Cozumel Day Trip: Sun N’ Fun in Cozumel on a Budget

Mexico, Travel Tips

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By Ryan Gargiulo

Cheap Day Trip to Cozumel

As many of you know, I have called Mexico home for a little over a year now.

I’ve spent the majority of my time in Mexico living in a beautiful seaside town called Playa del Carmen which is conveniently located just 45 minutes south of Cancun, approximately 50 minutes north of Tulum and a short 35-40 minute ferry ride to the island of Cozumel.

Over the course of the last year or so, I’ve visited and explored a good chunk of the Riviera Maya including Cancun, Isla Mujeres, Puerto Morelos, Akumal, Tulum along with a variety of beaches, pools and cenotes in between.

The only destination that I had been wanting to visit but hadn’t was Cozumel.

Despite being able to see the island of Cozumel from the beaches of Playa del Carmen, I always had an excuse as to why I never hopped on the ferry and made my way over there.

That was until last week when my good friend Seth from Everything Playa del Carmen extended me a last minute invitation to take a day trip to Cozumel to which I happily accepted.

Below, you’ll find a ton of really helpful information when it comes to visiting Cozumel on a day trip from Playa del Carmen.

I’ll start by highlighting my personal experience from my day trip to Cozumel as well as alternative things to do in Cozumel on a budget. Let’s get started.

Ferry from Playa del Carmen to Cozumel

Flying to Cozumel

First I’ll start by explaining the best ways to find cheap flights to Cozumel for those of you who are still in the planning stages of your trip.

The following two websites are the resources I use to plan all of my travels.

My best advice is to use both sites to compare prices and find the best deal.


The best way to get to Cozumel (if you’re visiting from abroad) is obviously to fly into Cozumel Airport.

If you’re already in Mexico I advise you to double check Skyscanner (above) to see if there are any flights directly to the island versus having to fly to Cancun, take a bus to Playa del Carmen and then book a ferry to Cozumel.

Flights are not only much shorter travel time but also much more convenient.

Ferry from Playa del Carmen to Cozumel

Getting from Playa del Carmen to Cozumel by ferry really couldn’t be any easier.

Start your day early by heading down to the ferry port in Playa del Carmen, located directly next to Señor Frog’s and just a few steps from Parque Fundadores where the Portal Maya Sculpture can be found. You can’t miss it.

If you do happen to lose your bearings, just simply ask the nearest tourist police officer where the ferry port is and they’ll gladly send you in the right direction.

There are two different ferry companies [Ultramar and Winjet] that service the Playa del Carmen to Cozumel ferry route.

All three ferry companies have ticket kiosks located directly in front of the port where you can purchase your tickets.

Barcos Caribe Cozumel Ferry

We decided to purchase our tickets at the Barcos Caribe kiosk as they offered the cheapest deal to Cozumel — $135 pesos per person (one-way) or $270 pesos (round-trip).

NOTE: Notice the signs in the background of the photo above advertising that you can also pay in U.S. Dollars. Sounds convenient, right? While it might be more convenient for you to pay in dollars, it also means you’ll end up paying more than you should for you ferry ticket. As a matter of fact, it’s not just ferry tickets but using U.S. Dollars to purchase anything in Mexico will always cost you more. Do yourself a favor and come prepared to mexico with pesos in hand (aka never pay in U.S. Dollars).

All of the ferry companies pretty much take the same amount of time to reach Cozumel.

If anything it would be a matter of minutes difference on a trip that takes approximately 30-35 minutes depending on how rough the sea is the day of your trip.

Cozumel Ferry Schedules:

Barco Caribe / Ultramar / Mexico Water Jets

Cozumel Ferry Rates:

Barco Caribe / Ultramar / Mexico Water Jets

Arriving in Cozumel

Arriving in Cozumel

As soon as you arrive in Cozumel, you’ll find yourself walking through the port towards town, passing groups of attention seeking salesman trying to rent you everything from motor scooters, rental cars, jeeps, tours and more.

