Air Travel to Cancun
Tulum does not have an international airport: you will need to book your flights to and from Cancun airport (CUN), which is about 90 minutes from Tulum.
From New York City
We recommend JetBlue’s daily flights 751 (arrives in Cancun at 10am) and 852 (leaves Cancun 2pm) for minimum travel / maximum sun time. For minimum cost, you may want to consider non-stop flights — the cheapest options usually stop in Charlotte or Miami en route.
From San Francisco
Virgin American and Delta both fly direct from San Francisco to Cancun.
Travel from Cancun to Tulum
Tulum is 90 minutes from Cancun by car. You have a few options here.
Most Flexible: Rental Car
Although taxis are readily available in Tulum, they can get relatively expensive if you are the kind of person who likes to explore! Renting a car will give you the option of driving around the town of Tulum, to the grocery store, etc., as well as visiting attractions like the ruins at Coba that are a few hours drive away.
Many of the major rental car companies have rental desks at Cancun airport. We have had good experiences with Avis and not such great experiences with Thrifty and Hertz.
Note that you should expect to pay far more for car rental than the prices you are quoted on travel websites. For instance, you can find prices from $6 per day on Kayak, but when you get to the counter in Cancun they will not let you drive away with the car for less than triple that, insisting that you pay all kinds of taxes, fees, and insurance on top of the base rental rate.
We have never gotten away with a rental rate of less than about $300 for a week with a car that has power steering and and automatic transmission. If you’re willing to do without those amenities, you can rent a tiny box car for more like $200 per week.
You should also be aware that it’s standard practice to require a large deposit hold be placed on your credit card by the rental company at time of rental in case of damages etc. — this ranges from $2,000-$7,000, so be sure to bring a high-limit card.
If you’re planning to rent a car, we recommend that you read more about the vagaries of Mexican car rental in this informative SFGate article.
Middle of the Road: Collectivo
If you’re a beach-lover and don’t plan on doing a lot of sight-seeing, you can get to Tulum via a community taxi van, which is called the collectivo. You can get yourself a collectivo at one of the big yellow desks inside the airport just after you clear immigration and customs. It generally runs about $50 (650 pesos,) and they will drop you off at the door of the hotel. You can book a return collectivo via the hotel for about $60.
For trips into town you will then need to hail a taxi (this runs about 100 pesos or $8 each way.)
Least Flexible: ADO Bus
The cheapest option to and from the airport is the ADO bus — it runs about 170 pesos ($13) each way. The bus is perfectly nice, clean, and modern, and runs several times a day to and from the airport.
From Cancun Airport:
There is a direct bus from Cancun Airport to Tulum town center — it stops en route in Playa del Carmen but you do not have to change buses.
Cancun Airport – Tulum departures run daily at 6:45am and 3:30pm.
If this doesn’t work with your schedule, you can also take a bus from the airport to either Cancun central bus station or Playa del Carmen, and transfer there to another bus to Tulum — buses depart on those routes approximately every hour.
Once in Tulum, you will need to take a taxi to the hotel, which is about 15 minutes from the bus station. The trip should cost you about $8-10.
To Cancun Airport:
There is a direct bus from Tulum town center to Cancun Airport — it stops en route in Playa del Carmen but you do not have to change buses.
Tulum – Cancun Airport departures run daily at 9:25am and 7:20pm.