Getting from Cancun to Tulum is super easy, and whatever your budget is, you will have no troubles getting from Cancun Airport to Tulum.
Tulum is a popular tourist destination in Mexico; the perfect place to conclude a glorious trip around the country. Gorgeous beaches; one of the most fascinating Mayan ruins in Mexico; home to some of Mexico’s best cenotes (in fact, some of the most impressive cenotes are near Tulum); lots of good restaurants and accommodation options make it quite the perfect holiday spot. You really should include Tulum in your Mexico itinerary!
If you are landing in Cancun and Tulum is the first leg of your Mexico trip, you will probably be looking for information on how to get from from Cancun to Tulum. You are in the right place! I have done that trip myself a bunch of times and will tell you exactly what you need to know, and detail the various available options.
5 Best Ways Of Getting From Cancun To Tulum
Getting from Cancun Airport to Tulum via ADO Bus
For the absolute cheapest way to get from Cancun Airport and Tulum, opt for the ADO bus. This is the main bus network operator in Mexico, and it’s well known for its good quality and service to match. The ADO buses in the Yucatan Peninsula are no different. These connect all the main towns with well-maintained, air conditioned buses, and are necessarily well loved by tourists and backpackers alike.
If you want to take the bus from Cancun Airport to Tulum, then actually ADO is your only option – it’s the only bus network that runs to or from the airport.
The bus takes around two hours and 20 minutes to travel from Cancun to Tulum which is, admittedly, a little longer than a taxi or private transfer may take. However, it is very cheap in comparison to other options, costing 300 Mexican Pesos ($15 USD) per person (one way).
Thankfully, there are multiple departures leaving the airport around the clock, meaning you can find a bus that will take you to Tulum no matter what time you arrive at the airport. However, the bus timetables do vary depending on which terminal you arrive at, so it is definitely worth doing some research on that before you touchdown.
Tickets for the ADO bus can be purchased at one of the dedicated ADO bus counters in the airport. You will see them among the other collection of counters as you come through arrivals, near other transfer options like car rentals and tour companies.
Alternatively you can buy tickets on line on ADO website here – though the site is only available in Spanish. If you want though, you can get tickets via Bookaway website – it’s slightly more expensive, but at least the website is entirely in English. You can check it out here.
The only downside of taking the bus is the lack of convenience. First of all, you’ll have to figure out the timetable for yourself, and then – once you’re in Tulum – you’ll have to work out how to travel from the bus terminal to your accommodation. Depending on where that is located, that is less than fun!
The bus station in Tulum is located at Tulum Centro. This is where you’ll also catch the bus back on your return trip to Cancun Airport. If you’re staying in Tulum town, your accommodation may be nearby, but most of the time you’ll need to get a taxi to your hotel.
Don’t worry, though – there are usually plenty of taxis waiting around the bus station in Tulum, so you shouldn’t have too much trouble.
Getting from Cancun To Tulum via Shared Shuttle
Traveling to from Cancun to Tulum via shuttle is one of the cheapest ways to get between the two. This is ideal for those solo travelers, since taking a taxi or private car will cost more and you have no one to split the entire fare with.
To put that into more relative terms, taking the shuttle is cheaper than a taxi, but more expensive than hopping on the ADO bus.
The shared shuttle service is professionally run, and it will take you from Cancun Airport to Tulum and anywhere else in the Riviera Maya area. Each shuttle is organized so that its passengers are all going in the same (or similar) direction. Most conveniently of all, this shared shuttle will drop you off right at the entrance to your accommodation. That means not having to lug your bags around in the heat trying to find out where you’re staying.
The only downside to the shared shuttle is that it can take a little while. That’s because, with all those other passengers, the shuttle has to make multiple stops along the way. If your destination is one of the last on the list, then your trip could end up taking a lot longer than it needs to take.
The shuttle vehicle itself is usually a large, modern VW van. It’s air conditioned and insured. The drivers will be able to speak English, and the quality of service is pretty high. The shuttles usually leave once every hour from Cancun Airport, so you will never have to wait around for too long before you find a van to take you to your accommodation.
The meeting point is dependent on the actual terminal you arrive at. Thankfully, however, there’s a helpful customer service team on hand at the airport who will be able to point you in the right direction or deal with any other of your queries.
The price of the shuttle from Cancun Airport to Tulum starts at $26 USD per person (one way). This is great if you’re traveling solo, as I said, but if there’s two of you, booking two seats on the shared shuttle isn’t cost effective. You’d be better off hopping on the bus, or even booking a private car instead.
Travel from Cancun to Tulum via Private Transfer
If you want something that is totally stress free, easy-breezy, and absolutely no worries, then booking a private transfer from Cancun Airport to Tulum is the way to go – but what does a private transfer actually entail?
Well, you will get your own personal driver who will whisk you all the way from Cancun Airport to the doorstep of your accommodation in Tulum. This is a good option if you are traveling with a group of friends, or as a family, as the cost is for the vehicle itself rather than per person. As I’ve discussed already, you will have to pay per person in a shuttle.
