Riviera Maya Transportation – Options for All Kinds of Travelers
Table of Contents
- 1 Riviera Maya Transportation – Options for All Kinds of Travelers
- 1.1 Taxi
- 1.2 Taxi Safety – Some Helpful Reminders
- 1.3 Private Car and Shuttle Services
- 1.4 Getting Around the Riviera Maya by Colectivo (Shared Van)
- 1.5 Playa Express
- 1.6 Car Rental
- 1.7 Getting Around the Riviera Maya by Bus
- 1.8 Can You Use Uber in the Riviera Maya?
- 1.9 What about the Mayan Train?
- 1.10 Did you find this article helpful? Share it!
- 1.11 Related Articles:
If you are reading this article from the comfort of your beach chair in PA, then you have already mastered getting from the Cancun Airport to Puerto Aventuras. Congrats and welcome!
Now that you are here, you may want to venture out and explore the region. The good news is, that getting around the Riviera Maya is not difficult. This tropical, Mexican Caribbean paradise is a great place to explore and there are various modes of transportation to consider if you are staying here in Puerto Aventuras.
These are the different options for transportation available, with something to suit every style of traveler and budget.
You can get to almost any destination of your choosing via taxi. Whether you want to go across the highway to Chedraui or the Belize border, you can use a taxi service to get there. In places like Playa del Carmen and Tulum, different urban bus routes crisscross throughout the city.
Unfortunately, unless you live there and spend a lot of time familiarizing yourself with the local buses, this is going to be more frustrating than it’s worth. In many cases, a taxi is going to be the most expensive transportation option but in some cases, it is the best option.
There is taxi service available any time of day from the parking lot at the Puerto Aventuras Beach Club & Hotel. The up-to-date taxi rates are posted there on a sign so you will know ahead of time when to pay. Note: Be sure to confirm your exact destination and the price with the driver before getting in the vehicle.
Taxi Rules You Need to Know
Each municipality (county) has its own taxi sindicato (union). Taxis are only allowed to PICK UP passengers within their own service area. A cab can pick you up in Puerto Aventuras and drop you in Cancun, Akumal, Tulum or wherever you would like to go.
However, that same cab cannot come back and pick you up later. You can arrange for the taxi driver to wait for you while you are shopping or dining or beach clubbing but you will then need to negotiate a fair rate for his time. Puerto Aventuras is in the same municipality as Playa del Carmen so a taxi can drop you off and pick you up later to return home.
You may have heard horror stories about the taxi drivers in Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Tulum. To my knowledge, the local taxis that work in this area are good and reputable and I would not hesitate to use their services. When you find a driver you like, be sure to save his or her contact information for future trips.
If you are leaving Puerto Aventuras to spend a whole day on the beach in Cancun, you may be better off grabbing another cab back from Cancun to PA than paying a driver to wait for you all-day. If you are heading to the hotel zone in Tulum for dinner, it probably makes sense to have the same driver wait for you and bring you back home afterward. He may prefer to do this for a reasonable rate rather than drive back into Solidaridad without a paying fare.
Taxi Safety – Some Helpful Reminders
When you are traveling in an unfamiliar area, you may want or need to utilize taxi services. Here is a helpful Taxi Safety Card to remind you how to safely get from Point A to Point B. This information should be particularly useful for solo travelers, female travelers and anyone traveling at night.
Private Car and Shuttle Services
Private Shuttles and car services are popular methods of airport transfer. This is the option many people use to get from the Cancun International Airport and the new Tulum Airport to Puerto Aventuras but seem to overlook when considering other transportation needs. Many of the transport companies offer not only private transfers to and from the airports but also local transportation services along the Mayan Riviera and beyond.
If you are traveling with a larger family (more than 4) people, hiring a private shuttle is a great way to get around when you want to get out and explore the Mayan Riviera and beyond at your own pace. You can count on comfortable vehicles with air conditioning and professional drivers.
Why 4+ people? Because the average taxi can only accommodate 4 passengers. You may find a few taxis that can take up to 6 people but they are uncommon. To feel confident that you won’t have to split up the group and pay for two taxis, arranging for a private transport shuttle is the best way to go for your day trips outside of Puerto Aventuras and special evenings in Playa del Carmen or Tulum. It’s certainly more fun and usually more cost-effective.
