How To Get From Cozumel To Tulum: The Best Ways To Go In 2023

How to get from Cozumel to Tulum

Ready to trade island life in Cozumel for the sandy beaches of Tulum? It’s time to discover the best way to travel from one beach paradise to another! What a great problem to have 😎 Cozumel and Tulum are two essential stops on people’s Yucatan Peninsula itinerary. But getting from Cozumel to Tulum isn’t exactly something you can just wing at the last minute.

But don’t worry! We got you covered.

There are plenty of convenient options to choose from to get to Tulum. But this post shares the best ways to go from Cozumel to Tulum based on your personal preference, travel style and budget.

So whether it’s by bus, private transfer or car, you’ll find the best way to visit Tulum from Cozumel. Time to keep exploring Mexico’s beautiful Riviera Maya – let’s go!

Estimated reading time: 16 minutes

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Getting From Cozumel To Tulum: Practical Info

Cozumel To Tulum Map

This map gives you a helpful visual of where the journey from Cozumel to Tulum will take you.

We hope you took note of the fact that Cozumel is an island! There is no bridge connecting Cozumel to the state of Quintana Roo’s mainland. The only way to make it across the beautiful turquoise waters is by boat or air.

Now that brings us to some frequently asked questions:

Is there a direct ferry from Cozumel to Tulum?

direct ferry cozumel tultum
Is this the direct ferry from Cozumel to Tulum??? No, sadly it is not.

A Cozumel to Tulum ferry would be so convenient, wouldn’t it? No confusing transfers or haggling with taxi drivers in broken Spanish. Wouldn’t that be nice?!?

Unfortunately, these two places are not connected by direct ferry. Sorry!

The passenger ferry only goes between Cozumel to Playa del Carmen, which means that Playa del Carmen will likely be your first stop after leaving Cozumel island by ferry.

Can I fly from Cozumel to Tulum?

Cozumel Airport

Cozumel has a wonderful little airport that makes flying in and out of the island a tropical breeze. On the other hand, Tulum does not.

Cancun International Airport is the closest airport to Tulum. But there are no commercial flights flying from Cozumel to Cancun on what would be a 15-minute flight.

Theoretically, you can book a little private plane to fly you to Cancun, but that is extremely expensive and Cancun is somewhat out of the way. So it won’t save you time on the trip to Tulum.

All of this is a long-winded way of saying that you can ignore flying when thinking about how to get from Cozumel to Tulum. It just doesn’t make sense!

Make sure to read these Yucatan Peninsula posts next:

How To Get From Cozumel To Tulum: The Best Ways To Travel

Going from Cozumel to Tulum by ferry

Ultramar Cozumel ferry
Ultramar ferries lined up and ready to sail from Cozumel to Playa del Carmen.

Okay, so there isn’t a direct ferry connecting Cozumel to Tulum. But high-speed passenger boats connect Cozumel island to Playa del Carmen on the Yucatan Peninsula’s mainland.

A ride on the Cozumel to Playa del Carmen ferry will be the first step of the journey for 99% of the people traveling to Tulum.

Thankfully this is a very straightforward and enjoyable part of the journey. There was live music and vendors selling tequila shots on our ferry ride to Playa del Carmen. Viva Mexico!!!

The Cozumel ferries depart from San Miguel de Cozumel’s town center and disembark in a convenient part of Playa del Carmen to keep your trip to Tulum going smoothly.

Cozumel to Playa del Carmen ferry Schedule:

Two operators take passengers on the ferry from Cozumel to Playa del Carmen – Ultramar & Winjet. Each departs Cozumel every two hours, on the hour. They alternate departure times, so there’s a boat leaving every hour.

Did that make sense?

Ultramar Cozumel ferry schedule:

Screenshot of Ultramar ferry schedule.

Winjet Cozumel ferry schedule:

Screenshot of Winjet ferry schedule.

WOTW Tip: Ultramar is slightly nicer than Winjet, but the difference between the two ferry companies isn’t that meaningful. They cost the same, so choose the one that departs at the most convenient time for you.

How to buy Cozumel ferry tickets?

You can purchase your tickets at the dock in the center of San Miguel de Cozumel, or book directly from the ferry company online. Note that tickets sold by Ultramar are not assigned for a specific departure date but are valid for six months after the purchase date.

Do I need to buy ferry tickets in advance?

In general, you don’t need to purchase tickets in advance. But it could be helpful to beat the long lines that always form about an hour before a boat is ready to depart.

Also – you’ll probably want to purchase tickets a day or two before your intended departure date if you’re visiting Cozumel in the high season (November-January). It is possible for popular time slots to sell out.

WOTW Tip: the narrow strait between Cozumel and Playa del Carmen is usually calm. That said, seasonal winds can create intense choppiness, and the ferries do stop services when it gets too extreme. While it’s rare that the service stops for an entire day (or more), it is not unheard of during the windy season (April) and Hurricane season (July – October).

How Much Does The Ferry Cost?

The ferry from Cozumel to Playa del Carmen is not exactly cheap. However, it’s tough to complain when there aren’t many other options for leaving the island.

