What is the Distance from Cancun to Riviera Maya? Depends on Your Destination

By Michele Samal Kinnon

If you are visiting the Mexican Caribbean for the first time, understanding the layout of the region and specifically the distance from Cancun to the Riviera Maya will help you to plan your travel more effectively and make the most of your precious vacation time and travel budget.

We know because we live here and travel from the Riviera Maya to Cancun several times a week. It´s easy to get from one place to another but it´s important to understand the geography of the area and the best way to get to your destination once you arrive at the Cancun International Airport.

What is the Actual Distance from Cancun to Riviera Maya

The distance from Cancun to Riviera Maya depends entirely on your destination. The region known as the Riviera Maya stretches 130 kilometers from Puerto Morelos to Punta Allen. These are the distances from Cancun to popular destinations along the Rivera Maya corridor.

Distance from Cancun to Riviera Maya locations

LocationKilometersMilesApprox Time
Cancun to Puerto Morelos261627 Minutes
Cancun to Playa del Carmen553455 Minutes
Cancun to Puerto Aventuras76471hr 10 mins
Cancun to Akumal92571hr 20 mins
Cancun to Tulum Pueblo118731hr 40 mins
Cancun to Tulum Beach122761hr 50 mins
Cancun to Punta Allen1701063hr 45 mins

Where Exactly is Cancun Located in Mexico?

Cancun is located in the eastern part of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. It is situated on the northeastern coast of the state of Quintana Roo, overlooking the Caribbean Sea. Cancun is approximately 1,675 kilometers (1,041 miles) east of Mexico City and is easily accessible by air, with direct flights from many major cities around the world.

The Riviera Maya: Location and Significance

The Riviera Maya is a stunning tourist district located along the Caribbean coastline of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. It stretches from the town of Puerto Morelos in the north to the village of Punta Allen in the south. Known for its beautiful beaches, crystal-clear waters, and ancient Mayan ruins, the Riviera Maya is a must-visit destination for travelers seeking a mix of relaxation, adventure, and culture.

Understanding the Terminology: Is Riviera Maya the Same as Mayan Riviera?

Riviera Maya and Mayan Riviera refer to the same region. The term “Riviera Maya” is more commonly used, but you may also hear “Mayan Riviera”, particularly in English-speaking countries. Both terms refer to the stretch of Mexican Caribbean coastline that runs from Puerto Morelos, just south of Cancun all the way to Punta Allen at the southernmost point of the Sian Ka’an Biosphere.

Did you know? Designating this area of Mexico as The Riviera Maya was part of a tourism push for the region. The name, much like ¨The French Riviera¨ or ¨The Gold Coast¨ is a marketing construct designed to glamourize the region and attract tourists. And guess what? It’s working.

Riviera maya map with destinations showing the distance from cancun to riviera maya
Riviera Maya Map With The Popular Destinations

Is Cancun Part of the Riviera Maya? 

Cancun is not technically part of the Riviera Maya, although they are located in the same region of Mexico and are often mentioned together due to their proximity. Cancun is the happy result of a bold touristic investment instigated by FONATUR in the 1970s. It is located on the northeast coast of the Yucatan peninsula and is now a world-renowned travel destination that attracts millions of visitors every year with its luxurious resorts, breathtaking beaches, high-end designer shopping, and exciting nightlife.

Travel Logistics: Do You Fly into Cancun to Get to Riviera Maya?

Yes, if you’re traveling to the Riviera Maya from abroad, you will most likely fly into Cancun International Airport (CUN). This airport is the second busiest in Mexico and offers numerous international flights. From Cancun Airport, you can reach your Riviera Maya destination via shuttle, taxi, rental car, or public transportation.

Cancun and the Riviera Maya – What to Know Before You Go

Time Zone

Easter Standard Time (GMT-5). It is important to note that the Cancun and the Riviera Maya do not observe Daylight Savings Time (DST).


The Mexican peso is the official and preferred currency in Mexico but US dollars are also accepted in many places but be prepared for an unfavorable exchange rate.


While Mexico claims no “official language”, Spanish is most commonly spoken. Many people, especially in the tourism sector, also speak English. You may even hear some of the locals speaking Maya!

