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Cancun Airport to Tulum – 9 Things you NEED to KNOW!

Cancun Airport to Tulum – 9 Things you NEED to KNOW!

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With its bohemian vibes, awesome Mayan ruins, and stunning Mexican beaches, Tulum really is one of the best places to visit in Mexico. The only problem is that the journey from Cancun Airport to Tulum can be pretty stressful. 

Well, to be honest, the journey itself is okay, but Cancun Airport is not a nice place to be! It’s small, crowded, and you are constantly hassled by taxi drivers who are desperate to rip you off. Even if you do agree to a super overpriced taxi, they still make you wait for ages.

However, there are ways to avoid the stress of Cancun Airport – and get out of there ASAP. You just have to know what to do and plan ahead – and we’re here to help with that! We’ve traveled between Cancun and Tulum a few times and have the inside scoop.

So to start your Tulum vacation on the right note, keep reading. We’ve written everything you need to know about getting from the Cancun Airport to Tulum (with as little stress as possible!).

Don’t have time to read the full article? Getting from Cancun Airport to Tulum safely and stress-free is the top priority for you and your loved ones. We absolutely recommend this private shuttle to get you to your destination – PLUS the price is unbeatable if you are traveling with a group.

1. How far is Cancun Airport from Tulum?

road between Cancun and Tulum
The road between Cancun and Tulum

Cancun Airport is 118 km (73 mi) from the center of Tulum. It’s roughly a 2-hour drive if you rent a car in Cancun, although it could be a little faster or slower depending on traffic conditions.

Of course, the exact distance and time depend on where you’re staying, but most of the hotels in Tulum are pretty close together.

Related Read: Tulum is surrounded by other beautiful beach towns, cenotes, and wildlife. To learn more, read about the best tours in the Yucatan Peninsula here!

2. Are there free shuttles from Cancun Airport to Tulum?

Cancun airport shuttle at Cancun Airport
Cancun Airport shuttle

No, there aren’t. While the Cancun airport shuttles are a great transportation option, they aren’t free.

Cancun Airport has put a ton of regulations in place surrounding transport. This is partly to help keep tourists safe. For example, taxis are carefully monitored, and every driver has to have a valid license. However, making money is a big part of it, too. 

This area runs off tourism, and the airport is designed to generate a profit – so you won’t find free shuttles here. Some transport options between Cancun Airport and Tulum are cheaper than others, but whichever option you choose, you’re going to have to pay.

3. What are the options for getting from Cancun Airport to Tulum?

Daniel sits in a Cancun Airport shuttle
The shuttles are the best option!

Private shuttle

I’ve found that a private shuttle is the best choice for getting from Cancun Airport to Tulum (and back!). It’s much faster because you don’t have to wait in the crowded airport for a long time, which is often the case when you choose a bus or taxi. 

This private shuttle service is an excellent choice. Your driver will track your flight to ensure a timely pickup and then take you straight to your hotel. I love that since it’s private, there’s no need to wait around for other travelers. It’s great for couples, friends, and families (and car seats are available too!).

You can schedule your pickup and dropoff anytime day or night. When traveling after dark, I always feel much safer with a pre-booked private shuttle!

It costs $240 USD per shuttle for a one-way ride, or you can book a roundtrip journey for $437 USD. If you’re flying out of Cancun Airport at the end of your trip, I’d recommend booking the roundtrip option and saving some money. Shuttles can fit up to 8 passengers, so the price per person varies.

Although this option isn’t dirt cheap, it can actually save you money compared to taking a taxi. Cancun Airport taxi drivers are notorious for ripping off and short-changing their customers. And honestly, the process of arranging a taxi upon arrival is so off-putting – it makes the shuttle so worth it!

For a safe and stress-free journey, I recommend booking this private shuttle online here!

Shared shuttle

If you’re on a budget, then this shared shuttle from Cancun Airport to Tulum is a great option! You may need to wait for other passengers, but it’s usually no more than 30 minutes. It’s still much faster and less stressful than waiting for a taxi. 

The shared shuttle runs from 8 am to 6 pm and allows for one piece of luggage per person. Shuttles can take up to 10 people, so you really don’t wait too long for other guests.

