The Perfect Day Trip to Cozumel from Cancun

Planning a day trip to Cozumel from Cancun? Look no further! In this post, we will tell you the best way to visit Cozumel in one day.

One of the great things about Cancun is its close proximity to other locations throughout the Yucatan Peninsula. If you want to experience a new location, a day trip to Cozumel is a great option.

Compared to the Cancun hotel zone which is full of shopping, restaurants, amazing hotels, and nightlife, Cozumel has a more relaxed, island vibe.

Here you can stroll through the main plaza, snorkel in crystal-clear water, or take a drive around the island to see the undeveloped east side, sometimes called the “wild side.” 

Cozumel coast drone views
Cozumel Coast

Where is Cozumel Located?

Cozumel is located in the Caribbean Sea about 20 km off the coast of Playa del Carmen. The island is 30 miles long and 10 miles wide.

Most of the island’s population lives in the town of San Miguel, which is located on the west side of the island. There are several resorts and restaurants dotting the west coast of Cozumel, going south from town.

However, most of the island, including the east side, is undeveloped. The east side of Cozumel is full of beaches, separated by rocky, iron shores areas, with a handful of small, rustic beach bars. 

The waters off the western coast of Cozumel are filled with a spectacular coral reef system. This area is famous for its impressive coral structures that can reach up to 100 feet.

These reefs are filled with tropical fish, sea turtles, rays, and sharks. Cozumel has long been a scuba diver destination, and in recent years attracted non-divers too with its charming downtown, relaxing beach clubs, and other tourist attractions. 

Do you want a change of pace from Cancun? A day trip to Cozumel is a great way to see a different part of Quintana Roo. Keep reading for ideas on how to spend your day in Cozumel and tips for traveling here. 

Coast of Cozumel Island, Mexico

Day Trip To Cozumel: An Overview

If you have not been there yet (or even if you have) Cozumel is a great spot to explore.

To get to Cozumel, you will need to take the ferry from Playa del Carmen. Playa del Carmen is located about 80 kilometers to the south of Cancun.

You can book a private shuttle to pick you up and take you to the ferry terminal in downtown Playa del Carmen.

A private shuttle is the fastest, and easiest, way to get to the ferry terminal, but you could also take the ADO public bus from Cancun to Playa del Carmen.

If you have a rental car, you can drive it to Playa del Carmen and park it in one of the parking lots near the ferry.

It usually takes around one hour to get from Cancun to the Cozumel ferry dock, and you should give yourself some extra time to arrive and buy your tickets. 

There are two ferry companies that operate the crossing from Playa del Carmen to Cozumel. They rotate the hourly departures, so you should just buy a ticket for the next crossing.

Both ferry companies have comfortable boats with an open-air section or an indoor, air-conditioned, seating section. They even have live music during the day!

You can sit back and enjoy the 45-minute crossing. You should plan that the trip from Cancun to Cozumel will take you a few hours. 

The ferry arrives in downtown San Miguel Cozumel, just in front of the main plaza. Here you are within walking distance of shops, restaurants, and all sorts of tour operators.

As you immediately exit the ferry, you will be offered plenty of options for snorkeling tours and car rentals.

My advice is to have an idea of what you would like to do in Cozumel before you get off the ferry, so you are not overwhelmed by the salespeople.

It is a good idea to book your tours in advance. More about that later in this post.

Avoid booking tours with street vendors, on either the Playa del Carmen or Cozumel side. Trusted sites such as will help guarantee you know exactly what you are receiving for your tour. On the street, right off the ferry, you can always find taxis, if you need one to take you to the marina or to a beach club. 

There are many transportation options to get you from Cancun to the ferry terminal in Playa del Carmen, and the ferries to Cozumel depart every hour from 8am until 9pm.

Is one day in Cozumel enough?

Depending on what types of activities you like to do on vacation, you might wonder whether one day in Cozumel is enough. That depends on what your interests are.

There are many transportation options to get you from Cancun to the ferry terminal in Playa del Carmen, and the ferries to Cozumel depart every hour from 8 am until 9 pm.

If you are going to do a Cozumel day trip, it’s a great idea to get up early so you can make the most of your time on the island.

If you plan your day right, you can see a lot of the island in one day. But, if you think that one day is not enough time for you to see everything you would like to on the island, plan to book a hotel room here for a night or two.

Spending a few days in Cozumel will let you hit all the “must do” activities, such as snorkel or dive, visit some of the national parks, and see the “wild side” of the island. Cozumel has hotel options for all budgets and types of travelers.

