With Tulum being a bit off the grid and not like other cities in the Riviera Maya, airport transportation is perceived as a challenge. Once the mystery of Tulum travel is explained, the trip from the Cancun international airport to your Tulum accommodations is easy. Knowing your options and what each option provides makes it easier. HItch hiking is not what we are proposing though there are some great options for many different travelers.
Travel options from the Cancun airport to Tulum
1. Private airport transfer – This can be arranged through most Tulum hotels at the time of booking. Depending on where your hotel is located a return private transfer ranges from 175 usd to 225 usd for up to three people. Groups of 4 or more could cost 20% more but is a nice per person rate when you are traveling with a group. This service will be your personal pick up and drop off to your Tulum hotel with no stops (unless you want them) and a car waiting for you. If you are arriving late at night, this is the only way to go. If you have had a long flight, the best way to go.
2. Rental Car at the airport- This is only recommended if you know the area, know where you are going and know the highway rules in Mexico. Typically airport rental car pick ups for new guests to the area is not a fun adventure. The wait can be long for your car, the process is different than you are used to and driving for the first time after a long flight tough. We do recommend that you rent a car while in Tulum for flexibility we just do not recommend the hotel rental car pick up.
3. Public Transportation – For the sustainable traveler or the adventurous traveler, public transportation is dreamy in Mexico when you know how to do it. The ADO buses are big, cold and have videos. The ride is smooth and relaxing and they are on time! To get from the Cancun airport to Tulum it is best to take the Playa del Carmen bus that runs each hour to Playa del Carmen and then switch to the Tulum bus right in the Playa del Carmen terminal. Airport buses run until 8 pm and Tulum buses run until 1 am (though the last bus out of Playa is crowded and packed!) The cost is great 10 usd per person from The Airport to Playa and then 5 usd from Playa to the center of Tulum. If you are staying on the beach in Tulum the maximum you will be charged to get to a Tulum beach hotel is 10 usd. Bus schedules can be checked online on the ADO webpage and they really do run on time with not a second to spare!
4. Collectivos – The collectivo option, public transportation that consists of small 12 passenger vans, used to be an option from the Cancun airport but is not anymore. Some transportation operators get you to commit to their service with the promise of a collectivo for 34 usd a person but you will find that this service will not transpire.
5. Taxi – All we can say is expensive. A one way taxi ride for 3 people to a Tulum beachfront hotel will be minimum 195 usd. That is not including the return. If you are arriving late at night, the price may be even more. The taxi ride to Playa del Carmen is 90 usd, another small fortune for a one way ride. The other issue is, most cab drivers do not know where the hotels are in Tulum so we do hear stories of cab drivers getting lost as they are not familar with either Playa del Carmen or Tulum or other cities for that matter. Cancun they are pretty good at, but the coastal cities are not their expertise.
Whether you want to have private transport, or public transport both are a great way to go. If you are traveling from afar and it is your first time to the area, take private transport. If you know the lay of the land pubic is a great way to go and our preference as the federal buses are super comfortable and dependable.
What is your preference for airport transportation? Let us know on the Casa de las Olas fan page so other guests and soon to be guests learn from your experience.