Everything You Need to Know About Traveling From Cancun to Tulum

So, you’re all packed and ready for your long-awaited trip to Tulum. This wonderful destination will welcome you with clear aquamarine waters and white sand beaches. Tulum is home to some of the best luxury resorts and exhilarating activities, but you may be wondering about the stretch of the Caribbean coastline from Cancun to Tulum. 

After carefully curating your Tulum itinerary, you’ll have to start figuring out what to do between  Cancun and Tulum. The only thing left is to work through the tedious task of getting from A to B and finding accommodation. Luckily, this guide will walk you through the steps of navigating Cancun to Tulum so that you don’t have to. 

Keep reading to discover some of the best attractions, things to do, and places to stay for your vacation along the Mexican shores. 

Best Time to Visit Tulum and Cancun

The best time to visit Tulum is during the warmer months between December and March. While the city gets crowded from January to March, November and December prove to be the better period to visit. This is especially true if you’re looking for great weather, fewer crowds, and hoping to avoid overpriced hotels. 

Between June to September, you’ll experience the hottest months with average highs of around 91℉. Most of Tulum’s rainfall occurs between June and October, so be sure to avoid these months if you’re looking to make the most of the ocean and water-based activities. 

How Far Is Tulum From Cancun?

You can expect around 2 hours of travel time from the center of Cancun to Tulum. You’ll cover just over 81 miles (131.1km) heading south of the Caribbean coast in the Yucatan Peninsula. 

Your travel times will vary depending on the weather, traffic, and of course, your departure point, destination, and mode of transport. There are quite a few stops along the way that will delay your arrival if you’re going by car and a possible stopover in Playa Del Carmen if you’re traveling by bus. 

How to Get From Cancun to Tulum

From Cancun, you’ll have to get onto Highway 307 and follow that road. The drive takes you along the glistening shores, so you’ll catch a glimpse of the best beaches in Akumal and Puerto Aventuras, and you’ll drive through Playa Del Carmen as well.  

Luckily the roads are well managed, paved, and frequently traveled. So, you don’t have to worry about having to sit through a long, bumpy ride. 

There are a few options available from Cancun to Tulum. Each option has its own set of benefits and some not-so-advantageous things to keep in mind. Read more about each option below.   

Taking a Taxi From Cancun to Tulum

If you’re not sure how to get from Cancun airport to Tulum, your first guess could be to take whichever taxi you see first. And you wouldn’t be completely wrong. 

Once you land, get your luggage, and are on your way out, you’ll see a myriad of taxis waiting around. Some taxi service operators pay a special fee to wait inside the airport for excited travelers like yourself. 

These independent private taxis are safe but set their own prices, which is likely to increase depending on how busy their day was. This means that you may be paying exorbitant prices, especially if your bartering skills aren’t up to scratch.  

You could be forking out around MX$2000 ($106 USD) for these kinds of taxis. And you may experience some difficulty if your driver only speaks Spanish and your Spanish isn’t as fluent as you imagine it to be. 

Cancun to Tulum Shuttle Services

Cancun to Tulum transportation comes in many sizes, and private transfers and shuttles are possibly the best options. It’s perfect for anyone looking to avoid lots of people and long lines — and to cut the drive time in half. These private transfers are perfect for larger groups or travelers with lots of luggage as these vans can seat up to 15 people and are also wheelchair accessible. 

A shuttle from Cancun to Tulum can start at around MX$​​585 ($27) per person for a one-way and MX$1170 ($54) per person for a round trip. While it is a bit more expensive than other options, the personal space, door-to-door transport and air-conditioning make it well worth the extra spend. 

A private shuttle will wait for you in case of any delays regarding flights, luggage, or mishaps while navigating the airport. In most cases, your driver will be bilingual as well, and you’ll be able to ask whichever insider questions you’d like for a full hour on your way to Tulum.