Prices for this shared shuttle depend on how many are in your party. The more people you have, the cheaper it is per person. For a solo traveler, the one-way shuttle to Tulum costs $56.50 USD, and a roundtrip is $113 USD. But for a group of five, each person would pay $37.50 USD each way.

However, if you have six or more people, you might want to book the private shuttle. It actually works out cheaper for the one-way!

With the shared shuttles, you don’t get a discount for roundtrip journeys. However, you can’t book the return journey separately. So if you know you want a shared shuttle both ways, make sure to choose the roundtrip option at the time of booking.

Overall, it’s a great choice for groups of 5 or fewer that want to save a little money. If that’s you, don’t hesitate to book your shared shuttle here!

Luxury Transport

Tulum is a favorite destination among luxury travelers, so of course there are ways to travel in style! This private luxury transfer will take you from Cancun Airport to Tulum in a comfy, air-conditioned Mercedes Benz van. I also love the extra perks that come along with this luxury ride like complimentary beers, water, free WiFi, and warm face towels. It sounds like the perfect way to refresh after a flight!

Someone will be waiting for you with a sign. Just spot your name and follow them to your luxury vehicle. It’s a relaxing way to start your vacation – which is what vacations are all about, right?

And at $188 USD per van, it’s a good deal too! Plus, you can fit up to 5 people in this Mercedes Benz. So if you’re traveling in a group, it might even cost you less per person than a private shuttle.

If you’re heading to Tulum with a group of friends, I definitely recommend this option. And if you’re celebrating a special occasion – you can crack open a Corona or two en route! If you want the VIP treatment, check availability and book this luxury transport here!

ADO bus

ADO Bus in Cancun
ADO Bus in Cancun. Photo credit: Veebass Depositphotos

The ADO bus is a cheap and comfortable public bus, but it can take almost three hours to get from the airport to Tulum. Buses leave at:

  • 10:15 am 
  • 12 pm 
  • 1:20 pm 
  • 2:40 pm 
  • 4 pm
  • 5:20 pm 
  • 6:40 pm 
  • 8:05 pm 
  • 9:25 pm

You can book your tickets in advance via the ADO website. However, since buses don’t leave that regularly, you might be waiting over an hour. And if your flight is delayed, you’ll miss your bus altogether.

You can always buy a ticket at the airport. However, be warned: the lines are super long, and you’ll be harassed by taxi drivers the whole time. Personally, the thought of waiting in line while being bombarded by aggressive taxi drivers sounds rough – especially after a flight!  

The ADO bus stand is easy to find. After going through baggage claim and customs, head outside. You’ll see the ADO bus sign right by all the taxi stands. The ADO bus stops at all terminals, so no need to switch between them.

One-way tickets cost 400 MXN ($24 USD) from Cancun Airport to Tulum. Once you arrive in Tulum, it should be a pretty short walk to your hotel, or you can grab a taxi. 

Uber

Taking an Uber from Cancun Airport to Tulum is not a great option for a couple of reasons.

First, it can be really hard to get an Uber from Cancun airport due to disputes with local taxi drivers. many times, they’re just not available. Plus, you’ll need mobile data because the WiFi in Cancun Airport is practically nonexistent. 

Also, it’s a long Uber ride from Cancun to Tulum. Even if you do manage to order an Uber, it’ll cost you much more than a shuttle. 

All things considered, taking an Uber from Cancun Airport to Tulum really just doesn’t make sense! 

But if you insist on ordering an Uber, you’ll need cell phone coverage. If you don’t have data, head to the Oxxo mobile store just outside the airport. There’s an Oxxo store inside the airport as well, but this one tends to cost more.

Taxi

When I see travelers at Cancun Airport getting in taxis, I kind of want to run over and stop them!

It’ll cost you a ridiculous amount of money to take a taxi from the airport to Tulum. I mean, taxi drivers charge people $80 USD to go to the Cancun Hotel Zone, which is just 20 km (12.5 mi) from the airport. I can’t even imagine what they would charge you to go to Tulum, which is six times the distance! 

To make things even worse, after being harassed by multiple taxi drivers, you’ll still have to wait for ages. You don’t just speak with a driver and hop right in their taxi. Instead, you’ll have to wait for your assigned taxi driver to appear and pay your eye-watering fee.

