Last update: 18 February 2015. Added information on the new Barcos Caribe ferry.)
While this process discusses the ADO bus and ferry to get to Cozumel, you can also take a private van such as usa-transfers.com or canadatransfers.com to get to Playa del Carmen (PDC). If you have four or more people in your group, a private service is a better option. You can also fly Mayair to the Cozumel airport. See mayair.com.mx for times and cost.
There are two main terminals at the
Terminal 2 is the mainly domestic terminal (some international flights). This is where I was dropped off by the
At the bottom are ADO bus departure times from Playa del Carmen (PDC) to Cancun airport ... and Cancun airport to Playa. Travel time is about 65 minutes. Also included are ferry times. Note that there are two ferries.
The ADO bus is 156 pesos (approximately $13 USD) per person each way and the ferry cost is around 163 pesos each way for adults (December 2014 prices). Pesos and US dollars are accepted.
The ADO bus currently loads at the Cancun airport at Terminal 3. About fifteen minutes prior to the scheduled airport departure time, the bus leaves Terminal 3 and proceeds to Terminal 2 to load passengers from that terminal. The bus often makes a short stop in Puerto Morelos before continuing on to Playa del Carmen.
Starting in Playa del Carmen, the bus loads initially at the 5th Ave station then proceeds to the Alternate station on 20th Ave before heading north. It can stop along the highway by Puerto Morelos.
Luggage is stored in large compartments under the bus so there is no need to lug them onto the bus.
Caveat: Things change. Use the information contained here as a general guide and adapt to any changes that occur between major updates.
This will cover catching the bus from Terminal 2 first then Terminal 3. Followed by a discussion how to walk from Terminal 2 to 3 and vice versa. Of course you can take the ASUR shuttle between the two terminals but I can leisurely walk between them in about eight minutes.
Part 1: Arriving into Terminal 2
After you leave the Terminal 2 building you will see the overhead signs shown in Figure 1. The right sign says "Coffe" and "Cafeteria" and an arrow to the right. You will take a right as soon as possible and after walking a few yards will see the Meeting Place to your right. That is shown in Figure 2.
Continue straight ahead and you will this view looking down the length of the Terminal 2 building (with the street to your left/building to your right) as seen in the next picture below and to the left. The picture to the right is a different angle showing Terminal 2. Circa early 2014 a security gate was installed on the sidewalk which may prevent people coming from the Terminal 2 check-in area from reaching the Meeting Place and close access to people exiting Terminal 2 after passing through customs.
Just continue walking the length of the building. The door numbers will increase from around 4 to 13 as you get closer to the ADO bus area. The ASUR shuttle runs from around door 10 and is shown in the next picture below and to the left. Walk down to the Door 13 area and you will look a bit to the left to see where the ADO bus will be (picture below right). There may be people waiting for the bus or a ticket agent. In the middle of the right picture are people in red shirts (yes, hard to see). Just to the right of them is the ADO bus. In April 2012, there was a guarded gate on the sidewalk partway to the bus. The lady asked me "ADO" and I responded Terminal 3 and I went through the turnstile.
The next two pictures show the ADO bus location by Terminal 2 as you get closer then a closeup of the bus.
Part 2: Arriving into Terminal 3
This is really simple. Just walk outside. Just before leaving the building you may find an ADO ticket counter. You can buy the ticket there or outside at the bus. Go outside and ahead and to the right is the Air Margaritaville (previously Coconuts) bar building (pic below left). Walk past it and look right and that is where the ADO bus will be or arrive at (picture below right).
Below is the shuttle that goes between the two terminals.
Part 3: Walking from Terminal 2 to Terminal 3
If you walked to the end of Terminal 2 (with the building to your right) and past Door 13 you will soon be a point where when you look a bit to the right you see the view shown in the pic below left. Walk in that direction and you will look down a road. A utility tube is above and to your left (pic below right). Walk to the end of this short road/sidewalk.
When you get to the end of the road turn left and you will see the view in the picture below left. Go a short distance and look right (picture below right) and take that sidewalk all the way to the end which is where people exit from Terminal 3.
When you get to the area where people exit it is secured by gates/fences. Depending upon where you are you will see Coconuts across the way (picture below left). This picture was taken from just outside the area where arriving passengers leave the building. The couple seen between and past the two pillars are in that area and would see the Air Margaritaville beverage hut to their right. Ask to get inside to catch the bus and you will soon see the ADO bus just to the left of the beverage hut if the bus is there (picture below right).
Part 4: Walking from Terminal 3 to Terminal 2
If you walk outside Terminal 3 after passing customs and the ADO bus is just pulling out you may be able to walk over to Terminal 2 to catch it. The ADO bus leaves Terminal 3 to go to Terminal 2 about 15 minutes before it leaves the airport. It takes me about 8 minutes to walk between the two. The picture below left shows what you will see looking down the Terminal 3 building after getting past the gates. The picture to its right is at the end of the Terminal 3 building (building to your LEFT). Just ahead the sidewalk splits. Do not turn right but continue straight ahead to the road where you will turn left.
The next two pictures show you the view on the sidewalk almost to the first turn at the road (left) and then after the left turn looking towards the place where you will turn right (right picture).