There are several clean, but basic hotels just off the plaza. Or, you can find beachfront hotels that have more amenities slightly north or south of downtown.  

Cozumel aerial view beach club

Cozumel Day Trip Itineraries

Day Trip to Cozumel Itinerary #1: Best Cozumel Day Trip Itinerary for Beach Lovers

If your perfect vacation day is spent relaxing on a beach, check out Mr. Sancho’s Beach Club. Mr. Sancho’s is located south of downtown San Miguel, at Carretera Costera Sur, kilometer 15.

The beach club is on a long stretch of beautiful white sand, with amazingly clear, blue water. It is an easy, sandy water entry, with the sand slowly sloping down to shallow water.

There are never any waves here, the water is almost always flat. This makes it an ideal spot to swim, especially for families with children. 

Mr. Sancho’s is a popular spot for people visiting the island, so it is a good idea to make a reservation. They offer an all-inclusive package that is $68 for adults, $45 for teens 12-17 years old, and $40 for children 4-11 years old.

The package includes all-you-can-eat food from the buffet and menu,  and drinks, and the beach club is open from 9 am to 5 pm Monday to Saturday. You can also choose to do a pay-as-you-go option where you order from the menu.

The menu includes standard beach club favorites such as nachos, tacos, hamburgers, and ceviches. Mr. Sancho’s has beach umbrellas and loungers for guests to enjoy, as well as a large palapa with tables and chairs. 

In addition to eating and drinking, there is plenty of fun stuff to do at Mr. Sancho’s.

You can purchase a pass for $14 to enjoy the Aqua Park which is full of all different size floating toys. You will feel like a kid again climbing on the iceberg, jumping on the water trampolines, and going down the slide.

If Aqua Park is not your thing, you can take an ATV tour or horseback ride along the beach and through the mangrove, go for a ride on wave runners, or check out views of the island from above while parasailing.

If you want to explore the coral reef sign up for a snorkel or scuba diving tour. 

With all these activities to choose from at Mr. Sancho’s you can see why it’s recommended to cross over to Cozumel early in the day. You will want plenty of time for all these activities.

When you are ready to head back to town from Mr. Sancho’s there will be taxis available at the exit. 

Day trip to Cozumel Itinerary #2: Cozumel Day Trip For Adventurers

If you want to make an adventure of your day exploring Cozumel, a great option is to rent a car and make a loop of the island. Renting a car gives you the freedom to explore wherever you want to go, and no time limits on how long you can stay at any given spot. 

When you exit the ferry, there are plenty of car rental options within walking distance. You can choose between Jeeps, converted VW bugs, and an assortment of open beach cruisers.

Pick whatever makes you feel comfortable and enjoy the ride with the wind in your hair. Just remember, if you are in an open car you will want to be careful about how much sun you are getting- you may not feel like you are burning while you are driving along. 

Renting a car in Cozumel
Rent a Car in Cozumel

You can choose which direction you want to make your loop around the island- either heading south along the western coast first or crossing to the other side of the island. There is only one road that takes you around the island, so you should not have any problems getting lost and needing directions.

As a heads up – there is a bike path that runs along the other side of the island, make sure you do not drive your car in it or you will likely get a ticket from a waiting police officer. The bike path is closer to the ocean than the car road and is marked with signs that say no cars. 

On your loop around the island you can stop at several different beach restaurants.

If you want the chance to hop in the water to snorkel check out a beach restaurant on the southern, western side of the island. Sky Reef and the Money Bar both have great snorkeling just in front of the restaurant.

If you want to check out a national park, Punta Sur Ecopark on the southern tip of the island is a great choice. Here you can climb the lighthouse for amazing views of the lagoon and ocean, and take a boat ride through the lagoon to see crocodiles. 

When you get to the “other” side of the island you will find beautiful beaches separated by sections of rocky ironshore. If you want to get in the water here, use caution because the waves can be very strong.

On the east side of the island, there is hardly any development except for a few restaurants that are only open during the day. You can visit one of these restaurants, or find a section of the beach for yourself to relax on.

Just a tip – make sure to keep an eye on your valuables when you get out of the car. Unfortunately, many tourists have left their bags in the car and when they return after a quick photo on the beach their bag is gone. 

On the transversal road, as you approach the other side of the island, there are small Maya ruins you can visit.

These ruins do not have any large pyramids and are much smaller than the nearby ruins on the mainland like Coba and Chichen Itza. However, if you are interested in Maya history, the guides give a very interesting tour. 

