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This Is When You Need To Leave Your Hotel To Head To The Cancun Airport Right Now

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Tourists who visited Cancun in August had a significant obstacle to overcome as they made their way home after vacation. Due to road construction and overwhelming tourist demand, the routes to and from Cancun International Airport have been significantly congested. Specifically to the Northern Hotel Zone. In early August, airlines asked Cancun tourists to leave their hotels five hours before their flights. Things got so bad that some tourists decided it may be quicker to get out of their taxis and walk to the airport. Construction along Luis Donaldo Colosio Boulevard is expected to last about a year, so tourists will continue to see delays.

Young woman about to leave her hotel in cancun

However, there is good news. As the construction has continued, traffic times have reduced. Although travelers will still be met with delays, leaving their hotels five hours ahead of time is no longer necessary from the hotel zone. For now, alternative routes that bypass Luis Donaldo Colosio Boulevard are still clear, meaning congestion along the Boulevard has eased.

Road work being done in cancun mexico

A recent report pointed out that heading to the airport via Luis Donaldo Colosio Boulevard from the northern entrance to the hotel zone now takes about 45 minutes. While certainly not the typical 15 minutes it would take if there were no congestion, it is an improvement over the beginning of August. It's recommended to arrive at the airport three hours before departure, so every minute saved on the way there is a good thing.

Cancun international airport exterior

To get an idea of how long travelers should expect a drive to the airport to take from the Northern Hotel Zone in Cancun, we've used Google Maps data for accurate estimates. At the peak of the construction congestion, tourists were driving through the entirety of the hotel zone and exiting via the south entrance to avoid the construction along Luis Donaldo Colosio Boulevard.

To test whether this is still a viable option, we compared the routes leaving from Puerto Cancun near the hotel zone's northern entrance. We also chose the departing time as 8:30 am on a Monday, as this departure time showed the heaviest traffic. The results were as follows:

Cancun hotel zone with road in view

Northern Hotel Zone to Cancun International Airport

Via Luis Donaldo Colosio Boulevard

  • Trip Time: 24 – 45 minutes
  • Arrival Time: 9:15 am
  • Distance: 11.3 miles
  • How Soon To Leave Before Flight: 3 hr 45

Via The Hotel Zone

  • Trip Time: 30 – 55 minutes
  • Arrival Time: 9:25 am
  • Distance: 20 miles
  • How Soon To Leave Before Flight: 3 hr 55
Route comparison cancun

Google maps future predictions have a consistent accuracy rate of 97%, meaning the data above can be trusted. This also means that for many travelers heading to the airport from the Northern Hotel Zone, there is no longer any reason to avoid Luis Donaldo Colosio Boulevard. However, the further south you go in the hotel zone, the shorter the trip time becomes. Travelers should check both before deciding which route to take, and local taxis will likely know which route would fare better.

Passengers Pictured Outside The Cancun Airport International Terminal, Cancun, Mexico

Other Areas

Not everyone who flies into Cancun heads to the northern zone. Travelers frequently visit Playa del Carmen, Tulum, the Southern Hotel Zone, and the Riviera Maya. Estimated transport times for each area have been laid out below using the same parameters as the last example.

Playa Del Carmen

  • Departure Location: Hilton Playa del Carmen
  • Trip Time: 40 min – 1hr 5
  • Arrival Time: 9:35 am
  • Distance: 34.4 miles
  • How Soon To Leave Before Flight: 4 hr 5

Southern Hotel Zone

  • Departure Location: Club Med Cancun
  • Trip Time: 14 – 16 minutes
  • Arrival Time: 8:46 am
  • Distance: 7.6 miles
  • How Soon To Leave Before Flight: 3 hr 16


  • Departure Location: Dreams Tulum Resort & Spa
  • Trip Time: 1hr 10 – 1hr 50
  • Arrival Time: 10:20 am
  • Distance: 68.4 miles
  • How Soon To Leave Before Flight: 4 hr 50
Young Female Tourist Gazing At The Tulum Ruins And Beach Below, Riviera Maya, Caribbean Coast Of Mexico

Riviera Maya

  • Departure Location: Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya
  • Trip Time: 55 min – 1hr 25
  • Arrival Time: 9:55 am
  • Distance: 47 miles
  • How Soon To Leave Before Flight: 4 hr 25

Final Word

While travel times to the airport are improving, it is important for every traveler to check the status of the roads before heading to the airport. Construction is ongoing, and road closures could take place with little notice. For now, it looks as if travelers can ease up compared to the beginning of August, especially those visiting the northern part of the hotel zone.

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This article originally appeared on

Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.


Saturday 3rd of September 2022

We saw people get right back into the car rental shuttle and head back to the airport this weekend! They noped out after the traffic.