Cozumel vs Tulum – Cozumel and Tulum are often compared destinations in the Riviera Maya for a beach trip. Cozumel is a separate island so it’s accessible via 40-minute ferry from Playa del Carmen, while Tulum is a beach town, about an hour drive or 65 kilometers from Playa del Carmen.
Transfer to Playa del Carmen from Cancun Airport
Cancun vs Cozumel vs Tulum
The travel time from Cancun airport to downtown is around 25 minutes by taxi. The taxi fare from Cancun airport to downtown is around $25 USD depending on your final destination.
The cheapest way from Cancun airport to city center is by bus for 100 MXN which is $5 USD. The bus travel time from Cancun airport to downtown is around 40 minutes.
Getting a SIM Card at Cancun Airport
I wouldn’t recommend you to buy a sim card at Cancun airport. If you wish comfort you can buy eSim online and if you aren’t in a hurry just go around phone shops in the city and compare prices to buy the cheapest sim card in Cancun. Read here best Mexico eSim and best Mexico sim card for tourist
You can buy the cheapest eSim in Mexico with Nomad eSim Mexico prepaid for $8 USD with 1 GB data valid for 7 days. And with Airalo eSim Mexico prepaid with similar data packages (USING DISCOUNT CODE GAMINTRAVELER 10%).
Holafly Mexico eSim for less than $60 USD if you use our code GAMINTRAVELER you will have unlimited internet in Mexico for 30 days for just $2 USD per day.
Related Cozumel and Tulum Guides
- Cancun packing list
- Best restaurants in Tulum
- Best vegetarian restaurants in Cancun
- Transfer Guide from Cancun airport to Hotel Zone
- Transfer Guide from Tulum to Cancun airport
- Transfer Guide from Merida airport to city center
- Transfer Guide from Cancun airport to Tulum
- Transfer Guide from Cancun airport to Playa del Carmen
- Transfer Guide from Cancun airport to Cozumel
- Transfer Guide from Playa Del Carmen to Cancun airport
Comparing Cozumel vs Tulum
Cozumel is perfect for the rugged island trip experience that allows you do diving, snorkeling and lounging around with less tourists! Tulum is more catered for younger travelers and digital nomads, looking for hip and fancy eco-hotels, bars and more nightlife, with cenote activities and beautiful beaches during the day.
Important to take note: Be wary of the seaweed season, and make sure you check if this is the time of the year you are visiting Tulum, because this can roughly affect the swimming experience in Tulum.
Where to Stay in Cozumel and Tulum
A total of $20 USD would be the range of your budget for accommodation in Tulum vs Cozumel. There are hotels mid-budget for $50-70 USD and you can find luxury accommodations starting from $120 USD.
Book Your Travel Insurance – Cozumel vs Tulum
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You can get Safetywing Travel Insurance for Digital Nomads valid for 28 days Safetywing for $50 USD per month with kids until 10 years old included
Top Sights and Things to do in Cozumel
Cozumel is our type of travel when it comes to a choice between Cancun, Cozumel and Tulum. How about you? Do you know if you’re more into the urban type of beach trip versus rugged, quiet swims and lounging around?
Let’s look at the top sights and thing to do in Cozumel below.
Beaches in Cozumel for Swimming
Punta Morena is the only semi private beach in Cozumel island’s west side. Beach vibe here is very rugged, compared to the more hotel styled west part of Cozumel. Definitely swimmable and good for lounging as well too, with its beautiful waters.
Chen Rio – Cozumel vs Tulum
Chen Rio is the name of a popular beach at the Southeastern part of Cozumel. The name Chen Rio comes from from the river in the hinterland of the beach.
Playa Mia Grand Beach Park
Playa Mia Grand Beach Park is the largest, family-friendly beach in Cozumel island. Here you can have your own Atlantis in the Bahamas – water activities, resorts & local cuisine.