NOTE: Rental vehicles make exploring Cozumel a heck of a lot easier. Unfortunately, the majority of rental car companies on the island have a horrible reputation and many people have complained of either getting scammed or receiving cars that breakdown when you need them most. Renters beware!

We weren’t looking to explore the island as much this time around as we were wanting to enjoy some simple fun in the sun on a budget. 

Our plan for the day was to make our way to the Coral Princess Resort, a small hotel and dive resort located approximately 1.7 miles (2.8km) north of the ferry terminal.

We were in no rush to get there and the weather was beautiful so we decided to walk to the resort.

If you’re not up for walking, a taxi ride to/from the ferry pier and the Coral Princess Resort should cost 60 pesos (ask before getting in the taxi).

Once we arrived at the resort we approached the staff at the front desk and told them we were not staying at the resort but we were interested in spending the day eating, drinking and swimming at the property.

The staff quoted us a price of $200 pesos/per person and before we knew it we were being lead out to the pool and beach area of the resort.

Coral Princess Resort - Cozumel
As with many hotels in the Riviera Maya, a “day pass” or “minimum spend” can be had by simply asking someone at the front desk if they allow visitors to spend the day at the resort. Many day passes at some of the more major resorts in the Riviera Maya can be in the range of $50-150 USD/day depending on the quality of the resort, if it’s an all-inclusive, along with many other factors. Other smaller and more budget friendly resorts offer day passes or chair usage for a minimum spend ranging anywhere from 100-300 pesos/day. All this means is that everyone in your party needs to meet the minimum spend over the course of the day on food and beverages.
BYOM - Bring Your Own Margaritas

Snorkeling and Swimming in Cozumel

We started off our morning with a couple celebratory margaritas along with some food.

The food was your typical resort style food, nothing spectacular by any means but it did the trick.

I’m so glad I made the last minute decision to B.Y.O.M. (Bring Your Own Margaritas).

The taste of Cayman Jack – pure agave and organic limes – paired perfectly with our lunch under the sun.


After lunch we spent a little time soaking up the rays and then we jumped into the sea to cool off. 

It couldn’t have felt any more refreshing. That’s the Caribbean for you.

Here are some of my favorite photos from our day of snorkeling and swimming off the coast of Cozumel.

Snorkeling in Cozumel
Snorkeling in Cozumel
Snorkeling in Cozumel
Snorkeling in Cozumel
Snorkeling in Cozumel
Snorkeling in Cozumel
Snorkeling in Cozumel
Snorkeling in Cozumel

I mean, seriously. What better way to spend a day in Cozumel than to be hanging around basking in the sun with a couple friends.

Packing for Cozumel

Packing for Cozumel

Below, you’ll find a short list of items to consider when packing for a day trip to Cozumel.

  • Money (bring your pesos — avoid spending dollars/euros)
  • Sunscreen
  • Towel
  • Sunglasses
  • Snorkeling Equipment (can be purchased at Walmart in Playa del Carmen)
  • Camera (I shoot with the Canon G7x & GoPro HERO4 Silver)
  • Tripod (Gorillapod — great for stabilized shots of your adventures)
Fun in the sun in Cozumel, Mexico

Cozumel on a Budget — Breakdown

So, you’re probably wondering what it costs to do a day trip to Cozumel on a budget, right? Well here’s the breakdown.

  • Playa del Carmen to Cozumel Ferry tickets: $270 pesos (round-trip)
  • Day pass / Minimum Spend at Coral Princess Hotel: $200 pesos
  • Total cost: $470 pesos — or approximately $23 USD (updated: 12/20/16)

As you can see, you don’t necessarily have to put a damper on your wallet by visiting Cozumel for the day. In my case, it cost me around $30 USD.

I’d say anything under $50 could still be considered to be a budget friendly price for a fun day trip from Playa del Carmen.

Cozumel, Mexico

Cozumel Resources

Below, you’ll find a list of the best online resources for your vistit to Cozumel.

I think you’ll find a number of them to be very useful when planning your next trip.

Have you been to Cozumel? If so, what would you recommend for things to do on a budget?

