was the purpose of the visit.

After the Spanish brought smallpox and gunpowder, the Mayan settlements disappeared.

In 1861, President Lincoln tried to purchase Cozumel so he could relocate freed slaves.

The Mexican president told him to piss off.

And if moon goddesses aren’t enough to get you from Playa Del Carmen to Cozumel, then there’s always hot chicks in bikinis (and hot dudes in Speedos, I guess) on white sand beaches.

Just remember not to buy a return ticket.

Imagine picking someone up on the beach, actually getting somewhere, and then discovering that you can’t get on the boat because you’ve got the wrong ticket.


Cockblocked by a ferry schedule!

Enjoy Cozumel, and I hope to see you there soon!

Lots of love,


Rufus signature

It’s your turn. Do you have any advice about going from Playa Del Carmen to Cozumel? Please leave it in the comments section below.

4 comments on “Playa Del Carmen To Cozumel

  1. Hey Rufus
    Thank you so much for all your info!!!
    My husband and I have travel to Cancun a few times will bring along 4 kids. 17. 13. Twins 12
    Two of them can speak very good Spanish and all four are awesome swimmers… we were thinking about playa DE Carmen this time
    They just really want
    To snorkel….
    So looking at traveling to Cozumel by ferry…
    Do you know anything about resorts in Playa de Carmen family friendly with lots of pools???
    Would love to hear back from you thank you

    • Delicious Dawn,

      I’m glad you enjoyed the info. Most importantly, I hope it helps you with planning your trip.

      Most visitors who have visited here (and Cancun) say that Playa Del Carmen has a lot more personality. Moreover, it is closer to the popular X-Parks (Xcaret, Xplor, Xelha, etc) than Cancun, closer to Akumal, Tulum, etc… Everything is packed into a small area here. Of course the proximity of the city’s offerings will depend on the location of your resort. (More about that below.)

      Wow! You’re bringing lots of kids! That’s great. This is a family-friendly city and there are LOTS of things to see and do around town. Their Spanish will be useful here, too.

      In regard to snorkeling, there are a number of tours that include snorkeling. In addition, Cozumel is right next door (visible from the beach). There’s world-class snorkeling there because of the extensive reef, which is the second largest in the world (the Great Barrier Reef is the biggest). I would also recommend visiting Akumal – picturesque beach with turtles to snorkel with. Nice place.

      For the resort you choose, you’ll need something family friendly (some of the resorts are adults-only). I have written a fairly extensive article on the best family resorts in this city. However, I’m not sure about the number of pools at each. With that said, I would recommend checking out the Playacar Palace (the contact info is included on the previous page). Not only is it kid-friendly, but its proximity to all the action will help you keep your kids entertained. It usually gets great reviews, and everyone I talk to who stays there absolutely loves it.

      Wherever you decide to stay and whatever you decide to do, please let me know how your trip goes!

      I hope this helps!

      Lots of love,


  2. Dear Rufus
    It’s 1am and I have been entertained for the last hour by your playa del Carmen advice. I am currently debating whether I will buy a return ticket. I wanted to know how should I go about snorkeling on Cozumel. Are there any places you suggest and are walking accessible? Thanks Rufus!

    • Jessica,

      Thank you so much for the comments.

      I am happy that you are finding the information here entertaining. Don’t stay up too late or you will miss your beauty sleep and then you won’t be ready for your trip here.

      In regard to your Cozumel snorkeling question, there are a great many snorkeling companies there. Cozumel showcases some of the most vivid and colorful reef wildlife in the entire world. Unfortunately, I don’t have an individual company to recommend.

      However, I will say this: once you arrive on the island, you will be bombarded with people trying to sell you things. Have a game plan and stick to it. Dont let the annoying salesman waste your vacation time. Also, spend a few minutes shopping around (i.e. don’t necessarily take the first snorkel option you find). Finally, you may want to directly visit a dive shop there (or even a dive shop in Playa Del Carmen) in order to talk to some experts about the best activity options. The street activity sellers are NOT experts.

      Hope this helps, Jessica!!!

      Lots of love,


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