Remember that the cost per one-way ticket for Ultramar and Winjet are the same. The only difference is that Ultramar also offers first-class tickets.

Here are the ferry prices for as of August 2023. The price for all options include luggage allowance of 55 lbs (25 kg):

  • Adult: one-way ferry ticket is $260 Mexican Pesos ($17 US); Ultramar first class $340 Mexican Pesos ($20 US).
  • Child (older than 1 year and shorter than 4 foot/1.2 meters): one-way ferry ticket is $230 Mexican Pesos ($13.50 US); Ultramar first class $340 Mexican Pesos ($20 US).
  • Infant (0-12 months): free.

Note: discounts are available for Mexican citizens and travelers with disabilities.

How long is the ferry ride?

The ferries from Cozumel to Playa del Carmen are modern, high-speed boats that will have you on the side before you know it.

The trip typically takes about 45 minutes, though the exact time can vary slightly depending on weather conditions.

WOTW Tip: you should plan to get to the dock at least 45 minutes before departure.

Is there a Cozumel car ferry?

There is a car ferry from Cozumel to the mainland!

Ultramar also operates this car ferry between Cozumel and Calica (just south of Playa del Carmen).

The reason the car ferry is not very relevant for people wondering how to get from Cozumel to Tulum is that rental companies in Cozumel likely won’t let you take the car off the island. Unless it’s a personal vehicle, this probably isn’t a valid option for most travelers.

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step by step guide going to tulum from cozumel

Going from Cozumel to Tulum by bus

Now we know that the first part of your trip from Cozumel to Tulum will be on the passenger ferry to Playa del Carmen, it’s time to figure out make it the final 40 miles to Tulum.

One of the most convenient and stress-free ways to get there is by ‘tourist bus.’ The tourist buses in the Yucatan Peninsula are very comfortable, professionally run, and generally run on schedule.

ADO is the best tourist bus company in Mexico. And, honestly, it’s the only one worth mentioning when considering how to get from Cozumel to Tulum by bus. If you ask us how to get from Playa del Carmen to Tulum, we’ll recommend going by ADO bus 100% of the time.

Check out this post highlighting everything you need to know about visiting Cozumel (Must read before you visit!)

Finding the ADO bus station in Playa del Carmen

The ADO bus station is about a 10-minute walk from where the ferry drops you off in Playa del Carmen. Here is a link to Google Maps.

If you don’t have a phone that can guide you there on Google Maps, just keep right after the you leave the dock and you’ll find the ADO office behind the park. It’s close to the McDonalds (yep, they are everywhere!)

Note: the scene outside Playa del Carmen’s dock is a bit hectic. If you’re committed to traveling with ADO Bus, just get in line and be patient. Ignore the people yelling out bus routes; they probably don’t work for ADO.

Taking the ADO bus from Playa del Carmen to Tulum

How to get from Cozumel to Tulum ADO bus
ADO buses in Playa del Carmen. So luxurious!

ADO has over 15 different departure times, starting at 8:15 am and ending at 8:30 pm. Ticket prices range from about $4 – $7 US.

You can check schedules and book online by visiting the ADO website. If you see a route serviced by ADO Conecta, it just means that it will be a shared mini-bus instead of the typical larger buses.

We always booked in advance through their website and can vouch for it being secure and reliable. Now please read the note below!

VERY IMPORTANT: ADO has two stations in Playa del Carmen and two drop-off points in Tulum. If you are booking online, make sure to select the terminal turistica departure station in Playa del Carmen.

Regarding the drop-off points – the first stop brings you to the Mayan ruins in Tulum and the nearby beaches. The ruins might be your final destination if you’re visiting on a day trip. However, most will want to book a ticket to Tulum’s city center.

Cozumel to Tulum by colectivo (mini-bus)

Colectivo buses are how many locals get between cities in Mexico. But foreigners are always welcome!

These mini buses don’t run on a super tight schedule, departing only when they are completely full with passengers. This typically happens quickly for popular routes. The driver and his assistant do their absolute best to quickly fill the little mini bus until it’s bursting at the seems.

Getting around the Yucatan by colectivo.

The benefit of the colectivo is that it’s cheaper. Expect to pay about 50 Mexican Pesos ($3 US) per person. The major thing to note is that the colectivo station is a 15-minute walk from the Playa del Carmen dock! So really consider if it’s worth saving a few extra bucks.

The colectivo from Playa del Carmen to Tulum can be found here (Google Maps).

WOTW Tip: the mini-bus will be more uncomfortable than ADO, and it will make frequent stops along the way to let people on and off. It will be even less comfortable if you are traveling with a lot of luggage. There is limited space to store large suitcases or bags.

Getting from Tulum’s bus station to your accommodation

If you book your ADO ticket to Tulum’s city center or if you take a colectivo, you will be dropped off near Terminal Autobuses Tulum ADO. While there are certainly many lodging options in this area, it is not close to Tulum’s famous hotel zone.

Travelers staying near Tulum’s white-sand beaches will need to take a taxi to the hotel zone. The road to the beach has no sidewalks, is super congested, and is 100% not walkable!

