Cozumel vs. Tulum

Two of the Riviera Maya’s pride, Cozumel and Tulum are all about ancient history, natural beauty, and all good fun. You can have a perfect mix of authentic Mexican spirit, along with the bounty and diversity of nature.
Cozumel vs. Tulum

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There isn’t a lot of distinction between Cozumel and Tulum. But Cozumel prides its underwater world and island-living scene. Tulum offers rustic and quaint Pueblo life. It has a slew of ancient history lessons and a beach and nightlife scene that invite you.


Mexico’s largest island is Cozumel. It is also among its most gorgeous. Off the northeastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, just a 12-mile (19 km) ferry trip from Playa del Carmen. Cozumel offers a Caribbean-style hideaway close to the well-known Riviera Maya resorts.

Cozumel is one of Mexico’s most well-liked vacation destinations. It is surrounded by the glistening Caribbean Sea and is a great place to swim, snorkel, scuba dive, and sunbathe.

What Makes Cozumel Unique?

Scuba Diving and the Reef

The second-longest coral reef system in the world is located right off the southwest coast of Cozumel. From the Gulf of Mexico to the coast of Honduras, the Mesoamerican Reef System stretches for around 175 miles (281 km). Cozumel ranks highly on many divers’ bucket lists due to its ridiculously clean waters.

In Cozumel, there are several excellent scuba diving locations. They are renowned for their distinctive characteristics and abundant, colorful marine life. You can find numerous travel operators that provide diving adventures. The ideal scuba diving tour offers tours for both experienced and inexperienced divers.

The Palancar Reef, located near the southwest end of the island, rises from shallow waters just below the water’s surface to depths of up to 80 meters (262 ft). It is one of the best places to dive. A big bronze statue of Christ that is located about 17 meters (56 m) underwater is part of a well-known dive.

Another excellent location is Chankanaab Reef. Its shallow depths are located right next to the adventure beach park of the same name. The entire area is suitable for people of all ages and skill levels.

The reef only reaches a depth of 70 feet or 21 meters, making it perfect for both novice snorkelers and scuba divers. Barracudas, stingrays, and nurse sharks are occasionally spotted at the location. Even if the visibility isn’t quite as good as at some other reefs, its gentle currents and abundance of fish still make it a great choice.

The Ruins at San Gervasio

On Cozumel, more than 30 Mayan ruins have been discovered. Some of these are situated in stunning settings like lush jungles or high above pristine beaches. The temple of a Mayan deity in San Gervasio is by far the most significant.

The overgrown temple is believed to have been built in 800 AD, or possibly earlier, and was dedicated to Ixchel, the goddess of love and fertility. The spectacular stone monuments that had been the core of the island’s religious activity were abandoned. This was after the Spanish arrived in the 1500s.

Today, you can explore the impressive ruins that are surrounded by a wildlife sanctuary. You can go through the Central Plaza and view ancient structures, an unsettling altar, and a rebuilt arch in addition to a little pyramid.

The neighboring ruins at Santa Rita are very interesting, while a little further afield are the ruins at Santa Pilar and Castillo Real. The largest Mayan structure on Cozumel is located in the latter. Additionally, the island’s southeast corner at Buenavista and its southernmost point at El Caracol have Mayan ruins.

San Miguel de Cozumel

The northwest side of Cozumel has a little bit of the native culture. San Miguel de Cozumel, the largest and main city on the island, is a ton of fun to explore. Its picturesque coastline and adjacent beaches naturally draw a lot of interest. But the city’s downtown is also home to a wide variety of stores, eateries, pubs, and nightclubs.

The harbor also serves as a port of call for cruise ships as they navigate the clear waters of the Caribbean Sea. Numerous ferries frequently sail towards the mainland, especially to Cancun and Playa del Carmen.

The city is also home to a significant international airport. When cruise ships are in port throughout the day, the city’s streets are bustling. Visitors looking to buy souvenirs, book tours, and take in the local attractions. Various businesses, hotels, and diving shops serve the city’s endless tourists. Its vibrant blocks also feature some lovely colonial buildings.

There are some fascinating historical sites to visit. Along with seeing the vibrant dining and nightlife districts centered on Plaza Central. The Island Museum or Museo de la Isla features several exhibits on the area’s geography, history, and thriving marine life.

The Beaches

Being an island edged by white-sand shores, you can expect to find quite an array of beaches all around. While all beaches in Cozumel are beautiful and pristine, some spots are better than others.

Cozumel’s west and south sides are where you should set up camp if you’re looking for the beaches with the most sand. The beaches on Cozumel’s eastern side are gorgeous and feel much more unexplored. The other beaches on the island are rocky and frequently have choppy waves.

