For various reasons, many travellers choose to fly to Cancún and then continue to Belize. Some travellers find cheaper airfares to Cancún while others want to include Mexico as part of the holiday. For travellers without a lot of time, this might not be the best option because of the amount of time required to travel between Cancún and Belize. Border crossing fees also must be considered.
The quickest and easiest way to continue to Belize is to get the Tropic Air flight from Cancún Airport to Belize International Airport. Check the Tropic Air website for schedule & fare. Ground travel can be done by bus, rental car or transfer service (private shuttle).
Here’s how I have done the trip from Cancún airport to Belize by bus…
From Cancún airport, ADO airport buses depart every 30 minutes to Playa del Carmen. At Terminal 2, after exiting Customs, continue along the hallway to exit the building, then turn right and keep going to the other end of the terminal. Tickets are sold at an ADO counter where the bus is parked. At Terminal 3, the ADO bus waits at the front of the building. The trip to Playa del Carmen takes about 1 hour and costs 178 pesos (at January 2017). Note: at the airport, tickets can be purchased for any other ADO route.
Playa del Carmen has two bus terminals: one on 20th Avenue at 12th Street (or Calle 12), and one on 5th Avenue at Av. Benito Juarez. Airport buses might make a stop at the 20th Ave. terminal, but they always terminate at the 5th Ave. terminal. The terminals are about 10 blocks apart.
ADO buses to Chetumal depart from the 20th Ave. terminal (known as Terminal Alterna), so if you arrive at the 5th Ave. terminal, you have to get to the 20th Ave. terminal. It’s an easy walk without luggage, but with luggage, get a taxi for about 50 pesos. If you know that the airport bus has stopped at the 20th Ave. and you want to immediately continue to Chetumal, get off at the 20th Ave. terminal.
Tickets to Chetumal can be purchased at either bus terminal. If possible, I like to buy tickets one or two days before I travel in order to ensure a seat, and to select the seat of my choice. I usually buy tickets at the 5th Av. terminal because there’s a better chance of English-speaking terminal staff.
Note that another bus company called Mayab might have buses to Tulum, Mahahual and Chetumal departing from the 5th Av. terminal.
From Terminal Alterna in Playa del Carmen, ADO express buses depart every couple of hours to Chetumal. The trip takes about 4.5 hours and costs about 300 pesos (check the ADO website). The bus might make stops at Tulum and Felipe Carrillo Puerto before terminating at the ADO bus terminal in Chetumal.
To complete the trip to Belize, see the options listed in the previous section, TRANSPORTATION BETWEEN BELIZE and MEXICO.
As mentioned above, there are other options for getting from Cancún airport to Chetumal and Belize. For example, instead of getting a bus from the airport to Playa del Carmen, some travellers prefer to get a bus from the airport to the bus terminal in Cancún City where they can get an express bus to Tulum, Chetumal or Belize City. Cancún airport is located about 18 km south of Cancún City, and about 50 km north of Playa del Carmen, so this means first travelling north to Cancún, then getting a bus back south, but it avoids the bus terminal change in Playa. A popular choice is the twice daily express bus from Cancún bus terminal to Belize City.
A transfer service or private shuttle is another option. Here are links to some services:
a) Belize VIP Transfer Service, http://www.belizetransfers.com
b) Moralez Travel Service, http://www.gettransfers.com
c) Cancún Shuttle: http://www.cancunshuttle.com/
d) Cancún Express: http://www.cancun-express.com/
e) Cancún Airport Transfers: http://www.tucankin.com/
Here’s how I have done the trip from Belize to Cancún airport…
First, I get a bus to Chetumal. From the ADO terminal in Chetumal, ADO express buses depart every couple of hours to Playa del Carmen. The trip takes about 4.5 hours and costs about MX$300 (check the ADO website). The bus might make stops at Felipe Carrillo Puerto and Tulum before stopping at Playa del Carmen.
The bus arrives in Playa del Carmen at the bus terminal on 20th Avenue. If continuing immediately to Cancún airport, ask if the airport bus makes a stop at the 20th Ave. terminal on the way to the airport (I think this is a regular stop now). Otherwise, get a taxi (about 50 pesos) or walk (10 blocks) to the other bus terminal on 5th Ave. and get the ADO airport bus to Cancún airport. Airport buses depart every 30 minutes. The trip takes 1 hour and costs MX$178 (at January 2017).
There are other options for getting from Belize or Chetumal to Cancún airport. The Tropic Air flight from Belize City is quick and easy. A popular choice is the twice daily ADO express bus from Belize City to Cancún City because this bus stops at the airport on the way to Cancún (see previous section for details). Another option is the ADO airport express bus from Chetumal. Buses depart daily from the ADO Chetumal bus terminal. Check the ADO website for schedule & fare. And there is a daily water taxi service between San Pedro and Chetumal.
Always check the ADO website for up to date schedules and fares. The site is in Spanish, but should be easy to figure out (try using Google Translate for help).
ADO website for schedules & fares: https://www.ado.com.mx/
Note 1: MX$ is Mexican pesos. On the Mexican bus websites, just the dollar sign is used to represent pesos.
Note 2: ADO express buses have very good air-conditioning; dress warmly.