Essentially you have five different transportation options to get around Tulum.
Simple and easy especially in the downtown area of the Tulum Town (Pueblo) or on the Tulum Playa (Tulum Beach). The majority of the hotels, restaurants, bars, stores, and the bus station are located within a three square kilometer area of the Pueblo.
The majority of the streets have grid-like layouts with broad walkways (sidewalks) and most of them have adequate nighttime illumination. It’s common to experience sidewalks and streets that are filled with pedestrians until the very late hours as the nightclub scene in Tulum is open until 5:00 a.m.
There is only one little road on the Beach, making it very hard or impossible to get lost. While most restaurants, stores, pubs, and yoga studios are located on the western, forest side of the road, most hotels and a large number of eateries are located along the eastern, beach side of the road. Although there is no sidewalk along the majority of the beach road, it is normally safe to walk during the day as automobiles drive rather slowly and drivers are used to seeing pedestrians in that area.
Walking at night here though is a different story and should be done with caution since there are no street lights; only the lights from the hotels and other businesses. Although walking is by far the most popular method of transportation in the beach area, it would take around 2.5 hours to walk the whole length of the beach (from the ruins in the north to Sian Ka’an in the south), which is a distance of over 10 kilometres.
You’ll need a more effective form of transportation for longer journeys or to cover the 5 miles that separate the Pueblo and the Playa.
The most affordable option to go from Tulum to neighboring cities and towns like Playa del Carmen, Cancun, and Bacalar, is the bus. In Tulum, there are two bus stations: the main one is in the town, while the second one is in the Mayan ruins. The village and the beach are unfortunately not connected by bus.
The collectivo, is a large van that functions as a bus and is mostly used by residents and hotel employees. It is also the closest thing Tulum has to a public bus covering local routes in the pueblo or on the beach.
Every hour or so, a colectivo will travel from Tulum Pueblo to the Playa (Beach). Colectivos are extremely affordable, but it’s not advised to depend on them.
Taxis are the most costly form of public transportation, but they are the ideal choice for excursions to or from the beach area late at night, when you are carrying your baggage, or for big groups. The bus terminals, Chedraui supermarket, and the neighborhoods with large numbers of hotels are the best places to look for taxis.
You can always call in advance to make a reservation. In Tulum, taxis don’t use meters; instead, they you need to agree on a fixed price based on the zone you are going to or coming from. The official list of rates for each zone is available in the taxi.
Taxis should cost you around 100 pesos to go from the pueblo to the North Beach Zone (all the way up to the ruins) or Beach Town area (as far south as Zamas Hotel). Expect to pay around 180 pesos to travel from the pueblo to the South Beach Zone which is close to the entrance of Sian Ka’an.
Prices are actually not as bad as a one-time cost, but when you are taking several trips, the cost quickly adds up. In Tulum, Uber is not available (thanks to the taxi mafia).
Renting a Car and driving in Tulum allows more freedom while visiting more remote destinations, such as the Cobá ruins, Punta Laguna Nature Park, or Dos Ojos cenote. Driving is simple in and around Tulum.
However, driving down the beach road in a vehicle might be challenging due to the few parking options and high concentration of taxis and work trucks on that small route. If you want to spend a lot of time visiting areas outside of Tulum, renting a vehicle is a good idea. However, if you intend to spend most of your time at the beach or in the pueblo, cycling is by far the best choice.
Biking is by far the most convenient method to travel about Tulum. Especially useful and easy for navigating the beach road, getting from the village to the playa, and visiting some of the adjacent cenotes. Tulum is literally brimming with bicycles. You can easily hire one for roughly 150 pesos per day (you get a discount for renting for multiple days). The playa, pueblo, and neighboring Tulum surroundings are primarily flat, with very few little inclines.
The bike journey between Tulum Town (Pueblo) and The Beach can take anything from 20 to 35 minutes, depending on your starting and stopping points. Car traffic on the beach road may come to a halt for five to fifteen minutes out of nowhere, which may be inconvenient while driving or using a cab. With your bike, you can simply escape traffic.