If you’re planning a trip down to Tulum, Mexico, chances are the first things you’ll need to do are to book your flight and figure out how to get there.
This guide will help you understand not only the best airport for Tulum, but also how exactly to get to Tulum once you touch down. We’ve got options for all kinds of budgets in here!
You ready? Let’s get into it.
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The Best Airport To Fly Into For Tulum, Mexico
The best airport to fly to Tulum is the Cancun International Airport (CUN). This airport is where most travelers visiting the state of Quintana Roo will use, hosting all sorts of vacationers, no matter if their final destination is Cancun, Isla Mujeres, Playa del Carmen, or Tulum.
Despite Tulum being a bit over a 1.5-hour drive, or 73 miles (118 km) south of Cancun, the best option is still to fly to Cancun International Airport.
Now I know what you might be wondering. Is CUN really the only airport option for me if I want to go to Tulum? There’s more to the answer, but in short, CUN will likely still the best airport option.
There is another airport south of Tulum in Chetumal, Chetumal International Airport (CTM),
that mainly services smaller domestic flights. In terms of distance, the CTM airport is twice as far from Tulum, clocking in at a drive time of 2 hours 55 minutes.
Cozumel International Airport (CZM) is another option, and while it does look closer to Tulum, it is important to note that you’re going to have to take a ferry from Cozumel island to Playa del Carmen and then make the drive south to Tulum.
At a minimum, flying into CZM airport will take you at least 2 hours to arrive in Tulum. This also means in addition to a 45-minute car ride, you’re going to have to wait for the ferry and secure two forms of transportation. Not the most convenient unless you plan on spending some time on Cozumel first!
How Far Is Tulum From Cancun International Airport?
From Cancun International Airport, Tulum is approximately 73 miles (118 km) away. This equates to about a 1 hour 35-minute drive.
From the Hotel Zone or downtown area of Cancun, Tulum is approximately 81 miles (131 km) away. This equates to about a 2-hour drive.
How To Get To Tulum From Cancun International Airport
Once you’ve figured out which airport you’re going to be flying into, the next thing to figure out is how to actually get from Cancun International Airport to Tulum.
Your options include shared shuttles, private transfers, taxis, buses, and rental cars.
For simplicity and efficiency, I almost exclusively go with pre-booked shared shuttles (if traveling in a smaller group) or private transfers (if traveling with 5+ people). The best part about them is that they’re not even that expensive!
My best tip is to always book your transportation in advance so that you can arrive and hop into your vehicle stress-free, especially if you’ve had a long flight.
Bookaway is a great resource to check out (and book) all your transportation options in one place.
If you’re vacationing in Tulum, you’re most likely going to be flying into Cancun International Airport (CUN). From there, you can do the following:
- take private transportation booked in advance (great value for larger groups)
- taxi (most expensive)
- take the public ADO bus (cheapest)
- rent a car (the most flexible option)
Don’t have time to read the whole guide? Here are the quick takeaways:
I’ve tried all three of these options during my past trips to Mexico and I’d say scheduling private transportation is my favorite option. I love this option because you get the perk of a taxi’s door-to-door service, but because the ride is prepaid, you won’t have to deal with all the pressure and stress the taxi guys throw at you!
My second favorite option is taking the ADO bus. This is an especially good choice for budget-conscious travelers looking for more affordable options compared to throwing hundreds of dollars at a taxi ride.
With a bit of planning ahead and pre-scheduling, you’ll have a super stress-free experience at the airport! Let’s dive a bit deeper into your options.
Taxi ($100-120 USD one-way)
With a taxi, there is no need to organize transportation ahead of time. This option requires the least planning, but if you want to save a few bucks, you’ll need to negotiate a price before hopping into the taxi.
Often, taxi drivers will quote you one price, but you can certainly haggle down the price by a few dollars. Once you and your driver agree on a price, just hop in, and be on your merry way.
This is a good option for travelers with lots of heavy bags who are staying at hotels farther away from public transportation stops.
We tend to only opt for the taxi when transferring from one hotel to another so that we don’t have to deal with lugging our heavy bags in the hot weather.
