If you are looking for a destination that offers endless activities, look no further than Tulum. This former quaint fishing village has become one of the most sought-after travel hotspots in recent years due to its stunning white sand beaches and many things to do beyond them. Mexico is full of incredible places that should not be overlooked – make sure that Tulum tops your list!
We have been visiting Tulum and the Yucatan for over 7 years now and we are still amazed at the number of remarkable sights this small town has to offer. It’s no surprise why it is considered one of Mexico’s most stunning destinations! For the adventure-seekers out there, you won’t be disappointed with what Tulum has to deliver: from ancient Mayan ruins to magnificent beaches, majestic cenotes, delectable cuisine, active nightlife, luxury hotels and resorts – all within reach for your next excursion.
Tulum’s global renown as a travel destination has skyrocketed in recent years, and with good reason, stories of its extraordinary beauty quickly spread far and wide. Everywhere you turn, there appears to be another hotel popping up – it’s no surprise that visitors from all over the globe are flocking here! Frankly speaking, Tulum is truly one of the most amazing spots Mexico has to offer – between its stunning sights and year-round activities, what more could anyone ask for?
Visiting Tulum, Mexico
Located in Quintana Roo, Mexico, this stunning town drew in an astonishing 10 million tourists in 2016 according to the Yucatan Times. But it’s not just about sightseeing; what truly sets Tulum apart is the unparalleled hospitality of its locals who make visitors feel welcomed and secure during their stay – a quality that comes with a price tag that has risen due to large numbers of affluent travelers frequenting the area.
Located just one hour away from Playa del Carmen or three hours away by car from Cancun, Tulum is the perfect combination of serenity and excitement. Unlike other popular tourist destinations in Quintana Roo, it provides a tranquil atmosphere with easy access to all of its major attractions!
To make sure that every traveler has access to all this city offers, I’ve compiled a comprehensive list based on my own extended stays there.
Here is your one-stop guide for discovering the best attractions and activities Tulum, Mexico has available!
1. Relax On Tulum’s Best Beaches
With its blissful shores and tranquil waters, Tulum offers an array of breathtaking beaches that can make it very difficult to decide which one to bask in the sun at. Although the Mexican government grants open access to all these coasts, many hotels in this region may still attempt charging vacationers a fee for “renting their beach chairs”.
Finding the perfect beach to enjoy in Tulum? Look no further! Here are our top picks amongst the white sandy beaches.
Playa Paraiso: Embark on a paradise-like escape to Playa Paraiso, with its powdery sands, shallow turquoise waters and an array of beach bars dotted between swaying coconut palms.
Playa Ruinas: Hidden within the historic Tulum Ruins, Playa Ruinas is a secluded paradise that only reveals itself to visitors around 10am. It’s well worth it for those willing to make the trek.
Ziggy’s Beach Club: Ziggy’s Beach is the ideal destination for families looking to have a fun filled beach day! Entry costs are only $35 USD, and include use of a lounge chair. This kid-friendly spot makes it easy for travelers to relax with their little ones in tow.
La Zebra Beach Club: Ideal for couples and families, with amazing beach beds, great food and a relaxing atmosphere.
You may have heard about the seaweed invasion that can affect Tulum beaches. It’s true, not just for Tulum but for the region (Cancun and Playa del Carmen). For some unlucky visitors their pristine white sand beaches may become overrun with sargassum seaweed. While this issue comes and goes each year, it could still ruin your much-deserved getaway – so be sure to double check before booking!
Hotels and resorts actually do a pretty good job of getting rid of seaweed from their beaches, however sometimes they are simply unable due to its overwhelming abundance. Despite being harmless, if it isn’t cleared promptly it can begin to rot causing an unpleasant stench.
If you thirst to explore the ancient Mayan ruins, Tulum should occupy a top position on your travel itinerary. Not only are these spectacular structures located atop of an elevated cliff that overlooks the beach, but they can be easily accessed from any point in Yucatan and Playa del Carmen! A visit here is definitely worth its weight—you will not regret it!
With its soaring popularity as a tourist destination, the 13th-century ruins of Tulum can become quite packed. So plan your trip early on in the day for an opportunity to capture that sought-after Instagram shot without competing with other tourists! If you are looking for a great way to explore these iconic ancient ruins, check out this highly rated experience which includes a guided tour and lunch – find out more here!