Playa Chen Rio

The primary selling point of Playa Chen Rio is that it is one of the windward eastern coast’s calmer beaches, making it excellent for swimming. It is notable for having a large natural pool that is ideal for swimming, which was created by a cluster of rocks and other rock formations. This beach has lifeguards on duty, which cannot be true for all of them.

A nearby lush expanse of flora is part of a protected nature reserve. It also has offshore coral reefs that offer excellent opportunities for fish viewing. It is frequently one of the busier beaches because of its reputation as a swimmable, family-friendly beach. Even so, it is still rather lovely, with its bright turquoise ocean and a long stretch of sun-bleached sand.

Playa Palancar

This incredible length of delicate, powdery sand may be found on Cozumel’s southernmost tip. Playa Palancar has clear, white sand, a blue ocean, and a rustic-style palapa restaurant where the fresh fish tacos are legendary.

It is also simple to get there, while still maintaining that lovely sense of remoteness, being only a 20-minute drive from the harbor. To top it all off, scuba enthusiasts must dive at Palancar Gardens. It is one of the island’s most impressive and accessible coral reefs, which is located just off-shore.

Similar to the majority of Cozumel’s beaches, snorkeling here displays an abundance of fish, turtles, and lobster. You may also hire a guide who will take you to the reef, which is farther out and has a lot more to see below the sea.

Playa El Cielo

This beach, which is appropriately titled “paradise,” is located near Punta Sur and truly has the feel of Eden. At the very least, it’s a paradise for divers and snorkelers. Playa El Cielo is a picture-perfect stretch of sugary sand. It is well-known for both its pure water and the tens of thousands of starfish that live beneath the surface.

El Cielo is actually a shallow sandbank off the coast, making it a true haven for snorkelers of all experience levels. El Cielo’s secret is that getting there by car is impossible. The beach itself is not accessible by road and is challenging to get to on foot. However, those who desire to find “heaven” can do so by boat.


Tulum is a mysterious and beautiful city best known for its intriguing ruins that stare out over the Caribbean Sea. The Mayan ruins in Tulum are some of the best preserved in the entire world. You can discover more about the Mayans while taking in the breathtaking tropical environment of the town.

In Tulum, the ancient and contemporary eras coexist together — ancient Mayan ruins, yoga retreats, shopping, restaurants, and a lot of spirited individuals who come here to relax. Things that help put their minds, body, and spirit may all be found today.

What Makes Tulum Unique?

The Iconic Tulum Ruins

One of the most amazing and distinctive Mayan sites in the Yucatan is located in Tulum, which is a stunning cliffside charm. The highlight of any journey to Tulum is a visit to the spectacular Tulum Ruins, a Mayan city perched on a cliff from the thirteenth century.

The Castillo, a fortress built on a cliff edge that was formerly a watchtower. The well-preserved Temple of the Frescoes is among the ruins of the walled city. One of the most well-known locations in the Yucatan is the Tulum ruins, which are in good condition.

Visits to the ruins, which are regarded as one of the world’s seven wonders, are an amazing way to learn about Mexico’s past. The vista of the Tulum ruins is breathtaking and frequently captured from the steps next to the castle.

The ruins of the Castle are visible from the viewing platform. It also offers views of the Caribbean Sea’s turquoise waves and surrounding yellow sand. Nature and history are in striking contrast.

The ruins are located on a large plot of ground on a peninsula just outside of the city. Numerous historic temples and structures can be seen by visitors. They offer a superb illustration of Classic Mayan culture.

These buildings were initially constructed as early as the sixth century. You can check out the Pyramid El Castillo, Temple of the Descending God, Temple of the Frescoes, and Templo Dios del Viento. They are just some of the significant buildings at the Tulum Ruins.

As there are hundreds of visitors each day, go early to avoid the crowds. Take advantage of the opportunity to freely swim on the beach below it while taking in the breathtaking views.

Tulum Pueblo

Tulum Pueblo or the downtown, sometimes referred to as the center, has a magic all of its own, thanks to its unique and quirky features, Tulum Pueblo is a draw in itself. It is always best for new travelers to a new place to see where the locals live. The local cultural center of the town or city will have art, food, and culture that will surely delight you.

Small, busy, and gritty, Tulum Pueblo is best explored on foot or by bicycle due to its compact size. Tulum Pueblo is a small community; most of the action takes place around (or close to) a 10-block section of the town’s main avenue, Avenida Tulum.

The sidewalks in this area are broad, well-kept, and lined with souvenir shops, eateries, and tour companies. As you stroll further into the neighborhoods, you’ll see that the sidewalks are uneven and narrow, but there is also much less traffic. Here, you can discover pubs, small hotels, tiny cement parks, and inhabitants going about their daily lives.

