Tulum is one of the most popular destinations in the Yucatan and many passengers travel directly from Cancun to Tulum on arrival at the airport. Others split their time between Tulum and Cancun or include it as a day trip from Cancun. Given the popularity of the route, it’s relatively easy to travel between Cancun and Tulum, either by private, shared or public transport.
We’ve used a variety of transportation between Cancun and Tulum on our visits to the Yucatan and have put together a guide on traveling from Cancun to Tulum to help you plan your travels.
How to get from Cancun to Tulum
Depending on your mode of transport there are a few options for traveling between Cancun Airport and Tulum or, if you are already in Cancun, from Cancun to Tulum.
There are 5 popular transportation options for traveling from Cancun to Tulum:
- Private Transfer between Cancun and Tulum
- Rental Car: Drive from Cancun Airport to Tulum
- Bus between Cancun and Tulum
- Colectivo from Cancun to Tulum
Journey Time from Cancun to Tulum
The drive time from downtown Cancun to Tulum is 2 hours and from Cancun Airport to Tulum should take around 1.5 hours.
Buses and shared transfers can take longer, probably closer to 2.5 hour between the airport and Tulum, due to passengers getting on and off and making stops en route.
If you are taking a Colectivo from Downtown Cancun to Tulum, it will likely be close to 3 hours as you have to split the journey in Playa Del Carmen.
Transport Options from Cancun Airport/Cancun to Tulum
The transport options below can be used whether you are traveling from Cancun Airport or downtown Cancun with the exception of Colectivos – you will need to start your journey in downtown Cancun if you want to travel by Colectivo as they don’t operate from the airport.
Cancun to Tulum tip: if you are traveling from the airport and have prebooked your transfer then follow the instructions as per your confirmation. Like most airports, there are lots of ‘offical transport agents’ who will try to convince you that you’re chosen transport isn’t running or they can offer a cheaper rate – don’t listen! Continue as planned to meet you transport greeter/pick up your rental car/board the Ado bus irrespective of what they say!
1 | Private and Shared Transfers
A variety of private and shared transfers are available for transportation between Cancun and Tulum.
A private transfer is a great option if you want to be met at the airport and transported promptly from Cancun to Tulum. The perks include being met on arrival by a greeter outside the airport, shown to your waiting vehicle, and leaving immediately (rather than having to wait around for other passengers).
It is a more expensive option as the price is per vehicle but this can work out relatively cheap if you are traveling as a family or in a group – we have used two companies for transportation, Jade Tours and etransfers, both of which were reliable and had great service – check prices now!
2 | Cancun to Tulum: Rental Car
Renting a car and driving from Cancun to Tulum is a great option, especially if you plan on exploring more of the Yucatan on your trip. The drive between Cancun and Tulum is straightforward and most Tulum hotels have free guest parking.
You’ll also save lots of money on tours and transfers. We rented a car in Cancun during our time in Mexico and have driven all over the Yucatan using Tulum as our base.
We’re huge fans of road trips and have driven rental cars in almost 50 countries so we have a lot of experience renting cars in foreign countries. We recommend using RentalCars.com to reserve your car. They have the best selection and prices that we’ve found – check prices here!
Cancun to Tulum tip: if you are considering a car and wondering where you might use it then check out our list of the best things to do in Tulum for some ideas. There are also many amazing cenotes near Tulum which are easily visited from the town, and if you want to see some awesome archaelogical sites, there are also lots of Mayan ruins near Cancun/Tulum that make for a wonderful day trip including Coba and Chichen Itza.
The rental car agencies at Cancun airport are located close to the airport and your rental company with transport you over in one of their airport shuttles to pick up your car. The rental car desks in the airport will guide you to your shuttle once you’ve picked up your bags and exited the luggage area.
If you are planning to rent a car then read our guide to renting a car in Cancun – it contains everything you need to know on renting a car including the insurance and license requirements in Mexico as well as everything you need to know for getting around.
3 | Cancun to Tulum: Public Bus
The public bus options vary depending on if you are traveling from the airport or Cancun itself:
Cancun Aiport to/from Tulum
Ado is the only bus company that operates between Cancun Airport and Tulum. The bus stops at each terminal – the current departure times from Terminal 2 are 10.30, 12.05, 13.15, 14.45, 16.40, 19.00 and 20.20 but you will need to check current times from the terminal you are arriving in as the schedule changes regularly. You can check times and pre-book on the Ado website.
Cancun to Tulum tip: ATMs in banks are the typically the safest place to withdraw money so bring some cash if you want to pay for your fare on arrival. Santnder and Banamex generally have the lowest fees – remember to decline the Dynamic Currency Conversion as this can be more expensive.
The Ado bus stop is in the center of Tulum, between Calle Jupiter and Calle Afante (close to some of our Tulum food favorites, Raw Love and Burrito Amor, if you need a snack!). If you need a taxi to your accommodation make sure to agree on your fare upon getting in the taxi – a ride to the beach road should be less than $10.
Return buses between Tulum and Cancun Airport currently operate at 07.00, 09.00, 11.00, 11.55, 14.10, 15.15, and 16.15. Again, you can check times and pre-book on the Ado website.
Cancun to/from Tulum
If you are leaving from Cancun itself, Ado buses depart from Calle Pino, between Tulum Ave and Uxmal Ave. You can ride the bus to the Xcaret, Xel Hal, Tulum Archaeological Zone, and the center of Tulum. Ado also operates OCC and AU buses on the route – you can check times and pre-book on the Ado website.
4 | Cancun to Tulum: Colectivo
Shared minibus-style buses, known as Colectivo, operate across the Yucatan and are a great budget option for getting around.
Colectivos do not service the airport so this option is only possible from downtown Cancun – at the moment, there is no direct Colectivo between Cancun and Tulum so you will need to travel to Playa Del Carmen first and then take a second Colectivo to Tulum. Make sure to confirm the Colectivo times when you plan to travel:
- Cancun to Playa Del Carmen: there are two Colectivos which operate between Cancun and Playa del Carmen, Playa Express (with air conditioning) and Colectivos Foraneos, and they both depart relatively close to each other just off Av Tulum in Downtown Cancun. I’ve mapped Playa Express here and Colectivos Foraneos here. The journey costs around US $2, cash only, and they operate through the day departing when the bus is full.
- Playa Del Carmen: exit the first Colectivo at the last stop and you should be able to find a second Colectivo to Tulum. Again, the journey costs around US $2, cash only, and they operate through the day departing when the bus is full.
5 | Taxi
We’ve never taken a taxi outside of Cancun but I’ll share what I know so you can make you have the details.
Regular, metered taxis are not allowed in the airport so you are effectively using a similar service to a private transfer. It should cost around US $100 to the hotel zone but the quotes vary wildly – we’ve been offered a cab for over US $200 before.
After arriving, pick up a taxi ticket in Terminal 2 or Terminal 3 and then proceed to the taxi point after the exit. Taxis usually depart around the clock from Terminal 3.