This blog may contain affiliate links. Read our disclosure policy for more info.
The Cancun Airport is, for want of a better word, a nightmare.
It’s a small airport where you get bombarded by a swarm of taxi drivers, all of whom want to rip you off and charge you five times the going rate. And then, to add insult to injury, they make you wait for ages in the tiny terminal.
Fortunately, by booking an airport shuttle in advance, you can avoid all of this stress. You can roll right out of the airport to a safe and convenient mode of transport. And before you know it, you’ll be in the comfort of your Cancun hotel.
We’ve used these shuttles on many occasions, and they’ve saved us so much time, hassle, and money. But, as always, there are some things you need to know before booking a Cancun Airport shuttle. So, we put together this guide so that you can have a stress-free experience getting to your hotel!
Don’t have time to read the full article? Cancun is one of those places where you want to chill and have fun. We think you deserve to treat yourself by booking this VIP Luxury SUV that picks you up from the airport and provides WiFi, A/C, and complimentary drinks. What better way to start your vacation?!
1. Where is Cancun Airport?
The Cancun Airport is just south of Cancun itself. It’s 20 kilometers (12.5 miles) from the Cancun Hotel Zone, which is where you’ll probably be staying. It usually takes 20-30 minutes to get from the Cancun Airport to the Hotel Zone, although it can take twice as long when traffic is bad or there’s construction.
Meanwhile, the airport is 17.6 kilometers (11 miles) from downtown Cancun. Compared to the Hotel Zone, we find downtown is cheaper, more chilled, and has more of a local vibe. If you’re staying here, it will take you around 20 minutes – although again, sometimes heavy traffic can mean a longer journey.
Cancun Airport doesn’t just serve Cancun, though. It’s the main airport for the whole Riviera Maya.
Travelers going to Tulum and Playa del Carmen will also usually fly into Cancun (since the three towns are all relatively close together). There is an airport in the town of Cozumel – close to Playa del Carmen. However, it’s pretty small, so most flights arrive in Cancun instead.
We almost always fly into Cancun when we visit Playa del Carmen. It’s 55 kilometers (34 miles) from Cancun Airport, so it takes around an hour to get there.
Meanwhile, if you’re going to Tulum, you’re looking at a 118-kilometer (73-mile) journey from Cancun Airport, which should take about 2 hours.
Related Read: If you’re visiting this part of Mexico, check out our favorite tours of the Yucatan Peninsula. This area is absolutely gorgeous and taking a tour is a great way to see it all!
2. Are there free shuttles from Cancun Airport to the Hotel Zone?
Unfortunately, no. There are no free shuttles to travel between the Cancun Airport and the Hotel Zone.
Cancun runs off tourism – and that begins at the airport. When it comes to transportation from the airport, there are many regulations put in place to boost the local economy. So you can expect to contribute to their healthy profit.
But – this isn’t entirely bad. All these regulations actually make the journey much safer than it used to be. Drivers are required to have a valid license and authorities keep documents of all the rides. As such, it’s much easier to avoid sketchy drivers.
3. Are the Cancun Airport Shuttles safe?
Yes! Cancun Airport has pretty strict regulations, so all of the shuttles that operate here are run by authorized companies. The drivers all have full licenses, and the rides are tracked with log books, so you can feel confident that you’re safe and secure throughout your journey.
You’re definitely safer taking an airport shuttle than a taxi. And if you want to learn more, read our safety guide for visiting Cancun.
4. Can you take a Cancun Airport shuttle late at night?
Yes – and actually, if you’re arriving late at night, I highly recommend you take a shuttle.
There are some sketchy unauthorized taxi drivers who hang around the Cancun Airport, particularly at night. I wouldn’t take the ADO bus at night, either. You’ll have to transfer downtown and wait for the public bus with your luggage, which always feels less secure in the late hours.
An airport shuttle is by far the best option when you’re arriving late at night. And luckily, private shuttles operate at all hours of the day, so you won’t need to wait around for a ride. You’ll be dropped off right outside your hotel.
Trust me, taking a private shuttle will feel like a huge relief. If you’re arriving late, you’ll probably be tired and want to get to your hotel ASAP. Plus, walking around after dark with your luggage doesn’t sound too appealing.
Related Read: Don’t want to take a shuttle? Why not rent a car in Mexico to enjoy the freedom of your own wheels?! Here’s what you need to know about renting a car in Cancun!