While taking a taxi to your destination in Tulum is the most convenient, it is also one of the most expensive options on this list. And more often than not, the ride is not as comfortable as it could be with a shared/private transfer.
Uber or Cabify services are still not available in Quintana Roo.
Shared Shuttle Transfer ($30-40 USD one-way)
If you’re able to plan ahead, arranged transfers are a great option for getting to Tulum from Cancun.
Shared minivans and shared vehicles are convenient because they take you door-to-door from Cancun to Tulum. The shared shuttle transportation service is usually offered by private transportation companies and can be booked online.
Although more expensive than the ADO bus, a shared minivan will be more comfortable and may be a good option if your hotel is located farther away from the bus stations. And if you’re traveling in a larger group, opting for this form of transportation might not be too bad if you all split the costs.
Private Transfer (~$100-150 USD one-way)
Private transfers are basically the elevated version of shared shuttles. With a private transfer, you’ll get comfortable vehicles with AC and a private driver that will meet you at the airport and drive you directly to your hotel in Tulum.
I personally do the majority of my bookings with Booking.com’s airport taxi feature because I’ve been using them for years, and I’ve found they offer the most affordable prices.
If you are traveling in a larger group, you can always opt for a private transfer. Private cars/shuttles are normally more spacious than taxis and they come with guaranteed trusted drivers that can speak English.
Depending on what type of vehicle you choose, they can fit anywhere from 4-15 people. Since these shuttles charge per vehicle (not per person like buses/colectivos), it can be a good and even affordable option for groups of 4-16 people.
If you’ve got even more money to blow, you can opt for a luxury vehicle or even a limo in some cases!
By ADO Bus ($13 USD)
The ADO bus is the most affordable option to get to Tulum from the Cancun airport. We love it for so many reasons.
First off, the bus system is reliable, safe, comfortable, and (best of all) cheap! They are air-conditioned and even have under-bus and overhead space for your luggage. Lastly, they’re very convenient due to the fact that they depart from the airport every half hour or so.
Whether you buy your bus ticket ahead of time online or book a seat from the ticket office, the ADO bus allows you to pre-select your seats so you’re not stressfully hunting down a seat when you hop on board.
ADO booths can be found in all of the terminals. Most international flights will arrive at Terminal 3 (all three times I’ve flown into Cancun Airport I’ve arrived at Terminal 3).
To take the ADO Bus, you’re going to be on the lookout for the red buses outside of the airport. Near the buses will be a small ticket booth with an attendee present. You’ll have to buy a ticket at the booth before boarding the bus.
Once you leave the terminal, you will see a lot of drivers with signs for people as well as drivers/workers offering you taxi service. Just politely decline or ignore them and outside. You will see a Margaritaville stand to your right–go past that to reach the red ADO bus stand.
Buy a bus ticket for your destination–in this case from the airport to Tulum. At the time of writing, the cost from the airport to Tulum is 288 MXN, or about $13 USD per person.
It’s best to have pesos in hand to buy the tickets, but they do accept USD (you may pay a bit more in USD). Change will be given in pesos.
I like to withdraw some pesos from the bank ATM inside the Cancun airport before heading outside. This is not to be confused with the money exchange kiosk, which I avoid at all costs.
Once you’re on the air-conditioned bus, put your bags in the overhead compartments and take a seat.
The bus will then head to a few other terminals to do additional pick-ups. After stopping at the terminals, you’ll be on your way to Tulum. The ride takes about 2 hours depending on traffic.
How to buy bus tickets: You can check the ADO bus website, though it’s a bit clunky and many US credit cards tend to have trouble with that site. Another way to reserve your tickets is through Bookaway. They may also have shared shuttle options, too. You can also buy tickets directly at the airport ADO counters, but these kiosks may have limited hours.
By Rental Car
Travelers who want the ultimate flexibility can opt to rent a car and drive themselves directly from Cancun to Tulum.
The drive from Cancun to Tulum is a straight shot down Mexico’s Highway 307. The highway is well-trafficked, paved, flat, easy to drive, and safe. The total drive time is approximately 1.5 hours.