After the turn to the right you will see the utility tube above and to your right. Just continue straight ahead until you get to the sign seen in the picture below right. Look a bit to the right and the covered structures ahead are where the ADO bus will be seen waiting for you. There was a turnstile by the building that did not allow access into the Terminal 3 area. If you look along the road to the right there is an area where the bus departs the parking area. A person "may" be able to access the ADO bus by entering that parking area there.
Part 5: Playa del Carmen bus station to ferry
You have arrived at the Playa del Carmen bus station (near the ferry)
The bathroom at the PDC bus terminal is upstairs. If you face the four side-by-side ticket counters, the stairs are to your right. Entry fee is 5 pesos so have some coins.
Leave from the corner door and you will see McDonalds and a Diamond store to your left. Walk straight forward about 20 yards then veer left and walk down the slight slope with McDonalds to your left. Walk towards the water one block and when you get to the wall that ends at the beach turn right. The next two pics are (left to right) the Diamond store/Mcdonalds and looking east to the ocean as you start walking down the hill.
The two pics below are from the path past McDonalds near the ocean wall (left). The right picture is looking south about halfway to the ferry pier (just past the plaza). You can see the pier and one ferry boat in the left picture.
A bit further past the palapa on the left are two ticket booths. Ultramar is the yellow/blue colored booth and the Mexico ferry is the other one. Both are fine. Just take the next one to go and do not buy roundtrip tickets.
The next two pics show the ticket counters and the arch over the entrance to the ferry pier (left below) and the view just outside the pier entrance facing towards the pier (right below). Senor Frogs is to the right. The pier building underwent construction in 2014 so the pier pictures are not current.
Just proceed under the arch and you will see the lines forming for the next ferry. Enjoy the trip over. You can get refreshments on the ferry.
Part 6: Cozumel to the Playa Del Carmen bus station (to catch a bus to the Cancun airport or other destinations)
The view from the square towards the
The next left picture is leaving the pier. Note Senor Frogs to the left is to the right. The next pic on the right is looking to the west as you leave the pier. Rental car companies are located just ahead.
You could go one block to the top of the hill then right two blocks to get to the bus station. We will go right after leaving the pier/arch (Next left pic). The next rightmost picture is just past the palapa. We can either turn left, go one block then right one block...or, we can continue straight ahead. But for now we will go straight along the beach. Of course you can cut diagonally through the plaza area.
Before we continue straight, look a bit left at the plaza. You can also walk diagonally through the courtyard area (next pic on left). Go straight then turn left after one block (before you hit the building!). The picture below/right looks up the hill towards the bus station, McDonalds and the Diamonds International store.
After you turn left and go one block west, look back for one last look at the ocean (next left pic). A few more yards and you are at the bus station (next right pic).
Part 7: ADO bus from the Cancun airport to the downtown Cancun bus station
Getting to the downtown Cancun bus station is also easy. The buses run about twice as often and only costs around 64 pesos each way. The big difference is that you verify that the bus has a "Cancun" sign in the front window as opposed to Playa del Carmen. It takes about 25 minutes. The picture below left shows a roundabout with shells sculptures in it. Once you see that you are about a block away from the bus terminal. Then you will see a war memorial that has a rocket ship like appearance (right picture).
The next two pictures are in the Cancun bus station after you get off the bus. The picture on the left is for some departures. The right picture shows the area (far end) that currently you would go to to purchase a bus ticket to Playa del Carmen or the Cancun airport.
If you turn around and face the exit doors (ticket counters to your back), go outside and walk to the right until you get to a four lane divided road. This is the same road that you came in on from the airport but the opposite direction. Across the road is a Commercial Mexicana (left picture below). Turn left and cross a smaller street and ahead you will see where the hotel zone buses (R-1) load and a McDonalds on the other side of the street (right picture below).
Part 8: Puerto Morelos stop
The southbound ADO bus from the Cancun airport often stops at Puerto Morelos as do northbound buses. The picture below left shows the Pemx station at the Puerto Morelos stop. The right picture below shows the 7-11 and a waiting taxi.
There are two places to buy a bus ticket at this stop. If you face the Pemex station there is a one story building to your right. The ADO office is at the back (west) end....see picture below on the left. On the east side of highway 307, you will see a covered fenced in area with a small structure where they sell tickets (see picture below to the right). If the ticket agent is not at one location, he/she may be at the other location.
Bus times verified via their website - 12 Dec 2014. Always verify times since they can and do change.
Playa del Carmen to
On 14 Feb 2015 a third ferry service started between Playa del Carmen and Cozumel. They are Barcos Caribe. Their schedule starts before and ends later than the previous combined schedule. In addition, they filled in the gaps of the previous schedule and added some departures 30 minutes after the hour. In the schedule below, the Barcos Caribe times are noted in parenthesis. Always confirm times since it can and does change. This schedule is the high season schedule and may have crossings that are not run during low season. Buy a one way ticket only.
Playa del Carmen to
1) Mexico ferry: http://www.mexicowaterjets.com/eng/servicios.php?id=HR
2) Ultramar ferry: http://www.granpuerto.com.mx
3) Barcos Caribe ferry: http://www.barcoscaribe.com
4) Bus system: http://www.ado.com.mx