5. What are the best Cancun Airport Shuttles to Cancun Hotel Zone?
This private shuttle is affordable, convenient, and stress-free. When you arrive at the airport, just look for someone holding a sign with your name on it. From there, you’ll be escorted straight to the shuttle and transported directly to your hotel. No need to worry about flight delays, either – the staff will track your flight and arrive promptly.
I love that we completely avoided the frustrating taxi drivers and crowds of tourists. Honestly, starting the trip without that hassle really set the tone for a relaxing vacation! Plus, they offer complimentary cold drinks on board – which is awesome after a long, dehydrating flight!
Since it’s a roundtrip shuttle, it covers the trip back to the airport at the end of your vacation. The roundtrip shuttle to the Cancun Hotel Zone costs $41 USD per person. So you’ll only be paying $20.50 USD each way.
This private shuttle does require a minimum of two people to book. Of course, you could just pay for two people. But when traveling with a couple or a group – it’s definitely money well spent!
If you want to start your vacation on the right foot, book your private shuttle in advance here!
Luxury SUV Transport
If you want luxury, go for this Private Airport Transport. This spacious SUV comes with face towels, bottled water, and air conditioning so you can feel immediately refreshed. They also include alcoholic beverages – so it’s the perfect choice if you’re celebrating a special occasion.
The Go Cancun company will meet you upon exiting the arrivals terminal. They’ll track your flight so no need to worry about those delays – your SUV will be waiting for you and ready to transport you in style.
What’s awesome is that this luxury SUV can fit up to 6 passengers. It costs $97 USD total for a one-way trip, which could even work out cheaper than a shuttle if you have enough people! This is a fantastic option for families or groups. And if you are arriving for a bachelor or bachelorette party, you can get the party started by cracking open those complimentary beers!
To travel in style, I highly recommend booking your VIP transfer online here!
Private shuttle with Unit Travel
If you’re traveling on a budget, Unit Travel offers flat rates for private shuttles. But don’t let the low prices fool you – you still get complimentary beer, water, and luggage assistance. Plus, these vehicles can accommodate up to 7 people so it’s ideal for families or groups of friends.
To the Cancun Hotel Zone, prices start at $58 USD for one-way. But honestly, you may as well upgrade to roundtrip transport for $88 USD. Overall, this is a fantastic deal for what you get! And I love that these are flat rates paid online – so you don’t need to deal with cash upon arrival.
For reliable and affordable group transport, I suggest booking your private shuttle with Unit Travel in advance!
Related Read: If you’re looking for lesser-known destinations near Cancun, read our guide on visiting Puerto Morelos, Mexico. It’s less touristy, has amazing scuba diving spots, and is just as beautiful! You can even take a shuttle from Cancun Airport directly to Puerto Morelos!
6. What are the best Cancun Airport Shuttles to Playa del Carmen?
Playa del Carmen has some of the best beaches in the Yucatan and a whole host of fun activities – from diving with whale sharks to eating at delicious gourmet restaurants. Plus, it’s just under an hour to go from the Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen.
If you’re flying into Cancun but staying in Playa del Carmen, I highly recommend booking your shuttle in advance. This way, you can sit back and enjoy the journey along the coast! And to help you out, we’ve highlighted our top shuttle options below.
Playa del Carmen Private Transportation From-To Cancun Airport
This private shuttle from Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen is so convenient. Your driver will track your flight to make sure that you’re picked up on time, even if you’re delayed. This always gives me peace of mind. There’s really nothing worse than the thought of getting stuck inside the airport for hours!
Then, once you meet your driver, you’ll get straight into the van and head to your hotel with no waiting around. The drivers are all super friendly and make you feel really safe!
For a one-way trip from Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen, it’s $46 USD per person for 2 people but drops to $23 USD each for a group of four or $11.50 USD each for eight people. You can also book a roundtrip journey for the same price on the way back. If you’re flying out of the same airport at the end of your trip – I definitely recommend this option so you won’t have to worry about logistics on vacation.
For reliable and safe transport to Playa del Carmen, secure this private shuttle online here!
Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen/Ferry/Pto Aventuras
If you’re traveling in a group, I think this private shuttle is the best cost-effective option! It’s only $82 USD per group to go from the airport to Playa del Carmen or $156 USD for the roundtrip option. Since you can book for a group of up to 8 people, this could cost as little as $10.25 USD per person each way.
I love flat rates, and you really can’t beat those prices. Plus, it’s a private transfer so it’s still super safe and convenient. They also offer car seats for an additional $12 USD for the roundtrip service.
