Tulum Airport Opens for Business

Tulum Airport
Tulum Airport

Exciting news for fans of tequila, tacos and dazzling white sand beaches. There’s a new airport in town. In Tulum, to be specific.

In a Nutshell:Felipe Carrillo Puerto International Airport (which we shall be calling Tulum Airport from now on) has officially opened in Mexico. With daily flights set to start operating from many large US cities in late 2023 or early 2024, the Tulum Airport offers travelers to the country’s famed Yucatan Peninsula an alternative – and possibly more convenient – option to Cancun International Airport.

Here’s all the latest information, so you can start planning your trip.

Where will I be able to fly to Tulum from?

Tulum Airport (TQO) has been designed as an international airport, able to accommodate large planes from around the world thanks to a 2.3 mile (3.7-km) long runway (the longest in Mexico). We expect the number of flights to grow quickly, but initially the airport will be mainly used for domestic flights within Mexico and for flights from the United States.

United Airlines will be operating 1-2 daily flights to Tulum from Newark, Chicago, Houston and LA, American Airlines will be flying from Dallas, Charlotte and Miami and JetBlue just announced plans to begin service to Tulum from New York in June 2024. We expect that list to grow as other national operators will serve the airport from Atlanta and New York along with more cities yet to be determined. Canadians needn’t miss out either, with weekly or bi-weekly flights scheduled with Air Canada from Toronto and Montreal.

Why would I want to fly to Tulum instead of Cancun?

The Yucatan is vast, and the two airports are more than 70 miles/115 kilometers apart. Cancun Airport is breaking travel records consistently as travellers flock to the peninsula post-pandemic and the opening of a new airport will take some of the pressure off Cancun, allowing a smoother operation to exist in both airports. For travellers to the southern Yucatan, including Tulum itself, this new airport will drastically shorten journey times on arrival in Mexico.

What’s the airport like, and how big is it?

This airport is a big deal and was officially opened by President Andrés López Obrador in December 2023. Alongside the Mayan Train (scroll down for more detail), it’s part of a series of infrastructure projects designed to turbo-charge Mexico’s burgeoning tourism industry. It’s a state-of-the-art airport, boasting the latest security technology and an infusion of Mayan architectural design to draw attention to the culture and history of Tulum – you see, it’s not just tequila!

The airport is big enough to handle millions of travellers per year, and although it won’t see those numbers initially, the authorities are expecting more than a million visitors in the first few months of operations. All those people will need to eat and drink, and several restaurants have already opened in the airport, including Beso, Tulum Beach, and Raw Love Cafe. Car rental companies are also established, there is Wi-Fi connectivity (free for one hour) and there are even sleeping pods in case you miss your connection (insert another tequila pun if you dare!). These come equipped with a luggage compartment, a reclining chair, a power socket, a lamp, and a window shade.

Are there any downsides?

Naturally, as with anything new there are the usual collection of bugs to be worked out, and the new Tulum airport is no exception. At the moment, the cost of transportation from the new Tulum airport to nearby resorts is reportedly high – ranging from roughly $110 per person for the nearby Akumal area to as high as roughly $260 per person to go to Playa del Carmen…which is about halfway between Cancun and Tulum. Note that online prices are typically quoted in Pesos, not USD and are subject to change, so those estimates can fluctuate as the exchange rate goes up and down and transportation operators adjust to supply and demand. We do expect that over time the rates should come down, but be aware of this cost and inquire if transfers are included in your price as you’re booking.

I saw in the news about a new railway too, what’s that all about?

Well done to you for paying attention! Yes, alongside the new airport, the Mexican government has also announced that the first leg of its flagship Mayan Train (for which there will be a station at both the Cancun Airport and the new Tulum Airport) is ready to open, 10 years ahead of schedule! The railway will eventually connect the entire Yucatan, but the first section to open is a 145 mile/234 kilometer stretch from Escárcega to Calkini, on the north-west coast. The government claims the entire railway will be operational by early 2024, which will open up an alternative method of travel around the peninsula and a great way to move between resorts.

Where to stay? The best all-inclusive resorts in the Tulum area:

Now you know how to get to Tulum, we’d better recommend some places to stay! Here are just a few of our favorite all-inclusive resorts in the Tulum area:

The best attractions in the Tulum area:

You would be forgiven for never leaving the enclave of your resort, but if you’re feeling adventurous, you have plenty of options in Tulum. The beachside Tulum ruins (also known as Playa Ruinas) are well worth a visit, as are the Coba ruins if you don’t mind a bit of a jungle trek or cycle. Exploring the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve yields all manner of flora and fauna and the Cenote Caracol caves are a bit of a hidden gem. And if you’ve never been before, a day trip to Chichen Itza is always worth it, if you would like to tick off another World Wonder.

Don’t Miss:

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About Sophia Viaggio 25 Articles
Originally from Italy, Sophia Viaggio is a freelance writer and could be the poster child for wanderlust as her spirit comes alive when she travels. She feels her best and writes better while on the beach at a tropical all-inclusive resort. Give her an Italian spritz and she'll share her impassioned travel stories (some with sassy Italian vernacular).
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