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How to Get from the Cancun Airport to the Hotel Zone

Transportation Options from the Airport

Getting to your hotel from the Cancun International Airport is not difficult, and many safe options exist. This article will explore transportation options and the relative distance of your final destination.

Waiting for baggage at the Cancun International Airport

Private Transfer Company

There are many private transfer companies in the general Cancun area. USA Transfers, Canada Transfers, and CARM are recommended (among others). We took USA Transfers on our last trip, and would not hesitate to use any of the options listed for safe transportation to our hotel.

These companies can be booked online, and fees are generally paid to the driver, in cash, once you arrive at your hotel. When we used USA transfers, we paid $60 round-trip for the transportation, and included a $20 tip for the driver each way. The entire amount for the trip was paid on the trip to the hotel, so we only had to keep the tip money in reserve for the return. The benefit of a private transfer over a group transfer is that you do not have to wait for others to arrive – the driver will help you load your luggage and you will be off to your hotel in a very short period of time. Our last flight arrived at 8:00 pm, and we were grateful to get to our hotel after a long day of travel!

Once you have your suitcases in hand, exit the airport to find a uniformed company representative waiting for you. The interior of the airport will be filled with people calling out to you and trying to sell timeshare services, taxi rides, etc. Ignore all of these people and walk straight out of the exit until you find the transportation services. Depending on your arrival time, there may be a lot of different services waiting outside the exit. Look up the uniform of the company you are using to help find your driver. Transportation is typically in white, air conditioned vans.

Group Transfer

For some all-inclusive resorts or vacation purchases through companies like Apple Vacations, transportation is included in the package. A van or bus will be filled with a group of passengers with a similar flight arrival (or departure) time, and will transport guests to their resorts. Simply exit the airport terminal with your baggage and look for a person holding a sign that matches your vacation company. As with the private transfer option, ignore the people inside the airport that will try to get your attention to sell timeshares, offer a taxi, etc.

How to take the ADO Bus from the Airport to Downtown Cancun

This is the least expensive way to reach the zona hotelera from the airport. The ADO buses do not go directly to the hotel zone, but go to the ADO bus station in the city center of Cancun. From there, travelers need to take the local bus (R1 or R2) to get to their desired endpoint.

The ADO bus station is located near Terminal 3 at the Cancun Airport. Most international travelers fly into Terminal 4, which is the farthest location from Terminal 3. Luggage is checked onto the bus and ADO buses are large and comfortable.

Google, @ 2021 CNES/Airbus, Maxar Technologies

In Downtown Cancun, you will need to transfer to the local public bus. Exit the ADO station and go right towards the statue in the circle, and cross the street. Take any local bus (usually R1) with “Hotel Zone” on the display. Do not use the local bus option if you have a lot of luggage, as the local buses are not equipped for carrying big suitcases.

Google, @2021 INEGI

It is also possible to obtain a taxi from the ADO bus stop to your hotel, which would be the better choice for those carrying a lot of luggage. While taxis are not recommended as a transportation option from the airport, they are a viable option once in the city center.

Public buses are not suited for carrying luggage.

Renting a Car in Cancun

For those wishing to explore many areas in the Yucatan, a rental car is the best bet. While many rental cars appear extremely cheap when searching online for rates, be aware that these advertised rates do not include Third Party Liability or Public Liability Insurance. This is required in Mexico and will add about $20 per day to your rental cost. The car rental companies will generally not allow coverage by a credit card policy or other third-party insurance companies. Over the course of a week (or more), this fee can add up! For those staying at an all-inclusive resort or remaining in a single location for their vacation, a rental car is not recommended.

Car rental agencies are easily reached at the airport and cars may be booked online in advance of your trip. Once you have obtained your luggage, walk to rental car booth located in the airport. They will assist you in getting the airport shuttle to the rental agency. The minimum age to rent a car is 21, and several companies charge an additional fee for drivers under the age of 25.

Beware of topes (speed bumps) on the roads and always drive the speed limit. Be aware that gas station scams are common, so ask for the exact number of liters you want and try to avoid Pemex stations at the edges of tourist sites. If possible, find a station where taxis get their gas and fuel up there.

Do Not Take a Private Taxi from the Airport

While taxis are an acceptable form of transportation once you are located at your final destination, it is not recommended to take a taxi from the airport to your hotel. Scams are incredibly common and some passengers have found the interior handles removed from the backseat of the car. Even when a price is negotiated beforehand, the corruption is rife and the driver may charge passengers upward of $100 for a trip. Avoid this entirely by obtaining a private transfer, group transfer, rental car, or by taking the ADO bus.