And if you want to stock up on groceries, just them know when you book your shuttle. It costs $25 USD for an hour-long supermarket stop – which can be worth it if you plan to do your own cooking or load up on heavy beverages.
This option is such a good deal – which is why it sells out fast! So book this shuttle to Playa del Carmen in advance!
7. What are the best Cancun Airport Shuttles to Tulum?
But since it’s located 2 hours from Cancun Airport, I really can’t recommend a private transfer enough. It’s a fairly long drive, so you don’t want to spend even more time waiting around in the airport for a bus or a taxi (or even for other shuttle passengers).
Trust me, you’ll want to get to your hotel quickly so you can start enjoying all of Tulum’s amazing activities. Besides, given the distance, a taxi ride will also be painfully expensive.
But starting your trip off right means choosing the right private shuttle to get from Cancun Airport to Tulum! So to help you out, we’ve selected the best options below.
Tulum Private Transportation From-To Cancun Airport
This private shuttle from Cancun Airport to Tulum offers flat rates to anywhere in Tulum. They’ll monitor your flight and be ready with a comfy van when you land.
It costs $201 USD for a one-way trip or $366 USD for roundtrip service. The price is per group rather than per person, and you can book for up to eight people to split the cost. But even if you’re traveling alone or with just one other person, it will still prove way cheaper than a taxi. It’s also a great choice for families and infant seats are available upon request.
What’s great is you can always reserve your private shuttle and pay later. So don’t hesitate to check your dates and book online here!
Departures in Mercedes Benz from Tulum to Cancun Airport
Tulum is a pretty stylish destination, so what better way to rock up than in this Mercedes Benz?
It’s a super comfy way to travel, and you get face towels, cold water, beers, and free WiFi onboard. You’ll have everything you’ll need to recover from your flight. It’s two hours from the Cancun Airport to Tulum, so it’s nice to have some creature comforts along the way. Personally, this is how I’d like to travel between the two destinations!
This option costs $188 USD for a group of up to 5 people for a one-way ride. And what I love about their service is that it’s super professional and timely. This is definitely the VIP option! So for the ultimate luxury, don’t hesitate to book your Mercedes Benz shuttle online here!
Related Read: Tulum makes a great base to explore the surrounding area. You can check out our favorite day trips from Tulum here!
Why We Book Tours with Viator
Viator is a trusted online booking system for tours around the world! We almost always book our tours using Viator for a couple of reasons:
- Free cancellation on most tours – Most of the tours on Viator allow you to cancel and get a full refund up to 24 hours in advance. This is handy in case plans change, or if booking an outdoor activity, the weather forecast is looking grim.
- Reserve now and pay later – You can secure your spot on some of the most popular tours well in advance and not pay until closer to the day of the tour.
- Pay in your chosen currency – Avoid costly international transaction fees by choosing to pay in your home currency.
- Peace of mind – When booking with tour operators you find in person on the street or in small booking offices, you are often promised one thing and given another. This online platform holds tour operators accountable with a written description of inclusions as well as the opportunity for customers to leave reviews.
8. Tips to know before taking a Cancun Airport Shuttle
Tips are expected
Tipping is the norm for tourists in Mexico, so make sure to have some small bills on you. You can tip in pesos, US dollars, or Canadian dollars – it doesn’t matter, as long as you leave one! We usually tip about 10%.
Book in advance
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: the Cancun Airport is pure chaos. It’s best to have your shuttle booked when you arrive so that you can just find your driver and get out of there ASAP! If you don’t know what you’re doing, you’ll be swallowed up by a mob of pushy taxi drivers.
Avoid the bus late at night
The ADO bus is safe during the day. However, it’s definitely not my preferred mode of transport between Cancun Airport and Cancun, Tulum, or Playa del Carmen. Plus, it’s not the safest at night, and thieves can smell a tired tourist from a mile away. I always recommend taking a shuttle over the bus, especially at night!
Never book with an unauthorized shuttle
There are lots of legit shuttle companies out there, but there are some unscrupulous unauthorized ones, too. That’s why we always book our airport shuttles in advance through Viator, so we know that we’ll be traveling with an authorized service and can check out reviews beforehand.
Plus, you can usually change or cancel your shuttle for free up to 24 hours in advance, which is really useful if your travel plans change.
Related Read: To learn more useful tips about traveling in Mexico, read our safety guide on Mexico here!
9. Do I think the Cancun Airport shuttles are worth it?
Yes, totally. They’re a safe and convenient way of getting from Cancun Airport to your hotel anywhere on the Riviera Maya.
