Day Trip to Cozumel | Make Your Best Decision on Vacation


ozumel is just a hop, skip, and a jump away from Playa del Carmen, and it’s a natural playground made up of the unspoiled beauty of the jungle and crystal clear water. Moreover, add friendly local islanders and all the adventure you can pack into 12 hours, and your day trip to Cozumel can’t go wrong.

However, if you’ve been reluctant to spend any of your hard-earned vacation time on a day trip–don’t be! In this article, you’ll learn how to find the best excursions in Cozumel and how to get from Playa del Carmen to Cozumel. Additionally, we’ll look into booking tours and excursions, travel tips specific to Cozumel, and where to find places to relax during your day on the island.

Where Is Cozumel?

Playa del Carmen to Cozumel--the perfect day trip!

Cozumel is one of the most popular destinations on Mexico’s Riviera Maya. The soft sand beaches and clear, blue water of the Gulf hug the eastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. Equally important to know is that the island is just 20 miles away from Playa del Carmen, right across the Cozumel Channel, making a day trip to Cozumel a perfect fit for your vacation.

However, the real reason that Cozumel is a bucket list destination is the warm sands and sparkling waters that encircle the Island and the large swaths of pristine jungle just beyond the beach. As a result, you’ll find many of the Riviera Maya’s best excursions in Cozumel.

You might wonder if Cozumel is safe, particularly if you plan to bring your family along or are a solo traveler. The Island stands out as a safe and welcoming destination for tourists from all over the world. Moreover, the crime rate is relatively low compared to other tourist destinations in Mexico. If you have more questions regarding safety on the island, check out this thorough article–Is Cozumel Safe?

Cozumel has something for everyone–families, thrill seekers, folks looking to relax and regroup, and visitors ready to immerse themselves in the culture. Lastly, by the time you reach the end of the article, you’ll know the best way to reach the island, how to get around once you’re there, and what unique experiences await you.

How Long Does It Take To Get There?

The Island is a short 45-minute ferry ride from Playa del Carmen, and, further, finding a way to travel the short distance is easy.

Winjet Passenger Ferry to Cozumel

Take a Passenger Ferry to Kick Off Your Day Trip to Cozumel

Start your day trip by taking in the sights while on the passenger ferry. You can catch the Ferry at the Playa del Carmen Ferry Terminal. What’s more, you should expect just a 45-minute ride across the Cozumel Channel. Ultramar and Winjet Ferries are the two passenger ferry companies that run from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. on the hour between the two destinations.

Ultramar’s ferries are bright yellow and blue, modern and sleek, with comfortable seating and frequent departures. Alternately, Winjet’s brilliant orange and blue fleet offers comfortable seating and regularly scheduled departures. Both ferries are winners.

What are the schedules and how much does the trip cost to get started on your day trip to Cozumel?

Tickets start at $290MXN one way and $580 round trip. Additionally, you can also reserve seats in the more popular areas of the ship (read: air conditioning). If you’re lucky enough to be a resident, bring your residency card to show at the toll booth for a discounted ticket.

Passenger Ferry Schedules:

What to Take and What to Leave on Your Day Trip

Take anything you value when heading to the ferries or leave it at home. Don’t leave anything in your car that might tempt fate, whether parked in a parking lot or on the street. Also, if you decide to park in a lot, you will most likely be asked to leave your car keys with the attendant.

Equally important, you should remember that the roundtrip ticket assigns an exact return time when purchasing your ferry tickets. You’ll run across the best excursion on Cozumel near the end of your day, the freedom to take a later ferry might be worth the difference in the cost.

Lastly, don’t worry about how you’ll get around Cozumel once you set foot on the Island. You can rent a car, jeep, scooter, or golf cart when ready, but booking ahead is always a good idea.

Bring Your Wheels Along On the Car Ferry to Jump Start Your Day Trip to Cozumel

If you want to make the most of every moment you have on the island, you can save time by bringing your car on the car ferry and use the extra time looking for the best excursions in Cozumel.