Tulum Pueblo also hosts the town’s best nightlife. The city’s nightlife has been influenced by New York and Los Angeles. The location, however, is unmistakably Mexican, given that it is near a jungle and a beach, and there is no cover charge, dress code, or pretentiousness.

The Beaches

One of the most well-known tourist destinations in Mexico nowadays is Tulum. Tulum is well-known throughout the world for its attractions, restaurants, and resorts. But it was its breathtaking beaches that first made the city famous.

Long lengths of silky-smooth sand in Tulum, where only the gentle swishing of turquoise seas disturb the shore, are a beach lover’s delight. The town offers breathtaking natural beauty and is situated on the Yucatan Peninsula’s Caribbean coast.

With so much coastline to choose from, you can visit a quiet beach in undeveloped settings. You can also stay near the town to sip a beverage while lounging under a parasol.

Here are some of the popular ones:

Playa Paraiso

Visit Playa Paraiso if you need one reason why Tulum became the iconic beach destination it is today. It is undoubtedly one of Mexico’s most stunning beaches, drawing a large number of tourists each year.

Playa Paraiso manages to hide its popularity well because the beach spans across the coast for a considerable distance. Along the beach, there is an incredible expanse of snow-white sand that is bordered by a crystal clear sea and a line of lazily swaying palm trees.

This magnificent length of the beach is frequented by iguanas and avid yogis alike, and it is large enough to prevent overcrowding. It is flanked by palm trees and rough cliffs. Additionally, there are many eateries where you can purchase food and drinks, as well as boats that offer snorkeling tours in the warm sea.

Playa Ruinas

Perhaps one of the most picturesque beaches you’ll ever find in Mexico, Playa Ruinas is a local icon and tourist favorite. Also more iguanas. It is one more of Tulum’s finest beaches that draws tourists to the area.

The famed Tulum Ancient Mayan Ruins are perched atop stunning cliffs that frame the beach. White sand, blue waves, and a real historical landmark are all present on the beach. Now imagine dipping around in crystal clear blue waters with a view of the ruins overhead.

The beach is bordered by swaying palm trees that are anchored in soft sand and that stare out onto a sparkling azure expanse. This location is ideal if you’re searching for the perfect backdrop.

Come early in the morning before or after visiting the ruins if you want to experience the beautiful beach in complete peace. It’s more likely that you’ll be by yourself on the beach, having your own private heaven, the sooner you arrive.

Las Palmas

Another renowned beach in Tulum is Las Palmas Public Beach. You will fall in love with this location the moment you set eyes on it because it is blessed with a tranquil stretch of fine sand and azure waves. To the far right is a rocky outcrop, while to the left is nothing but silky soft sand. This is one of the quietest beaches in Tulum.

Since it is more remote than Playa Paraiso, there aren’t any shops or eateries nearby. Las Palmas is the ideal location if you want to avoid crowded beaches, even though this may be less convenient. Bring your own drinks, snacks, and a parasol so you may enjoy as much sunbathing as you like.

The Gran Cenote

One of the most popular local diving locations is the Gran Cenote, which has a pair of partially submerged caves. The cenote is particularly beloved by vacationing families and is conveniently located not far from Tulum. Gran Cenote is stunning yet isn’t a complex maze, making it simple to explore.

Contrary to what its name might imply, this location really comprises many cenotes. It is connected by wooden walkways that snake through the lush jungle floor. If you visit the cenote early in the day, before the people arrive, it can be very spectacular.

Snorkeling equipment and life jackets are available at the entrance for visitors to use. Once you’re secured and prepared to go, you can float around the motionless surface. Admire the incredible clarity of the water below.

Gran Cenote is among the most well-known of its sort for a reason. Its waters are so clean that marine life can be seen from a distance. You might be able to see the local bats inside the caverns, and turtles may also be present in the water.

What Is Better – Cozumel or Tulum?

If you’re looking for a popular destination that pretty much has everything in a coastal getaway, Tulum is the best bet. It has shopping, swimming, adventures, history lessons, and quaint nightlife. It is beyond fun, it is mystical and quite exciting as well.

Cozumel on the other hand is also another interesting spot, but its pride lies solely in its unbeatable diving scene. Everything else, Tulum can cover and perhaps even more.


Is Cozumel Safer Than Tulum?

Any population center in any country of the world has its risks. In Mexico, touristy cities like Tulum often have a higher concentration of crime but none too alarming. Tulum and the rest of the Riviera Maya have always had small problems such as pickpocketing and tourist scams.

Tulum and many other cities and towns on the mainland are considered to be risk areas according to the US Travel Advisory. Cozumel, on the other hand, is safer than mainland Mexico and isn’t listed as a risk area in the US Travel Advisory.