Situated 12 meters above the glimmering Caribbean Sea lies Tulum’s Archeological Site; a picturesque 13th century Mayan city that is an absolute must-see for any visitor to its namesake. The towering 5 meter walls which encircle this remarkable archaeological wonder are said to be the source of inspiration behind the name ‘Tulum’, meaning fence in Maya language, and make for incredible photos.
If you want to be first in line, I suggest arriving at Tulum ruins an hour earlier than the 8 AM gates open. Inside you’ll find amazing structures like Templo Dios del Viento or Temple of the God of the Wind, Pyramid El Castillo, Temple of Descending God and also The Temple with Frescoes! Don’t miss out on this incredible experience – get there early for a chance to explore these ancient wonders without waiting!
A Tulum, Mexico vacation is incomplete without a visit to one of their breathtaking cenotes! These natural limestone sinkholes don’t just enable access to the underground river system for swimming and recreational activities but also provide an opportunity to explore archaeological relics. The Riviera Maya region has the biggest connected cave system in the world with thousands of interconnected cenotes – offering spectacular underwater caverns and caves that are worth discovering!
With the stunning beauty of Tulum’s beaches, you may be tempted to stay forever. However, once you take a plunge into one of its cenotes – pools filled with crystal clear freshwater in underground caves – it will quickly become your favorite spot! In fact, locals prefer the freshness and tranquility that can only be found here over their own sandy shores.
Taking a plunge in one of the Tulum area’s many splendid cenotes should be atop your list of refreshers. Cenote Dos Ojos is just 20 minutes north and offers an experience like no other—collectivo or taxi will take you there with ease! If diving is more your speed, then grab scuba gear because at Dos Ojos, it can become reality. But whichever route you choose to go down (or swim), you are sure to enjoy yourself as these underground springs-turned-swimming holes provide a unique opportunity for fun and exploration.
Gran Cenote – Tulum’s most renowned cenote is thought to hold sacred waters, granting access to the mysterious Sistema Sac Actun.
Dos Ojos Cenote – With crystal clear water and incredible dive sites, Two Eyes Cenote is a must-visit destination if you’re an adventurous snorkeler or licensed scuba diver.
Carwash Aktun Ha, formerly known as Carwash, is situated just off the path to Coba and used to be designed for car cleaning. Nowadays it has become a preferred spot among swimmers and cave divers alike.
Casa Cenote – Surrounded by mangroves with a tunnel that heads right out to the sea.
Cenote Calavera – Visit the ominous Temple Of Doom and explore one of the most popular diving spots below. You’ll find a peculiar skull, but you can also climb up via ladder or swing on a rope to get an even better view!
4. Explore Tulum Pueblo (El Centro)
For first-time visitors, comprehending the 3 sections of Tulum can be perplexing. In Downtown Tulum (also known as El Centro or Tulum Pueblo), one will find all sorts of Mexican stores and local restaurants – this is where residents do business it also were you will find more affordable hotels and casual bars and dining. Meanwhile, located only a 5 to 10 minute drive away from town lies the Beach Zone (otherwise called the Hotel Zone). There you’ll uncover beaches, tourist shops and resorts galore! If opting for an hour-long walk isn’t your style though, bike riding or hitching a cab are perfect alternatives.
Lastly, we come to the Aldea Zama area; with its high-end new builds and growing population of expats and digital nomads. It’s no secret that this is where many of Tulum’s inhabitants call home.
5. Explore the majestic Sian Ka’an Biosphere
Located just south of Tulum, the incredibly awe-inspiring Sian Ka’an Biosphere is a must-see destination. Brimming with countless species of exotic wildlife like birds and dolphins, as well as unbelievably pure water, this protected area will be an unforgettable experience for any traveler. However, one should note that reaching it requires you to traverse through a long bumpy road – unless you decide to take the hassle out and join a tour! Ultimately making for an ideal day trip from Tulum; don’t miss your chance at uncovering all the splendor that Sian Ka’an has to offer!
6. Visit Coba Ruins
If you’re seeking a more spectacular Mayan pyramid than the Tulum ruins provide, Coba is definitely the spot. Though it isn’t as well known as Chichen Itza, I believe it’s much better for an excursion from Tulum. The Coba ruins are set in such stunning surroundings that your day will be unforgettable!
