This put up was written by Emily Becker, our resident Mexico journey knowledgeable:

You’ve simply booked your flight to Cancún. So now what? Since there isn’t a global airport in Tulum, getting there from Cancún takes a little bit of planning. Fortunately, there are many choices, together with public transportation, non-public shuttles, and automobile leases.

Right here is your complete information, with every thing you’ll want to learn about making the journey from the Cancún airport to only about wherever on the Riviera Maya, as far south as Tulum (and again). You’ll discover useful recommendation, transportation suggestions, and even a map with locations to see alongside the way in which:

Take a colectivo

You may simply get to the Tulum ruins by taking a colectivo there from downtown Tulum.

Colectivos, also referred to as combis, are white minibuses which might be widespread in Mexico. They’re surprisingly simple to make use of and the most affordable possibility for getting round. I additionally discover them to be simpler than the common buses, as a result of they don’t run on a hard and fast schedule however often go away each half-hour. Probably the most I’ve ever needed to await a combi to go away was 20 minutes.

In case you have quite a lot of baggage, nonetheless, a colectivo is just not an important possibility for you. There isn’t quite a lot of area for it because of the automobiles’ dimension and the truth that folks use them to journey to and from work largely. In the event you simply have a backpack, although, you’re good to go.

In the event you don’t converse Spanish, there are a pair phrases you will have to recollect. Whenever you first board the colectivo, merely inform the driving force your vacation spot. Then carry up a map in your telephone to see while you’re getting shut, at which level inform the driving force: “Parada en ______” with the title of the place you’re going. For instance, in the event you’re getting off in Akumal, you’ll inform the driving force: “Parada en Akumal, por favor.”

Costs for colectivos are unimaginable to seek out on-line, so to ensure you are getting the proper worth, you’ll be able to ask to see the tabla de precios. Generally this desk is taped to the within of the colectivo and typically it’s not. The driving force will all the time have one, although. Nonetheless, it’s unlikely that the driving force will attempt to swindle you. I lived on the Riviera Maya for a yr and was by no means as soon as overcharged for a colectivo journey.

From the Cancún airport to Tulum

You can’t take a colectivo from the Cancún airport as a result of they solely function alongside the freeway. In the event you’re going straight from the airport to Tulum and never planning on spending any time in Cancún, I counsel taking an ADO (Autobuses de Oriente) bus to Playa del Carmen after which taking a colectivo from there. That’s the most effective plan in the event you completely wish to take a colectivo as a substitute of a bus. In any other case, probably the most handy choice to get to Playa del Carmen or Tulum from the airport is an ADO bus.

From Tulum to the Cancún airport

In the event you’re heading again to the Cancún airport, you’ll be able to simply catch a colectivo in Tulum (see map beneath). The colectivos don’t go to the airport, although, so you’ve gotten two choices: The primary is to take the colectivo to Playa del Carmen after which take an ADO bus to the Cancún airport. The second is to take the colectivo all the way in which to downtown Cancún after which take an ADO bus to the airport.

Since downtown Cancún is additional north than the airport, the primary possibility is probably the most logical strategy to get from Tulum to the airport by colectivo.

Colectivo perks

If you’re planning to discover the Riviera Maya, taking a colectivo is an effective way to take action, as a result of you may get off at any level alongside the stretch of freeway between Cancún and Tulum. This provides you extra freedom than a bus, which has mounted stops alongside the way in which. In the event you do wish to cease someplace — say, Akumal — simply let the driving force know and he’ll cease to allow you to out.

One other perk of taking a colectivo is that you simply’ll get to really feel extra like an area and fewer like a vacationer. Chances are high, you could be the one foreigner aboard.

Colectivos are simply as secure as buses and might really be a lot faster, relying on what number of stops they make. So far as consolation goes, they’re wonderful for brief spurts, however undoubtedly not fitted to napping the identical means the buses are.

Take a bus

things to do in cancun dive cozumel
Attending to a number of the greatest diving spots off the coast of Cozumel is completely doable. Simply take an ADO bus from Cancún to Playa del Carmen and a fast ferry to Cozumel from there!

The bus system within the Riviera Maya is a breeze. I used to be really fairly impressed with how effectively it labored once I first moved there (granted I had simply spent two years dwelling in Mozambique, the place transportation is usually a nightmare). There are two fundamental bus corporations that function within the state of Quintana Roo: ADO and Mayab.

There are a pair small variations between the 2. ADO is a nationwide firm that operates throughout Mexico; its buses are barely greater, virtually all the time have AC, and are typically a bit extra comfy. Its routes are virtually the identical, however Mayab operates in smaller cities all through the Yucatán Peninsula and tends to make extra stops alongside the way in which. Mayab tickets are sometimes cheaper than ADO tickets, however you’ll be able to simply examine the 2, as they’re each bought on ADO’s web site and at bus stations. The one bus firm that runs out of the Cancún airport is ADO.