There are several options when it comes to private transfers. It all depends on your budget and what is most convenient for you.
Firstly, you could pre-book a transfer through your accommodation. This is probably the most simple and cheapest option, as it’s often a complimentary service. A car will arrive from your accommodation to pick you up from the airport and take you back – it’s as easy as that. The only downside to this is that not all accommodation will offer airport transfers, and some may not offer free airport transfers.
Thankfully, you can actually book a private transfer from Cancun Airport to Tulum before you’ve even arrived. This makes it one of the quickest ways to get from the airport to your hotel or hostel. You don’t have to wait on other people – there are no stops along the way for other passengers – and the driver will be there waiting for you at the airport.
It’s also more time effective and way more hassle free than renting a car at the airport. You won’t have to stand in line at the rental car company, signing papers and everything else, and then have to get to grips with driving in Mexico. Private transfers are much simpler than that.
In terms of choices, the standard private transfer is around $277 (one way) for up to seven passengers. Splitting the cost makes it very affordable. If you opt for a round trip instead it becomes even more cost effective. Needless to say, the more people you have with you, the cheaper it is per person too.
For something a little more stylish, there are luxury airport transfers from Cancun to consider too. This means you can cruise like a celebrity to your accommodation in a high-end vehicle. It’s more costly but then again, if you split the cost, it’s not so bad. If you really want to push the boat out, you can even get a limousine airport transfer.
Rent a car at Cancun Airport
Driving yourself might seem a bit daunting if it’s your first time in Mexico, but for some people this could be the dream – my sister and I did it during our first trip to Mexico and loved it (well, except in Chiapas, that is!). If you’re a confident driver and you’re planning on seeing more of the Yucatan Peninsula than just Tulum, having your own set of wheels could be a very good option.
Having your own car means convenience. You can explore at your own pace, get to your accommodation quickly, stick to whatever itinerary you plan, and travel the way you want to.
When it comes to renting your car, you’ll be happy to know that you can pick up your vehicle straight from the airport. It is best to book in advance before you arrive, so that you’re not disappointed by not being able to get the car you want, or being bamboozled by insurance policies and added extras. However, note that here are some scams that happen with car rentals – booking in advance can stop this happening.
There are loads of car rental booths at the airport, so if you didn’t book in advance, it’s possible to shop around to find the best deal. Just make sure you take pictures of any existing damage on the car before you leave the airport, so you won’t be charged for damage you didn’t cause when you return the car.
You can check out the prices of car rental in Mexico here.
There are a few downsides to renting a car and driving in Mexico in general. Depending on where you are going, it can be difficult to park your car – this is especially the case at some cenotes and far-flung beaches. If you are planning on renting a car, you should check in advance with your accommodation to see if they have parking available and if this costs extra on top of your room rate.
Secondly, renting a car means you won’t be able to drink alcohol. Unless you’ve got a designated driver, this fact essentially rules out any drinks with dinner or afternoon beers at the beach or partying too hard the night before you embark on a road trip.
And then there are police checkpoints. These are often situated on the highway between Cancun and Tulum. These checkpoints are there to see if everything is in order – they may pull drivers over just to check their papers, if they’ve got a license, or if they’ve been drinking. It’s not too much to worry about, and it is really all part of getting used to driving in Mexico.
Hop on a Taxi from Cancun Airport to Tulum
Of course, like at almost every airport in the world, there are always taxis at Cancun Airport waiting to pick up customers. Though not as convenient as a private transfer – for example, having to haggle with a driver for the price – you will still get the same door-to-door service.
The cars are usually well looked after and have air conditioning, too.
The drive from the airport to Tulum takes around 90 minutes via taxi, and is along a single, well-maintained highway. While it’s quick and a relatively hassle-free process, a taxi can be expensive, with prices starting at 2000 Mexican Pesos (around $100) – though if your Spanish is good, you can certainly try to haggle.
However, as with a private transfer, the cost is for the car, not per person. Therefore, if you are traveling with a group of friends or you’re splitting the cost with your partner, this can make it much cheaper.
Since the taxis in this part of Mexico are not metered, you should make sure to agree on a price before you jump in. If you don’t have cash on you, don’t worry – some taxis will take credit or debit cards, or even electronic payment.
If you do have cash, however, make sure you opt to pay in pesos, as you run the risk of being charged an extortionate exchange rate if you pay in dollars.
Is there Uber in Cancun?
Uber has had an on and off relationship with Cancun. The ride sharing service has had a particularly tricky time with Cancun Airport and its fleet of taxi drivers, resulting in Uber being effectively banned from the airport. This could change at any time, however.
While the details are sketchy, Cancun at the moment seems to be allowing Uber to operate, but it’s off the cards for airport transfers. You may be able to get an Uber between Cancun town and Tulum, but this is something that can change without much warning, so it’s best not to rely on Ubers.