Cancun (Mexico) to Corozal (Belize)
This information is based on research undertaken in May 2014
The cab drivers at Cancun airport have been jacking up the cost of a cab from the airport to Cancun. There have been reports of tourists being charged $60U.S. for this 20 minute ride. If you want to go to Cancun, establish the fare first.
Cancun airport is south of the city of Cancun. If your intention is to go south, then it makes little sense to first go north into Cancun.
There is an ADO shuttle bus that leaves the airport every hour to the southern city of Playa del Carmen. ADO is a Mexican bus line that provides first class service to the Yucatan region. The buses are either Volvos or Mercedes. They are air conditioned, have toilets, reclining seats and T.V. Traveling on an ADO bus is similar to traveling in an aircraft. The cost from Cancun airport to Playa del Carmen is 140 pesos. Less than $12 U.S.
Playa del Carmen
Playa del Carmen in the 1980’s was a sleepy village of 300 people. 30 years later it has a WalMart. There is nothing sleepy about it in 2014. The main drag is Quinta Avenida (5th Avenue). A pedestrian thoroughfare which is home to bars, restaurants, retail stores and hotels. It runs parallel to the beach, one block inland. Streets in Playa are based on a grid system. Avenidas run north/south, Calles run east/west. Avenidas are numbered 5th, 10th, 15th and 20th. Calles are 2nd, 4th 6th etc.
There are 2 ADO bus stations in Playa. One is at the southern end of Quinta Avenida, (2nd Calle Norte) close to the ferry terminal to Cozumel. The other is at 20th Avenida and 12th Calle Norte. They are a 15 minute walk apart. A cab is 40 pesos.
The shuttle bus from Cancun Airport arrives at the terminal close to the ferry to Cozumel. This is good because all the cheap hotels are at that end of Quinta Avenida.
There are over 80 hotels in and around Quinta Avenida, the price range is from $50U.S. to $250U.S. per night.
If you want to party, then a hotel close to Quinta Avenida would suit you, but beware, disco music can be heard until 5.30am (daylight). These hotels are more expensive than hotels further from the beach.
I would advise booking in advance, Playa is a busy spot. When I stay, I book at least 4 blocks from Quinta, take a cab there with my luggage and then walk back to enjoy the selection of entertainment, food and tequila. Cabs are plentiful and cheap.
If you survive the Tequila bars, the bus to the south goes from the ADO terminal on 20th Avenida and 12th Calle Norte. Buses to Chetumal (the Mexican southern border with Belize) run at 6.20, 7.20, 9.20, 10.50, 11.50, 12.25, 13.20, 14.35, 15.10, 16.35, etc.
The journey time is 5 hours with a 10 minute stop after an hour at Tulum. Make sure you have warm clothes because some Mexican buses are cold enough to hang meat. The driver loves that air conditioning. ADO first class buses are first class. You pick your seat. Your luggage goes in compartments under the seating area. The seat reclines. There are toilets. The cost is 294 pesos (less than $25U.S.)
5 hours after departing Playa you will be in the ADO bus terminal in Chetumal. There are a few departures to Belize City but the best way to reach Corozal is to walk outside the terminal to the taxi rank and ask for the “Nuevo Mercado” (New Market). The cab ride costs between 20 and 40 pesos. The Belizean buses are old school buses. The fare to Corozal is $2.50U.S. These buses run every half hour from 7am to 6pm.
It takes 20 minutes to reach the border. You will have to exit Mexico. Depending on where you come from, this could cost you $25U.S.
There is a lot of false information about this on the internet but the rules are basically as follows. If you are transiting Mexico the exit tax is $25 U.S. If you are visiting Mexico i.e. leaving Belize for a day to go shopping in Mexico and returning to Belize then there is no exit tax liability. A taxi from Chetumal to Corozal is between $40 and $50 U.S. Make sure the Mexican cab driver has a passport with him; otherwise you will be stranded at the border. As a general rule there are no cabs at the Belizean side of the border.
Once you exit Mexico there is a free trade zone, so the borders are a half mile apart. You will then have to formally enter Belize. Belize grants a 30 day visa at no cost (but you will have to pay $19U.S. to exit Belize). I would advise that you ask for the maximum amount of time. If you are renewing your Mexican visa, do not volunteer that information. Bring enough luggage so that it appears you are staying longer. Once the bureaucracy is out of the way, it is a 10 minute bus ride to Corozal. From Chetumal to Corozal takes about an hour.
To The Sea Breeze Hotel
A $5 Belize cab ride ($2.50U.S.) or a 10 minute walk. If you want to walk, head to the Bay and turn left. The Sea Breeze hotel is on the Bay front so you have to walk past it.
It is a 6-7 hour journey from your hotel in Playa del Carmen (Mexico) to The Sea Breeze Hotel in Corozal (Belize).
Make sure you have $19 U.S. exit tax from Belize. Buses from Corozal to Chetumal run on the hour and half hour. The ride is an hour (depending on the crowd at the border) to the Nuevo Mercado (New Market), Chetumal. Transfer by cab to the “terminal de buses”.
Buses to Playa (and Cancun) depart at 00.45, 06.30, 08.30, 10.30, 12.30, 13.30, 14.30, 15.30, 16.30, 18.30, 20.00, 23.30. There is 10 minute stop after 2.5 hours at Felipe Carrillo Puerto. Buses to Tulum are less frequent, which is weird because all the buses go through Tulum. Some just don’t stop.
Going To and From Europe
A trip that I have done many times. For convenience and quality of service I would recommend Virgin Atlantic. Cancun to London takes off at 7pm, which means that you sleep and arrive in the U.K. relatively refreshed.
London to Cancun leaves at midday and arrives at 5pm local time. Which makes it an easy trip to either Playa or Cancun. The equipment is modern and the in flight service is good. Prices can be competitive, if you book in advance.
www.ado.com.mx to check bus availability.
www.theseabreezehotel.com to say hi.
Gwyn Lawrence, Corozal June 1st 2014