Entry Requirements

A valid passport BOOK is required for entry into Mexico by air. If you are traveling from the United States, a passport card is not sufficient for arrival at any airport in Mexico. Mexico requires that your passport be valid for at least 90 days following your scheduled departure date from the country, but it’s a good idea to have six months of validity on your passport at all times.

Travel Visa Requirements

Travelers from the United States, Canada, Japan, the UK and most countries in Europe do not need a travel visa to visit the Riviera Maya for a trip of up to 180 days. If you are uncertain, refer to this list of countries that require a visa for entry into Mexico.


Laptops, cellphone chargers, hairdryers and other electrical devices from the United States, Canada and Japan will be compatible with the electrical sockets in Mexico which are types A and B. Mexico operates on a 127V supply voltage and 60Hz. Visitors from other countries will need this universal travel adaptor.

Cellular Phone Service and Internet

Cancun and the Riviera Maya have excellent 4G coverage but areas offering FREE public internet are few and unreliable. Your cellular provider at home MAY offer coverage in Mexico and you should check on that in advance of your trip. If no coverage is offered in Mexico (very likely) you will want to purchase a SIM card in advance of your travel to be sure you have the data and connectivity you need during your trip.

Depending on your cell phone, you’ll need one of these three sizes: chip, microchip, or nanochip. SIM cards from Telcel (Mexico’s leading cellular provider) are the ones we recommend and will work for all three sizes. Buy your Telcel SIM card here on Amazon.


With the exception of some large resorts that have reserve osmosis water filtration systems throughout the property, you cannot drink tap water in Cancun or the Riviera Maya. There is a risk of bacterial contamination as well as high levels of calcium and other minerals which are damaging to our kidneys. Bottled water is readily available in all hotels, resorts and vacation rentals as well as in restaurants

Navigating the Distance: Getting to Your Destination

When you land at Cancun International Airport (CUN), you have several options to reach your destination in Cancun or the Riviera Maya, each with its own advantages and considerations. Here’s a detailed guide on the various transportation options.

Cancun transportations vans
We Recommend Booking Your Transportation In Advance With Cancun Airport Transportations.

Private Shuttle Services: Best for Comfort and Convenience

When it comes to comfort and convenience, private shuttle services are hard to beat. These services provide spacious, air-conditioned vehicles that can accommodate solo travelers, couples, families, or larger groups. Many companies offer a range of vehicle options, from standard vans to luxury sedans and SUVs, so you can choose the level of comfort that suits your needs and budget.

One of the key advantages of private shuttles is the personalized service. Drivers are often bilingual, assist with luggage, and can offer valuable local insights during the journey. Private shuttles operate on your schedule, meaning you won’t have to wait for other passengers or make multiple stops along the way unless you’re planning to share the ride. This can be beneficial after a long flight when all you want to do is reach your destination and start your vacation.

To get a quote for your private shuttle, you can enter your details here to find out how cheap it can be.

Car Rental – Best for Flexibility and Freedom

Cancun car rentals
Reserve The Cancun Rental Car You Want At The Best Price With Discover Cars.

Renting a car provides the most flexibility, allowing you to explore the Riviera Maya at your own pace. Several car rental companies operate at Cancun Airport, including both international chains like Hertz and Avis, and local companies. Prices can vary widely depending on the type of car and the rental period. 

To find the best deals from multiple Cancun car rental companies, we use RentalCars.com. This helpful website helps us to find the car we want at the best rate and to make sure we have a reservation in advance. Nothing can spoil a trip like being at the mercy of a car rental agent with no reservation.

Remember to check whether your insurance covers international car rental or if you need to purchase additional car insurance coverage. Also, be aware that driving in a foreign country can be challenging due to different road rules and signage.

Ado buses in cancun
Taking The Bus From Cancun To Riviera Maya Is Safe And Affordable. Book In Advance On Busbud.

Public Bus Services: Comfortable and Affordable

Public buses are a cost-effective way to travel from Cancun to the Riviera Maya. The most popular bus company operating in this region is ADO, and they are known for their reliable and comfortable service. Buses are air-conditioned and some even offer onboard Wi-Fi and entertainment.

Buses depart from the Cancun International Airport as well as the ADO bus station in downtown Cancun and stop at various points in the Riviera Maya, including Puerto Morelos, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum. The trip to Playa del Carmen takes approximately 1 hour and costs around $4 USD. If you are headed to Tulum, expect the journey to take over 3 hours and cost about $10 USD.

