There are many ways to navigate around the island of Cozumel, but the safest and easiest way is by taking one of Cozumel’s plentiful taxi cabs.
It is very safe to take taxis in Cozumel. Cozumel taxis are well-kept, clearly numbered, and licensed, and the fares are regulated. Taxi drivers in Cozumel are part of a lucrative union, so their jobs are valued. Most Cozumel drivers are bilingual and very friendly, and many are also trained tour guides, so they take great pride in their island home and love showing people around.
With a few simple tips and tricks, you’ll feel confident getting around Cozumel island by taxi and spare yourself the stresses of driving in unfamiliar territory.
Biggest Taxi Risk in Cozumel?
Of the thousands of Cozumel taxi reviews and informal comments on various social media channels, the biggest legitimate risk in taking a local taxi may be simple sticker shock. But this is also the easiest risk to mitigate.
Cozumel taxi rates are set and regulated by the local union, and by and large, these rates are straightforward and quite reasonable.
Taxi rates in Cozumel are also clearly posted in public at major taxi stands, such as near the Ferry terminal when you arrive from the mainland, and at various stores and hotels around town.
Your driver should also have a rate card to show you when you get in if you are unclear on the fare to your destination.
It is very common, however, for Cozumel visitors to hire a taxi for an outing or trip that falls outside of the simple zone pricing system, or the set rates on the card.
For example, if you want to arrange for multiple stops or a trip where the taxi driver gives you a tour, or takes you to an attraction, waits for you, and then returns you to your final destination.
This is a common occurrence in Cozumel since lots of people hire taxis when they want to check out the Mayan ruins at San Gervasio, or travel as a small group to the other side of the island for lunch or beach-side cocktails.
The best rule of thumb for taking a taxi in Cozumel is to simply explain your plan to your driver, and agree to a total fare before you get underway. That way you can either consult the current official rate or negotiate and agree to a total fare for special trips ahead of time.
No surprises = no sticker shock.
The Cozumel taxi rates shown above are current as of March 2021. When you’re planning your trip to Cozumel, remember to find an up-to-date rate card upon arrival and take a picture of it with your phone, so you have it handy as you explore the island during your stay.
Use Pesos in Cozumel to Get the Best Taxi Fare
One frequent source of confusion or irritation among visitors to Cozumel is that fares billed in US dollars ($USD) are often higher than their corresponding fare in Mexican pesos ($MXN).
I think the best way to avoid any hard feelings over that is to simply use the currency that is local to the region. Just get some pesos!
If you don’t know how to get pesos please see our corresponding post on how to use currency in Cozumel, or simply go to one of the major banks or grocery stores in downtown Cozumel and take out some pocket cash from the safe, major bank-owned ATMs.
If you don’t want to bother exchanging some cash for Mexican pesos, you can pay your Cozumel taxi fare with US dollars. Dollars are accepted in cabs here, and indeed in many places around town.
However, as noted, you will likely pay a little bit more if using foreign currency, especially since taxis in Cozumel do not accept credit cards. But, again, the rates are still quite reasonable – even in dollars.
Tipping in Taxis is Customary in Cozumel
In general, Cozumel is a tipping culture. You can read more in our post on gratuities in Cozumel, here.
So in the case of Cozumel taxi cabs, a small tip on top of the agreed-to fare is customary.
After a very short ride, simply “rounding up” is kind and appreciated, whereas if you arrange a long tour or a ‘wait and return’ ride with one driver, it is best to offer a decent tip of 10-20% once you get to your final destination – especially if he or she showed you a good time (and they often do).
Will I Get Scammed in a Cozumel Taxi?
Statistically speaking, the overwhelming answer is “no.”
Coming from other countries people are often nervous, in general. Many cruise passengers or those new to Mexico are often worried that they might make a mistake or they might get scammed.
Perhaps it’s due to crime stories (only those bad enough to make international news, which frankly all countries have), or the proliferation of shows and documentaries on Latin American drug trade (like the Narcos series on Netflix).
While no area is perfectly crime-free, Cozumel has a very low crime rate. And of all people, the well-employed tourism professionals in Cozumel are not out to get you.
In fact, if you search Facebook or Tripadvisor for stories specifically about Cozumel taxi experiences, they’re far more often positive and grateful stories about the driver who went “out of his way” to ensure the safe return of someone’s phone, or wallet, or beach bag.
