Cancun and Tulum are the two pillars over which the whole “Riviera Maya” concept is based. Just in 2022, over 30 million visitors arrived to Cancun’s International Airport, making this Mexican region one of the most visited destinations in the world.
A big percentage of these visitors stays in the fancy resorts of Cancun’s Hotel Zone, while as many as 2 million find a way to spend their Caribbean holidays in tiny Tulum. But, what about the rest? Well, most of them stay in the exclusive resorts sitting along the coast of the 80-mile long corridor that extends from Cancun to Tulum, which makes most of what we know as the Riviera Maya.
However, this stretch of spectacular Caribbean coast has much more to offer than just luxury resorts and white-sand beaches. The Cancun to Tulum corridor is filled with some of the most extraordinary attractions in the world and today I’m going to explain you how to make the most of them.
There are many different ways you move from Cancun to Tulum and more are coming in the near future. Let’s start with the most common way to leave the International Airport of Cancun: taxis.
When arriving to Cancun you can get a taxi right inside at the airport and ask it to take you wherever you’re staying in the Riviera Maya. Taxis are convenient, easy to find anywhere from Cancun to Tulum, every hotel can get you one, and you can also get them in the little towns and cities along this tourist corridor. The downside of taxis is that your bill can get quite expensive if you plan to move around in them during the whole length of your stay.
This is my favorite option, because it gives you full freedom to go anywhere you want, whenever you decide, and at your own pace. The roads in this part of Mexico are safe and well-designed and you won’t have any problems driving anywhere from Cancun to Tulum. You can find all the big-name rent-a-car brands at Cancun’s airport and in most big resorts of the destination.
If you don’t want to deal with the stress of driving in Mexico while on vacations, you can also hire your own van with private driver. This service has the added benefit of having in your driver a kind of tourist guide who knows the area, speaks the language, and will help you get the most out of your visit.
Learn more about our private transportation services. We take you everywhere in Riviera Maya!
For transportation between the biggest towns along the Riviera Maya corridor, namely Cancun, Puerto Morelos, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum, ADO buses represent the most affordable option. You can buy a ticket at the airport and at any of their stations on these towns. However, this option lacks flexibility, has the downside that once you arrive to your destination you’ll have to find new ways of transport, and the buses don’t stop at most hotels located from Cancun to Tulum.
Although the Mayan Train is a very controversial project for a series of different reasons, its threat to the environment being one of the most prominent ones, we would be doing a disservice to our readers if we fail to mention it here. When finished, the Mayan Train will offer a new and comfortable way of moving around the Riviera Maya and specifically from Cancun to Tulum.
This is the fun part. The road that takes you from Cancun to Tulum is filled with all kinds of awesome things to do. From water parks and traditional-Mexican style theme parks to picturesque towns and fascinating Mayan archaeological sites.
Although this amusement and water park is technically still in Cancun, it’s right there on the outskirts and it deserves a mention. This place is a mixture of all kinds of fun, as it includes a water park, a dolphinaris, a high-tech arcade, a go-kart track, a land of adventure, and a fun world specifically designed for the little ones.
Just outside of Cancun, you’ll find this Nick Price-designed, 18-hole, par 72 golf course. The green fee is $180 USD and includes golf cart. If you love golf, you will find El Tinto Golf Course a very enjoyable experience.
This theme park is a “Mexican floating fiesta” located a couple of miles south of Cancun’s airport and it’s a modern recreation of the famous canals of Xochimilco in Mexico City. While in Mexico, party like Mexicans do for just $89 USD.
Near the trendy beach town of Puerto Morelos you’ll find this “different kind of zoo”. At Croco Cun your kids will get in contact with a diversity of wild local animals and learn about them through an interactive guided tour. All for only $34 USD or $24 USD for children.
Once an afterthought right in the middle between the more populous and popular cities of Cancun and Playa del Carmen, Puerto Morelos has found its groove lately and redesigned its image as the slow life alternative to the hectic lifestyle and mass tourism of other Riviera Maya destinations. It’s variety of beachfront restaurants and lack of crowds make a visit quite worth it.
Not exactly a “must do” kind of attraction, but on the road from Cancun to Tulum there are few places where you can stop to have a good craft beer and take a respite from what I’m sure will be a very tight schedule.
Aqua Nick is the water park of the recently opened Nickelodeon Hotel Riviera Maya. Guests of the hotel enjoy free access to the park, but if you aren’t fond of spending your vacations surrounded by SpongBob and Squidward, you can still buy a day pass and enjoy this new and amazing water park.
The renowned Cirque du Solei presents Joyá, a show inspired by the Mexican wildlife and the ancient Mayan culture in an epic spectacle or art, music, and unbelievable acrobatics. Set at the Vidanta Riviera Maya resort, this is a show like no other in the area.
