Tulum Transportation & Navigation Advice
You’re going to have a great time when you visit Tulum. With its gorgeous turquoise ocean, endless powder-soft beaches, and legendary nightlife, how could you not? But, first, you need to get there.
Whether you’re looking for Cancun to Tulum transportation, or need advice on getting into the city from Mexican Caribbean cruise ports, we’ve got you covered. And once you arrive in Tulum, we also have tips on the best ways to get around town, or between Tulum Pueblo and the beach, including bike and car rental, taking a taxi, and exploring on foot.
Researching your Tulum transportation options now will save you time in the long run - and more time in Tulum is well worth the effort.
Getting Around in Tulum
The city of Tulum is made up of two very different parts.
Tulum Town, or Tulum Pueblo, is the city’s inland hub where you’ll find the most authentically Mexican feel. It’s packed with health-food restaurants, cafes, souvenir stores, and great nightlife options.
Tulum Beach is around a 15-minute cab ride away from Tulum Pueblo - or a 25-minute bike ride if your legs are feeling up to it. It’s a more chill scene, with the emphasis on sunbathing and beachfront eating during the day, and beach bars during the evening.
To find out more about both parts of the city and their best bits, check out Tulum: Our Local Expert’s Visitor Guide.
Using Taxis in Tulum
Taxis are a convenient way to get around the city and between Tulum Pueblo and Beach. However, you’ll pay for that convenience. Taxis in Tulum are a notoriously expensive way to get around. But, when your alternative is walking in that killer Mexican Caribbean heat, a taxi might be your best bet.
A couple of tips:
- Make sure to agree on a price with the driver before confirming the ride.
- Clarify whether the charge is in Mexican Pesos or US Dollars.
Renting a Car in Tulum
Renting a car in Tulum is another possibility. It’s a great way to open up attractions that would otherwise be harder to reach. Rental cars offer a cheaper alternative to taxis and give you the added freedom of deciding how your trip will unfold.
However, there are a few things to look out for:
- Tulum’s roads have an unusually high number of speed bumps, or ‘topes’ as they’re called, so drive carefully.
- Less-than-honest police officers have been known to stop tourists to threaten them with tickets that can only be ‘paid off’ with a bribe.
- Check what the rental base rate includes. Mexican rental companies can advertise attractively cheap rates, only to suddenly charge a heavily inflated price once add-ons are included.
If you do your homework, check (in detail) what the rate includes, and inspect the condition of the rental car before leaving, you should be ok.
Hiring a Bike in Tulum
Cycling in Tulum can be a fun way to get around Tulum Pueblo, or along the sandy road behind the beach’s hotel zone. Cycling between Tulum Pueblo and Beach probably isn’t the best idea, not only because of the distance and the heat, but because of the heavy traffic on the highway that connects the two.
But if you want to experience Tulum by pedal power, there are a couple of places where rentals are available in Tulum Pueblo. These include Ola Bike Tulum and iBike Tulum, which are both longstanding rental shops with decent credentials.
Exploring Tulum on Foot
Exploring Tulum on foot will allow you to explore at a slower pace. You can’t beat meandering down the main street and deciding which of the tempting restaurants you’ll visit for dinner. Walking is also a safe and convenient way to get into town from your rental if you’re staying in Tulum’s popular Aldea Zama or La Veleta neighborhoods.
The main issue with walking in Tulum is the heat, and, if you visit between late May and early October, the added high humidity levels. But, if you can handle that, exploring on foot can be the most fun way to explore the city.
One of the easiest ways to enjoy all that Tulum and the surrounding region has to offer is by taking a tour. The big plus is not having to worry about transport, as you’ll be picked up right outside your Tulum hotel.
This Tulum 3-in-1 Discovery tour will show you the best bits of Tulum - its spectacular Mayan ruins, one of the best cenotes in the region, and the underwater world in an exciting snorkel experience. This tour includes all transport, so no need to figure out logistics for yourself.
If you want to travel a little further afield, this Chichen Itza from Tulum World Wonder Discovery tour will allow you to experience one of the seven modern wonders of the world. Chichen Itza is a magical place and the most popular Mayan ruin site in the Mexican Caribbean. You can also enjoy a visit to Valladolid, a beautiful colonial town with an authentically Mexican vibe. Finally, at Cenote Ik Kil, you can cool off with a swim in an underground cenote.