Taking a Bus From Cancun to Tulum

Taking the bus from Cancun is arguably the best way to get to Tulum on a budget. The buses in the Riviera Maya region are super convenient and affordable. 

The ADO buses have bus stops around the Riviera area, particularly from Cancun to Tulum. You can hop on at the Cancun center and travel anywhere, from Playa Del Carmen to the Tulum Archaeological Zone or the Tulum town center. 

Each destination comes with a different price tag and varies in travel time. 

  • Cancun Centro to Tulum Centro – MX$210 ($9.69 USD) 2 hours and 40 minutes. 
  • Cancun Centro to Parque Xel-Ha – MX$206 ($9.51 USD) 2 hours and 20 minutes. 
  • Cancun Centro to Tulum Zona Arqueologica – MX$218 ($10.07 USD) 2 hours and 35 minutes. 

There are also ADO bus stops right in front of the Cancun International Airport and throughout Tulum. Be sure to check the schedule ahead of time, especially if you’re hoping to catch a bus straight after landing. 

There are three terminals in Cancun International Airport where you can catch your ride. Each bus will take you to Tulum Downtown and, unfortunately, won’t drop you at the door of your Tulum hotel. As such, you’ll have to call for a private cab to take you (and your suitcases) to your temporary home. 

Tickets straight from the airport to Tulum cost around MX$390 ($17.66 ) per person. 

Renting a Car From Cancun Airport to Tulum

How far is Tulum from Cancun airport exactly? You’ll travel around 73 miles (118km) which can take around one hour and 45 minutes by car. 

There are a few car rental agencies right outside the airport. Fair warning, most of these agencies do not provide the best service. Some of these establishments are quick to add extra costs, whether in the form of insurance or trying to pin you for an old dent. It is best to stick to international brands like Hertz and Thrifty to be on the safe side.

Tip: Most places will enforce a ridiculous amount of extra costs based on insurance, so be sure to liaise properly before you land so that the dealers cannot coax you into any last-minute panic spending. 

If you’re driving yourself, you’ll be able to stop and check out some of the attractions just off the highway, which is the best reason for renting a car in Mexico. While the drive itself isn’t too long and is possible to complete in one go, the more adventurous traveler will appreciate the many ‘rest’ stops along the way. 

How Much Does Renting a Car Cost?

Most car rentals will cost you anywhere from MX $3,000 to MX $8,000 ($150 – $380 USD). Prices may increase due to personal liability insurance and other extra costs. 

Tip: There are roadblocks along the way, so be sure to keep all the necessary papers on you, like registration, insurance, ID, etc. The police conduct regular stops and searches, so be sure to let them know your level of Spanish fluency to avoid any confusion. 

Best Attractions Between Tulum and Cancun

While you’re driving, you can turn off into Puerto Morelos, stop off at Bahia Petempich Beach, or check out other attractions close to Tulum. The Yal-Ku Cenote is around 16 miles (27km) just outside Tulum and is a wonderful location for a quick dip to cool off from the Mexican heat.

You can also stop at some of the amusement parks like Parque Xcaret and Parque Xel-Ha. Or, have a look at Tulum’s archeological zone right outside the city. A drive from Cancun to Tulum can easily become an exhilarating day trip for any adventurer and ruin or cenote-seeking sightseer.

The list of must-see attractions between Cancun and Playa Del Carmen:

  • Ventura Park
  • Cancun Country Club and Golf Course
  • Croco Cun Zoo
  • Paradise Beach Snorkeling
  • Casa Chanty
  • Cenote Tula
  • Jungala Aqua Experience
  • Mayan Water Complex
  • Dolphin Discovery Maroma
  • Cenote Mayakoba

Between Playa Del Carmen and Tulum you can see:

  • Secret River
  • Emma Cove
  • Riviera Maya Paradise
  • Cenote Abierto
  • Cenote Media Luna

Many of these places are perfect for quick stops and photo shoots along the way. While the journey from Tulum to Cancun is quick, the adventure makes you want to spend a lot more time roaming the turn-offs along Highway 307. 