From the Cancún airport

As quickly as you exit the terminal on the airport, you’ll see an ADO ticket station. The one locations between Cancún airport and Tulum at the moment are: downtown Cancún, Puerto Morelos, and Playa del Carmen (then Tulum). If you wish to go to every other vacation spot, you’ll should both switch buses on the downtown Cancún station, or take a colectivo.

From Tulum

Getting from Tulum to Playa del Carmen, Puerto Morelos, downtown Cancún, or the Cancún airport is feasible with an ADO bus, which you will discover on the ADO station in Tulum. To buy tickets or examine the bus schedule, go to ADO’s web site or go to the ADO station in downtown Tulum. All the time buy your bus tickets at the very least a day forward of time to safe your spot, as these buses usually promote out, and also you don’t wish to threat lacking your flight!

The ADO bus pulls proper as much as the Cancún airport, making it tremendous simple to plan your flight house in the event you’re counting on public transportation.

Hire a automobile

cancun things to do la noria cenote
Cenote La Noria is certainly one of many cenotes which might be simpler to get to if in case you have your personal rental automobile.

In the event you don’t wish to depend on public transportation, renting a automobile undoubtedly offers you extra freedom to go to all the wonderful locations on the Riviera Maya. Some cenotes and seashores are tough to succeed in by way of public transit, and renting a automobile in Mexico is usually less expensive than in america.

I’ve discovered that having a superb expertise renting a automobile can rely upon numerous components. Foremost, selecting the best firm is essential. Some corporations have extraordinarily low rankings, and prospects have shared horror tales about their rental experiences. Listed below are a pair corporations that come extremely advisable, together with a number of that ought to be prevented:

Really helpful:

  • Alamo: The costs embody the obligatory insurance coverage value, and they’re extra up entrance about the price. Additionally they have a number of the greatest opinions on-line, and I’ve personally had a really constructive expertise with Alamo.
  • Enterprise Hire-A-Automobile: That is the second-highest rated firm on the Cancún airport. They’re the most effective for reserving forward of time, as a result of they offers you the precise worth on-line (with no shock insurance coverage add-ons on the finish). Most opinions report Enterprise being very quick, simple, and reliable.
  • Nationwide Automobile Rental: They’re recognized for having glorious service and up-front costs with no shock charges. Nationwide is top-rated on Google, with a number of rave opinions about how briskly prospects have been capable of choose up their rental automobile.

Keep away from:

  • Fox: They’re recognized for having a scarcity of vehicles and promising one kind of car and charging for it regardless of altering the mannequin on the final minute. This can lead to prospects paying extra for a automobile that they didn’t ask for within the first place.
  • Mex Hire a Automobile: They’re infamous for giving prospects a quote on-line that doesn’t embody the obligatory insurance coverage. When prospects come to choose up the automobile they already paid the deposit on, they’re shocked by the extra insurance coverage prices.
  • ACE Hire a Automobile: There are fairly a number of opinions on-line claiming this firm doubled and even tripled the worth of the rental automobile when prospects went to choose up their automobile after reserving on-line via a third-party web site.

The place to lease

You may simply lease a automobile on the Cancún airport, or in Playa del Carmen or Tulum. In the event you lease from an organization that has areas in all three, you would possibly be capable to choose up the automobile in a single location and drop it off in one other. I did this as soon as with Alamo, renting the automobile in Tulum and dropping it off in Cancún.

Enterprise has areas on the Cancún airport, and in downtown Cancún, Tulum, and Playa del Carmen. Nationwide Automobile Rental has a location on the Cancún airport, and in Playa del Carmen and Tulum. For each Enterprise and Nationwide, the areas that aren’t on the Cancún airport are usually not almost as handy and are in unmarked buildings which might be tough to seek out. Alamo’s areas in Tulum and Playa del Carmen are a lot simpler to seek out.

Renting from the Cancún airport could be probably the most handy, however it is usually the costliest. Firms make the most of the truth that folks need to have the ability to get off their aircraft and instantly seize a automobile on the airport. There might be as a lot as a $10-per-day distinction. Nonetheless, in the event you get to the counter with a less expensive quote from the identical firm however a unique location, they are going to often honor it and provide the cheaper price.


  • If you’re touring throughout off-season (the spring and summer season months), wait to e book your rental automobile till you land in Cancún. That means you’ll be able to focus on costs in individual. You would possibly even be capable to haggle all the way down to a greater worth.
  • If you’re touring throughout excessive season (winter), e book your rental as much as 7 days earlier than your journey. Most corporations supply the most effective promotions and reductions inside this window.
  • There’s a obligatory insurance coverage in Mexico referred to as Third-Occasion Legal responsibility (TPL)/Public Legal responsibility Insurance coverage (PLI). Whenever you take a look at a day by day fee for the automobile, ensure to ask if the TPL/PLI is already included, as a result of if not, they are going to add it on on the finish and it’ll improve the worth considerably.
  • In the event you wouldn’t have a global driving allow, you’ll be able to nonetheless lease a automobile in Mexico. Nonetheless, having one helps, as a result of your driver’s license might be translated to Spanish, which may give you peace of thoughts in the event you get pulled over.
  • It’s a standard rip-off for gasoline station attendants to overcharge you on gasoline in the event you pay with a card, they usually pocket the distinction. Ensure you examine the quantity earlier than you insert your card within the machine. This occurred to me in Chiapas, and once I identified the distinction, the attendant gave it to me in money and pretended it was an accident.
  • Keep away from driving at evening. There are sometimes roadblocks at evening on the freeway between Cancún and Chetumal, that are infamous for stopping vehicles and demanding cash.
  • Be sure that to tip parking zone attendants for maintaining a tally of your automobile. 5-10 pesos will do.