To reach them, you’ll have to traverse through a lush jungle on two wheels – rentals are incredibly affordable at 45 pesos ($2.40). Plus, unlike Chichen Itza ruins, Coba’s main pyramid can still be climbed!
Reaching the dizzying heights of Coba requires a grueling 120-step climb, but the stunning views from its summit make every step worthwhile! There are several ways to get there, including by ADO bus, car rental or private taxi. An even better way is through exploring Tulum and its many surrounding attractions in your own vehicle – with that freedom comes an array of exciting day trips away from tourist hotspots too!
Approximately 45 minutes from Tulum, lies the majestic ruins of Coba – home to almost 50,000 souls in its heyday. Dating back as far as 50BC and into the Middle and Late Classic periods (500-900AD) of Mayan civilization, these impressive structures have stood sentinel over their jungle surroundings for millennia. Popular sites within the Coba grounds include Nohoch Mul Pyramid, Sacbe ,Coba Group & Stelae Macanxoc group, plus Conjunto de Pinturas- however one unique aspect that sets this location apart is it’s accessibility; visitors are allowed to physically climb up onto Nohoch Mool pyramid which makes a visit here unforgettable!
Tulum’s south beach is an idyllic paradise, yet access can be quite restrictive unless you are a guest of one of the exclusive resorts that guard its shoreline or if you agree to a minimum spend.
Find out more in our best Beach Clubs and best beach clubs for Families guides.
If you’re looking for a great place to take your family on vacation, look no further than Papaya Playa Project. This beach club offers unreal food in an incredibly instagrammable setting with significantly less pretentiousness compared to its competitors. Although the official minimum spend is 500 pesos ($26), I’ve found that if you ask beforehand, they are often willing to waive or lower the cost!
La Zebra and Ziggy’s are more afordable and great for families.
8. Eat At one of the delicious Restaurants
If you’re in the mood for savory Mexican cuisine, there’s no better place than Tulum. If you’re looking to be adventurous, then definitely try out some of the tacos and small eateries found around town – they won’t disappoint! Our detailed guide on all restaurants in Tulum Town & Beach is a great resource that’ll help take your taste buds on an authentic culinary journey. Don’t forget to treat yourself and your group to scrumptious lunch or dinners; it’s far superior here compared to both Cancun and Play del Carmen!
9. Enjoy the very vibrant nightlife
During the day, Tulum lures tourists with its picturesque white-sand beaches and awe-inspiring cenotes. As night falls on this quaint Mexican town by the sea, it is brought to life by chic bars and restaurants that serve some of the finest drinks around. A visit to Tulum promises relaxation, rejuvenation–and a remarkable nighttime experience!
If you’re looking for a place to relax and take part in some yoga while on vacation, Tulum is the perfect spot. Here, new-age hippie types can immerse themselves into activities such as music therapy sessions and other different forms of health & wellness practices. A few notable spots are Naga Tulum or Sanara’s beachfront yoga studio where locals have had wonderful experiences!
11. Workout next to the beach at Tulum Jungle Gym
Have you seen the stunning images of Tulum Jungle Gym on Instagram? This one-of-a-kind outdoor fitness center is a must for anyone looking to explore all that Tulum, Mexico has to offer. Constructed from wood and stone, it’s an incredible experience like no other – imagine training at the beach surrounded by turquoise water! With its natural materials and unique setting, don’t miss out on this unforgettable opportunity when planning your next trip to Mexico.
When you come to Jungle Gym, adventure and exercise combine into one amazing experience. With this real-life Fred Flintstone gym, your outdoor workout will reach exciting new heights! Its uniqueness is something that must be experienced firsthand – don’t miss out on the fun!
12. Experience The Adventure Parks
Sitting just beyond Tulum lies a cluster of extraordinary, world renowned adventure parks. Xcaret is the most well-known amongst them and features magnificent canals to swim through, breathtaking beach coves, exciting cultural shows, and enchanting jungle hikes – you name it! Although these amusement parks may be slightly more expensive than others in the area, they are without doubt an absolute must-do while visiting!
If you’re looking for the ultimate outdoor adventure, look no further! Xplor offers an incredible array of caves, ziplines, rafting and ATV rides to be explored; whereas at Xel-Ha there are waterslides, snorkeling adventures through mangroves and more. At night venture into the depths of a torchlight journey with Xplor Fuego or take in Xenotes’ cenote experience then round it all off with a floating fiesta at Xoximilco and explore your creative imagination at the quirky optical illusion park: Xenses. Don’t forget to book ahead as tickets sell out quickly due to limited capacity – so make sure you get yours fast!