Tickets can be purchased at the bus station or online in advance. Because they are so affordable, buses can get busy, especially during peak travel times. We recommend that you plan to arrive at the station early or book your ticket ahead of time on BusBud.

Taking a Colectivo: Go with the Locals

Colectivos are shared vans that operate on set routes, providing a truly local way to travel between Cancun and the Riviera Maya. They’re a popular choice for both residents and budget-conscious travelers.

Colectivos don’t have a set schedule. Instead, they depart when they’re full, which usually means a wait of no more than 15-20 minutes. You also cannot grab a colectivo at the airport. You will need to take a taxi or ADO bus into downtown Cancun and go from there. 

Colectivos also stop to pick up and let off travelers all up and down the highway so build those delays into your timing.

The fare for the colectivos depends on the distance traveled but is generally quite affordable, often costing just a few pesos. You pay the driver in cash when you board once you have told him your destination. 

While colectivos are less spacious than private shuttles or buses, they offer a chance to experience local life and can be a fun and interesting way to travel. However, if you have a lot of luggage or prefer a more comfortable and direct journey, this is not the best option for you.

Money Matters

What Currency Should I Bring?

The official currency of Mexico is the Mexican peso (MXN), however, US dollars are also widely accepted throughout Cancun and the Riviera Maya. To get the most favorable exchange rate, order pesos from your local bank several weeks in advance of your trip.

It’s not necessary to bring enough pesos to last you through your entire vacation. ATMs are available and they will dispense pesos. Always use ATMs that are attached to a bank or bank affiliated to get the best rates. Try to avoid the stand-alone ATMs that dispense USD as the rates are extortionate.

Credit cards are also widely accepted in most hotels, restaurants, and shops in Cancun and in popular tourist destinations along the Riviera Maya. Be prepared that you may pay a service charge for the convenience.

How Much is a Taxi from Cancun to the Riviera Maya?

If you haven’t booked your transportation in advance, taxis are readily available at Cancun Airport, offering a direct and convenient way to reach your resort in Cancun or the Riviera Maya. 

Keep in mind that a taxi is most likely going to be more expensive than the options listed above, especially for longer distances or if you are arriving late at night.

The cost of a taxi from Cancun to the Riviera Maya can vary depending on the distance. You can expect to pay from $35 USD traveling from the airport to Puerto Morelos to over $200 USD if you are headed to Tulum .

It is essential to agree on the fare with the taxi driver before starting your journey to avoid any misunderstandings.

The hotel zone of cancun at night
The Cancun Hotel Zone Glittering At Night

Budget Travel: What’s the Cheapest Time to Visit Cancun and the Riviera Maya?

The cheapest time to visit Riviera Maya is during the off-peak season, which is typically from May to mid-December. During this time, you’ll find lower prices for accommodations and flights. Keep in mind that this period also coincides with the rainy season, which can mean occasional showers and storms

The most expensive times to visit are during the peak tourist seasons, which are mid-December to April and the summer months when families travel. For what it’s worth, ground transportation costs do not fluctuate between the high and low season.

Travel Time: How Long is the Ride from Cancun Airport to Riviera Maya?

There is no definitive answer to this question. Your travel time from Cancun Airport to Riviera Maya is going to vary depending on your mode of transportation and your specific destination. 

On average, the journey to Playa del Carmen takes about an hour by car or private shuttle. If you’re traveling further south to Tulum, you can expect the journey to take two hours or more. 

If you take a shared shuttle or a colectivo that will make multiple stops along the way, your travel time can be doubled. 

Keep in mind that times vary based on traffic and other factors. The Federal highway, Carretera 307, is the only road that goes from Cancun to Chetumal. If there is an accident or roadwork, there is no way to circumvent the backup and your travel will be delayed.

Walking down 5th avenue in playa del carmen
Playa Del Carmen Is One Of The Most Popular Destinations On The Riviera Maya.

Popular Stops and Attractions Between Cancun and the Riviera Maya

If you are renting a car, you will have the flexibility and freedom to stop anywhere you like along highway 307 en route to your Riviera Maya resort or destination. Here are a few ideas of places to see along the way.