Here comes the fun part: you get to negotiate with Tulum’s lovely taxi drivers to give you an honest rate to the hotel zone. You may not be able to do better than 200 pesos ($11 US). This amount is too much, but the drivers will be waiting for tourists willing to be up to 300 pesos.

Does haggling with taxi drivers sound like a total pain in the butt? Maybe consider the next option for getting from Playa del Carmen to Tulum.

Private transfer from Playa del Carmen to Tulum

How to get from Cozumel to Tulum with private transfer

Okay, so we we are about to go from the least comfortable to most luxurious options for traveling from Playa del Carmen to Tulum. Making the final part of the trip from Cozumel to Tulum with your own private car is the ultimate choice for anyone looking for a carefree travel day.

Hiring a private car will ensure that you are picked up where you want when you want. And, of course, the driver will bring you directly to your final destination. No need to haggle with taxi drivers at the Tulum bus station or drag your suitcases along dusty roads to your accommodation.

Here are the best options for getting from Playa del Carmen to Tulum by private transfer:

  • Luxury mini bus: ideal for people traveling in groups of up to 7 passengers. Optional sightseeing stops along the way (for an additional fee).
  • Standard car or luxury SUV: is a trusted site connecting people to private drivers. The rates are reasonable and the transfer is flexible based on your needs. Make sure to select the ‘Cozumel Ferry’ option in Playa del Carmen.

In summary, getting to Tulum by private transfer is a great option for those in bigger groups, and those don’t mind spending a bit more for the convenience of arriving directly to their final destination with zero hassle.

Taking a taxi from Playa del Carmen to Tulum

Taking a taxi from the Playa del Carmen ferry terminal to Tulum is a convenient option – in theory. The 45-minute drive should cost about $40 US to reach Tulum’s hotel zone. But the taxis don’t run on meters… Which means you will need to haggle.

My best piece of advice for dealing with taxi driver’s in the Riviera Maya: good luck.

Not saying that all taxi drivers in this touristy part of Mexico are bad, but it is the one place in the world where we have witnessed and heard about the most outrageous price gauging.

Try to ask your hosts in Cozumel or Tulum if they know a trusted taxi driver in Playa del Carmen. This way, you can agree to a rate beforehand and they’ll be waiting for you at the agreed time.

Can you take an Uber from Playa del Carmen to Tulum?

No, you can not. Uber isn’t available in Playa del Carmen. No need to think about taking an Uber when wondering how to get from Cozumel to Tulum!

Driving to Tulum with a rental car

There are car rental companies that will allow you to pick up in Playa del Carmen and drop off in Tulum (you can search for them here). And having your own car obviously gives you some flexibility to do what you want on the day of your journey. You can make detours to visit the Yucatan’s beautiful Mayan ruins, or cool off in stunning cenotes.

How to get to Cozumel from Tulum by rental car
This little rental car we got in Cozumel came with a tracker. Don’t take it off the island!

And don’t worry about the quality of the roads or crooked police officers. The highways are in great condition, and getting stopped by an officer looking for bribes is uncommon in this part of Mexico. Just make sure to have all your insurance paperwork handy!

Now that’s all out of the way; we don’t think renting a car is a worthwhile option.

Here’s why:

  • We almost always had terrible experiences while renting cars in the Yucatan Peninsula. It’s not unheard of to show up with your reservation only to find out that they don’t have any available cars.
  • The car rental agencies aren’t conveniently located. So you’ll still need to take taxis to make it work.
  • Traffic in Tulum’s hotel zone is a disaster. You don’t want to be driving in that chaos yourself.

So while renting a car to get from Playa del Carmen to Tulum does give you some freedoms that you wouldn’t otherwise have, it may not be worth the effort.

Day trip tour from Cozumel to Tulum

Here’s a little curveball that you probably didn’t consider. Did you know you can take a day trip from Cozumel to Tulum? This 6-hour guided tour brings you to the Tulum Archeological Zone, home of the famous Maya ruins.

This Cozumel to Tulum day trip includes the following for $96 US per person:

  • English-speaking guide.
  • Round-trip transportation, including ferry tickets.
  • Tulum Mayan ruins entrance fee.
  • Water and snacks.
  • The peace of mind of not having to experience Tulum’s Hotel Zone. Just kidding (but seriously)!

As you probably would have guessed, there are also day trips from Playa del Carmen to Tulum. This might be a good option if you are short on time and want to stay closer to Cancun, where your flight home will likely depart from. This Playa del Carmen to Tulum tour has nearly 3,000 5-star reviews!

Final Thoughts: Our Recommendations For How To Get From Cozumel To Tulum

Getting around Mexico can definitely be an adventure, but we sincerely hope this post helps you get from Cozumel to Tulum as smoothly as possible. But no matter which way you choose to travel, remember to enjoy the journey.

And if things do get a little hectic, just take a deep breath and remember you’ll be drinking a cool margarita in the shade of a palm tree before you know it.

Enjoy the beautiful beaches in the Riviera Maya!

As always, please reach out in the comments if you have any questions about how to get from Cozumel to Tulum. Or hit us up on Instagram – that’s always the quickest way to get in touch with us!

Thanks for reading!


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