Mexico North America Travel

Best Ways to Get From Cancun to Tulum (2024)

Picture of boats floating against turquoise water in Tulum
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So you’re planning an epic trip to Tulum, Mexico, eh? The first step you’ll want to conquer is getting from Cancun to Tulum with ease.

In this post, we’ll be covering all your transportation options when departing Cancun International Airport, so you can pick the one that’s right for you.

If you’re looking for more fun Tulum tips, I have tons of Tulum travel guides to help you plan your trip, but in this post we’ll be covering some really practical info on how to get from A to B, because let’s be honest: that’s step one to setting up your trip for success, am I right?

Private car and driver in Tulum

Thankfully, getting to Tulum from Cancun is pretty simple and there are loads of options available at various comfort levels and prices. We’ll go into each one in depth below so you can decide how you want to spend the approximate 2 hour journey to Tulum.

Did you Know? Tulum Airport is now open with non-stop service from select cities on airlines like Delta, United and American Airlines. Check flight options here to see what’s available to you.

Good to Know: Getting Between Cancun and Tulum 

The Tulum Ruins - how to get from Cancun to Tulum

How Far is Tulum From Cancun Airport?

The distance from Cancun to Tulum is roughly 80 miles and the travel time takes around 1 hour 45 minutes to 2 hours driving along Highway 307. It’s a pretty straight shot, however, it may take longer to get there depending on traffic and what area of Tulum you’re staying in.

Drive Time Depends on Where You’re Staying in Tulum

If it’s your first time to Tulum, it’s important to know that Tulum is growing fast and there are many different neighborhoods.

The main areas that make up Tulum are the downtown Tulum area, the hotel zones along the beach and then the pockets of neighborhoods in between, many of which are up-and-coming.

If you’re staying on the private beach strip (south of Avenue Coba), you’ll have to drive a bit further to get there than if your accommodation is located downtown.

There can also be a lot of traffic on the beach road, so it could take longer to get to your swanky beach hotel than to one downtown even though they’re seemingly not that far from eachother on a map.

What’s the Safest Way to Get Between Cancun and Tulum?

I recommend booking a reputable transfer ahead of time as there have been reports of scams with taxi drivers that approach you at the airport—and trust me, there will be many. It’s best to have something already pre-booked so you don’t have to worry once you land.

Is there a train connecting Cancun and Tulum?

The Maya Train is a massive project that has been in development throughout the Yucatan that will allow tourists to travel quickly between Cancun and Tulum, however this specific route is not quite open yet. Stay updated on when the project opens this route on the Maya Train website.

The Best Ways to Get from Cancun to Tulum 

Private car and driver from Cancun Airport to Tulum

Ok, so let’s dive into your options for getting from Cancun to Tulum. There are a lot of different ways to get there from the Cancun Airport as you can see from the list below. I’ll be breaking down each one in more detail so you can pick the option that’s right for you and your group.

Option 1: Private Transport

The fastest, easiest way to get to Tulum is going to be taking a private transfer from the airport. It’s also the most comfortable in my opinion.

While it’s not the most budget friendly for those on a shoestring, there are a lot of pros like: no luggage restrictions, no haggling, convenience, and bonuses like water, air conditioning and choice of music during your journey.

Plus, drivers will wait for you at the gate and you have the bonus of time flexibility as opposed to being beholden to a public bus schedule.

If this is your first time traveling to Mexico or the Cancun area or you don’t speak any Spanish, I would highly recommend this option. You can book private transfers ahead of time, which means that once you land you don’t have to worry about the stress of getting down to Tulum—it’s already set up for you.

These are the private transfer companies with solid reviews that I would recommend booking for your journey. Book a one-way private transfer here and round-trip service here.

Option 2: Take the ADO Bus

Red and gray ADO bus
Image credit: “ADO Bus – Merida” by appaIoosa is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

One of the most budget-friendly modes of transport is the direct public bus from Cancun to Tulum (currently it costs around $14.50 USD one-way). It’s comfortable and safe to do typically, but it’s not the most efficient and there are only a limited number of buses a day.