50 thoughts on “Cozumel Day Trip: Sun N’ Fun in Cozumel on a Budget”

  1. Beautiful photos-love them all. I’m so happy to have come across your site. I’ll be in Cozumel in September on a cruise, and I want to steer clear from the shore excursions and do something on my own!

  2. My wife and I and another couple are staying at the Grand Mayan Riviera Maya resort from 27 Feb – 5 Mar 2016. We would like to visit Cozumel and have looked at island tours but they seems to get very mixed reviews so we are considering doing it ourselves. What areas of interest and shopping do you recommend and what would be the best way to get to them from the ferry? Also, where nearer the resort do you recommend we go for shopping, browsing etc (i.e., Playa del Carmen, Cancun). The only tour we have in mind so far is the early entrance to Chichen Itza. THANKS!!!!!

  3. Cool info, thanks for the beta, and the idea to BYOM… I’ll buy a thermos and some Cayman Jack tomorrow!! Did the resort take issue with you pouring your own?

    Next question: do you have any info about good snorkeling spots or good beaches for families? We are headed to playa del Carmen next week, and wanted some input on good places for kids in both PDC and Cozumel.

    Thanks again, and all the photos were great, but the one of you entering the water was the best. GoPro? What kind of camera?

    • Nope. I didn’t run into any issues at all. I just had a few cans in my backpack.

      The beaches of Playa del Carmen are well suited for children. You shouldn’t have any issues. As for snorkeling, your best bet is to head to Cozumel for that. Here’s a few snorkel tours on Cozumel that your family might enjoy:

      Yes, I shot that with the GoPro HERO4 Silver Edition. You can get it here for only $279! – I highly recommend it.

      Hope you found these answers helpful. Please let me know if you have anymore questions!

  4. Although Cayman Jack is a delicious beverage (wish there was a light version), your next trip to Cozumel, have a tasty bev at The Thirsty Cougar. I went because of the name. I will return because of the amazing frozen drinks made with real fruit, the view, and the incredible staff. Enjoy!!!

  5. Thanks for the tip – I am so nervous because I also read that Coral Princess was the best place for off-shore snorkeling but it’s so weird that they do not advertise the day pass. I am going to cross my fingers that they still allow it when we go in Dec 2016.

    Question: What was the cheapest way to get Pesos in your opinion? An ATM machine? We are coming off of a cruise ship and were not sure what to do. My credit card has no foreign transaction fees (woo hoo!) but I wasn’t sure if this was a “they look the other way and let you in” sort of thing.

    • No problem, Steph. They don’t advertise a day pass, you simply show up and inquire. Shouldn’t be an issue.

      Yes, the cheapest option is to withdraw pesos from an ATM machine. Best of luck!

  6. Thank Ryan for taking the time to share your experience. Love shots with the fishes and the coral reef.
    Docking in Cozumel but want to take ferry to Playa for the day. What do you recommend we do on a limited budget, besides going to the beach. Party includes four adults. Thanks

    • Hi Beverly. No problem. It’s what I do! ;)

      As for Playa, I recommend checking out to find out everything you need to know. That is hands down the best resource for Playa del Carmen. I wish you the best of luck!

  7. Hey Ryan – so glad we came across this post as we wanted to do a day trip to Cozumel from Playa del Carmen where we had somewhere to hang out for the day and to snorkel – and where we felt safe to leave our things while in the water. Worked out perfectly – the ferry prices were even cheaper right now – 50 pesos/person/trip – total of 200 pesos. Taxi from the ferry dock to Coral Princess was 75 pesos, and there was NO day charge to use the hotel facilities – they just asked that we purchase some food/drinks – but no minimum. We were free to use the pool and had a great day just hanging out with a gorgeous view, enjoying a nice lunch (grilled shrimp tacos & beer – reasonably priced for a hotel). Snorkeling was easy from their platform and really nice to have fresh water for rinsing equipment and outdoor showers when done. Didn’t see a lot of fish – mostly around their dock area because people were feeding them – but it was still awesome visibility! Thanks for the tips – we had a great day for a cheap price!