For more ideas on the experiences you can look forward to in and around Tulum, check out Our Favorite Things to Do & See in Tulum.
Tulum doesn’t have an airport, although this will be changing soon, with the arrival of Tulum airport expected in April 2024. But for now, you’ll need to arrange your Cancun to Tulum transportation ready for your arrival.
The safest and most stress-free way to get to your hotel in Tulum is with a private transfer taking you door-to-door from Cancun International Airport to Tulum. It may cost a little more than other transport methods, but it means there’s no haggling, you’re all paid up before arrival and your transfer is guaranteed. Treat yourself, you’re on vacation!
There are plenty of taxis operating out of Cancun airport and they’re usually willing to take a Tulum fare. However, the language barrier can make agreeing on the price tricky, which is why we’d recommend a private transfer over a taxi.
You can rent a car at Cancun International Airport and make the 1.5-2 hour drive yourself. As advised earlier in the article, make sure you check exactly what you’re signing up for, as additional fees and charges can soon add up.
ADO runs buses from Cancun International Airport to Tulum. Although they run direct services, you may need to take one bus to Playa del Carmen, then transfer to another service to Tulum. A direct bus takes 2.5 hours and a connecting service takes around 3.5 hours. While this transportation option is easy, it can be time-consuming and stressful if you don’t speak Spanish.
Many people visit Tulum during their cruise to Mexico, to experience the wonderful eco-parks, cenotes, beaches, and restaurants in and around the city. If you’re wondering when the best time is to explore this popular destination, take a look at our informative article When to Visit Tulum.
There are two main cruise ports in the Mexican Caribbean, and these are:
- Costa Maya
Getting to Tulum from Cozumel Cruise Port
Cozumel actually has three cruise ports, these are:
- Punta Langosta: located in the heart of Cozumel’s main town, San Miguel.
- International Pier: located around 3 miles south of San Miguel.
- Puerto Maya: found 5 miles south of San Miguel.
The island of Cozumel is located directly off the coast of Playa del Carmen. So, transferring to Tulum involves a short 45-minute ferry ride from Cozumel to Playa del Carmen, followed by a straightforward 45-minute journey south, by private transfer, taxi, or bus.
Costa Maya Cruise Port to Tulum
Costa Maya cruise port is located south of Tulum in a less developed part of the Mexican Caribbean. It’s around a 2.5-hour journey from Costa Maya cruise port to Tulum, so it’s unlikely you’d have time to travel to Tulum while you’re in port.
Transportation & Navigation to Tulum When Visiting on a Cruise
Unlike other parts of the Caribbean, when you visit Tulum during a cruise, there will be some travel involved. This is because Tulum doesn’t have its own cruise port. The nearest port is Cozumel, which requires a 45 minute ferry ride and ~1 hour drive to arrive to the Tulum Ruins.
Whichever of Cozumel’s three cruise ports you arrive at, it’s only a short hop to the Ultramar ferry terminal. From Punta Langosta, it’s a 10-minute walk north, and from International Pier and Puerto Maya, a 5-minute drive.
Taking the ferry from Cozumel to Playa del Carmen is a fun start to your day, and the drive south to Tulum passes by mile after mile of native jungle, which are home to cenotes and a huge amount of wildlife.
It is possible to make the visit to Tulum from Cozumel while visiting on a cruise ship, but you’ll want to ensure you have at least 8 hours in port and are off the ship as early as possible and going on a tour that knows the schedule to ensure a back-to-ship arrival on time.
In a nutshell…
There are plenty of ways to get from Cancun to Tulum, and to get around Tulum once you’re there. The best way to travel is a personal decision and will depend on your circumstances and preferences.
We advise that you plan your Cancun to Tulum transportation in advance, for a stress-free start to your vacation. One of the best ways to do this is by booking a pre-planned tour or excursion. So, why not take a look at our most popular Tulum excursions and see if anything takes your fancy?
Amazing Tours in Tulum
Explore these top-rated Tulum tours