You can find the schedule and updated prices available here on the ADO bus website.

ADO is one of the best public bus companies in Mexico with service throughout the Yucatan Peninsula. If this is your first time traveling to Mexico, you’re going to be shocked at how comfortable and nice they are with spacious seats, wifi, AC and movies on offer.

Expect the journey via bus to take at least 2 hours or more though. This option is ideal for those who aren’t in a rush and don’t mind being bound by the bus schedule. If you’re visiting for just a weekend, you may prefer the private option instead of waiting around. 

Generally, the bus will make stops at each of the terminals to pick up passengers before heading to Tulum. You can reserve your bus ticket online beforehand on the website. Alternatively, tickets are available at each of the terminals upon arrival at the ticket counter or in front of the bus. 

Important to Note: The bus won’t drop you off directly at your accommodation, so if you’re staying at a Tulum beach hotel, you’ll have to take a short taxi ride from the ADO drop-off point which is in the heart of Tulum town.

Option 3: Rent a Car

If you want to make a road trip out of it through Riviera Maya, renting a car in Tulum is a fun and adventurous way to explore the area.

There are some cute towns and beaches on the way down to Tulum, and if you plan on doing day trips to any local cenotes near Tulum or ruins, having your own car can be way more convenient and cost effective than relying on taxis or tour operators.

There are many different agencies at the airport and you can get a quote ahead of time online on the Cancun Airport website. However, I strongly recommend booking a car rental ahead of time with Discover Cars—I’ve used them several times in Mexico and have had really good experiences.

Why I Recommend Discover Cars:

  • Mexico is notorious for trying to upsell you insurance and for hiding fees, so that when you arrive in destination your price is wayy more than what you expected. Discover Cars gives you the full, honest prices up front with no hidden fees.
  • Instead of being forced into the rental company’s pricey insurance, you can book affordable full coverage with Discover Cars and have peace of mind on your trip. The rental agency will still put a hold on your card, but if anything happens, you’re in good hands with Discover Cars as they have one of the most comprehensive coverage policies and handle claims quickly.
  • On Discover Cars, you can compare tons of larger car rental companies alongside local Mexican agencies to find the best deal (though I recommend picking something that still has great reviews).

Pro Tip: Be sure to print all your documents and carry them with you along with your license. There can be numerous police checkpoints along the way, which are all standard procedure and not something to worry about, but you’ll want to have proper documentation.

I know some people, especially female travelers, can be intimidated by renting a car in certain countries like Mexico, so I’m including some of my top tips below to help you ace the process without issues.

Tips For Renting a Car in the Yucatan, Mexico

  • Don’t go for flashy when renting a car in Mexico. It’s best to choose a vehicle that’s discreet to avoid calling attention to yourself and your belongings. Seriously—the more run down looking the better!
  • Pack a phone cable just in case your vehicle isn’t properly tech equipped.
  • Be aware of scams with the rental car companies. Many will try to upsell you their insurance and say that you need to have it in order to rent with them—this is why I strongly recommend opting for a rental with Discover Cars and paying for their full insurance coverage up front! They legally have to accept this form of insurance.
  • Driving in Mexico is the same as in the US, aka on the right side of the road. However, in my experience Mexico tends to use a LOT more speed bumps and much less signage warning of said speed bumps, so be on the lookout.
  • Parking can be a hassle on the main beach side of Tulum (where all the fancy boutique hotels and beach clubs are). I would recommend checking with your hotel to make sure parking is included in your stay.

Read More Posts On Tulum
Tulum Packing List Guide + Printable Checklist
The Most Magical Tulum Beach Hotels
How to Decide Where to Stay in Tulum
A Foodie’s Ultimate Tulum Guide

Option 4: Take a Taxi to Tulum

Like every airport around the world, Cancun Airport has tons of taxis waiting outside the terminal ready to take your money. And trust me, you’ll get bombarded by them as you exit the baggage claim. Just like hiring a private driver, a taxi is one of the most expensive ways of getting from Cancun to Tulum, but rather than being able to book in English ahead of time, you’ll have to haggle upon arrival with a driver who speaks Spanish.