The car ferry ride takes about the same amount time as the passenger ferry–45 minutes. It departs from the Calica Mexico Cruise Port, about three miles south of the city. Furthur, ferries accommodate cars, trucks, motorcycles, RVs, bikes, and golf carts, although you might be charged extra for some vehicles.

Transcaribe Car Ferry

Lastly, two companies, Transcaribe Car Ferry and UltraCarga Car Ferry, operate the boats. Pricing to transport both cars and passengers is $30 each way, with promotional rates offered occasionally.  Both ferries have limited daily departures, so keep an eye on their schedules and book in advance because the available space fills quickly during the high season. 

Passenger Ferry Schedules:

Pro Tip Check the local weather report before heading out. Bad weather or rough seas can delay the scheduled launch times.

Is it possible to take a day trip to Cozumel without having a car?

Yes! It’s easy to find your way around the island and then hire a taxi as needed or even hire a private driver. The second most common question after heading out on a day trip to Cozumel without a car is whether walking around Cozumel is safe. Check out our blog post  5 Reasons Cozumel Is Safer Than You Think It Is.

Arriving on Cozumel without a car makes walking a necessity. What’s more, a walking tour is a great way to decide where you’d most enjoy visiting and how long to spend at each location. One more thing, make sure you stop by the broad sidewalk called El Malećon that runs along the waterfront beside the sea wall.

Renting Some Wheels

Renting Some Wheels

Renting a Car for your Day Trip to Cozumel

Conveniently located near the ferry terminals and Cozumel’s airport, car rental agencies offer the standard choice of vehicles you’d expect on an island–lots of fun cars and SUVs that can handle the terrain.

Hiring a Taxi

Taxis are another option for getting from point A to point B without worrying about maps and understanding the local rules of the road.

Renting Jeeps, Scooters and Golf Carts

Are you thinking about making the journey part of the adventure? A golf cart or scooter might be the perfect way to make the most of your day trip to Cozumel! Click here to learn more about renting: Rent Jeeps, Scooters, and Golf Carts

Renting scooters to explore the island.

Riding Public transportation or the “Colectivos”

Cozumel’s public transit is budget-friendly. Although, if you plan to leave the main town, you’ll have to supplement the bus with a taxi here and there because the bus routes are only in the main town of San Miguel de Cozumel.


Pro Tip  Regarding rideshare options, Uber and Lift don’t currently operate on the island.


What are the Best Excursions To Plan For a Day Trip to Cozumel?

OK, so you’ve decided to add a trip to the island to your plans, and are looking for the best Cozumel excursions to book once you get there. Before starting to plan your trip, you need to think about a couple more things–basic logistics and how to organize your day. You can either–

    • begin your day trip to the island by booking your tour to start in Playa del Carmen, or
    • schedule “on island” activities that begin after reaching Cozumel, or
    • go freelance and blaze your own path through your day.

Do You Need to Book an Excursion In Advance to Make the Most of Your Day Trip to Cozumel?

Good question! It all depends on what kind of experience you’re looking for. If you’re planning to take a tour or excursion, booking in advance is a good decision, especially if you choose the more popular choices.

Equally important, though, is where to start your day. Think about this:

    • Do you want someone else to take the wheel for a change? Booking a tour that starts in Playa del Carmen and takes you through your day trip is the way to go. Taking a tour this way eliminates all the hassles related to transfers, parking, and organizing activities on the Island.
    • Alternatively, have you been thinking about your day trip to Cozumel for months? Dreaming of diving into schools of fish? Taking off on an ATV tour to an archaeological dig site? Jet skiing through crystal-clear water? In this case, book your tours to start on Cozumel. With a good idea of how you want to spend your day trip in Cozumel, search out the tours that fit your needs.
Snorkeling in the paradise of the clear water protecting rare reefs.

