Almost all who visit Mahahual/Costa Maya via cruise ship want to return someday and always ask, “How far to the nearest airport and how long of a drive is it?” I tell them that Cancun is the nearest airport and is a 4 1/2 hours drive and I quickly get that “forget that” look. But then I also tell them the way I like to do it takes a day and a half and is much more fun. This often gets their attention. I call it the “fun bus trip” and it uses the local 1st class tour buses, which is our favorite way to travel Quintana Roo, to get from Cancun to Mahahual. If you know how, the fun bus trip will be just another enjoyable part of your vacation. These buses are modern vehicles with A/C, comfortable reclining seats, movies, restrooms and are a very economical, easy and safe way to travel.
The trip from your home in the morning to the airport, the flight and time in Customs and Immigration can eat up 3/4ths of most travel days. Getting all the way to Costa Maya that first day is way too much work for most, including me. Instead, I recommend a short 1st class bus transfer to Playa Del Carmen, (about $10 US per person) where you can land, relax and enjoy a fun afternoon and evening in Playa Del Carmen, about an hour south
of Cancun. The bus depot is just a block off the beach and along the famous 5th Avenue, one of Quintana Roo’s most fun places to spend an evening, or two, along the way.
You check into your accommodations that are just a short stroll, along the safe and beautiful, pedestrian only 5th Ave, from the bus depot. ($40 boutique hotels-$300 luxury hotels a night) Spend the remainder of your first day strolling 5th and visiting some of Mexico’s best shopping, clubs, galleries, restaurants and bars. This part of Playa Del Carmen is an interesting mix of international businesses as well as visitors, and
makes for one of Quintana Roo’s most cosmopolitan and very real Mexico experiences.
The next morning, you have a nice breakfast at one of the sidewalk cafés along 5th Ave and curl up for the comfortable 4 hour bus ride to Mahahual. (about $25 US per person) Your bus will make a couple scheduled 5 minute stops but you will not have to change buses. If you want to sleep late, there is a 4:30 PM bus to Mahahual also.
When you return, another night in Playa Del Carmen is also recommended to see all the things you did not have time for at the beginning of the trip and it is a very easy airport shuttle in the morning.
The fun bus trip is as safe and easy, as it is fun and inexpensive. Southern Quintana Roo is a wonderful place to visit by the 1st class buses and a great way for visitors to travel the area with the ease and expense of a local.