One of the only ways to get around Tulum is to take a taxi. It is really annoying because it can get costly. They are pretty strict about the fees and they are not that big on bargaining. Basically to get mostly anywhere not within walking distance, it is about 40 Mexican Pesos.
There are plenty of places where you can rent a bike. El Crucero (a hotel near the ruins) rents them for 400 pesos (a rip off). You can get them in town for less than 100 pesos. Renting a bike is a great idea in Tulum because it is a VERY bike friendly town. Everything is flat and they have places to lock up a bike every where. Plus the public transportation system is not all that great, so having a bike makes things a lot easier. The sites you want to visit are really not all that close together so the bike helps a lot.
When i arrived at the busstation i shared a taxi with a dutch couple to the Hotels halfway i think at the Beach. We paid 40 pesos together.
From the Busstaion to the Tulum Ruins i paid 40 pesos each way
the last time I checked the prices of the airport taxi the rate was about 140 USD for a ride to Tulum for two passengers, cheaper way is pre-contracted car or van service, try
www.tucankin.com they never failed
For those of you who don't want to make the ten minutes walk from the parking lot up the road to the entrance to the ruins in the jungle heat there is a alternative. For roughly $3.00 you can purchase a round trip ticket on the Tulum train ( not really a train, but it looks like one ) to the ruins and back. However it really is a pleasant ten minutes walk so I would suggest walking but if you in a hurry or not into walking then taking the train to the ruins is the ticket!
The bus station in Tulum is located right on Tulum Ave in the heart of the town. From this station there are multitudes of taxis that will take you to your cabana. Make sure you don't pay more than 50 pesos per ride. Buses also leave from Tulum to almost every town in the Yucatan. There are buses to Chichen Itza, Coba, Merida, and even as far as Palenque, though you will probaly have to change buses. Of course there are buses that leave on a regular basis for Playa de Carmen, Cancun. If you are headed to the airport be sure to take one of the airport express buses which will save you time.
There are many different ways to get to Tulum, and then once there around the town. If your on a tight budget you can take a bus to Tulum from the Airport for about $5 - $10. Once in Tulum Taxi's run all night and all over the place. It will cost you a flat fee of $5 from the beach cabanas into town. So plan on budgeting $10 from your cabana into town and back everyday. You can save a little money by seeing if anyone at the cabana is planning on going to town and share a taxi. From Tulum you can catch buses to the nearby Coba and Chichen Itza if your looking for a Mayan day trip. Personally I would give some thought into renting a car. I went through Hotwire and rented a compact car for roughly $17 a day, not counting insurance. If you have AMEX they will cover it, otherwise plan on adding about $14 a day on top of that for liability. By the way they require that you add liability. Having a car though will get you to Tulum faster and allow to explore Tulum on your own clock. Best of all with a car you can get to Coba in 40 minutes and Chichen Itza in a little over two hours. But if you consider what you will be spending on taxi's and buses, not to mention time and flexibility, spending a little more for a rental car is worth. I didn't have any problems with parking, buying gas, or navigating the roads.
Getting to Tulum is easy!
It is about two hours from Cancun, the roads are good and there are frequent busses.
By car: From the Zona Hotelera in Cancun, drive towards the airport (keep the sea to your left!) and just follow the signs towards Tulum. It is a major road, with lots of signs and good paving. As you get near Tulum, there will be more signs directing you towards the ruins. This may sound vague, but it is really all you need to know!
By bus: there are hourly busses leaving from Cancun bus station. Tickets are pretty cheap as well. Some people recommend going to Playa Del Carmen and, from there, take the hourly bus to Tulum. I prefer to check the schedule beforehand, but it can be handy on the return trip.
Tours: There are lots of tours to Tulum, including guides. I generally find them too rushed for taste, though. Since Tulum is a smaller site, most tour operators do Tulum and Xel-Ha together in a day. Remember to check at what time the bus will stop by your hotel. If you are one of the first ones to be picked up, not only will you have to get up early but you will also be the last to be dropped off at night.
