Traveling from Mexico to Belize
Travel from Mexico to Belize is easy. However, it may not be the most pleasant journey for some individuals. You will need to take a long bus ride followed by a slow Mexican customs process that allows you to depart Mexico. Then you get to enjoy a two hour, uncomfortable, water-taxi ride to Belize that is then completed by a somewhat slow Belize customs process. Sure, a person can take a plane and get there rather quickly; However, if you are on a backpackers budget then it is assumed you are not going to want to spring for the plane tab.
When in Quintana Roo, Mexico (the state in Mexico where you can find known cities such as Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Cozumel, and Tulum) you can grab a bus that will take you down to Chetumal, Mexico where you will catch the water-taxi to Belize.
Catching the bus right from the Cancun airport will only get you to Tulum (you will have to catch a bus from Tulum to Chetumal), there are no direct buses to Chetumal from the airport; however, you can easily take the bus to Cancun’s city center and grab a direct bus to Chetumal. Whatever your itinerary, getting to Chetumal is not expensive at all. The bus company is called ADO and their fleet includes comfortable charter buses with air conditioning and movie entertainment. On a long journey they will provide you with a drink and snack.
The journey is not a short one. It will be a six hour bus ride from Cancun to Chetumal, four and a half hours from Playa del Carmen, and three and a half hours from Tulum. Once in Chetumal you will need to buy your ticket for the water-taxi at the bus depot. Then grab a taxi to the dock.
Once at the dock your luggage will be taken by staff and you will have to register inside the company office and then will be guided outside to the other side of the building to then deal with customs. If you get there early enough you can beat the rush and get cleared rather quickly. Do not worry if you get there early, there is a cute stand outside customs that will sell you beers, water, snacks, etc… The woman will even have music playing.
There is a fee to depart Mexico so make sure you have cash on you!!
When getting onto the water-taxi, try to get as far to the rear as possible; it is a bumpy ride!
The water-taxi has two stops – Ambergris Caye (San Pedro) and Caye Caulker. San Pedro is the first stop of the two. Once docked you will have to wait, once again, in a line to get through the Belize customs and finally, BELIZE! The fee to enter is only 2.50BZ.
So if you have the time to dedicate a full day to travel from one country to the next, then taking this adventurous route is encouraged. It is definitely a more cost efficient way. Especially if you are trying to be economically savvy.
Getting from Belize to Mexico is the same process just discussed but only backwards.
No matter what you do, do not take your eyes off of your ticket to Mexico for the water-taxi in Belize!
The check in process during customs in Belize is a bit hectic and your water-taxi ticket has the potential to being ‘misplaced’; thus forcing you to purchase another ticket. NO EXEPTIONS! This is coming from personal experience. There is only one departure a day so there is no room for error!!
Tidbits & Need-to-Knows
- To buy your ticket at the Cancun airport you will find the kiosk right outside the airport doors. Just walk past MargaritaVille towards the buses you will see on your right. Can’t miss it!
- To save a few dollars and to have a local experience you can catch one of the several shuttles that run from Playa del Carmen to Tulum for about 3 dollars. They run every five minutes and will stop for your wherever you are on the route. They will also drop you off anywhere on the road you would like. This is a great way to see all the Cenotes along the way at hardly any cost.
- The taxi from the Chetumal bus depot to the water-taxi dock is about 100 pesos; but it can be split among multiple riders, so don’t hesitate asking fellow travelers if they want to share a taxi.
- At the bus station there are taxis waiting for you right outside so it is easy to find one to take you to the dock where the water-taxi and customs are.
- ADO Bus Fares to/from Chetumal, Mexico:
- Cancun (city center) – $17US – $22US
- Playa del Carmen – $19US
- Tulum – $17US
- Cancun Airport to its City Center – $4US