If you don’t feel confident with your haggling skills or speak little to no Spanish I wouldn’t recommend this option.

You’ll pay at least $100 US and above for a one-way trip with less comfort than a private transfer. You’d be better off getting a private shuttle or renting your own car!

Be sure to exercise caution if you’re using a taxi and agree on a price beforehand. As sometimes there can be ‘supplementary charges’ added on. 

Some taxis will only take cash, so it’s a good idea to have some pesos on hand to pay your driver. You can withdraw pesos at the ATM in the airport or head over to the currency exchange to switch over your US dollars. 

Option 5: Take a Shared Airport Shuttle

Outside Cancun Airport and shuttle bus
Image Credit: “At Cancun Airport” by corsi photo is licensed under CC BY 2.0

A shared airport shuttle can also be a good option when getting from Cancun to Tulum. The pros of taking a shared shuttle are that it’s slightly cheaper than a private car, but not by that much.

The downsides? The trip will be longer, requiring stops for each passenger along the way and you’ll be in tighter quarters. I’d recommend checking out shared transfer options from Viator that are third party vetted with honest reviews.

Option 6: Book a Transfer Through Your Hotel

This is the easiest one to organize in advance. If you’re staying with a hotel, simply send them an email after booking and ask them if they have a shuttle service for the hotel.

Sometimes it’s private, sometimes it’s shared, and the price may or may not be included in your stay.

Larger hotels and resorts are more likely to do this, but wherever you’re staying, it’s always worth asking. The cost is likely to vary depending on the hotel and service provided. Sometimes smaller hotels will be happy to organize a private taxi for you for a small fee.

FAQs About Getting to Tulum from Cancun 

Sunset over Tulum Beach

Is it possible to fly from Cancun to Tulum? 

Tulum recently opened a new airport now making it possible to fly directly to Tulum from many major cities! However you can’t fly directly between Cancun and Tulum.

Is there an airport in Tulum? 

Yes, Tulum just recently opened up a brand new airport making it much more efficient to get to Tulum, however there are non-stop flights only from select cities like: Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston, Calgary, New York, Toronto, etc.

Depending on where you’re flying in from, arriving in Cancun first may still be your best option, but it’s worth searching flights to see if you can fly directly there.

How much is a taxi from Cancun to Tulum? 

Expect to pay at least $100 USD and above for a one way trip. Taxi drivers can add shady sur charges, so make sure to agree on a fixed price before getting into any taxi service’s vehicle.

What is the cheapest way to get from Cancun to Tulum? 

The cheapest way is to take the ADO bus. It’s around $14.50 USD and the journey time is approximately 2 hours depending on traffic conditions. Keep in mind that you’ll need to budget for an additional short taxi ride if your accommodation isn’t within walking distance from the ADO bus station.

Can you take an Uber from Cancun to Tulum?

This one is a little complicated. While Uber does operate in the Cancun area, it’s not currently available in Tulum. Over the years there have been a lot of conflicts between local Uber drivers and the taxi unions that don’t want them there, which makes trying to catch an Uber less straightforward than in other destinations.

Through my research it seems like only licensed taxis are allowed to enter and pick you up at Cancun Airport at this time. However, Uber rules are constantly changing, so make sure to do more research before relying on any Uber services.

Is it safe to travel from Cancun to Tulum?

Yes, it is safe to travel from Cancun to Tulum. The road is regularly maintained and safe to travel on, although as always, take any necessary precautions as you would normally do when you travel.

Have more questions about transport from Cancun Airport to Tulum? Leave them in the comments below!

Planning a trip right now? Don’t miss my go-to websites for booking everything from flights and tours, to accommodation and more:

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