Although budget airlines like InterJet are starting to appear on the Mexican airline scene, flying domestically is still relatively expensive, and the Yucatán is no exception. Once you factor in the check-in process, security, and baggage claim, there are very few flights within the region that make sense travel-wise, unless your time is incredibly tight. And if that is the case, you may as well see what you can do by car or bus and start planning a return trip.
Mexico’s bus and public transportation system is one of the best in Latin America, if not the Western Hemisphere, and the Yucatán Peninsula bus system is no exception. ADO and its affiliate bus lines practically have a monopoly, but that has not made bus travel any less efficient or less affordable. Dozens of buses cover every major route many times per day, and even smaller towns have frequent and reliable service.
Buses come in three main categories, explained here.
First class—known as primera clase or sometimes ejecutivo—is the most common and the one travelers use most often. Buses have reclining seats and TVs where movies are played on long trips. First-class buses make some intermediate stops but only in large towns. The main first-class line in the Yucatán is ADO.
Deluxe class—usually called lujo (luxury)—is a step up; they often are slightly faster since they’re typically nonstop. The main deluxe line is ADO-GL, which costs 10–25 percent more than regular ADO. ADO-GL buses have nicer seats and better televisions (and even more recent movies!). Sometimes there are even free bottles of water in a cooler at the back. Even nicer are UNO buses, which often charge twice as much as regular ADO. UNO offers cushy, extra-wide seats (only three across instead of four), headphones, and sometimes a light meal like a sandwich and soda.
Second class—segunda clase—is significantly slower and less comfortable than first class, and they’re not all that much cheaper. Whenever possible, pay the dollar or two extra for first class. Second-class buses are handy in that you can flag them down anywhere on the roadside, but that is also precisely the reason they’re so slow. In smaller towns, second class may be the only service available, and it’s fine for shorter trips. The main second-class lines in the Yucatán are Mayab, Oriente, Noreste, and ATS.
For overnight trips, definitely take first class or deluxe. Not only will you be much more comfortable, second-class buses are sometimes targeted by roadside thieves since they drive on secondary roads and stop frequently.
Wherever bus service is thin, you can count on there being frequent colectivos or combis—vans or minibuses—that cover local routes. They can be flagged down anywhere along the road.
Ferries are used to get to and from the region’s most visited islands, including Isla Mujeres  (reached from Cancún ), Isla Cozumel  (reached from Playa del Carmen ), and Isla Holbox  (reached from Chiquilá). Service is safe, reliable, frequent, and affordable.
As great as Mexico’s bus system is, a car is the best way to tour the Yucatán Peninsula. Most of the sights—ruins, deserted beaches, caves, cenotes, wildlife—are well outside of the region’s cities, down long access roads, or on the way from one town to the next. Having a car also saves you the time and effort of walking or the cost of cabbing to all those “missing links”; it allows you to enjoy the sights for as much or as little time as you choose.
If you’re here for a short time—a week or less—definitely get a car for the simple reason that you’ll have the option of seeing and doing twice as much. If renting for your entire vacation isn’t feasible money-wise, consider renting for just a couple of days to explore the less-accessible parts of Quintana Roo. You also may want a car for a day in Cozumel to check out the island. Cars aren’t necessary to visit Cancún, Isla Mujeres, or Playa del Carmen.
Be sure to read up on the requirements for driving in Mexico  before booking your rental.
Hitchhiking is not recommended for either men or women. That said, it sometimes can be hard to know what is a private vehicle and what is a colectivo (shared van). If there’s no bus terminal nearby, your best bet is to look for locals who are waiting for public transportation and see which vans they take. If you have no choice but to hitch a ride, opt for a pickup truck, where you can sit in (and if necessary, jump from) the back.
Regional travel agents and tour operators offer a vast range of organized trips. You pay extra, of course, but all arrangements and reservations are made for you: from guides and transportation to hotels and meals. Special-interest trips also are common—archaeological tours, bird-watching and dive trips. Ask around, surf the Internet, and you’ll find a world of organized adventure.