    • Thank you so much for following up about your day trip to Cozumel. I’m so happy to hear that you enjoyed your time.

      Also — great to know about the updated prices. This will be very helpful for my readers who want to follow in your footsteps. Thanks again and please keep in touch!

    • Hey Anne, just wondering what time of year you did your day trip to Coral Princess? I read elsewhere that they only do the No day charge/food and drink purchase during the low season (May-late Oct) Hoping this isn’t the case as we were planning on doing the same day trip in December.


      • Hey Scott. I did this trip in late May. It’s possible that you could be right about the low season offerings. My advice would be to reach out to some hotels ahead of time via email or social media and ask them if they would allow you to do a day pass and if so at what cost. Best of luck!

  8. Hi Ryan, we are staying in general playa del Carmen resort area. We would really like to do a day trip to Isla Mujeres, but since its further to go we are considering a day trip to Cozumel. have you done both? which did you prefer? we would like to rent golf carts as we have a group of 6. thanks for any info

    • Hi Peri. Yeah Cozumel would definitely be the closer option. To be honest, I prefer Cozumel over Isla Mujeres. One thing you will need in Cozumel is a rental car. It’s a pretty big island. I highly recommend you drive the eastern coast and make lots of photo stops along the way. It’s incredible! If you choose Isla Mujeres, you can rent golf carts there.

  9. This is a great article and just goes to show folks they don’t need to spend an arm and leg on excursions, even if only in for a day long cruise stop. There are a couple car rental agencies that are quite reputable. Check Cozumel forums for their names. Driving to the east side of the island is a whole other experience that I’d recommend if you ever get the chance. Thanks for the great read. Happy travels!

  10. Thanks for the info we will try the Uber router from Cancun to the ferry. We stay at the Coral Princess too. Any issues with Uber lately

  11. Hi , we are staying at the iberostar periso beach in playa and want to do things but 2 of the girls in the group are on a very strick budget what can you reccomend to do. we have never been anywhere like mexico so not sure what to do for entertainment and stuff

  12. Excellent Ryan.
    Thank you very much for your recommendation. I’m right now in the Coral Princess.
    You’re the best!

  13. Hey Ryan, great info! I’m headed to Cancun on Tuesday and was trying to decide between Cozumel and Isla Mujeres for a day trip. You sealed the deal! Question, any recommendations for a locals spot to eat? Taco stands, etc? I don’t mind the resorts but love to support the local community and try new things you won’t find online. Thanks in advance!

    • Thanks for the feedback. As for places to eat, everything you want and more can be found downtown in the centro area just steps from where the ferry drops you off. Best of luck!

  14. Hi Ryan.
    My wife and I would travel to Cozumel next week from Playa and want to go to Punta Sur but we need to rental scooters or a jeep and we don’t want to get scammed.
    Can you recommend any rental agency who be trusted or is safer to go by taxi, and how much does it cost from the town to Punta Sur?
    Also, Thanks for the post, it really help us to plan our trip for next week.

  15. I absolutely loved this blog from the first time I read it when we booked our October Playa vacation. I’ve come back several times to reread it because I’m so excited. Question: Where you jump in to the ocean, is there a ladder or something to get back up on that platform. I plan to do the jaunt to Cozumel just as you laid it out. It doesn’t look like the sea is too rough there or too deep for me, looks perfect. I’m asking because I don’t want to be disappointed. Am I correct in what I see in the pictures? Thanks for this awesome article!

  16. Hi was wondering is it as easy to get to Cozumel from either Tulum or Puerto Morelos? Also is Isla Mujeres similar to Cozumel? Trying to decide whether we should try and do both or just one of them? Thanks :)

  17. Thanks so much for sharing. I enjoyed reading your article. I’m currently planning a trip to Mexico and your advice is invaluable.

  18. Don’t spend money on a snorkel tour. Hit The money bar and get lunch and snorkel for the same price. Fun spot with beach chairs and great snorkeling.

  19. Do you happen to know if they still offer the day pass?
    We’re goung on a cruise in April to there! Can’t wait!


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