Best Tours From Cancun to Tulum

Another great option for any traveler is to travel through booking tours. These tours are usually day trips and an easy answer to the question of how to get to Tulum from Cancun. And thanks to hotel pick-up and drop-off options you’re given easy travel options from Cancun to Tulum and back again. 

Whether your final destination is one of Tulum’s best hostels or a luxury hotel, a day trip out of Cancun has tons of exciting activities too. Below are some of the best tours for traveling from Cancun to Tulum.

Go on a Cenote Adventure

Between Tulum and Cancun, there are at least 12 different cenotes. The views of each one are more beautiful than the next. Gather your snorkeling equipment and swimming clothes, and head out for a day of cenote hopping. 

If you’re driving, you could easily plan your trip to include all 12 of the cenotes, but the ones worth the detour are Rio Secreto, Gran Cenotes, and Cenotes Dos Ojos. So be sure to add those to your bucket list.    

Click here to book a Tulum and Cenotes tour

Explore the Mayan Ruins

Riviera Maya has tons of interesting locations for history buffs from the classic Chichen Itza to the Coba and El Castillo. The Tulum Archaeological Zone is a wonderful start to the Mayan legends. 

You can learn all about the architectural structures of these ancient people as well as the culture, daily life, and histories of the Mayan people. 

Click here to book a Mayan Ruins tour from Cancun  

Xplor Playa Del Carmen

Halfway between Cancun and Tulum is Playa del Carmen. Here you can drop by for some jungle adventure, ziplining, rafting, and underground rivers at the Xplor theme park.

The theme park is wonderful for adventure. A noteworthy activity is the “amphibious vehicle.” This provides you with a unique opportunity to swim with dolphins and discover ancient rock formations in the underwater caves.

Click here to book a day trip to Xplor from Cancun

Visit the Fishing Old Towns 

On your way down Highway 307, Puerto Morelos is just between Playa del Carmen and Cancun. This old and lovely fishing town holds a ton of history and culture. But, its biggest draw is the opportunity to spot some amazing wildlife in the deep sea. 

The Puerto Morelos Reef National Park is a stunning snorkeling location in the Caribbean sea. Here you can see the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef and check out some colorful fish, sea turtles, and possibly a dolphin or two. 

Click here to book a tour of Puerto Morelos Reef

Wander Around Akumal 

This coastal resort town is home to places like Half Moon Bay, Yal-Ku Lagoon, and ​​Aktun Chen Parque. But, the most rewarding activity in this sleepy town is to swim with the turtles. 

While there are a few animal adventures here, like the monkey sanctuary and the ecological center, the city of Akumal means “land of the turtles,” translated from the Mayan language. So, what’s more fun than swimming with the turtles in their natural habitat? 

Click here to book a tour to swim with the turtles in Akumal 

Best Accommodation Options Between Tulum and Cancun

If you’re looking for a place to rest your head before gallivanting onto the next cenote, beach, or ruin. Here are just a few options of where to stay between Tulum and Cancun. 

Best Hostel Accommodation: Alme Hostel

Located right at the heart of Playa Del Carmen, walk into the Alme Hostel and enjoy some intriguing decor coupled with fabulous amenities at an affordable price. This hostel is particularly wonderful for budget travelers who love making new friends and don’t mind the limited privacy. 

Just 10 minutes away from the beach, you won’t be spending much time indoors anyway. You can spend most of your time gallivanting between the beaches or trying the local cuisine at surrounding restaurants. If you’re up to it, dance the night away at one of the nightclubs just a stone’s throw away. 

Click here to book a room at Alme Hostel

Apartment Living: Casa Velero Puerto Morelos

Are you the type of person that loves Caribbean decor and a vibrant atmosphere? This apartment is a great place for anyone looking for a holiday home away from home. It offers a cozy garden, sun terrace, and outdoor pool to boot. 