This 18-hole, par 72, golf course designed by P.B. Dye, has hosted World Amateur Team Championships and PGA Tour Latinoamérica tournaments. The green fee is $209 USD during high season and $179 USD from June to October.
On the road from Cancun to Tulum, just before arriving to Playa del Carmen you’ll find El Camaleón Mayakoba, the crown jewel of golf courses in the Riviera Maya. Home to the first ever PGA Tour tournament in Latin American, this beachfront, Greg Norman-designed golf course is both thing of beauty and a real challenge for experienced golfers.
Located on the outskirts of Playa del Carmen, Golf Gran Coyote, isn’t as famous as other golf courses in the region, but for the same reason tends to be more enjoyable as you’ll find it easier to book a tee time and enjoy a nice day of golf out there with your friends or family.
Once a sleepy fishing town that was best known for being the arrival and departure spot for the ferries going to the island of Cozumel, is now a vibrant city filled with fancy beach clubs, exclusive shopping centers, and private gated communities. You can’t miss a walk through its famous Quinta Avenida and enjoy its wild nightlife!
If you love adventure and the feel of adrenaline pumping through your veins, then Xplor is the right park for you. Explore the jungle from above on amazing zip-lines or from below through spectacular underground rivers, with much more in between. All for only $116 USD.
Just south of Playa del Carmen, you’ll find this half-day park that will challenge your sense of reality and test your imagination. Xenses is an original park focused on exploring our senses and pushing them to the limits for just $62 USD.
The original and most famous of the X-themed parks scattered along the road from Cancun to Tulum. Xcaret is like the Disneyalnd of nature and water parks. Swim with dolphins and sharks, navigate underground rivers, put on a Sea Trek helmet and walk on the ocean’s floor while interacting with stingrays, and end your day in awe while watching a magical show celebrating Mexican culture. Starting at $109 USD.
This beautiful ecopark isn’t as well-known as other parks in the area but it has nothing to envy them in terms of spectacular nature and captivating cenotes. If you want to spend a day exploring underground rivers in a fun and safe way, without the crowds seen at other places, Rio Secreto won’t disappoint you.
In the road from Cancun to Tulum you can also get a ferry that takes you to the island of Cozumel. Go to the Playa del Carmen Pier and buy your ticket to Cozumel for about $10 USD. You’ll be there 30 minutes later and just get ready to explore one of the most beautiful Mexican islands in the Caribbean Sea.
Near the town of Akumal you’ll discover the Yal Ku lagoon, an extraordinary ecosystem filled with colorful fish and unspoiled nature. The crystal clear waters of the lagoon make it the perfect place for the practice of snorkeling. Entrance fee starts at $17 USD.
This golf club is located at Bahia Principe complex just 15 miles north of Tulum. It hosts the Bupa Championship of the PGA Tour Latinoamerica and besides the main 18-hole, par-72 golf course it includes a smaller one of just 9 pr-3 holes. Book your green fee at PGA Riviera Maya from $188 USD.
Just before getting to Tulum you’ll find Xel-Ha, a fascinating ecopark with more natural attractions and activities that you can engage in a full day. Practice snorkel or power snorkel through the rivers of Xel Há, swim in cenotes, interact with dolphins and manatees, ride a bike through the jungle, or hop on a speedboat among many other things to do. One thing is for sure, you won’t get bored in this place. Admission fees start at $89 USD.
The road from Cancun to Tulum ends with the famous Tulum archaeological site, the only Mayan ruins overlooking the sea. The contrast between the turquoise blue waters of the Caribbean and the magnificent Mayan structures gives the whole place a unique mystical aura.
If you noticed I avoided mentioning any beaches in this long list of things to do from Cancun to Tulum. However, the road is filled with access to several of the most beautiful beaches in the Riviera Maya.
Beaches such as El Cielo near Puerto Morelos, Punta Maroma and Playa del Secreto just north of Playa del Carmen, and Punta Venado, Paamul, Xpu Há, and Xcacel, on the section from Playa del Carmen to Tulum, are all of them worthy of spending a full day on its white sand beaches and crystal clear waters.
Make sure to read our article fully dedicated to the Best Beaches in Cancun and Riviera Maya to learn more about your options and the kind of beach you might prefer to visit.
Last but not least, I have to also mention the wide array of spectacular cenotes located on the road from Cancun to Tulum. From the Ruta de los Cenotes that you can start on a road near Puerto Morelos and the Cenote Tula located near the Nickelodeon hotel to the diversity of cenotes near Tulum such as Cenote Kantenah or Cenote Azul, they all offer different attractions and it’s also recommended for you to read our full article dedicated to the Cenotes of the Riviera Maya.
As you can see, the road that takes you from Cancun to Tulum is filled with spectacular attractions and once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Are you ready to explore them with us?