I got this question from a blog reader over the weekend, so I thought I would answer on this blog.
“Every time we come to Mahaual, the ADO fare keeps rising. Just from airport to PDC end of Jan 2015 it was 156 pesos one way. I always go to PDC and then head to Mahahual the next day. Is there really a shuttle from the airport to Mahahual to avoid the hotel night in PDC?”
To answer your question, yes, there are several ways to get to Mahahual from Cancun, and avoid an overnight stay in Playa del Carmen.
First the shuttle from the airport to Mahahual leaves Cancun at 7am and arrives in Playa del Carmen at 8am and leaves shortly after that. This shuttle leaves way too early for most flights coming from the USA and Canada, so not many people can take advantage of this. This is why most people spend a night in Playa del Carmen, and then catch the Mahahual shuttle the next morning to Mahahual.
There are several different options you can use, if you prefer to get to Mahahual on the same day of your flight, and avoid a stay in Playa del Carmen. I will now break these options down for you, because trust me I have used them all.
First of all, get out of the Cancun airport as quick as you can. Take a cab or collectivo (van), to the main ADO bus terminal in Cancun. From there book a direct bus to Chetumal, they leave every hour, and buy a ticket to Limones. Limones is the last town before the exit to Mahahual off of Highway 307. You can take an ADO bus or you can choose a Mayab bus, they are a lot cheaper, and run the same routes as the ADO bus. Get off in Limones, a small bump in the road, and catch the Caribe bus that comes through on its way to Mahahual at 6pm. The Caribe from Limones to Mahahual is 40 pesos, and arrives in Mahahual at about 715pm.
This route is good to take if say you flight gets in late morning or early afternoon, because it is about 4 hours from Cancun to Limones. Just remember the Caribe leaves Limones at 6pm, and it is the last bus to Mahahual for the day. If you take the Mayab from Cancun and catch the Caribe into Mahahual, it should run a total of about 200 pesos, more or less. There are also vans and taxis that can bring you from Limones to Mahahual, but those prices vary on the day and the time. I take the Mayab bus because it is a lot cheaper than the ADO busses, and the only drawback is, it makes more stops. So say if your flight gets in at noon or so, you have plenty of time to make it to Limones.
If you are like me and like some adventure, and want to travel Mexican style, you can also catch collectivos (or cumbees as they are called here) from Cancun all the way to Limones. This is the cheapest route, and you will also get to Limones quicker. It involves changing vans from city to city, but it is cheap and quick.
First take a collectivo to Playa del Carmen, then from Playa take a collectivo to either Tulum or Felipe de Carillio. These will run you about 50 pesos apiece from town to town. When you get to Felipe de Carillio, take a collectivo to Limones, and then the Caribe to Mahahual. The last time I did this from Playa del Carmen it cost me about 100 pesos to get to Limones. This is the way a lot of locals travel from point to point. I would not recommend these on the weekends though, might be a little crowded.
I think both the options I have listed above are possible on most USA and Canada flights because from my understanding most flights arrive in Cancun from the USA and Canada late morning or early afternoon.
I hope I have answered any questions any of you might have about reaching Mahahual from Cancun in one day. If you need more details contact me, and I can walk you through it.
Thanks for reading.
Stewart Rogers USA-South Carolina