That’s the kind of care and service the local Cozumel tourism industry is known for, definitely not for scamming people.
Many Cozumel taxi drivers also grew up here, and/or have lots of family around. So don’t be surprised if your simple ride becomes a wonderful memory of the time when the fun taxi driver pointed out some local history or took you to their cousin’s awesome hole-in-the-wall restaurant when you mentioned you didn’t know where to go for lunch.
Don’t assume the worst! Just check your fare and agree to it before you get in the cab and everything else will be fine.
As you would anywhere, keep your wallet and phone in a secure pocket or bag close to you so you don’t drop them, be polite and reasonable, and don’t be a drunken jerk (it definitely happens, and then guess who IS complaining about losing her phone on Facebook?).
Maybe cram some Spanish vocab?
Porfa and mucho gusto go a long way, but having a little basic Spanish will make your Cozumel vacation that much easier and safer.
Skillshare is free for 7-days and has a bunch of online lessons to get a quick hit of frequently used words and polite expressions.
Can I Take an Uber or Lyft in Cozumel?
Cozumel has a well-regulated and strong taxi union, which leaves little room for any competing automobile transport services. Uber, Lyft, or other similar car-hire companies with easy phone apps are not operating in Cozumel, and probably won’t be for the foreseeable future.
Lots of people still ask if Uber, Lyft, or similar direct car-hire services are in the works in Cozumel?
The simple answer is “No.”
As mentioned the taxi drivers in Cozumel are in a strong and professionally run union, and they get their license and medallion through networking and hard work. They’re not inclined to share that tourist business with competing services.
This causes some friction among residents and visitors who argue for healthy market competition. But in this case, and for the foreseeable future, I’d just say that it is what it is.
Knowing that you’re in good hands, and don’t have to worry about any speeding tickets, having a drink or two, or even just getting lost, should be worth the fare involved.
Just enjoy your trip and enjoy that someone else is doing the driving.
Can Cozumel Taxis Accommodate Wheelchairs?
As a former tour business owner in Cozumel, I’m happy to say that many taxi vans in Cozumel are equipped with accessories to help people with lower mobility and people who use wheelchairs.
Many Cozumel taxis and taxi-vans may have step stools, added pull bars, and other accommodations that make it easier for a person in a light wheelchair or mobility scooter to make the transition from chair to van seat, and then the chair is stowed.
Visitors to Cozumel who use full wheelchairs will also be able to find taxi vans with ramps and full mechanical lifts.
Mobility-equipped taxis in Cozumel may need to be arranged ahead of time, perhaps with help from your hotel front desk or rental contact. Another option is to simply ask any driver you do encounter and he should be happy to call the main taxi dispatch managers and see if they can send one of the drivers who IS equipped for that service.
It may take a few minutes, but there are taxis and taxi-vans in Cozumel that are specifically suited for wheelchair accessibility. Once you find an appropriately equipped taxi, a good tip is to ask the driver if you can keep his number and text him in the event you need subsequent transportation during the rest of your stay.
The taxi services in Cozumel make living here and visiting very easy and secure, and it’s nice to know there is always a plan B to get somewhere.
However, if you decide to be the master of your own domain and rent a car, instead, please be sure to check out our primer on things no one tells you about rending a car in Cozumel.
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Getting Ready to Pack for Your Vacation in Cozumel?
Cozumel Packing Advice:
Rainy Any-Day Gear
These are top water-friendly things to pack for your trip to Cozumel (or anywhere!):
Light, high-quality rain jacket with a hood. (this is an Amazon link to my favorite one, but any good waterproof jacket will do).
These jackets don’t take up much room in your bag, but provide great protection from sudden showers, sun (especially on a dive boat), and can even serve as a warm layer on the airplane.
Truly waterproof dry bag(s) for your phones, wallets, and important papers.
All-terrain tennis shoes that pack easily, and can take you from walking around town to snorkeling in the water, and then back to lunch at a cool cafe.
Water-tight dry box for your phone, keys, and wallet, especially if you’re diving and might find yourself on a small fast boat, without tons of protected space on board. Look for a crush-proof box that will withstand immersion – that’s of course the worst-case scenario, but then you’ll know it’ll be absolutely fine with some rain.
(I think of it as a pretty cheap insurance policy for my iPhone…and all the information that’s on my iPhone!)