Seriously, just don’t do it.

Bailey picks up a rental car in Cancun Airport
Bailey picks up a rental car at Cancun Airport

Rent a car

If you’re planning an epic Mexican road trip or just want some more freedom to explore, then you can rent a car and pick it up at Cancun Airport. We’ve rented a car in Mexico several times – and had a blast. It has allowed us to take many day trips from Tulum and explore places off the beaten track.

If you choose this option, we highly recommend Discover Cars. We’ve used them countless times all over the world and never had any problems.

What I love about Discover Cars is that you can compare prices online – so you know you’re not getting ripped off. They help you to choose the most reputable suppliers and get the best price. Plus, they can sort out all of your insurance for you in case anything goes wrong. 

You do have to fill out some paperwork before leaving the airport. But if you want the ability to drive yourself throughout your Tulum trip, renting a car is the way to go!

Hotel shuttle

Hotels in Tulum will often offer shuttle rides from the airport, but I only recommend this option if it’s free. If the shuttle isn’t included in the price of your stay, they will charge you way more than if you book a private shuttle through Viator, even though you’ll get the same service. Don’t waste your money! 

Related Read: If you’re an adrenaline junkie (like me!), read all about swimming with whale sharks in Tulum!

Why We Book Tours with Viator

Viator is a trusted online booking system for tours around the world! We almost always book our tours using Viator for a couple of reasons:

  • Free cancellation on most tours – Most of the tours on Viator allow you to cancel and get a full refund up to 24 hours in advance. This is handy in case plans change, or if booking an outdoor activity, the weather forecast is looking grim.
  • Reserve now and pay later – You can secure your spot on some of the most popular tours well in advance and not pay until closer to the day of the tour.
  • Pay in your chosen currency – Avoid costly international transaction fees by choosing to pay in your home currency.
  • Peace of mind – When booking with tour operators you find in person on the street or in small booking offices, you are often promised one thing and given another. This online platform holds tour operators accountable with a written description of inclusions as well as the opportunity for customers to leave reviews.

Check out the Viator website here! Or, for more info, read our detailed review about Viator here.

4. What is the most convenient option?

Group of shuttle works hold oup signs with peoples names outside Cancun Airport, Mexico
Look for your names! Photo credit: Pxhidalgo Depositphotos

A private shuttle – 100%!

Booking a private shuttle means you don’t need to wait around and can get out of the chaotic airport ASAP – which trust me, you’ll definitely want to do. It also helps you avoid being ripped off by taxi drivers, and it’s super safe. You don’t have to fill out any paperwork, either, which you do with a rental car

5. What is the cheapest option to get from Cancun Airport to Tulum?

The ADO bus is the cheapest mode of transport between the airport and Tulum. A one-way ticket costs $24 USD per person. However, it’s also one of the slowest and least convenient options. In my opinion, it’s worth it to book this shared shuttle for $37.50-$56.50 USD instead.

Related Read: If you’re on a budget, spend a day at the beach! Many beaches have free access, and there are several awesome beaches on the Yucatan Peninsula.

6. What are the best shuttles from Cancun Airport to Tulum?

Travelers head to their shuttles at Cancun Airport in Mexico
Cancun Airport can be really busy so have your shuttle booked! Photo credit: Pxhidalgo Depositphotos

Tulum Private Transportation From-To Cancun Airport

I think this private shuttle is one of the best options out there. Since it’s private, you don’t have to waste any time or energy at the airport. It runs 24/7, and the staff will track your flight and meet you right on time. They’ll be holding up a sign with your name and will transport you past all the annoying taxi drivers!

You’ll avoid all the airport stress and get to your Tulum Hotel ASAP. This is definitely my goal when traveling. And with all the fun activities awaiting you in Tulum, you won’t want to waste any time!

This shuttle costs $240 USD for one-way or $437 USD for roundtrip service between Cancun Airport and Tulum. However, this is a flat rate for the entire vehicle, which can accommodate up to eight passengers. So if you have all eight, that’s just $30 USD for a one-way or $54 USD roundtrip per person.

This option is just so efficient, reliable, and easy. So don’t hesitate to book your private shuttle online in advance!

