Getting from Tulum to Caye Caulker; the cheap/stupid option!

How to get from Tulum to Caye Caulker. There are many blog posts about how to get from Tulum to Caye Caulker with the various options and routes to take. Most go on to explain the option that takes the ferry from Chetumal to Caye Caulker. At $55 (plus the ADO bus and $5 taxi ride to the ferry) it’s not the most budget friendly option for a backpacker, but probably is the quickest and easiest. We decided to go the ‘scenic route’ via public bus and ferry from Belize City and save a few bucks in the process. So for the brave here’s a brief itinerary and tips for the journey:

8:30am Depart on ADO bus from Tulum (they run every hour or so, check ADO website) $20 or 378 pesos.

12:30 Arrival in Chetumal. Watch everyone else go off to the nice port. Quick bus station Subway for lunch. Living the dream.

12:45 Taxi to border 250 peso ($15).

Make sure you print your flight ticket into Mexico in advance as proof of already paying tourist tax (excluding TUI). Otherwise you have to pay a $30 exit fee.

13:00 Walk through Belize border.


You can change money with men through the fence – it’s a bit dodgy so it’s best to have USD with you.

12:15 Walk to the main road, there is a bus every 40 mins (apparently).

12:30 Public (chicken) Bus to Belize City $5.

16:00 Arrival in Belize City.

10 minute walk to Ferry Terminal (Swing Bridge). Can taxi for $5.

We used Ocean Ferry Belize $12.50 but you can also use San Pedro Belize Express Water Taxi-

17:30 last OFB ferry to Caye Caulker taking 45 minutes.

18:15 arrival in Caye Caulker. Have some coconut rum punch, you’ve earned it!

How to get from Tulum to Caye Caulker 2022
This is what we’re all here for!


Total costs


The total travel cost for getting from Tulum to Caye Caulker by public bus is $80 for 2 people. From my research of other blogs and chatting to other travellers the Chetumal ferry option takes 12 hours costing $145 for two. So that’s a saving of $65 between 2 of you, that’s a lot of rum punch.


So we know its cheap, but is it stupid?


Both have the same 8:30am departure time and we managed an hour earlier arrival, due to the fact all connections worked out and the border was totally empty (we heard the San Pedro border was pretty busy with strict customs). The 3.5hour chicken bus to Belize city was not comfy, but not too busy or complicated and it was cool to be the only tourists on the bus. It’s just normal life for locals travelling long distances at slow speeds. You will learn to “Go Slow”.

Either way getting from Tulum to Caye Caulker is a long, big old travel day but luckily Caye Caulker will certainly make up for the hassle of getting here. Either option also has the bonus of skipping a night in Belize city which I hear is not all that pleasant.


Top tips if taking this option

Get the first bus leaving Tulum, everything always takes longer than you think! Getting from Tulum to Caye Caulker will take all day.

Have USD with you. The dodgy border exchange is a bad rate for Euros, a bit better for Pesos. We didn’t find any exchanges or working ATMs in our 40 or so minutes in Belize City. USD is pegged at 1:2 with the Belizean Dollar and can be used anywhere.

There are two ATM’s and a hotel that does money exchange on the island, sometimes they aren’t working so just something to keep in mind (did mention to have USD with you).

Print your airline tickets to avoid paying departure tax at the Mexican border! Nobody wants to pay twice for something.

The clocks go back an hour at the border. Don’t panic about missing the ferry!

Go slow!

Mexico Map Lost Wanders
Check out all of the best stops in Mexico here on Google Maps.

How to travel better for less

These are the companies I use to travel the world for less. The reason long term travel is cheaper than you think is often down to shopping around for a great deal, here I’ve done the hard work for you!

Skyscanner – For flights at the best prices this is my go to site. I have also started using them for car hire and they can’t be beat! – I always book with this site if looking for cheap accommodation as the filters are so easy to use. Become a genius member after five bookings and get great discounts too!

Air BnB – Sometimes you can find great local places to stay on Air BnB. In some countries, like Cuba, it’s the only way to book!

Transferwise – A debit card you can use all over the world and get great exchange rates with no hidden fees. This bank has saved me £100’s in bank fees!

Monzo – A similar travel card to the above with additional features like joint accounts and bill splitting.

World Nomads – Travel insurance is one of the most important things you can have while travelling. Don’t leave home without it! World Nomads provide the very best cover.

What to pack – Here is my ultimate list of what to pack for every trip, available on Amazon. Plus eco friendly alternatives to your toiletries.

Omio – The place to go for all of your public transport needs in Europe. Save a bundle!

G Adventures – A sustainable, fun, responsible travel company. I’ve travelled with them many times and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend any of their amazing trips of a lifetime.

How to get from Tulum to Caye Caulker 2022How to get from Tulum to Caye Caulker 2022
How to get from Tulum to Caye Caulker 2022How to get from Tulum to Caye Caulker 2022
How to get from Tulum to Caye Caulker 2022How to get from Tulum to Caye Caulker 2022
How to get from Tulum to Caye Caulker 2022How to get from Tulum to Caye Caulker 2022

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Jo Williams

A Brit that got fed up of the 9 to 5 corporate life, I sold everything to become a full time wanderer. Having travelled to over 70 countries so far, I share my money-saving tips and secrets from inside the travel industry. Hoping to inspire you to work less and travel more.

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