The bus station is in the center of the main strip of downtown on the west side of the road. It is a relatively new covered, open-air structure. Look for the red and white ADO sign on the front. There is a taxi line outfront to help you get to anywhere in the area. From the bus station to the Zona Hotelera it costs $40 MX plus tip.
We rented a car from Hertz right at the Cancun airport. It was DIRT cheap! We had a relatively new compact car that was in great condition. It was tiny though - while it had 4 doors, there's no way 4 people would fit comfortably, especially not with luggage.
Be aware that Mexico car rentals require that you purchase rental insurance, or prove that your credit card covers you in case of an accident.
You can actually walk to the ruins, it's not that far... only 3 KM. I must warn you, temperature is usually hot! If you decide to take the cab, it costs around 30 pesos to the ruins and 45 pesos to the beach (it's called Mar Caribe).
If you're staying at the hostel, there's a bus that takes you there for free.
Problems with regards to getting about in Tulum is merely that the town and the beach and Tulum ruins are several miles apart. Several people opt for the beach, staying in beachside cabanas, living in basic accommodation. Others that prefer hot water and guaranteed electricity, stay in town.
Travelling between the two is an issue because of the distance. Taxis charge about 40pesos between the town and beach. Some collectivos may go to the beach I think. If you stay at the Weary travller hostel, they offer a bus which goes twice a day. Otherwise, you may consider renting a car, which isn´t exactly cheap in Tulum.. and what you get isn´t always the best in quality.
We are from Boulder, Colorado, a tourist mecca where biking is safe, beautiful and fun! Understandably, we thought we might recreate this pleasant experience in Tulum by renting bikes for my husband, son and self. There were mixed results:
1) The rental prices are reasonable;
2) That's because the bikes are really awful;
3) So check your prospective bike to make sure you get the least awful one.
4) Be sure that the pedal stem is not too short or you will cycle like a gerbil on a wheel and get nowhere fast. Also, be sure that it is large enough for you or you will be the hunchback of notre dame. Try to get one with a decent seat.
5) The roads are flat and there are side roads where you can walk or bike; they vary in quality.
6) The Tulum Ruins are accessable but a bit of a haul, if you are biking with small children or people who don't bike much they may hate you later. It's about 12 miles.
7) The Grand Ceynote is more accessable and your companions will not hate you
8) Except for the fact most bike seats are like cement so you will be sore.
9) Arrange a drop off time so someone is actually there to accept the nasty things.
10 Better yet, bring a folding bike if you can so you enjoy the experience.
When you arrive in Cancun you have the option to rent a car. Many people do but before you get a chance you may be approached by a friendly and knowledgeable person who speaks English and is trying to be helpful. This should be your first clue there is something wrong. They will offer you reams of advice in good English and then ask if you would like a jeep to tool around in at no charge. All you have to do is listen to a presentation on a nice new hotel at Cancun, free lunch included, no more than an hour and a half. Sounds good? They want a deposit of $40.00. Ah, another clue.
Here's the scoop. We asked our cabdriver about this and he groaned. He said it was a half-day presentation for a time share but you do get the jeep for free for a few days. The question is, do you really want to spend a long trip to and from Tulum to Cancun and half a day for this bloody jeep? We actually decided to forfeit the $40.00 (read the fine print, you have to attend to get it back!)
Full disclosure, we did not have the intrepid spirit of the true consumer so we didn't go check it out but the cabdriver was correct as to his other info and appeared to have no axe to grind.
Final word of advice: When you arrive late at night at any new destination, really think over any clever new ideas you might have or be offered. We wish we did.
You can catch cabs around Tulum or hitchhike back and forth from the town to the beach, but you are on vacation and have better things to do than waste time trying to get from here to there.
Be a mesch, suck it up, and hire a rental car. Unless you are really on a budget, I think it's worth it.