How to take the Colectivo in Quintana Roo, Mexico? Well, first let me tell you it’s easier than you might think. It’s not as formal as public transportation where I’m from, Alberta, Canada – but, it’s reliable and convenient.
Plus, as an added bonus, we saved over $200 Canadian by taking the Colectivo over a Taxi.
An important thing to know is that there are two Colectivo ‘lines’ if you will. Tulum to Playa and Playa to Cancun. Also, there are two types of Colectivos – those that run on highway 307 and stop along the highway, and other local Colectivos which I think bring you from the local area out to the highway. We never got on a local one, yet rather caught the van from highway 307.
The vans hold about 16-20 people. There are seats for 15. Two in the front, then the first row can hold three (you’ll see the box behind the front passenger side, that’s a seat – the person would sit facing the back of the van). Then the next two rows hold three people, too – but they’re all actual seats. The back row holds four. People will also stand in the space between rows one and three. If a Colectivo stops, you make room; if a Colectivo doesn’t stop, then it’s full.
The rate is the same if you go one stop or end to end. We had two different rates – sometimes we paid 35 pesos, and other times we paid 40 pesos – both per person. For this reason, we usually ‘overpaid’ and then waited for our change.
We took three round trips on the Colectivo. Akumal-Tulum, then Akumal-Playa, and lastly, Akumal-Xel-Ha. The first trip cost us a total of 150 pesos, then each other trip cost us 160 pesos, for a total of 470 pesos for all three round trips. That’s about $33 Canadian.
In a Taxi – one way from Akumal to Xel-Ha was 400 pesos one way, plus tip. All in all, we saved a little over $200 Canadian, or 3000 pesos.
The photo above was our Colectivo stop in Akumal on the west side of the highway. You need to stand out and sort of wave down a Colectivo or it won’t stop. And, if you wave it down and it doesn’t stop, it’s most likely full.
Once you get on, you need to say where you’re going to go. This made me super nervous since my Spanish is limited. So, on our first trip from Akumal to Tulum I froze and said nothing. Bryce and I got on and found two seats near the back.
All I did was watch the signs. Tulum was about 30 km down the road, so I kept watching and watching. Then when we got close there was room for me to move up, so I did and asked the driver ‘Tulum, por favor.’ He replied with ‘sí.’
After that, I got over my nervousness and just said where we wanted to go. Most of the locals would yell out about 2 km or so before their stop – well, I didn’t know the route that well to do that and I really didn’t want to miss our stops.
We even took the Colectivo at night. A much different experience – and if you do take it at night, be sure you use the walking bridges which go over the highway, even though they look sketchy.
Tips for taking the Colectivo
- Travel in small groups
- Announce your stop
- Bring minimal items on board (we saw a couple trying to get on with a stroller, no-go)
- Be ready to stand
Overall, taking public transportation in Quintana Roo was awesome. The Colectivo is quick and direct. Sure, it’ll stop a few times between point A and point B, yet it’s like a huge ride share. Well worth the savings.
If you’re looking for more info, I found an article on What is a Colectivo helpful.
My two biggest anxieties where, one – how am I going to open the door? And, two – how do we pay? The first one solved it’s self – someone opened the door on our first trip to get out, yet I had to open it on another trip – it’s easy, just like a van door. The paying part was easy, too. You pay at the end of your trip, when you get off and if you watch what the locals do, you’ll be all set.
It’s fun to push yourself and to do new things, even if you’re a little uneasy. I’m not saying be unsafe – no way. Yet don’t let the unknown stop you from doing something. Taking the Colectivo was one of the highlights of our trip – such a neat adventure.