Is Tulum Cheaper or More Expensive Than Cozumel?

Due to its higher demand and bigger appeal to the tourism industry, Tulum tends to be more expensive than Cozumel. From simple purchases to accommodation prices, Tulum lies along the more costly range.

Tulum vs. Cozumel for Diving

Cozumel is far better when it comes to diving. It rests atop the famous Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, making it one of the most attractive places to dive. Its underwater world is said to be one of the most magnificent in the world.

Can You Dive Cozumel From Tulum?

You can take diving tours from Tulum to Cozumel. These companies offer packages that take you through the Riviera, often starting at Tulum and Playa del Carmen.

Is Cozumel the Same as Tulum?

Tulum is a charming rustic town with high-caliber tourist draws that lie along the coast of the Riviera Maya. Cozumel on the other hand is an island off the coast of Quintana Roo and the Yucatan Penisula, miles across the sea from Tulum.

Where Is Tulum and Cozumel?

Tulum and Cozumel are located along the coasts and waters of southeastern Mexico. They are sprawled across the southern areas of the Yucatan Peninsula and the coast of the state of Quintana Roo.

Is Cozumel Near Tulum?

With only a ferry ride away, Cozumel sits near Tulum.

How Far Is Tulum From Cozumel?

Tulum is approximately 40 miles or 64.3 kilometers away from Cozumel, directly.

Cozumel to Tulum

There are no ferry ports in Tulum that will take you to Cozumel. However, you can take a bus, or taxi, or drive to Playa del Carmen and take a ferry from there to San Miguel de Cozumel.

Cozumel to Tulum Ruins

You can get to the Tulum Ruins from Cozumel by taking a ferry to Playa del Carmen port, then take a taxi or bus from there to Tulum Pueblo. From the central town, you can join a tour company or head directly to the Tulum Ruins.

How Much Does It Cost to Get From Cozumel to Tulum?

The total travel usually costs more than 24 USD, depending on the mode of transportation you’re going to take.

Can You Get to Tulum From Cozumel Airport?

You can get to Tulum from Cozumel Airport. There are shuttles, taxis, and buses there that can take you to the mainland via ferries.

How Far Is Cozumel Airport From Tulum?

Cozumel Airport is approximately 40 miles or 65 kilometers from Tulum, directly.

Can You Fly From Cozumel to Tulum?

There is no direct air transportation from Cozumel to Tulum. First off, the airport that services Tulum is the Cancun International Airport, so you have to fly to Cancun first. After then, you can take the long road to Tulum.

Helicopter From Cozumel to Tulum

There are no helicopter services that will take you from Cozumel to Tulum.

Can You Take a Boat From Tulum to Cozumel?

Ferry rides are the primary way to get to Cozumel, of course. However, there are no ferries from Tulum. You have to get to Playa del Carmen first, then take a ferry from there to San Miguel de Cozumel.

How Long Is the Boat Ride From Tulum to Cozumel?

A ferry or boat ride from Tulum to Cozumel usually takes around two to four hours, including the driving time.

Private Boat From Cozumel to Tulum

There are no ports in Tulum, so there are no private boats as well.

Ferry From Cozumel to Tulum

There are no direct ferries from Cozumel to Tulum.

How Much Is the Ferry From Cozumel to Tulum?

A one-way ticket usually costs around 3 to 12 USD.

How Long Is the Ferry Ride From Cozumel to Tulum?

The ferry ride typically takes around a couple of hours or so.

Cozumel to Tulum Drive

You can’t get to Tulum from Cozumel just by driving. You have to take a ferry to Playa del Carmen first.

How Long Is the Ride From Cozumel to Tulum?

The ride usually takes around an hour or more.

How Much Is a Taxi From Cozumel to Tulum?

Being on an island, there are no taxis that will take you from Cozumel to Tulum. You have to get a ferry first to Playa del Carmen. A taxi from there to Tulum usually costs, 160 to 200 USD.

Tulum Tours From Cozumel

There are tours to Tulum from Cozumel. Tour companies are usually lined along San Miguel de Cozumel, the island’s main town.

Tulum to Cozumel Day Trip

Only hours apart worth of traveling, a day trip to Cozumel from Tulum is one of the best itinerary entries. You can easily conquer the entire island thanks to its size and accessibility.

Cozumel to Tulum Day Trip

Just like Tulum to Cozumel, you can easily do a day trip to the famous Pueblo and its iconic ruins. It only takes a few hours to get between, and less than a day to explore the town.

Cozumel Cruise Port to Tulum

Cruise ships can’t access Tulum because no ports are receiving them.

How Far Is Tulum From Cozumel Cruise Port?

The direct distance between Tulum and Cozumel Cruise Port is approximately 38.5 miles or 62 kilometers.