One Day Trip: San Pedro, Belize to Cancun & Then Isla Mujeres, Mexico and The New Belize/Mexico Border

I’ve been on this trip many times before…traveling by boat or plane to the bus up the Yucatan peninsula either for vacation or to take an interenational flight.  And each time it strikes me how many amazing places are SO close to Belize.   We are pretty lucky.

The world’s most gorgeous beach is here along the Caribbean coast (Xpu-Ha and Tulum are the absolute best), amazing colonial cities like Merida and Valladolid, incredible cenotes and the fresh water lake Laguna Bacalar, killer Mayan ruins (perhaps you’ve heard of Chichenitza?), scenic beach towns like Mahajual, shopping and eating in Cancun and Playa Del Carmen, swimming with the whale sharks off Isla Holbox…are you kidding me?  There is SO much to see and do.

(I’ve got more…check out my blog series about travel in Mexico.)yuc_09_Driving-Distances

The map is from moon.com.

Yesterday morning I hopped on the 7am flight on Maya Island Air to do the trip again.  This time to visit Isla Mujeres (Just off the coast from Cancun) for 2 nights to decompress before taking a flight to the states.  Life in Belize can be SO stressful.

I’ll write a post about the prices and compare them to flying out of BZE (Belize International AIrport) later this week once I’ve included all the taxes and fees.

Here’s how yesterday’s trip went.

Maya Island AIr is running a special for the rest of September and possibly for October too (TBA).  40% off of flights from San Pedro to Corozal.  (Corozal is located in Belize just across the border from Chetumal, Mexico.)

You really see how unpopulated Belize on the 20 minute journey.  Until you get near Corozal, here’s what you see.

IMG_2444The Corozal air strip.

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And my plane.  What a gorgeous day.IMG_3957

Now I need to get from Corozal, Belize across the border to Chetumal, Mexico (less than 10 miles).  And then take the ADO bus.  There is a 10:30am, 12:30pm and 1:30pm (check the schedule for more times).

I planned to take the bus from Corozal bus station to Chetumal.  It costs ONLY $3BZD and I had plenty of time.  But I ran into my buddy from Belize Transfers and decided to splurge and do it the very easy, comfy way.  He practically delivers you on a velvet pillow to your destination – the Chetumal Bus station.

The Belize/Mexico border has undergone quite a few changes since I was last there.  In fact, the old crossing is now open to PEDESTRIANS only and all vehicles are diverted to a new bridge over the Rio Hondo.

The agreement was that Mexico was going to build their side and Belize was going to take care of our side.  Fair I think.  But Mexico finished a few years ago and Belize didn’t do one thing.

So Mexico decided to fund it themselves and with their own workers, they completed the road and the bridge in only a few weeks.

Lots of high walls, machine guns and razor wire.

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The new border crossing is HUGE with multiple entries for trucks and buses and has all the charm and warmth of a…well…a border crossing.  Lots of gravel and paved areas.  Apparently nothing is supposed to grow at a border crossing.  International law?  Such a weird way to say Welcome to Our Country.

I guess you need a clear line of fire to mow down aliens crawling from Mexico to Belize…or would it be the other way around?

My van dropped me right off at the Chetumal bus station.  Like many of the roads in the area, the station was COMPLETELY flooded.  This seems to happen every fall when there is a ton of rain or a good sized storm.  The whole station (other than the ticket booth) is closed and it STINKS like rotten toilets and rotten food and rotten everything in there.

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The back, where the buses usually park, is like a lake.

The bus costs $302 Pesos for a one way trip or about $25USD.  We boarded and started the 5 1/2 hour journey.  This bus is always comfy, well air conditioned and easy.  Apparently it was ADO Sci-Fi day since my three dubbed movies were:  Men In Black 3, Cowboys and Aliens and Real Steel.  You don’t need to know a word of Spanish to understand 90% of what’s going on in movies like these.  Perfecto!

I love how speed bumps in Mexico are places of commerce.  People come running up to the pausing vehicles with seasonal fruits, juices and coconut water…sometimes car mats, hub caps and small lawn ornaments.  Today it was mostly dragon fruit and this…

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Pozol Cacao y Coco.   According to the world wide web, it’s a drink made from fermented corn dough with cocoa and coconut.  Hmmm…

Unfortunately there are firm rules on the bus.  Only the driver is allowed to buy things out the windows.  Passengers must get their snacks at the scheduled stops.

Like at our first (and my favorite) stop at Carrillo Puerto (about 2 hours in), a small Mayan town that I’ve visited a few times (check the map above).  You’ve got 10 minutes to go inside, use the restroom, peek your head out to the village square…

IMG_3963and buy yummy snacks from the ladies who stand by your bus.  Two please with extra pickled onion.  $10 pesos each (or about 80 cents US).

IMG_3966I stuffed myself with these and an entire sleeve of faux chocolate sandwich cookies and fell asleep for a few hours.   To me, this trip is easy, breezy.  5 and a half hours later, I sprung off the bus in Cancun.   It was 3pm Belize time or 4pm in Cancun.

Usually I would stay in Cancun overnight (cheap, clean rooms by the bus station are generally about $35US) and take my flight the next day.  But I’m spending 2 nights at Isla Mujeres..

I grabbed a taxi outside the bus station- 10 minutes and $60 pesos (about $5 US) later, I was at the ferry port.  The ferry leaves from Puerto Juarez every half hour for the island…super convenient and costs $70 peso each way (about $6 US).

I’m always pleasantly surprised how cheap and convenient public transport is in Mexico.

IMG_3967 IMG_3968I was ready for the 4:30pm ferry.

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We pulled away from Puerto Juarez…
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and up to Isla Mujeres about 15 minutes later.
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And I was at the beach on Isla Mujeres by 4:45pm.  Not bad by my standards.

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But then some people like looking out small plane and bus windows, and sitting next to new people and chatting with their taxi driver about why he thinks Mexican people protest unwelcomed government action (or inaction) and Belizeans are very hesitant to.

I like seeing and eating strange foods (I almost begged the bus driver to buy me some pozol) and attempting to speak AWFUL Spanish and not worrying about when a food was last refrigerated.

Now I’m in Isla Mujeres, eating some coconut French toast and things are looking pretty good so far…

 

 

 

 

 





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  • Erik Terdal

    Great travelogue! Looking forward to the price comparison post.

  • purplepartyguy

    isla to belize and back while making stops along the way is a great way to spend a few weeks.

    • Belize Blog

      I would love to spend a month doing it. FANTASTIC idea. I’m so curious about the coast between Tulum and Mahajual…is there just nothing there?

      • purplepartyguy

        I highly recommend stopping in mahahual for a few days. The ADO runs from downtown cancun to cozumel, tulum and now mahahual. Then from mahahual on caribe to chetumal, ferry from chetumal to san pedro. The ado bus also runs a direct route from cancun, cozumel, corozal, orange walk and then into belize city. Half the fun is planning the route…lots of options…have fun…and dont miss caye caulker. If you drive you can stop at bacalar and see the beautiful 7 color lagoon…

        • Belize Blog

          I’ve been to Bacalar…amazing. I like Mahahual too…very cool. And Tulum…I love it all! Thanks PPG.

  • Natalie Kilpatrick

    I love your blog. I still read it every day since finding it last month.

    • Belize Blog

      Thanks so much!

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