As you arrive back in town you can finish your self-guided tour of the island with a cruise through town.

If you are feeling adventurous you can find tacos or other small, local favorite restaurants further off the main road.

Renting a car will give you the freedom to choose your own Cozumel adventure and explore the island at your own pace. 

Day Trip from Cancun to Cozumel: Organized Tours

If you want the ultimate relaxing day, with someone else making all your travel and tour arrangements, consider taking a tour from Cancun to Cozumel.

A tour will take all the “work” out of the day for you, with round-trip transportation and your Cozumel excursions all set up for you. 

Can you take a day trip to Cozumel from Cancun?

Yes! Plan for it to be an all-day activity, but you can make a day trip from Cancun to Cozumel.

If you do not want to arrange transportation to the ferry or book your own tours in Cozumel, consider signing up for a tour.

Tours that take you from Cancun to Cozumel will include all your transportation and whatever activity you choose in Cozumel. A great option is:

Cozumel Reef Snorkeling Tour

cozumel snorkeling group blue water

Experience the best of Cozumel’s coral reefs with this snorkeling tour. You will be picked up at your hotel and taken to the ferry pier in Playa del Carmen.

After crossing to Cozumel, you will hop onto a fast speedboat that will take you to the southern snorkeling sights.

You will visit the famous Palancar and Colombia reefs to snorkel where you will have the chance to see corals, fish, turtles, rays, and sharks.

You will also visit the El Cielo, a shallow sand bank with amazingly clear turquoise water, and lots of starfish and rays in the water.

Lunch, non-alcoholic beverages, and snorkeling equipment are included. 

Playa del Carmen to Cozumel

Cozumel Island sits right across the channel from Playa del Carmen. On calm, clear days you can easily see it.

Visitors in Playa del Carmen can plan a day in Cozumel to explore downtown and experience the clear waters and amazing coral reefs – whether at a beach club or on a snorkel tour. 

How to Get to Cozumel from Playa del Carmen

It is very easy to make a day trip to Cozumel from Playa del Carmen. All you need to do is make your way to the ferry terminal and cross to the island.

If you are staying in a downtown hotel, you may be able to walk to the ferry terminal. If not, you can catch a taxi to the ferry terminal.

The crossing to the island takes around 45 minutes.

If you want to enjoy an excursion in Cozumel without any hassle, you can book a tour from Playa del Carmen. These tours will include transportation and your excursion on the Cozumel side. A great option is:

Cozumel Island (Ferry + Snorkel + Virgin Beach + Jeep)

Experience the best of Cozumel with the all-day tour.

After crossing to Cozumel, you will start your day with a visit to Chankanaab Park. There you can enjoy the botanical gardens, relax on the beach, and go for snorkel.

When it is time to leave Chankanaab, a Jeep will be waiting for you. You will drive to Punta Sur Eco Beach Park where you will have the chance to climb the lighthouse for views of the lagoon, go for a boat ride in the lagoon to see birds and crocodiles, and relax on beautiful beaches.

You will finish your day with a tequila tasting before boarding the ferry to return to Playa del Carmen. 

Cozumel ocean views

Day Trip to Cozumel From Tulum

If you are staying in Tulum, you can make a day trip to Cozumel.

You have several options to get from Tulum to the ferry terminal in Playa del Carmen. You can book a private shuttle, take a taxi, take the public ADO bus, or take a colectivo.

Private shuttles and taxis will take you directly from where you are staying in Tulum to the ferry pier. The last few blocks to the ferry pier are pedestrian-only, but they will drop you off as close as possible.

If you take a taxi, remember to always negotiate the price before getting into the taxi.

ADO buses leave continuously from Tulum to Playa del Carmen, as do colectivos, which are shared passenger vans. These options will drop you off at their respective terminals, a few minutes’ walk away from the ferry pier.

It takes around one hour to get from Tulum to Playa del Carmen.

Once in Playa del Carmen you can buy your ferry ticket and cross to the island. 

From Isla Mujeres to Cozumel Day Trip – Is it worth it?

If you are staying on Isla Mujeres and want to visit another island, you might be wondering, is it worth it to take a day trip to Cozumel? This answer depends on you.

There is no direct ferry that takes you from Isla Mujeres to Cozumel. Instead, you will need to take the ferry from Isla Mujeres to either Puerto Juarez or the Cancun hotel zone.

From there you will need to get to Playa del Carmen, which takes around one hour or so, and then take another ferry to Cozumel.