They save you so much time and stress because they allow you to get out of the airport ASAP, and they’re fairly priced (unlike taxis). It’s the only way we ever travel from Cancun Airport!
Other Activities to do While You’re in Cancun
If you’re staying in Cancun, there are so many fun things to see and do in Cancun! I’ve been coming here since I was a kid and I never get tired of visiting. So if you’re looking for some activities, check out some of my favorites below!
- Hit the beach – I know it goes without saying that you’ll be spending a few days at some of Cancun’s best beaches! Make sure to vary it up and try a few different beaches while you’re here. Playa Chacmool is a hidden gem in the heart of the Cancun Hotel Zone and the sunsets at Playa Gaviota Azul are unreal.
- Tour an underwater museum – Whether you’re snorkeling or scuba diving in Cancun, a visit to MUSA (Underwater Museum of Art) is a must. There are hundreds of sculptures down here, and it feels like visiting the Lost City of Atlantis! This snorkeling tour takes you to MUSA along with visits to a shipwreck and a cenote!
- See Mayan ruins – Right in Cancun you can step back in time with visits to El Meco Ruins or the San Miguelito Ruins. Of course, to see some of the most famous Mayan ruins in Mexico, you’ll want to visit Chichen Itza from Cancun. We took this tour of the ruins that included a guide, a stop at a cenote, and lunch!
- Cancun Scenic Tower – As if Cancun wasn’t scenic enough, there’s another way to enjoy the views here! The Cancun Scenic Tower gives you amazing views of the Caribbean! The entire viewing deck lifts up, so you won’t even need to climb any stairs to get this view.
- Eat, eat eat! – Calories don’t count on vacation, right? The restaurants in Cancun deliver on amazing food – especially the Mexican restaurants of course. Mextreme has the best tacos and I always order the Aztec soup! If you want to try a bunch of different dishes in an evening, I say go for a taco tour in Cancun. My pick is this taco and beer food tour will take you to five popular spots for a fun night you’ll want to arrive hungry for!
Where to Stay in Cancun
If you’re heading to Cancun, then you’ll need a place to stay! Below are some of the best hotels (for every budget) in the Cancun Hotel Zone.
For budget travelers, the Selina Cancun Laguna Hotel Zone is a great choice. It doesn’t have the greatest reviews, but I really enjoyed my stay and for the price and fun atmosphere, you can’t go wrong! You can book this hostel on Hostelword or Booking.com.
If you prefer something a little nicer, I love the JW Marriott Cancun Resort. It’s not all-inclusive, which I enjoy because there are so many delicious restaurants in Cancun! The hotel is located right on the beach and has a huge pool. Rooms are typically $300-$500 USD depending on the time of year.
Of course, we all love a luxury all-inclusive stay, and for that, I always book either the Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach Cancun or the Le Blanc Spa Resort Cancun Adults Only. Both are not cheap but are equally as luxurious with fantastic oceanfront locations, delicious food, quality alcohol, and more.
More of a luxury traveler? Learn about the absolute best resorts in Cancun!
Don’t get Caught without Travel Insurance!
We never travel without travel insurance! We’ve had a few instances during our travels when one of us has ended up in the hospital, and travel insurance has saved us thousands of dollars over the years!
SafetyWing is our go-to insurance, we both have policies with them whenever we travel.
They offer travel medical insurance that’s super affordable (only $45 USD per 4 weeks!)The only thing to note is that the insurance must be purchased once you’ve left your home country – we typically buy it as soon as we land at the airport.
We’ve personally used SafetyWing for many different trips, and we’ve been reimbursed for countless expenses when we’ve fallen ill. SafetyWing even covered our flights back to Canada in full when the pandemic first happened (when last-minute flights before the borders closed were super expensive!) While most travel insurance companies left people stranded, SafetyWing fully reimbursed us for our last-minute, pricey flights!
Also, because it is so affordable, there really is no excuse not to take out a policy. Check prices and get a quote online here with SafetyWing (you can even take out a policy if you’re already traveling!)
Thanks for reading!
When we fly into Cancun Airport, we almost always take a private shuttle. It’s the easier, safest, and most comfortable way to get to your hotel. So if you’re traveling to Cancun, Playa del Carmen, or Tulum, I’d highly recommend one (particularly the ones I mentioned in this article!).
If you found this guide useful, check out our other blogs about Mexico. We’ve traveled all over this beautiful country and love helping others do the same. So below, we’ve linked to some other reads that might come in handy.