Rent a non-public shuttle

cancun things to do jungle bubble hotel
Attending to your Tulum Airbnb or lodge is quick and simple by way of non-public shuttle.

In the event you’re staying at a resort someplace between Cancún and Tulum, they are going to almost certainly have their very own shuttle service, or you’ll be able to rent a non-public shuttle to take you. Some even have Wi-fi on board and can choose you up on the airport. In the event you’re staying in Cancún, examine along with your lodge or hostel to see if it has such a service.

If not, there are many choices for shuttles from the Cancún airport to Tulum. Glad Shuttle Cancún comes extremely advisable and claims to be the most affordable shuttle round. Even so, a one-way shuttle service via this firm can value as much as $118 from the Cancún airport to a Tulum lodge.

One other respected shuttle service from the airport to Playa del Carmen or Tulum is Cancún Shuttle. You may specify your drop-off level, which could be very handy. Examine the web site for his or her charges.

I perceive why shuttles are so interesting, however except you’ve gotten a bunch of huge, heavy suitcases, I can’t think about how they might be extra handy than hopping on an ADO bus straight from the airport. I don’t see an absolute want for hiring one.

Nonetheless, if the thought of getting a delegated individual ready for you on the airport is a should, a shuttle is your greatest wager. Generally solo vacationers discover consolation on this, and it may be a strategy to take the stress off of getting from place to position.

Stops alongside the way in which

Child sea turtles in Akumal!

In the event you’re questioning the place to cease alongside the way in which from Cancún to Tulum, I’ve received you lined! There’s a lot to see on this space of Mexico, and the very best means to take action is by renting a automobile, so that you’ll have the liberty to go to the websites that enchantment probably the most to you.

Cities price stopping in

  • Puerto Morelos: It is a fairly small city proper on the seaside. There are quite a lot of foreigners that stay there, and also you’ll see a number of gated communities round city with villas and trip houses. The seaside is much less crowded there than in another locations, and it’s a enjoyable spot to spend a day or two.
  • Playa del Carmen: An enormous trip spot and a giant social gathering vacation spot, Playa del Carmen is extra like a small metropolis than a city. It’s not precisely a great place to go and loosen up, as there may be quite a lot of hustle and bustle there.
  • Cozumel: You may simply take a ferry to Cozumel from Playa del Carmen. This island is gorgeous and one of many nation’s prime locations for snorkeling and scuba diving.
  • Akumal: This seaside paradise is among the greatest locations within the space to see sea turtles. The city itself is kind of small, however there may be a lot to do there. Even in the event you don’t keep at a giant resort lodge, you’ll be able to simply entry the seaside and cenotes round city.


  • Playa Xpu-Ha: This beautiful white-sand seaside is an area favourite and is far more off the crushed path than others within the space. Even throughout excessive season, this seaside not often will get crowded and maintains a laid-back environment all yr spherical.
  • Playa Kantenah: That is one other extra chill seaside, the place you’ll discover only a few folks at any given time. Despite the fact that there are two large motels proper on the seaside, the water is accessible to the general public, and it isn’t tough to get there.
  • Playa Chemuyil: Generally known as certainly one of Riviera Maya’s best-kept secrets and techniques, this seaside might be accessed from Ciudad Chemuyil and is among the solely ones that fees admission to enter: about 40 pesos ($2 USD).


  • Cenote Yal Ku: Positioned in Akumal, this cenote and lagoon has a number of the greatest snorkeling within the space. It’s simple to entry if in case you have a rental automobile, however you can even ask a taxi driver in Akumal or Playa del Carmen to take you.
  • Casa Cenote, aka Cenote Manatí: Whereas one of many pricier cenotes within the space (150 pesos, or $7.50 USD, to enter), this one is understood for having nice snorkeling and for being one of many least crowded. It’s simply outdoors of Tulum, and you’ll both drive there or get a taxi from Tulum to take you.

Now that you simply’re able to journey from Cancún to Tulum, try this map with every thing you want plotted out:

Ensure you try all of the wonderful issues to do in and round Cancún whilst you’re planning your subsequent journey. We’ve additionally received you lined with loads of concepts to your subsequent Tulum journey as effectively. There are such a lot of unimaginable locations to go to on the Riviera Maya, so tell us in the event you discover every other hidden gems!

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In regards to the writer: Emily is a Mexico journey fanatic based mostly in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas. She is a part-time freelance author for BMTM and part-time doula.

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