Beaches in Cozumel for Snorkelling and Diving
Cozume’s coral reef system is part of the Mesoamerican Reef, second largest barrier reef system, second to the Great Barrier Reef. This is why Cozumel’s snorkeling and diving is definitely amazing, and it’s better not to miss a visit in Cozumel, without
Punta Sur is found the southern part of the island and is part of Parque Punta Sur, a 247-acre ecological park. Here, you’ll see reefs, beaches, lagoons, and amazing green forests. The reef system is also part of the Arrecifes de Cozumel National Park.
Another of Cozumel’s most popular snorkeling reef is El Cielo. El Cielo is a boat away from Cozumel and is 1.6km away, but one of the most popular snorkeling to the reef area in Cozumel. El Cielo literally translates to The Sky in Spanish and describes the color of the waters. Snorkeling here is good even for beginners, and you’re likely to see starfishes and stingrays.
Playa Palancar / Palancar Reef
This is part of the Arrecifes de Cozumel National Park with about 5 popular snorkeling and diving areas around.
The Little Caves
The Little Caves is part of the Palancar Reed where you see tunnels and caves.
Another part of the beach is Deep Palancar where you can see a wide variety of fish in Playa Palancar.
For snorkelling beginners, Dzul-ha is perfect because of its shallow waters and easy access from the beach. Here, you can see manta rays and sea turtles. Dzul-Ha ia accessible from The Money Bar Beach Club
Another reef within Cozumel Marine National Park that has plenty of good reef and one of the snorkeling areas not to miss.
Punta Sur Eco Beach Park
This part is not free, with a fee of $14 to enter, however the visibility is quite amazing with shallow water. The place allows water activities like snorkeling, and you can go as deep as 45 meters.
The beach park aslo has an eco park (right from its name) where you’ll have a chance to see exptic animals and birds.
Additional Day Trips from Cozumel
Xcaret Natural Adventure Park
This massive 200-Acre park is located in the south of Playa del Carmen. With thousands of things to do here from swimming to exploring, it’s only a quick boat and day trip from Cozumel.
Other Things to Remember When in Cozumel
Cozumel, known long ago as just a port for cruises and boats visiting this part of the Riviera Maya, it has now been developed with access to restaurants and beach clubs and some rugged hotels. The West Part of the Island is of course with more access to these, while the East Coast of Cozumel is a phletora of wild forest activities.
Things to do in Tulum
Compared to Cozumel’s old town and slow island vibe, Tulum is more more hip and expensive – with the luxury eco-hotels, Temazcal ceremonies and beach access near the Mayan and Coba Ruins.
Public Beaches in Tulum
Playa Paraiso directly translated to Paradise Beach is one of Tulum’s most stunning beaches as it sits in the Caribbean sea. It is known as one of the world’s most popular beaches.
Here you’ll see the National Park of Tulum and the archeological zone. Playa Paraiso is also an open and public beach. It’s a good beach for lounging around and gentle for family visits as well, with swimming and activities available.
Mayan Beach / Playa Ruinas
Just from its name, the Mayan Beach in Tulum overlooks the famous Mayan Ruins. This definitely gives you a bit of a balance of having a beach area, and having a look at the ruins too, and of course you can tour the Mayan Ruins being in closer proximity to it.
A part of Playa Paraiso, Playa Pescadores is another open and free to the public beach of Tulum and one of the most beautiful as well. You can hire boats from this part of the beach to do tours in Tulum, but make sure that you book with the reputable boat or tour companies as some are known to be unfriendly and aggressive.
Playa Santa Fe
About 10 minute walk from the ruins, Playa Santa Fe is another beach you can spend time in if you want to be close to the Mayan ruins. Another beautiful public beach as well.
Playa Boca Paila / Playa El Canto
One of the hidden gems of Tulum, Playa Boca Paila, called Playa El Canto by locals, is located by the entrance of the National Park and Biosphere Reserve of Sian Ka’an.
Private Beaches / Beach Clubs in Tulum
Ziggy is a beach club hotel in Tulum, and one of the more luxurious and popular attractions of the area. You can have lounge areas here, and you’ll have access to their bar and restaurant. It’s one of the more expensive areas to stay in as Ziggy is considered high end compared to all the places around Tulum.