The ferry to Cozumel takes between 35 and 45 minutes, depending on the weather conditions. For many people, this is a lot of steps to only spend the day in Cozumel. Instead of rushing to go back and forth in one day, you might be more comfortable booking a night’s stay in Cozumel. 

East side Cozumel aerial view at sunset
Cozumel at sunset

Best Time to Visit Cozumel

Just like the rest of Quintana Roo, there is no bad time to visit Cozumel.

The winter months from November to April are the peak tourist season. Visitors love to come to this area in the winter because of the great weather – it is hot and sunny, but not overly humid or uncomfortably hot.

The winter months are also the dry season, so there is a lower chance of rain; however, it is still the tropics so a little bit of rain is always possible.

Because of the great weather, the winter months are the busiest time on the island. Starting in December and continuing until Easter, there are lots of visitors on the island. 

If you want to stay away from crowds, visiting Cozumel in the low season may be a good option for you.

May to October is the rainy season, and the summer months of July and August can be very hot and humid.

But, if you plan to spend most of your vacation in the water, this can be a great time to visit. You can get a great deal on hotels and will enjoy a slow, peaceful atmosphere on the island.

September and October are peak hurricane seasons, so many travellers stay away from the island at this time; however, if you are willing to take the chance of having rainy weather or a storm, the reward can be great weather and empty beaches. 

Cozumel coastline aerial view

How To Get Around Cozumel

The Cozumel ferry pier is in the heart of downtown Cozumel. It is directly across the street from the main plaza, and within easy walking distance of lots of shops, restaurants, and small hotels.

If you plan to explore the downtown area, you can do so on foot.

If you need to go to the marina to get on a snorkel or dive boat or want to spend your day at one of the beach clubs, there is a taxi stand on the main road, just north of the ferry pier.

Here you can easily get a taxi, and check out the rate chart before getting in. The island is divided into zones, with set prices for each zone.

Double-check the rate, and do not forget to still confirm the rate with your driver before getting into the taxi.

All major beach restaurants and beach clubs will have taxis waiting, so whenever you want to leave, it will be easy to get back downtown. 

If you want freedom to explore the island on your own, you can rent a car. This lets you drive around and stop at many different beaches.

If you plan to have a few margaritas ( or other alcoholic drinks ) do not rent a car.

You can also hire a taxi driver to act as your tour guide/driver and pay them by the hour.

They will drive you to different beach clubs, bars, and beaches, and wait for you. This gives you the freedom to have a few drinks without worrying about getting behind the wheel. 

Cozumel aerial view

Best Things To Do In Cozumel

There are lots of fun activities to do in Cozumel. Whether you are a water lover, or prefer to spend your time on the sandy beach, you will find something you love.

Here are some of the most popular activities to do:

1. Join the best boat tour for amazing snorkeling

Cozumel is famous for its blue waters and stunning coral reefs. If you love to be in the water, you do not want to miss the chance to see this underwater world.

The best snorkeling tours will take you to a few shallow reefs. The water is so clear that you will have no problem looking down on the coral formations and have the chance to spot tropical fish, sea turtles, sharks, and rays.

Most snorkel tours end with a stop at El Cielo, a shallow sandbank known for its beautiful blue water, starfish, and friendly southern stingrays. 

Rent a jeep or a scooter

You can rent a Jeep or scooter and make a loop around the island. You will enjoy cruising along the “other” side of the island.

Aside from a few rustic beach bars, the wild side of the island is undeveloped, so you can find a great spot on the beach to relax away from crowds.

If you rent a scooter, make sure to drive carefully and not go too fast. 

2. Relax in a beach club

The east side of Cozumel is home to several great beach clubs. Find a great spot with a beach umbrella and have a relaxing day sipping on margaritas and enjoying snacks.

Many of the beach clubs have shore snorkeling, and will rent you snorkel equipment.

Whether you are looking for a relaxing beach club to quietly enjoy your day, or a more lively atmosphere with jet skis, parasailing, and inflatable water toys, you will be able to find a beach club to satisfy your desires. 

3. Explore multiple beaches

Cozumel is an island, and there is no shortage of beaches to explore.

The best way to explore different beaches is to have transportation- you can either rent a car or scooter or hire a taxi by the hour to take you around.

Many of the best beaches on the west side of the island have hotels or beach clubs on them that you need to visit to access the beach.

The east side of the island is full of public beaches to explore. The most popular public beaches are marked with parking lots and lookout spots to take pictures.

Just be aware, most public beaches in Cozumel do not have lifeguards, so be careful of the waves and currents.