Can I Take a Private Rideshare from the Airport?

Rideshares have a troubled history in Cancun. They have been periodically allowed, then made illegal again. There is strife between the taxi drivers and the Uber/Lyft drivers in the area. If these services are made legal in the area again, I would still veer away from them and use a private or group transfer option instead.

Distance from the Airport to Different Cities in Quintana Roo

The airport in Cancun is located just south of the central city area of Cancun and to the east of Punta Nizuc, the southern-most point of the “zona hotelera,” where the vast majority of hotels and all-inclusive resorts are situated. For transportation by vehicle, Chiquila (the port used to reach Isla Holbox) is the farthest north with a drive time of 2 hours. Tulum is the farthest south, with a drive time of well over one-and-a-half hours. For cities south of Tulum, such as Bacalar or Mahahual, I would recommend flying into Chetumal airport.

Airport to the Hotel Zone

The hotel zone in Cancun is the location most tourists stay when they state they are “going to Cancun.” This is an area shaped like the number “7” that extends along the shore line, with many hotels and all-inclusive resorts. Travel time is approximately 23 minutes with direct transportation and the top of the zone is approximately 23.2 km (14.4 miles) from the airport. Most transportation companies will drive through Punta Nizuc (the southern part of the hotel zone) and continue up to the top of the zone.

Google, @2021 INEGI

Getting to Isla Mujeres

Isla Mujeres is a small island directly off the coast of Cancun. While day-visitors can reach the island from many different ferry ports in the hotel zone, those seeking to stay on the island for multiple days generally access the ferry at Puerto Juarez, located 21.4 km (13.3 miles) from the airport. The transit time is also just over 20 minutes, though a ferry must be taken once there. The Ultramar ferry takes approximately 15 minutes to transit, if the higher speed option is selected. The total time to the island is about 40 minutes, including both vehicle and ferry transportation times.

Google, @2021 INEGI

Airport to Isla Holbox

Holbox is more difficult to access than Isla Mujeres, as the port used to get to this island is located in Chiquilá. The distance from the airport to Chiquilá is 144 km (89.5 miles) and will take nearly 2 hours via direct transfer. In addition to the drive time, the ferry takes 25 minutes. With no delays, the minimum time to reach Holbox from the airport will be just over 2.5 hours. Some people opt to stay a night in Chiquilá before heading out to the island in the morning.

Google, @2021 INEGI

Ferry rides are fun!

Directions to Playa Mujeres

In an area free of sargassum, Playa Mujeres is located on the coast north of the Hotel Zone. Many all-inclusive resorts have been built in this area, as the water is rarely, if ever, affected by the sea grass that invades southern shores in the area. Transportation to these beaches takes only 25 minutes, as the area is located only 23.6 km (14.7 miles) from the airport.

Google, @2021 INEGI

Airport to Puerto Morelos

A lesser-known city for most tourists, Puerto Morelos lies south of the Hotel Zone and is not as crowded as Cancun or Playa Del Carmen. Another benefit is the location – a mere 22 minutes with a direct transfer. The town lies 25.6 km (15.9 miles) south of the airport.

Google, @2021 INEGI

Getting to Playa Del Carmen or Cozumel

One of the most popular cities in the general area, Playa Del Carmen (PDC) has a vibrant shopping district, beaches, and many nature parks that highlight the cenotes and caves in the area. Located 55.4 km (34.4 miles) south of the airport, PDC takes almost an hour to reach by car.

The ferry to Cozumel is located in Playa, so it is easy to reach the island by taking an Ultramar ferry. The ferry transit time is 20 minutes to 45 minutes, depending on whether the passenger has selected the high-speed or regular ferry option. Getting to Cozumel may take up to 2 hours to reach from the airport with both vehicle and ferry transportation times included.

Google, @2021 INEGI

Airport to Akumal

Akumal is a gorgeous beach area and is generally less affected by sargassum than other beaches in the area. Sea turtles frequent the waters here! Akumal is 92.2 km (57.3 miles) south of the airport and will take about an hour and a half to reach. There are not many resorts located here, due to the smaller size of the area.

Google, @2021 INEGI

Cancun International Airport to Tulum

Tulum is located a full 118 km (73.3 miles) from the airport, and will take about 1 hour and 40 minutes to reach.

Google, @2021 INEGI

Getting to your hotel is a fairly simple process, whether you are going to the main hotel zone or visiting a destination slightly farther away. Whether you rent a car or take a private transfer (or other option), there are many safe methods to get to your final destination!

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