Getting to the Tulum Airport: Route and Drive Time for the Average Traveler
Table of Contents
- 1 Getting to the Tulum Airport: Route and Drive Time for the Average Traveler
- 2 How to Get to the Tulum Airport
- 3 Taking the Mayan Train to the Tulum Airport
- 4 The Sendero Maya
- 5 Construction Status of the New International Airport in Tulum
- 6 Parking at the New Tulum Airport
- 7 Drive Times to the New International Airport in Tulum
- 8 Ground Transport to the New International Airport in Tulum
- 9 Final Thoughts … for now.
There have been so many questions about the location of the new international airport in Tulum and the drive times from various locations. Many people who live or vacation south of Playa del Carmen have been hoping that the new airport, located in the jungle, southwest of Tulum, might be a better or at least closer option when traveling in and out of the region.
We wanted to see for ourselves exactly how long it would take, by car, on an average day.
How to Get to the Tulum Airport
Google Maps was not promising, calculating a drive time of 1 hour and 57 minutes from Puerto Aventuras. We had it on good authority that the estimate was wrong but just how wrong, remained to be seen.
Getting to the new Felipe Carillo Puerto International Airport is very easy. To get to the new airport, drive south on Carretera 307 until you reach Tulum. Continue straight on through town which should take approximately 15 minutes depending on traffic. From the south end of Tulum, carry on south on 307 through Muyil.
The turn-off to the airport is well-marked. A stop light has been installed which will be needed as more and more flights start coming in and out of this airport. From the turn-off, carry on straight to the entrance of the airport. You will arrive in approximately 15 minutes.
We left our home in Puerto Aventuras at 12:48 PM on Monday, December 4. The time stamps I recorded are as follows.
12:48 PM Depart Puerto Aventuras
1:02 PM Akumal
1:05 PM Chemuyil
1:16 PM Tulum Ruins
1:18 PM Coba Road Intersection
1:32 PM Av. 5 Intersection (leaving downtown Tulum)
1:50 PM Turn-Off from 307 to the Airport
2:05 PM Felipe Carillo Puerto International Airport
The airport access road off from 307 is currently functioning with just two lanes but will be expanded to four with a landscaped boulevard down the center. There will be a PEMEX station which will be convenient for people who need to gas up before returning their rental car.
We used Google Maps to chart the route which turned out to be the correct way to go. Once you have past Tulum, there is limited cellular service so if you want to use Google Maps, it’s important to map your course well before this point. We had no internet at all from Muyil to the airport.
Keep in mind, whilst on the highway we were consistently exceeding the speed limit although not egregiously. The traffic going through Tulum was predictably annoying but moderate. Moving south through Muyil the traffic and topes also caused a bit of a slowdown. The drive time from the exit on 307 to the airport entrance is 15 minutes, traveling at a reasonable speed.
Despite Google Maps calculating a 1 hour and 57-minute trip from Puerto Aventuras, our actual drive time was 1 hour and 17 minutes. Not bad.
Taking the Mayan Train to the Tulum Airport
The Mayan Train is scheduled to make its inaugural trip on December 15, 2023 but not on this section of track. The first trip, which sold out within minutes, will take travelers from San Francisco, Campeche to Cancun, QR.
The remaining sections of the track are projected to be operational in February 2024 including the station in Tulum and the “parador” for the Tulum International Airport.Read More About The Mayan Train Project
Whether using the Mayan Train is a viable option to get to either of the airports, Cancun or Tulum, remains to be seen. The Tren Maya stops are currently being built several kilometers west of 307, requiring private ground transportation to and from your vacation rental or resort. Currently, no taxi prices have been posted to any of the Tren Maya stops or stations but, my guess is, they won’t be cheap.
Also of some concern is that most of the current Tren Maya maps no longer include stops for Puerto Aventuras and Akumal including this one on the official Tren Maya website and others.
Another consideration is the schedule and frequency of the trains stopping in the smaller “paradors” for Puerto Aventuras and Akumal. Planning a transfer to either of the airports may go from a simple 60-75 minute, door-to-door shuttle trip to an all-day affair dependent on the train schedule.
At the moment, neither the train tracks nor the Tulum Airport stop are completed and ready for use. On the Tulum Airport access road, there is a large overpass stretching over the tracks for the Mayan Train. We could see the “parador” for the Tren Maya and the tracks still under construction.
I was unable to stop to take any good photos due to all the construction on the bridge. However, once all the work is done, there will be lovely look-out points for people to view the train from both sides of the bridge.
The Sendero Maya
The Tulum Airport “parador” for the Tren Maya is not yet functional, and we did not see any indication of how passengers will be transported to and from the airport to the train stop.
The Cancun International Airport will be utilizing electric shuttles to move travelers from the airport to the Cancun Tren Maya Station and back. One can only assume that similar shuttles will be brought in to service visitors who wish to access the Tren Maya from the Tulum Airport.
