However, if you book ahead (and you MUST book ahead), you can get around spending $70 on a taxi. Most of these options will depend on if you are traveling solo or what size your group is. Sometimes hiring a private shuttle will cost less than 3 people taking public transportation, and is way more convenient and efficient.
Regarding ShuttlesThere are tons of shuttle kiosks at the airport and representatives waiting outside, but if you didn't book ahead, you're going to have to pay a premium to get a non-scheduled shuttle. You'd think they'd just let you hop on a shared shuttle with an open seat, but no. So ... BOOK AHEAD.
My best experience and best price has always been with Happy Shuttle ($35 OW, $57 RT) . But price aside, here's the real reason you book with Happy Shuttle: you can order cold beers to be waiting for you in the van!! UPDATE: eTransfers ($29 OW, $50 RT) now has better prices.
From the Airport to the Hotel Zone
ADO Bus then Public Bus ($5.60 / person)CHEAPEST
Take the ADO bus to the bus terminal downtown as above. From there, take the R1 bus to the Hotel Zone for 12 MNX ($.60) per person. The problem is 1) if you have luggage it's not easy to manage the public bus and 2) the bus will drop you off on the main road so it will be a little bit of a walk to your hotel.
ADO Bus then Taxi ($15 / 1 person, $20 / 2 people)Conveniently waiting outside the airport terminal, is the ADO bus. It's a nice coach that will take you to the ADO bus terminal downtown for around $5 USD per person. From there, you can get a taxi for around 200 MXN ($10) to the door of your hotel.
Shared or Private Shuttle ($12 / person shared, $29 up to 8 people)COMFY/CONVENIENT
You can get deals as low as $12 USD per person taking a shared shuttle (not currently available with COVID concerns). Check the eTransfers and Happy Shuttle websites for current rates for the size of your group. Don't forget, book ahead, book ahead, book ahead!
Hotel Shuttle (varies)Some hotels offer their own private shuttle service from the airport but it usually costs more. It's worth asking though since you won't have to stop at various hotels along the way like you would with a shared shuttle!
From the Airport to Isla MujeresYou will want to get to Puerto Juarez (Gran Puerto) to get a 15 minute ferry over to Isla Mujeres (300 MXN, approx $15 round trip). The cheapest way to get from the airport to Isla Mujeres depends on how many people you have. If you have more than a few, then book a private van to Puerto Juarez from Happy Shuttle ($35 OW, $57 RT) or from eTransfers ($29 OW, $50 RT). Otherwise you can take the ADO bus to the bus terminal ($5 each) then take a taxi from there ($5) or colectivo ($.50 each).
See The Best Way to Get To and From Isla Mujeres for full details.
Returning from Isla Mujeres to the AirportThe main thing here is NOT to take transportation from within the ferry area. By simply walking across the street, the prices drop by 50% - 75% See The Best Way to Get To and From Isla Mujeres for important details.
From the Airport to Playa del Carmen
ADO Bus to Downtown then Colectivo then Taxi ($7 / person + taxi)CHEAPEST
If you want to shave off a few more dollars, take the ADO bus from the airport to downtown ($5) (the opposite direction from Playa), then from there you can get a colectivo ($2) that drops you off in Playa del Carmen at Calle 2 between 20th and 25th Avenues (or Calle 2 Norte between 15th and 20th Avenue depending on which company you ride with). Then you can walk or take a taxi from there to your hotel (200-300 MXN). This will take you a lot longer than taking the ADO direct and is more difficult with luggage, so weigh this into your decision.
ADO Bus to Playa then Taxi ($12 / person + taxi)COMFY/CONVENIENT
Conveniently waiting outside the airport terminal, is the ADO bus that goes directly to Playa. For around $12 USD per person, you get a nice air-conditioned coach to take you all the way to Playa del Carmen in just over an hour. Store as much luggage as you want underneath the bus, and enjoy the ride. Couldn't be easier. A taxi from the ADO bus terminal to your hotel will cost 200-300 MXN, so add $5 if you need a taxi. Current Bus Info & Buy Tickets Online
Shared or Private Shuttle ($24 / person shared, $42 up to 8 people)COMFY/CONVENIENT
You can get deals as low as $24 USD per person taking a shared shuttle (not currently available with COVID concerns) but then it just makes sense to take the ADO and get a taxi once you arrive. A shuttle makes sense if you have a larger group. Check the eTransfers and Happy Shuttle websites for current rates for the size of your group. Don't forget, book ahead, book ahead, book ahead!
From the Airport to Other Parts of Costa Maya
ADO Bus then ColecitvoCHEAPEST (past Puerto Morelos)
Colectivos are great and inexpensive and run up and down the main highway 307. They are shared vans in varying condition and heat intensity. Some actually have A/C. There's too much individual detail about colectivos and the specific routes to put here, but in general, ask locals the routes and where to catch them.
In most towns they have a main stop (a parking lot or a place on the side of the road) and you can easily flag them down along the highway. Rides are $.50 to a few dollars for long rides. You can take them in between Playa, Tulum, Cancun, Puerto Morelos, etc. They can be pretty fun and it feels good to be riding like a local.
You can catch a colectivo going south, from the ADO bus terminal downtown, so from the airport first take the ADO downtown, then catch a colectivo from there. For colectivos to other areas, that might take a bit of research.
ADO serves most major routes and has buses conveniently waiting outside the airport terminals. They are nice coaches with A/C and you can store your luggage under the bus. Unlike a shuttle, you will be dropped off at the ADO bus station in each location so you'll either have to walk or get a taxi to your hotel from there. There are a few handy locations (listed below) direct from the airport. For other places, like Bacalar or Belize, take the bus to the ADO bus terminal downtown, and get another bus from there. Current Bus Info & Buy Tickets Online