Crococun Zoo

Located just north of Puerto Morelos, Crococun Zoo is a great stop for families or anyone interested in wildlife. It’s a conservationist zoo where you can learn about and interact with native Mexican animals, including crocodiles, monkeys, and a variety of birds.

Puerto morelos
Visit The Quaint Fishing Village Of Puerto Morelos. Life At A Slower Pace.

Puerto Morelos

This charming seaside town is roughly halfway between Cancun and Playa del Carmen. It’s known for its relaxed vibe, beautiful beaches, and excellent snorkeling. There are several great waterfront restaurants and beach clubs to choose from. Park and walk until you find the one you like!

Playa del Carmen

This bustling coastal city is nearly as popular as Cancun and an easy place to stop halfway between Cancun and Tulum. Playa is a great place to stop for lunch and maybe take a stroll down 5th Avenue. Parking is metered in downtown Playa so be sure to pay and put the printed receipt on your dash to avoid the dreaded ¨boot¨ and a fine.


With a quiet bay perfect for snorkeling and swimming, Paamul is a private community and much less crowded than many of the larger beach areas. Tell the guards at the gate you are going to the restaurant. This is a great place to stop for lunch and a cold margarita before continuing on to your final destination.

Riviera maya cenote park
Stop For A Quick Dip In One Of The Riviera Maya´s Famous Cenotes.


The Riviera Maya is known for its cenotes, natural sinkholes filled with fresh water. There are several cenotes just south of Puerto Aventuras where you can stop for a refreshing swim, including Cenote Cristalino, Cenote Azul, and Cenote Jardin del Eden.


This small beachfront community is famous for its sea turtles that visitors can snorkel with. It’s also home to Yal-ku Lagoon, a sheltered area where fresh and saltwater mix, creating a unique environment for marine life. If you have time for lunch and a quick dip, head to Lol Ha Restaurant for great food and great views.

Tulum beach
The Beaches Of Tulum And World-Renowned For Good Reason!


Tulum is a must-visit attraction no matter where you are staying in Cancun or along the Riviera Maya. Famous for its well-preserved Mayan ruins located on a cliff overlooking the Caribbean Sea, Tulum also offers beautiful beaches and a trendy town center. There are hundreds of great little places to grab a bite to eat and some excellent boutiques to browse through.

Cancun vs Riviera Maya: Which Destination is Better for You?

Choosing between Cancun and the Riviera Maya can be a challenge as both destinations offer unique experiences.

Cancun attracts visitors for its vibrant nightlife, luxury resorts, and bustling hotel zone. It’s a great choice if you’re looking for a lively vacation with plenty of entertainment options. Cancun also offers easy access to shopping malls, restaurants, and cultural attractions like the El Rey Ruins and MUSA the Cancun underwater museum.

Musa underwater museum in cancun
The Musa Underwater Art Museum In Cancun Is A Must-See Destination!

The Riviera Maya offers a more laid-back experience with tranquil beaches, eco-parks, and raw natural beauty. The Riviera Maya is also known for its historical sites, including the Tulum and Coba ruins. If you’re interested in adventure activities like snorkeling, cave diving, or exploring cenotes, the Riviera Maya would be a great choice.

In the end, both Cancun and the Riviera Maya offer a range of experiences to suit different travel preferences. Whether you choose the lively atmosphere of Cancun or the tranquil beauty of the Riviera Maya, you’re sure to have an unforgettable vacation.

Distance between cancun and riviera maya
Map Of Cancun And The Riviera Maya

Understanding the Distance from Cancun to Riviera Maya

Understanding the distance from Cancun to Riviera Maya and the various transportation options available is key to planning a smooth and enjoyable trip. Whether you choose a private shuttle for its convenience, rent a car for the flexibility it affords, or opt for a bus or colectivo for a more local experience, each option offers its own unique advantages. Whether you’re drawn to the vibrant energy of Cancun or the tranquil beauty of the Riviera Maya, this region of Mexico offers something for everyone. With a bit of planning, you’re well on your way to an unforgettable vacation. Safe travels!

If you have any questions about this information, please feel free to contact us

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About the author

Michele Samal Kinnon

Despite the strong reservations of family and friends, in 2004 I moved from the United States to Mexico with my young family. Since then, I have made the Riviera Maya my home. I have raised two remarkable children here. I have celebrated amazing successes, made countless mistakes, and in the process, fallen in love with this beautiful country.