What we did see was a long, well-groomed walking trail stretching from the airport terminal, along the jungle tree-line to the Tren Maya “parador”. There are signs at the entrance to the airport terminal referring to this footpath as the “Sendero Maya”.
The path is wide and covered with white stone, reminiscent of the SacBe used by the ancient Maya.
While it is a beautiful walking trail, there seems little chance that any sane person would willingly drag their luggage several kilometers over loose gravel to get to and from the Mayan Train station. It might be kind of a cool thing to do for young backpackers but if you have wheeled baggage of any kind, this path will be a long, hot struggle.
Construction Status of the New International Airport in Tulum
Upon arriving at the new airport, we could see that a lot of work was still being completed but honestly, what has been completed is very impressive. Most of the construction on the terminal has been completed and they have even managed to get some nice landscaping done. There are obvious “Boho Chic” and “Mayan” architectural details that I think they have integrated very well into the design. If I was flying into Tulum for the first time, I would be suitably impressed.
Inside the terminal, on the ground level, we found all of the car rental, shuttle service providers and the ADO bus kiosk. At the moment, they appear to be functioning out of makeshift booths but will certainly be moved into proper “locales” at some point. There were a few options for food and drink with places for people to sit and wait for arriving flights. Gypsea Market already has a set-up there.
Upstairs, on the mezzanine, are the airline ticket counters where baggage is checked. This level can be accessed by stairs, escalators and elevators. It’s an enormous space, and they must be anticipating an impressive demand for flights in and out of this airport. Like on the ground level, there are storefronts available which I’m sure will be filled with the usual eateries, bookstores, convenience shops etc.
What I did not find was the immigration office. I’m sure once international flights begin in March, they will have that up and running.
We were unable to pass through security to see the waiting areas and the gates but it all looked very straightforward. The presence of the National Guard is very heavy in the terminal and all around the airport property but everybody seemed very relaxed. They certainly did not mind us wandering around, un-ticketed, snapping pictures of everything.
Parking at the New Tulum Airport
The new international airport in Tulum has two parking lots that will be metered at some point. The electronic entry turnstiles are installed but not yet functional. We quickly found the payment kiosk inside.
You can see from the aerial view above, the parking areas are covered with solar panels which was nice to see. Signs indicate that there will be charging stations for electric cars. Following the scheme at the Cancun International Airport, there is no distinction between short-term and long-term parking areas. I’m sure off-site long-term parking lots like iPark and Park Inn will pop up to fill that need.
I was unable to find any information posted about the parking rates but we will keep our eyes and ears open. Most of the parking spots were full and I’m sure they will not want to miss out on that revenue for long.
Drive Times to the New International Airport in Tulum
So, back to the question of the hour. What are the actual drive times for those of us south of Playa del Carmen? Based on my time stamps, this is what I have calculated/estimated.
Centro Maya 95 minutes
Paamul 85 minutes
Puerto Aventuras 75 minutes
Akumal 60 minutes
Chemuyil 55 minutes
Tulum Ruins 50 minutes
Coba Road 45 minutes
Av. 5 (South Tulum) 35 minutes
These are estimated drive times based on traveling at a reasonable speed in the middle of the day. I imagine if you are traveling very early in the morning or very late at night, you might shave some time off.
Likewise, if you drive like a d*ck you can certainly get there quicker…or maybe not at all.
Ground Transport to the New International Airport in Tulum
My thoughts on using the new International Airport in Tulum are mixed. If you live in Playa del Carmen or points north, this airport is not going to save you any travel time. People coming into Puerto Aventuras and points south may find that this airport is slightly more convenient but considerably more expensive to get to.
It’s been my experience that people generally shop on price. If there is a super cheap flight coming in and out of Tulum, people will jump on it and suffer the longer transfer time if they can find a reasonable rate for ground transportation.
Frequent visitors and snowbirds who already have established good relationships with private drivers may not see too much of a hike in the rates they pay. If you are lucky enough to have a personal driver, you may want to have that conversation now so you can account for that cost in your travel budget.
If the outrageous shuttle prices stay as they are currently posted, I think a lot of people are going to get very comfortable taking the ADO bus into Tulum and then cabbing it from there. There are currently three ADO buses running daily between the new Tulum International Airport and the ADO station in downtown Tulum.
At the moment, neither USA-Transfers nor Canada Transfers is offering service to or from the Tulum Airport. I’m hoping that once more of the major transportation companies start providing services to the new Tulum Airport, the prices will get more competitive.
At the moment, no international flights are coming into the new International Airport in Tulum and there is just not enough domestic traffic to show what this airport is going to be like at full capacity and what the level of demand will be for ground transportation services.UPDATE: See new flight announcements
Final Thoughts … for now.
At the moment, this new airport looks like a great option for people visiting Tulum, Valladolid, Bacalar, the Sian Ka’an and the Costa Maya. Only time will tell if this new international airport will be of any benefit to travelers visiting Puerto Aventuras or Akumal.
Let us know what you think in the comments.
Did you like this article? Share it with your friends!