Arriving With No Plans and No Expectations

If you’re a “fly by the seat of your pants” type of person and know that the best excursions in Cozumel will also be the ones you bump into during your day, just grab your backpack. Then fill it with the necessities—swimsuit, sunscreen, street clothes and comfortable shoes–whatever you think you’ll need (don’t forget a ticket for the ferry)–and head out for a day trip on Cozumel that’s uniquely yours.

Are you loving the thought of a day trip to Cozumel so far?

Here’s a little more weight to add to the idea that the best Cozumel excursions are the ones YOU love the most. Imagine that those hammocks are waiting for you, and just out of range is an attentive and very fast food/drink runner (hot sands, you know) bringing you an icy island drink. Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? To learn more about nabbing a hammock and a mojito, check out the section about  Cozumel’s Beach Clubs.

Chill under your personal palapa.

Ready, Set, Go! The 13 Best Excursions in Cozumel

Snorkeling in the Reef

A snorkeling experience among the reefs might be the best excursion in Cozumel, if popularity was the measure. The best snorkeling tours  include transportation to a spot in the reef teeming with marine life, snorkeling equipment, and often refreshments. Visitors experience famous snorkeling spots, like the Palancar Reef or El Cielo.

Moreover, the reef is 3.5 miles long, with depths ranging from 50 to 115 feet. But don’t let the depth fool you–the water is crystal clear and has visibility up to 200 feet.

Snorkeling in the super clear water around the island of Cozumel

Dive the Second Largest Reef in the World

Scuba diving the reefs surrounding Cozumel.

You’re in the right place if you’re a certified scuba diver. Cozumel is a world-renowned scuba diving destination that’s located on the most significant barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere.

While diving, you may spot sea turtles, rays, and glistening schools of fish. Additionally, to get the most out of one of the best excursions in Cozumel available, you can join a guided tour that explores Cozumel’s shallow reefs or one that ventures out further into the sea to investigate sunken ships. Lastly, look no further than the famous C-53 Shipwreck Site to amp up your diving experience. The diving locations are usually on Palancar Reef, and all skill levels are welcome. 

Kick Back at One of Cozumel's Beach Clubs

Do you prefer swimming and snorkeling closer to shore? If that’s the case, one of Cozumel’s Beach Clubs might be the perfect ticket for you. Many beach clubs offer opportunities to jet ski, scuba dive, charter fishing boats and catamarans, and parasail. Moreover, they’re also a comfortable place to relax in the shade of an umbrella. Try a beach massage in a secluded part of the club. Order refreshing tropical drinks to sip while reading your next great beach read. It’s the luxury edition of a day at the beach!

Cozumel Beach Club

Set Off on a Catamaran/Snorkeling Tour

Catamaran tour off Cozumel

Cutting across the turquoise water, with sea spray cooling your face, on a sleek catamaran is an exhilarating experience! If you’re a boat enthusiast, a private catamaran tour might be one of the best excursions in Cozumel! Additionally, the tours include swimming, snorkeling, and soaking up the sun. Additionally, some boats stop at beach clubs, comfy lounges shaded by umbrellas. You can book the tours directly by clicking the link. Top 10 Catamaran Cruises on Cozum

Visit an Archaeological Site of Mayan Ruins

The Island is home to San Gervasio Park, the oldest excavated Mayan ruin on Cozumel and another of the best excursions in Cozumel. San Gervasio is an archaeological site that has something for everyone. The site is just the right amount of space for parents to let the little ones have some freedom to explore.

You’ll have the chance to admire Mayan architecture and learn about the village from experienced guides of the San Gervasio Mayan Archaeological Tour. What’s more, San Gervasio can also accommodate those with limited mobility because it’s a relatively small space, allowing exploration at your own pace.

Trip to Mayan ruins on Cozumel

Ramp Up the Excitement with an ATV Excursion

If you are game for some rough-and-tumble fun, booking an ATV excursion can be a unique way to explore some of the harder-to-reach areas of Cozumel. Furthermore, the tour guides are knowledgeable and experienced, taking you to places that can’t be reached by car or on foot.