Caleta Tankha Beach
Caleta Tankah Beach is another of Tulum’s private beaches, costing around 100 Mexican pesos to enter. Beach clubs are good options if you want a little more “privacy” in that it’s not immediately open to everyone unless you pay, but still not the most expensive private beach in Tulum.
More Top Things to Do and See in Tulum
The Tulum Ruins make Tulum popular and historic at the same time. Its ancient Mayan ruins overlook the beautiful Mexican Caribbean waters, making this part of the world not only exotic and unique but adds to the beauty the Tulum beaches bring.
Coba Mayan Ruins
The Mayan Coba Ruins are one of the most important parts of the Mayan Ruins or Tulum Ruins, about 28 miles or 47 kilometers inland from the Caribbean coastline. To access this part of the ruins, you’ll take a short drive from Tulum or Valladolid. This is one of the most frequented Mayan ruins in Tulum, so if you want to explore this part of Tulum’s beauty, take time to visit the ruins.
El Centro (Tulum Pueblo)
The Central city of Tulum, El Centro is the place to visit when you want to get away from beaches for a bit, and of course, see its local life – local restaurants and good food (Mexico is very popular for this of course), and try other activities in the town without being in the beach and the beach clubs.
Sian Ka’a Biosphere
Sian Kaʼan Biosphere Reserve is a biosphere reserve in the municipality of Tulum in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. It was established in 1986 and became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. “Sian Ka’an” means “gate of heaven” or “a place where heaven begins
Dos Ojos Cenote / Two Eyes Cenote
If you want the option to swim, free dive, and dive while being in one of Tulum’s picturesque cenotes, visit the Dos Ojos or Two Eyes Cenote.
Cenote Calavera / Skull Cenote
Another of Tulum’s Instagram worthy cenotes, is the Cenote Calavera. Be careful as guides here may not be watching you as you swim but there are a lot of people in the area because of its popularity. Prices can be high too.
Big Cenote / Gran Cenote
Gran Cenote or the Big Cenote is the most popular Cenote and is very touristy in Tulum. It’s on the way to Coba, so make sure you plan properly if you want to swim and take pictures here.
Cenotes Casa Tortuga
Cenotes Casa Tortuga in Tulum is not only a place in the middle of the jungle of Tulum that you can stay in, you also have access to 4 beautiful cenotes on the property when you stay here.
Instagrammer Popular Areas in Tulum
Ven a la Luz at Ahau Tulum Beach
This artwork is arguably one of the top Instagrammer worthy photos in Tulum and it’s an artwork in the Ahau Tulum Beach Resort. It’s a beautiful sculpture on its own, and definitely an easy spot to recognize to mark your visit in Tulum
Hard to miss the most Instagrammer worthy photo in Tulum, which is the Cenote Suytun. Okay, Instagram shows it as part of Tulum, but it’s an hour and a half drive away. If you’re staying or visiting Valladolid, it might be more reasonable to do it from there, as it’s only a 15-minute drive away. You can also do tours and cenote visits around here, as Cenote Oxman is near Cenote Suytun, an easy trip to do together.
Best Time to Visit Mexico
There are 2 seasons dry and wet season. The rainy season starts in May. The best time to visit Mexico is from the months of November to April because it is the months of the dry season. However, lots of tourists prefer to travel from January to March since it’s not peak season but it can be rainy for a few days.
Cash in Mexico
Mexico has its own currency called the Mexican Peso. A $1 USD=19 MXN. There are lots of ATMs and exchange currency in many parts of the country. And you have to know that the country’s dollars is very common and well-accepted. Click here to know more about the exchange rate of Mexico.
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Final Thoughts: Which is Better Cozumel vs Tulum?
Mexico’s Riviera Maya is a trip you can not choose wrong with, however if it’s on us, our choice goes to Cozumel! With a more affordable trip in the Yucatan, blue waters, and a lot of chance to have a more laid back trip and snorkeling activities, we choose it compared to Tulum’s hip and luxurious vacation style.
Tell us what you choose and we wish you well on your trip. Til our next guide, friends!