Colectivos are the white vans you see zipping up and down the highway, sometimes stopping alongside the road to pick up and drop off passengers. There are hundreds of these vans operating in and between the cities all along the Cancun – Belize corridor. Colectivos are an inexpensive and convenient option, especially if you are going a short distance or are traveling on a budget.
There are colectivo stations in Playa and Tulum but you can also board a van from a parador or, hail one anywhere along the road. If they have room and it’s safe to do so, they will generally pull over for you. During peak hours when there is high demand for public transportation, you may have to wait for a van that has room to accommodate you. The colectivos operate Monday through Saturday from 5 AM until 10 PM, Sundays from 5 AM until 7 PM.
Colectivos are the most economical way to get around and the method of transportation used by most locals. They carry people up and down the main highway, Carretera 307, stopping at all the all-inclusive resorts to drop off and pick up employees. For 30 pesos, you can get from Puerto Aventuras to Playa del Carmen! Tulum is a quick 40 pesos away. Exciting and affordable!
Things to consider before riding the colectivo
- Comfort: Some colectivos are in great shape with comfortable seats and air conditioning. Others are older model vans with no AC and bench-like seats. It’s also impossible to tell how many people the driver will allow in the van before he decides it is “full”. If you have issues with “personal space”, the colectivo may not be the best option for you.
- Baggage Allowance: If you are traveling with anything larger than a small carry-on, the colectivos may not be a good option for you. Whatever you are bringing along should be able to sit comfortably on your lap because that’s all the space you will be allotted if the van fills up. Be careful with your belongings and make sure you do not leave anything in the van when you get out.
- Time: Because the colectivos make so many stops, your travel time from place to place will be unpredictable. If you are working on a tight timetable, it’s a good idea to work in extra time to get to your destination if you are going by colectivo.
- Safety: I know I am painting with a big brush but colectivo drivers are
notoriously aggressive. Some of them drive very fast and recklessly. Don’t bother looking for working seatbelts. There have been times when I have just closed my eyes and prayed for the best. If you are a nervous traveler in a car, this is not the best mode of transportation for you.
If your wanders are taking you north of Playa del Carmen to Cancun, you may want to opt for the Playa Express. The Playa Express is a kicked-up version of a colectivo. They are branded with the Playa Express logo so you can’t miss them.
The vehicles are spacious, well-maintained Mercedes vans with comfortable seating and generally, air conditioning. There are electrical connections aboard for your devices, seatbelts and luggage space (albeit limited) for bags. Playa Express claims to carry insurance for the passengers in the event of an accident so quite a step up from common colectivos.
These are shared vans that operate in much the same way as a colectivo. Playa Express vehicles operate out of the same station in Playa del Carmen on Calle 1 and Av 45, just by the McDonalds. Playa Express also stops to pick up customers from the paradors and all along Highway 307, heading to Cancun.
Unlike a colectivo, Playa Express runs on a set schedule, meaning the vans will leave the station even if they are not yet full. Some of the vans will take the route to the ADO bus station in Cancun. Others are bound for another Cancun city center station. Be sure to confirm with the driver which way they are headed to be sure you get on the right shuttle.
The Playa Express runs daily between Playa del Carmen and Cancun, 5 AM until midnight with vans leaving every 30 minutes. The trip from Playa del Carmen to Cancun costs just 55 pesos and takes approximately one hour, depending on stops. This is an inexpensive and convenient option for destinations like Punta Maroma, Playa Paraiso, Puerto Morelos and of course, Cancun.
Hiring a rental car is an absolute must if you are a traveler who likes to venture out and explore. If you choose to rent a car during your stay in Puerto Aventuras, all of the popular destinations (as well as the hidden gems) will be easily accessible to you. Having your own car means that you will not have to depend on anyone else’s itinerary or schedule. You have complete freedom to plan or NOT plan your days as you please.
I know that not everyone is comfortable driving in a foreign country. Assuming you have spent some time on the highway getting from the airport to Puerto Aventuras, you have probably seen some “interesting” driving. But, if you can muster up the courage, renting a car will give you unlimited access to all of the amazing destinations you should see during your visit to the Mayan Riviera.
For finding a reliable and affordable rental car, there are several options to consider. We can recommend reputable people who rent cars right here in Puerto Aventuras. They can deliver a car right to your door which is very convenient. Some require a three-day minimum rental so be sure to inquire about any restrictions. If you would like to be put in touch with a local car rental company, contact us here.
