Because Cancun is such a big tourist destination, there are lots of ways to get around. This guide covers the most popular modes of transportation, ranging from cheap to more expensive options.
Upon arriving to Cancun International Airport (CUN), you have many options to get to your hotel. Lots of hotels provide free airport pickup, but for those staying in places that do not offer that service, there are multiple ways to get to your destination.
ADO Bus to Downtown Cancun ($66 Pesos/~$3.50 USD per person)
Take an ADO bus to the Downtown Cancun terminal. From there you can take a city bus to your destination or even walk. The ADO bus takes about 35 minutes to reach the Downtown Cancun terminal and is very comfortable and clean. Buses run at least every hour from 8:10 AM to 8:00 PM. I highly recommend this as it is super cheap and there is no need to buy this ticket ahead of time. Simply exit the airport, and look out for ADO signs. You can buy directly from the ADO kiosks, and just make sure to buy for and get on the Downtown Cancun bus. However, it may be more inconvenient if carrying lots of luggage if you need to transfer to another bus or walk to your destination. If staying in the Hotel Zone, you can take the ADO bus to the Downtown Cancun terminal, walk to a city bus stop, then take the R-1 Bus for $8.5 Pesos. Look at routes and times here.
Shared Shuttle Service ($12 USD per person)
This option is really affordable and great for those arriving between 8:00 AM-8:00 PM. The shuttle services all major hotels, so make sure to book ahead of time to see if your hotel is included. Multiple stops and a shared space mean it may not be as fast or roomy as a private vehicle.
Private Vehicle Service (Starting at $40 USD per vehicle)
Offering 24 hour service and a private vehicle, this is great if you have a lot of baggage and do not want to share your space. You also do not have to worry about staying at a hotel within the list that the company services. Child car seats are also available upon request. I would say this is ideal for a family or group that plans to stay at the hotel for most of their time in Cancun. If otherwise, I suggesting renting a car (read more about this below). There are different types of private services and make sure to book this service ahead of time.
Getting Around and Out of Cancun
There are lots of different ways that people visit Cancun. Some tourists stay in an all-inclusive hotel and may only leave the Hotel Zone when going to and from the airport. Some people are simply passing through Cancun going to attractions outside of the city. There are lots of ways to get around, and the optimal way for you depends on how you decide to enjoy Cancun.
Public Bus ($8.5 Pesos/~$0.45 USD per ride)
The public bus is a super cheap and easy way to get around Cancun. Try to carry peso coins, as the bus driver won't give you change for big bills. While in Cancun, I often took the R-2 bus from Downtown to the Hotel Zone and back. It's also great for people staying at the Hotel Zone to go up and down the strip rather than taking a taxi. There are lots of other routes to take you around the city as well. Click here to view bus route maps.
Getting a taxi is super in easy in Cancun, just as it is in any other city. You can ask the front desk at your hotel to call one or simply get one from the street. As a rule of thumb, I always ask a local how much my taxi ride should cost to my specific destination, and then upon getting a taxi I agree on the price before getting in the vehicle. Feel free to negotiate with the driver. Keep in mind that catching a taxi in the Hotel Zone is going to be more expensive than getting one in other parts of the city. Also, if you haven't booked any group tours or don't feel like renting a car (more on this below), you can ask a taxi to be your private driver for the day to bring you around to different tourist attractions outside of Cancun.
This option probably appeals most to visitors staying in the Hotel Zone that want to take a day trip to a nearby ruins or another tourist attraction. I recommend doing a lot of research before choosing this option. Personally, I thought a lot of time was wasted with the tour bus picking up guests from other hotels and going to touristy souvenir shops. Even if traveling alone, a car rental is a cheaper and more convenient option. But if you want to relax, and not have to worry about driving or planning your day, this may be the option for you.
Car Rental (Starting at ~$25 USD)
I highly recommend getting a rental car if you plan to be on the move. It is much cheaper than getting a taxi everywhere, but also much more convenient than taking public transportation everywhere. You can choose to go about your day as you choose and not have to worry about slowing down for others outside of your group. Driving around the city is safe and not overly crowded. I think this is a great option for tourists staying in Cancun and then driving around to outside ruins and tourist attractions. You will get a lot more done in one day than if you were to take a tour bus. Tour buses usually visit only one attraction during a day, but if you rent a car you can easily see more. Make sure to buy extra insurance and book it ahead of time.
Colectivo (Starting at $20 Pesos/~$1.07 USD)
A colectivo is a shared van that is mostly used to get out of the city. These white vans depart as soon as they are full. They fill up fast, but don't worry, there are a lot of them. This extremely cheap mode of transportation can get you to Chichen Itza, Tulum, Playa del Carmen, and more. You can usually ask locals where to find them, as they stop in a large number of places.
Not only will the ADO bus get you from the airport to Cancun, but you can take them all around Mexico. They are super clean, affordable, and run often so you don't have to be afraid of getting stranded somewhere for long. From the Downtown Cancun terminal, you can catch a bus to many other cities. To view bus schedules click here.
Ferry (Starting at $78 Pesos/~$4.15 USD)
Guide to Transportation in Cancun
Posted on February 18, 2016
Ferries from Cancun only travel to Isla Mujeres, which is only about a 30 minute ride. There are multiple terminals in Cancun to depart from, all offering different times. One of the most popular ferry companies is the Ultramar. You can depart from the Hotel Zone at El Embarcadero, the Playa Tortugas terminal, or the Playa Caracol terminal costing $14 USD one way/$19 USD roundtrip. If departing from Puerto Juarez, it will cost you $78 Pesos (~$4.15 USD) one way or $146 Pesos (~$7.76 USD) roundtrip. Puerto Juarez may offer a cheaper price, but it is more inconvenient for you if staying in the Hotel Zone. However, Puerto Juarez offers earlier and later departures than the Hotel Zone terminals. Make sure to check a schedule to see where to depart from to fit your schedule.
Have any comments or questions? Please leave a comment below!