You can easily rent a car from the Cancun Airport as well as within the city and even through various hotels.
Take note that while many car rental companies advertise super-low rates, the advertised rate usually does not include mandatory insurance and fees. Plan to spend more than the advertised rate that you see on the internet, because of the full insurance coverage.
Be sure to opt for that car rental insurance! Since you’re not in your home country, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Is There An Airport In Tulum, Mexico?
Currently, there is no airport in Tulum, Mexico. Despite there being talks of building one, there currently are no concrete plans of building an airport in Tulum.
The closest international airport is located in Cancun (CUN). This is pretty much the main airport where the majority of travelers looking to vacation in the Riviera Maya / Yucatan Peninsula flies into.
From CUN Airport, you’ll then transfer to Tulum via taxi, private transfer, or bus.
Is There A Shuttle From Cancun Airport To Tulum?
There is no designated airport shuttle from Cancun Airport to Tulum, Mexico. However, you can book private transfer services to get from the airport to Tulum.
If you’re looking for the most affordable type of shared transportation, take the ADO bus.
Where To Stay In Tulum
Tulum is home to some of the cutest hotels, resorts, and eco-lodges. There is no shortage of options whatsoever, no matter what your budget is! Here are some of my top picks:
- Era Hotel & Spa Tulum – $
- La Zebra a Colibri Boutique Hotel – $$
- Una Vida – $$
- Papaya Playa Project – $$$
Tulum: Essential Travel Tips
- There’s been a seaweed problem in the Tulum/Playa Del Carmen area. Check the latest seaweed conditions report before heading to the beaches in/nearby Tulum. If you’re keen to avoid sargassum seaweed on your Mexico visit, make sure to stay in a hotel that has staff constantly monitoring the issue.
- The most popular times to visit Tulum range from November to April (high season). If you’re looking for a quieter experience, plan your trip for May to October.
- Hurricane season runs from June through November. While hurricanes are unlikely, most weather experts recommend purchasing travel insurance if you plan on visiting during hurricane season.
- Bring pesos with you just in case you need to pay with cash. Pick up pesos from an ATM wherever you depart from before heading to Tulum. Not all places accept credit cards on the island (small shopfronts, food vendors, etc.), and ATMs are few and far between.
- When using a credit card, choose to pay in the local currency instead of your home currency. You’ll get a better exchange rate and will be paying less than the home currency option. (In my case, I would pay in $MXN instead of in $USD.)
- The tap water in Mexico is not safe to drink. Instead of spending your money on plastic water bottles, bring a reusable water bottle and a rechargeable Steri-Pen (the way more environmentally friendly option).
- Tulum is extremely tourist-friendly. If you can’t speak a lick of Spanish, you’ll be okay. This region (Yucatan Peninsula) largely caters to English-speaking visitors, and you’ll find that English is spoken by most locals, hotel/restaurant staff, and tour guides.
- Tulum is safe, but always practice self-awareness and caution. Certain areas of Mexico have long held a reputation for being unsafe due to cartel violence, but resort areas and tourists are not targeted. Just exercise increased caution as you would anywhere–avoid being flashy, don’t walk around alone at night, be wary of your surroundings, and you should be just fine.
- No matter what you’re budget is, you’ll find tons of accommodation options in Tulum. Most budget accommodations and hostels are located in Tulum Centro, which means you’ll be close to most of the amenities/facilities you’ll need for your stay. Most of the beachfront accommodation options can cost hundreds of dollars per night, whereas downtown hostels, apartment rentals, and hotels are much less expensive.
- Taxis in Tulum are more expensive than buses and collectivos. Many savvy travelers opt for local bus transportation, which is reliable, frequent, and inexpensive (under $1/ride).
- Rent a bike to get around town. While you’re here, you’ll see lots of bike riders. Tulum town is just a few kilometers from the beach, making it an easy cycle ride to the coast.
- Dining out in Tulum can be expensive, so head downtown for the most affordable and authentic places to eat (taquerias with long lines are a great sign).
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