Cozumel Day Trip Goals: Swim in a Cenote

A cenote is an underground chamber that becomes accessible when the ceiling collapses. As a result, the cenote contains collected rainwater and spring water, stalactites and stalagmites, and lush plant life growing above. For me, it is one of the best excursions in Cozumel, with still, clear water flowing through hidden caverns carved out of the limestone that’s the island’s foundation. One of the most famous cenotes on Cozumel is the Jade Caverns Cenote. And, for good measure, here’s a list of the best ones to visit– A Must See While In Cozumel

Cenote on Cozumel

Jeep Excursion from the Beach to the Jungle

jeep tour on Cozumel

Taking a jeep tour is another fantastic way to explore the Island and see parts of it few visitors do. What can you expect from one of the best excursions in Cozumel? Buckle up, Buttercup! Imagine bumping along rough roads en route to cenotes, hidden coves, beaches, and breathtaking views of the Island and the Caribbean Sea. Further, Jeep excursions are unique because they allow you to stop and enjoy any place that demands more attention.

Can You Say “No” to a Chocolate and Tequila Tour

Are you in the mood for something different? How about the Cozumel Chocolate and Tequila Tour? For foodies, the best excursions in Cozumel center on the local cuisine. So imagine having the opportunity to make a chocolate bar using an authentic Mayan recipe. What’s more, you’ll even use the historically accurate utensils to create your chocolate bar. On top of that, to sweeten the experience a little more, you’ll also get to try locally made tequila. Yum!

Cocoa Seeds

Try the Submarine Expedition and Visit the Reef In Comfort


A submarine expedition is one of the best excursions in Cozumel, and it comes with bragging rights. Think about it–how many people have ridden in a submarine before?

One of the best things about a submarine tour is that visitors, swimmers and non-swimmers alike, can visit the captivating coral reefs with knowledgeable guides. You’ll descend to about 100 feet (30 meters) and cruise along the ocean floor in the comfort of an air-conditioned

Can You Just Walk Around the Island on Your Day Trip to Cozumel?

Most Definitely! The best excursions in Cozumel may be the trails that run across it. They wind through rocky paths, the beach, and the jungle to hidden lagoons and secluded coves. You can even hike to Mayan ruins. When you see how flat the island is you might not expect much of a workout on your hike. However, making your way through the swaths of the jungle will raise your heartbeat! If you’re looking for the rundown on trails, this article is a great read–Hiking in Cozumel: Digital Nomad and a Dog

Walk through the island of Cozumel.

Make Your Day Trip on Cozumel Extra Special with a Personalized Tour.

Are you thinking about a more personal experience when touring the island? It’s time to step off the beaten tourist track and hire a private tour guide to explore the island. You’ll travel with an expert who knows the best excursions in Cozumel and see both the popular and lesser know spots.

A private guide will schedule a day full of the things you’re most interested in doing, like finding an secluded beach to soak up some sun or hike to a lighthouse on the coast at Punta Molas. Tour the island with a focus on Mayan history and visit the ancient site of El Castillo Real.

Tours that Accommodate Wheelchairs

Beach with wheelchair access.

For those with limited mobility, Cozumel can still be an accessible adventure. Tours range from visiting the reef in a glass bottom boat to dune buggy tours, pirate ship cruises, submarine excursions, and that’s just the beginning! Take a look at the guide published by the city of San Miguel Cozumel, which is the island’s largest town.  Wheelchair Accessible Tours On Cozumel Guide

What's Next?

What's Next?

What to do after a successful day trip to Cozumel? After returning to Playa del Carmen happy and ready for a power nap, hit the nightlife! 

Coconut Palm trees path to an idyllic white sand beach at Cozumel Island, Mexico

The Best Beach Clubs in Cozumel | Find Your Perfect Match

Use this resource for find all the beach clubs in cozumel and then choose one to match your needs

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Authentically in Cozumel!