Departures in Mercedes Benz from Tulum to Cancun Airport

This Mercedes Benz Van is my favorite luxury option. It’s perfect if you crave more comfort or just want to start your trip with a bang! And if you’re celebrating a special occasion, you deserve the upgrade!

The spacious air-conditioned van fits up to five passengers. Your driver will pick you up promptly – so there’s no waiting around. And when you hop in the van, you’ll be treated to face towels, free WiFi, water, and even beers!

You can book this luxury vehicle any time of day – so it’s great for those late-night arrivals. Plus, the whole experience isn’t even that expensive. This option costs a flat rate of $188 USD for the van. If you have all five people, that’s just $37.60 USD per person.

To travel in style, I recommend booking this private VIP transport in advance!

7. What is the safest option to get from Cancun Airport to Tulum?

The two safest options are this private shuttle or this luxury shuttle because it’s just you and your party.

Plus, these shuttles are run by authorized tour companies and are all carefully tracked by the airport. You can rest assured that everything’s totally above board. I also find it reassuring that you pay a fixed price in advance. You know you’re not going to be charged a huge fee at the end of the ride (which often happens with taxis!).

Related Read: We’ve always felt safe while traveling in Mexico – provided we take some precautions, of course. To learn more, read our safety guide to Mexico here.

8. What is the most dangerous way to get from Cancun Airport to Tulum?

Highway between Cancun and Tulum
The highway between Cancun and Tulum

Taking a taxi is the most dangerous way to get from Cancun Airport to Tulum.

There are some safety precautions you should take in Cancun – and this starts at the airport. Nowadays, airport taxis are regulated so they’re mostly okay in terms of personal safety. Just make sure your driver has a valid permit displayed on their person and in their vehicle.

However, taxis in Cancun are still sketchy at the best of times. And they’re still definitely going to rip you off. Trust me, it’s highway robbery! You’re better off avoiding them altogether.

9. Tips for getting from Cancun Airport to Tulum

Driving out of Cancun Airport
Driving out of Cancun Airport

Tips are expected

Tipping is customary in the Yucatan Peninsula, for foreigners at least. We normally tip around 10%. Make sure to have some small bills on you, as you can’t exactly ask for change for a tip! You can use Mexican pesos, US dollars, or Canadian dollars (so don’t worry if you don’t have any small change in pesos just yet).

Book in advance

Honestly, the best thing you can do when traveling from Cancun Airport to Tulum is to book in advance. You’ll avoid spending hours in the small, hot, and cramped airport – as well as the constant harassment from taxi drivers. Trust me, you don’t want to start your trip this way!

If you don’t know what’s going on or have a plan to get to your hotel, you’ll get really stressed and overwhelmed by the airport chaos. It really is enough to send even the calmest of travelers over the edge! 

Make a plan and get out of there ASAP.

Plus, booking in advance will save you money. As we mentioned, booking a private shuttle or a luxury vehicle are your safest and most convenient options. However, even taking a shared shuttle or the ADO bus is way cheaper than taking a taxi. 

Avoid the bus late at night

The ADO bus is fine during the day. But at night, you might find some questionable characters on board and at the station. Plus, when you get off, you’ll need to walk to your hotel, which isn’t the best idea after dark. It’s much better to take a shuttle instead, and this private one will pick you up no matter how late you arrive! 

Never book with an unauthorized taxi

The only thing worse than being ripped off by an official airport taxi is being ripped off by an unofficial airport taxi. Sometimes, airport taxis poach tourists away from the official drivers by offering more attractive prices. But be warned – they don’t do this just to be nice…

The unofficial taxis won’t be registered in logbooks – so if anything happens, it’ll be hard to protect yourself. In this case, you’re risking more than just your money. You might find yourself without several of your possessions (or a big chunk of cash) for the rest of your trip. 

Of course, some of the unofficial drivers are just trying to make a living and avoid the airport fees. Unfortunately, others are pretty shady.

So if you absolutely must take a taxi, make sure that they are at least official. The official taxi drivers wear uniforms and badges displaying an ID, and they should also have permits clearly displayed on the windshield of their cars.

I don’t recommend taking a taxi, full stop. But if you do, again, make sure it’s an official one! 