Playa Chen Rio has naturally protected shallow areas that are great to soak in or for kids to swim in. It is popular with locals and tourists and there are often food vendors there and you can rent umbrellas. 

Ocean waves on the beach in Cozumel

4. Dive in Cozumel

Cozumel is famous for its scuba diving.

If you are a scuba diver, or ready to give it a try, this is a great location to go diving. The water is warm and clear year-round.

The impressive coral reef structures are home to countless tropical fish, sharks and rays, and sea turtles.

Divers of all levels can enjoy diving here, there is everything from shallow sites for beginners to more challenging sites for very experienced divers.

If you want to dive in Cozumel, it is best to book your diving in advance, as many dive shops get busy during the high season. 

5. Visit Punta Sur

Punta Sur Eco Beach Park is located on the southern tip of Cozumel.

The best way to visit the park is by car because the entrance is several kilometers away from the beach areas.

There are several different lookout towers you can climb to give you views of the ocean and Colombia lagoon. You can climb the stairs to the top of the lighthouse for amazing views.

The park is great for nature lovers and you can take a boat ride around the lagoon. Your guide will point out different bird species and try to find you the resident crocodiles.

When you want a break from exploring, there are beautiful beaches with restaurants to relax at, and you can snorkel out to the reef. 

Cozumel beach Cancun

Cozumel Day Trip: FAQ

Is a day trip to Cozumel worth it?

Yes! If you get moving early, you will have a lot of time to explore and enjoy the island.

Try to catch an early ferry to the island and have a plan for how to spend your day. It helps to book tours in advance so that you will not waste any time.

Check out for great tour options. 

How many days should I stay in Cozumel?

This depends on you. If you want to have time to go snorkeling, scuba diving, visit the other side of the island, and spend time at a national park or beach club, you should book at least one night on the island.

If you are a scuba diver, Cozumel is a great place to spend a few days. There is a coral reef the entire length of the east side of the island, and you will want to get a few days to see different sections of it. 

Can you just walk around Cozumel?

Yes. Cozumel is very safe. When you exit the ferry, you will be across the street from the main plaza.

There are often artisan markets here, and you can stroll around. In the downtown area there are countless restaurants and bars to enjoy too. 

What is the prettiest beach in Cozumel?

There are many beautiful beaches in Cozumel, it is hard to pick one and say it is the prettiest.

The west side of the island has many beautiful, undeveloped beaches to enjoy. Check out Punta Morena and Chen Rio, both have protected areas that make it easier to swim.

The beaches inside Punta Sur Eco Beach Park have beautiful white sand and easy entry into the water.

The water is almost always clear and flat at Playa Palancar, making it beautiful and great to swim at.

In general, the water is calmer on the west side of the island, making it easier to swim. The beaches on the east side of the island are undeveloped, but the waves can be strong. 

What is Cozumel known for? 

Cozumel is known for its amazing coral reefs. It has long been a popular destination for scuba divers.

In recent years it has become more and more popular with families and all types of tourists. Whether they are a scuba diver or not, everyone who visits is amazed by the clear water and amazing blue colors of the ocean. 

Which side of Cozumel is better?

That depends on what you are looking for.

The east side of the island, also known as the wild side, has almost no development, aside from a few rustic beach bars. Here you can find long stretches of empty beach to enjoy. The water entries can be rough, look out for rocks, and there are often waves.

The west side of the island has much more development and many of the best beaches are accessed through beach clubs or hotels. The water is almost always calm and flat, making it easier to swim or snorkel. 

Is Cancun nicer than Cozumel?

Cancun and Cozumel are different, but it is impossible to say which is better.

Cancun has more restaurants, shopping, and nightlife, and is much, much bigger than Cozumel. Cozumel has Caribbean Island energy and is more casual and relaxed.

It is great to experience both locations for two totally different experiences. 

Cozumel road views from the drone

Cozumel Day Trip: Final Thoughts

If you are in Cancun or on the Riviera Maya, it can be a lot of fun to take a day trip to Cozumel.

You can relax, listen to music, and enjoy great views while you ferry across from Playa del Carmen to Cozumel.

Once in Cozumel, you can choose how you want to explore the island, whether focusing on enjoying the clear water and coral reefs or staying on land and touring around the island.

Cozumel is a great chance of pace from the mainland, and it is worth spending a day there. 

Adrienne diving

About the Author

Adrienne Banka is a Michigander and fell in love with diving at 16 years old. Now she is an island living dive instructor turned brewmaster, turned mom.  When she is not in the water she enjoys riding her bike and chasing after her dog and her little girl. 

Similar Posts