Located in Puerto Morelos, these units provide everything you need for a comfortable stay. This includes air-conditioning to cool off after a long hot day, linen bedding, towels, and a fully-equipped kitchen facility. Here you can book a full private apartment, so this is great for couples looking for budget-friendly alone time. 

Click here to book a room at Casa Velero Puerto Morelos

Resort: Chablé Maroma

Clean white linen and splashes of blue decor greet you at the Chablé Maroma resort. This is a fabulous spot to realign your chakras between the plush white robes and delicious food. You can also spend some time in the plunge pool and tropical woods to rediscover nature. 

Are you looking for a place to grab your novel and enjoy a tan while lazing away in the hot tub or along the private beach? This resort is ideal for a more relaxed stay after a few days of adventure. 

Click here to book a room at Chablé Maroma

Adults Only: Secrets Maroma Beach Riviera Cancun

This AAA Five Diamond resort is a spectacular location for anyone looking to avoid the kids (or someone else’s kids) for a day or two. It is on the outskirts of Cancun with 13 brilliantly clear pools and an array of activities from yoga to snorkeling. 

This is the spot for anyone looking to sustainably enjoy Cancun before jetting off to Tulum. Here you can explore a stretch of white sand surrounded by lots of tall, green forestry and homey interiors. 

Click here to book a room at Secrets Maroma Beach Riviera Cancun

Glamping: Serenity Authentic

About 34 km outside of Playa Del Carmen is a wondrous glamping hotel boasting a garden, pool, and Xpu-Ha beach. The Serenity Authentic Glamping experience will allow you to reset your circadian clock without too many bugs and regular camping inconveniences. 

Serenity Camp offers en-suite bathrooms inside and a range of activities outside. This resting point halfway between Tulum and Cancun gives you the chance to explore their spa and wellness center packages before heading off on your next adventure. 

Click here to book a room at Serenity Authentic Camp

Cancun to Tulum FAQs

Have a question that was not answered above? For more information on traveling from Cancun to Tulum, here are several frequently answered questions and answers.

Is There Uber in Tulum? 

Uber is in certain parts of Mexico. However, Uber doesn’t operate within the Tulum and Cancun areas. 

Will I Be Able to Get Gas While Driving?

Yes, there are quite a few gas stops along the way. Since you’re only driving for about an hour, it may be best to fill up your tank in Cancun or Playa Del Carmen. The stops between Tulum and Playa Del Carmen are further apart, and it may take longer to get help if you run out of gas along the second half of your journey. 

How Much Will I Spend on Gas?

You can expect to pay anything from $7 to around $16 USD, depending on the car you’re driving and how much fuel it uses. Try to choose a car that is light on gas as there aren’t many treacherous roads or steep winding highways to justify getting a diesel vehicle.

Do I Have to Get Insurance?

Most car rental companies will not accept your credit card insurance. Also, other kinds of travel insurance aren’t recognized by all leasing agents. So, you will have to get car insurance (personal liability insurance) from your agency. 

Is it Safe to Travel from Cancun to Tulum?

It’s as safe as traveling to most countries. You have to be conscious and aware of your surroundings and your behavior. Cancun to Tulum is relatively safe for the most part, thanks to the heavy police presence on the roads. 

Is Tulum More Expensive Than Cancun?

Cancun is generally cheaper. Tulum, on the other hand, can be pretty expensive. However, with careful planning and conscious spending, there’s no reason you cannot enjoy yourself on a budget.  

Final Thoughts on Tours and Transportation From Cancun to Tulum

Getting from Cancun to Tulum doesn’t have to break the bank. With some of these handy tips, you’ll be able to travel safely and affordably while having the most fun possible.

Across the Yucatan Peninsula’s coastline, there are many exciting activities, from snorkeling or zip-lining to lounging around on the best beaches in Tulum. So grab your flip-flops and sunscreen and make the most out of this tropical adventure. 

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