Most travelers fly into Cancun (CUN) when visiting Playa del Carmen, Mexico, over the less favorable options of Cozumel, Merida, or Chetumal. Rather than staying at an airport hotel, however, we recommend taking a private transfer, shared shuttle service, or even an airport bus to get to Playa.
With annual traffic of over 30,00,000 passengers, Cancun International Airport (CUN) is the second busiest of Mexico’s airports and is the gateway to the Riviera Maya. Since it only requires 45 minutes to 1 hour in travel time, Cancun Airport is also the most convenient major airport near Playa del Carmen.
You’ll find Cancun Intl. and its four terminals situated in the southern end of the city which makes travel along Highway 307 to PDC. Domestic flights generally fly in and out of Terminals 1 and 2, while international flights are scheduled out of Terminals 3 and 4.
To make traveling to Playa Del Carmen stress-free, you can book private transportation in advance with a driver waiting at the terminal for your arrival. The best transport companies offer 24-hours service, bilingual drivers, and are willing to make a convenience store stop where you can pick up some necessities.
If you want to drive to Playa Del Carmen, we recommend hiring a car online to find a great deal rather than paying the inflated rental rates for in-airport bookings. Typically, rental car pricing starts from around $25 per day plus rental insurance.
The basic car insurance package in Mexico generally includes a third-party damage waiver, civil lawsuit protection. and medical services. For complete peace of mind, however, we recommend purchasing full coverage, as well as extra windshield protection.
At around $12 per seat, ADO buses offer a very affordable way to reach Playa Del Carmen. These air-conditioned buses with WiFi depart every 30-45 minutes from Cancun Airport from 8:20 in the morning to 11:30 at night.
The bus trip to Playa del Carmen takes around one hour or so, and you can only exit at the ADO bus station located at Benito Juarez Avenue and Quinta Avenida (5th Avenue).Do note that bus seating is limited to 35 passengers, so it’s best to book your ticket online rather than having to wait for the available next departure.
Even though it’s located only 11.5 miles from PDC as the crow flies, Cozumel Airport has is no direct access by land. First, you have to take a taxi from the airport to the port. Then it’s a 45-minute ferry ride to the mainland, where you may have to take another taxi to your hotel.
Travel times from the airport in Cozumel to Playa del Carmen can require a minimum of 2 hours at the best of times. Flights to Cancun also tend to be cheaper than those going to Cozumel. If you plan to stay on the island for a few days before going to PDC, it could be worth it, but otherwise, it’s best not to fly here.
The airport in Cozumel is located just 2 km away from the main city of San Miguel de Cozumel, which makes it very convenient for those who want to stay here. The airport facilities are quite limited, but a few rental car desks, restaurants, a duty-free shop, an ATM, and a tourist booth can be easily found upon arrival, along with some annoying timeshare salespeople.
Cozumel International Airport has just one terminal, two runways, and eight gates. Six of the gates are for international travelers, while the other two are for domestic arrivals from hubs like Mexico City or Monterrey. Because of its small size, you can expect to get through passport control and customs fairly quickly here.
United Airlines, Mexican Airlines, and Air Canada offer direct flights to Cozumel. While Mayair and Fly Cozumel offer domestic flights to/from the island. These flights are operated on small aircraft with a one-way flight time of around 20 minutes. Fly Cozumel also operates private charters and panoramic flights offering a scenic view of the Caribbean coastlines.
After passing through security, you can use the Caral VIP Lounge at Cozumel Airport for a maximum of 4 hours. The lounge opens daily but is only operational when there are arriving or departing flights. Access can be gained with a Priority Pass, or by paying $25 at the door. Some airlines’ premium cards may also grant you free entrance.
The Merida Internationa Airport is mainly used for flying within Mexico and a few select destinations in the USA. With only a small amount of international travel, United Airlines is the only US carrier that operates here.
It takes roughly 20 minutes via taxi from Merida airport to the bus station downtown. From here a bus trip to Playa Del Carmen will take another four hours.
The Chetumal International Airport (CTM) only has domestic flights and a few to and from Belize. With it being an hour’s drive from Chetumal to Playa Del Carmen, this option is only worthwhile if plan on staying in Bacalar before going to PDC.
Even though the Playa del Carmen Airport (PCM not PDC) has been operational since 1996, it’s still only suited for small aircraft due to its seaward location and short runways. Large passenger jets cannot land here, PCM airport is mainly used by the tourism industry for parachuting and helicopter tours.
Below you’ll find answers to our most frequently asked questions about which airports are closest to Playa del Carmen, Mexico, and which are the most convenient for travelers.
Cancun International Airport is the most convenient airport for traveling to Playa del Carmen, and the rest of the Yucatan Peninsula in Quintana Roo including Puerto Morelos, Puerto Aventuras, and Tulum. While Cozumel Airport is also very close to PDC, it’s situated on an island and requires taking a scheduled ferry.