Related Read: Planning to go to Isla Mujeres? Check out our complete guide to visiting Isla Mujeres, Mexico!

Activities to do While in Tulum

Tulum Ruins, Mexico
Tulum Ruins, Mexico

If you’ve already chosen a method of transportation from the airport to Tulum – yay! The hard part is over. Now, you can plan all the fun activities you’d like to do in Tulum!

There are a plethora of activities, so filling up your Tulum itinerary shouldn’t be difficult. To help you out, I’ve highlighted some of my favorite things to do below.

  • Rent a bike and explore the city – Renting a bike – or even an E-bike – is a fun, convenient, and environmental way to explore Tulum! You can see the murals, cute shops, hit a brewery, and even the beach in just a few hours!
  • Have a beach day – With all the adventuring and exploring you’ll likely be doing in Tulum, a lazy beach day is a perfect activity to relax! Tulum has some of the best beaches in Mexico. The closest beach to Tulum is Paradise Beach, and the name speaks for itself. You can rent lounge chairs here for $10 USD and enjoy the nearby restaurants.

Where to Stay in Tulum

Che Tulum Hostel Pool
Che Tulum Hostel Pool

Tulum has become such a great vacation spot, and that is largely due to the great places to stay! With so much to do in Tulum, you’ll need the right accommodation to rest up and keep adventuring. There are plenty of options ranging from hip budget-friendly hostels to resort vibes and everything in between. 

Luxury – $$$

If you’re looking to make your vacation a luxurious trip, there are plenty of good options in Tulum! 

Hotel Boutique TerraNova is a top-rated boutique hotel that truly makes your stay like paradise. All the rooms are spacious and have a garden patio, and there is an outdoor pool as well! You can expect to pay at least $300 USD per night during the peak season for a deluxe queen room. For an upscale hotel with modern, serene vibes, book your stay at TerraNova here!

Another incredible luxury option is Kan Tulum. This hotel is actually built around its own private cenote! These rooms have a unique jungle treehouse design, with gorgeous terraces to see the sunset. You are well located right next to beaches and nightlife. Rooms cost around $250-$450 USD, but will certainly be a memorable experience! For a unique stay you’ll only find in Tulum, reserve your room at Kan Tulum online here!

Mid-range – $$

Aruma Boutique Hotel is a moderately priced, artsy hotel that’s still very comfortable and family-friendly! It has a great location and is only a few minutes away from Tulum’s city center and many shops and restaurants. They also serve an exceptional breakfast, including espresso, and the staff is so friendly! There’s a rooftop pool and bar, which makes a great place to relax after a day of exploring.

You can expect to pay anywhere from $50-$150 USD a night depending on the time of year you are visiting. But to take advantage of this awesome deal, you’ll want to reserve this accommodation well in advance!

Budget – $$$

For budget travelers, my favorite hostel is Che Hostel. It’s just steps from downtown Tulum and has a tropical vibe with gardens surrounding the property. There are lots of events happening here, including salsa dancing and pool parties!

You can get a dorm room for as low as $20 USD, which is truly a steal considering how nice this hostel really is! They also offer gorgeous private rooms. If you’re traveling on a budget, I encourage you to book well in advance – and you can do so on Hostelworld.com or Booking.com.

Thanks for reading!

Daniel and Bailey take a selfie at Akumal Beach in Mexico
Thanks for reading!

Tulum makes an ideal destination for a relaxing, beachside holiday or adventurous fun like on an ATV tour! However, if you’re flying into the Cancun Airport, it can be quite stressful. As such, we always book a shuttle or luxury transport to Tulum in advance – and avoid taxis at all costs! We recommend you do the same and hope our guide has helped you plan your trip successfully.

If you found this information useful, check out our other blogs about Mexico! There’s so much to explore in this amazing country – and we’re here to help. To learn more, check out the articles below. Thanks for reading!

10 Things to Know BEFORE Booking an ATV Tour in Cancun

12 Things to KNOW Before Going on a Cancun Catamaran Cruise to Isla Mujeres

11 BEST Cancun Resorts (An Unbiased Guide from Cheap to Luxury!)

22 Amazing Things to do in Puerto Escondido, Mexico