If you are looking for more options, check out DiscoverCars.com. We personally use this booking site when we are traveling in around other destinations in Mexico. You can compare cars and prices offered by the various internationally recognized rental companies, all on one handy website. You can reserve securely in advance and pick up your car at either of the International Airports. From there, the world… or at least southern Mexico…is your oyster!
Do’s and Dont’s with your Rental Car
- You may take your rental car on the car ferries to Isla Mujeres and Cozumel.
- You may drive your rental car freely across state lines into Yucatan, Campeche, Chiapas and beyond.
- You should not drive your rental car into the Sian Ka’an Biosphere via the Boca Paila Road.
- You may not drive your rental car across the border into Belize.
Getting Around the Riviera Maya by Bus
Bus travel in Mexico is fantastic and we happily use the bus whenever it is an option. The buses are comfortable, air-conditioned and have bathrooms onboard. There are no luggage restrictions, making this a viable option if you’re not traveling light.
The ADO buses can get you to lots of great destinations and popular tourist areas within a few hours’ drive including the archaeological sites of Tulum and Chichen Itza. If you want to, you can take the ADO bus all the way to Mexico City! I´ve personally used ADO buses to get to Chetumal to jump on the water taxi to San Pedro, Belize.
There are ADO bus stations in Playa del Carmen and Tulum with routes all up and down the Riviera Maya, throughout Quintana Roo and the Yucatan Peninsula. But, here’s the catch. There is no ADO station in Puerto Aventuras. The closest stations are in Playa del Carmen (20 minutes north) and Tulum (30 minutes south).
While it’s not the most convenient way to move about, taking a taxi or a colectivo from Puerto Aventuras to either ADO bus station is certainly an option. A taxi can take you directly to one of the ADO bus stations in town. If you take a colectivo from Puerto Aventuras, you will still need to either walk (15 minutes) or taxi (35 pesos) from the colectivo stop to the bus depot.
To help plan your day trip and book your bus tickets in advance, check out BusBud.com. Tickets are always available at the bus terminal but you may want to reserve your seats in advance during peak times.
Can You Use Uber in the Riviera Maya?
The short answer is no. Not yet.
Since 2016, Uber has operated a limited number of drivers in limited areas of Cancun. Very recently, the global app-based transportation service signed an agreement with the Andrés Quintana Roo Taxi Union allowing Cancun taxi drivers to register and operate under the Uber platform and marks a significant step towards the integration of traditional transport services and app-based ride-hailing platforms.
While taxi drivers can register as Uber Cancun partners they must adhere to the same operational standards and pricing models as existing Uber drivers. Uber users will be able to distinguish between drivers who are Uber Cancun partners and traditional taxi drivers using the app so they will have a choice about the vehicle and type of transportation experience they desire.
As of right now (January 2024), there is no Uber service available in the Riviera Maya areas. We anticipate that similar agreements will be made with the taxi unions in Puerto Morelos, Solidaridad (Playa del Carmen) and Tulum but until then, Uber service is only an option when traveling within Cancun. We would recommend using that service cautiously until the dust settles on this transition.
What about the Mayan Train?
Yes, the Mayan Train is coming but at this moment, the project has yet to be completed. When finished, the Mayan Train promises to be an easy way to connect travelers with many popular destinations and resort towns around the Yucatan Peninsula. Unfortunately, the paradors (stops) originally planned for Puerto Aventuras and Akumal were scrapped to free up funds for a second station in Tulum.
If you would like to use the Tren Maya to explore the Yucatan Peninsula, the closest stations will be in Tulum Pueblo and Playa del Carmen. From Puerto Aventuras, you can reach the Tulum train station via taxi or colectivo. The station in Playa del Carmen is being built on the very outskirts of the city. You can take a taxi from PA for the most direct route. Budget-minded travelers will need to colectivo to Playa del Carmen and then carry on from there either by cab or on another shared van destined for the train station.
Once complete, the Mayan Train may be a great option for people who want to see parts of the Yucatan peninsula beyond the Riviera Maya. Interesting destinations will include the Mayan ruins at Palenque in Chiapas, the walled city of Campeche, the lagoon of 7 colors in Bacalar and Izamal, the Yellow City. You can plan to incorporate the Tren Maya into your future Yucatan adventures!