13. Go Kitesurfing
While the magnificent beaches in Tulum can become windy at times, this makes them ideal for attempting kitesurfing. With a plethora of operators along the south beach willing to teach you how to master those waves, it is one of the most exciting activities available on Tulum’s shoreline and an awesome way to stay fit!
Get the most out of your time on the water by booking a lesson with an International Kiteboarding Association certified guide! With their expertise, you can rest assured that you’ll be getting the best instruction available. Click here to get started and begin learning today!
15. Browse Tulum’s Boutique Shops
Are you a fashion enthusiast? Then, Tulum is the perfect destination for you! Along its South Beach Road lies an array of chic boutiques boasting bohemian-inspired ensembles that will have your wardrobe looking oh-so ‘grammable. Be warned though – with Western prices prevailing here, come ready to pay up. And if shopping isn’t enough to keep you entertained in this vibrant city, just stroll or cycle down South Beach Road and discover numerous other hidden gems along the way!
When it comes to shopping, Tulum is an ideal destination. It’s a paradise of boutique stores selling unique souvenirs, traditional Mayan clothing, and even some bohemian Western designs for the fashion-forward traveler looking to make a statement.
To avoid the hassle of relying on taxis to shuttle between Tulum beaches and town, an enjoyable and money-saving alternative is renting bicycles. You can easily power yourself with your own two feet as you explore this delightful destination!
In Tulum, bike rentals are around 120 pesos ($6) each day and almost every hotel provides them – making biking one of the most favored activities in town. Moreover, several big bicycle paths make it a great mode for travelling around as well!
17. Visit the stunning Chichen Itza
Chichen Itza, an awe-inspiring New Seven Wonder of the World and UNESCO Heritage Site is one of Mexico’s most visited Mayan ruins. This large city complex was constructed by the Mayans in 520 AD and flourished until 1220 AD. To experience its grandeur first hand, entrance to these breathtaking remains will cost you around 80 + 417 pesos.
Chichen Itza would definately be toping this list if it wasn’t for the two hour road trip.
While vacationing in Tulum, Yucatan, one of the must-sees is a two hour drive away; you can either rent a car or join organized tours that will take you there. With its beauty and tranquility, it’s no surprise why this place is so sought after by travelers!
18. Visit Yal-Ku Lagoon
Only a half hour drive from Tulum, Yal Ku Lagoon offers an unforgettable experience for tourists. What makes this beautiful spot unique is that it’s composed of both a cenote and lagoon connected to the sea, making snorkeling here incredibly special! In the shallow waters near the cenote, you’ll find vibrant small fish while in deeper areas closer towards the ocean lies turtles, rays, and larger fish – all awaiting your exploration! Convenient stores are also available nearby with snacks and rental gear so be sure to keep your eyes peeled when exploring.
18: Take a Pic in Tulum’s Famous Instagram Spots
From world-renowned artists to local creatives, Tulum is a mecca for art lovers. The Azulik Museum gives off an otherworldly vibe while Ahau Tulum’s grand wooden sculpture beckons you into its embrace. Nomade’s Macondo restaurant looks like something out of the Arabian Nights! What’s more, stunning murals and sculptures can be found throughout the town—a dream come true for any Instagram aficionado!
Make the most of your Mexican holiday by exploring all that Tulum has to offer and take photos in these amazing and must Instagram spots in Tulum :
Begin with Ven a La Luz, an exquisite sculpture located at Ahau Resort.
Lolita’s iconic “Follow That Dream Sign”
Be sure to visit Azulik Resort’s Sfer Ik: it will leave you speechless!
Then check out The Colorful Tulum Sign and take some photos for Instagram-perfect content.
Chill around Playa Paraiso Beach Club’s Crooked Palm Tree before
heading over to Coco Tulum where you can swing on their beach swings in style.
Continue your journey with Matcha Mama’s delicious matchas, followed by
19. Cook with a Mayan Family
Take a journey to Tulum for an experience like no other! You’ll be picked up and driven to the colonial city, where you can explore the local market and savor breakfast. On your way there, take a dip in a cenote – it’s sure to cool off any summer heat! When you arrive at the Mayan village, enter their kitchen with open arms as they let you join them in preparing mouth-watering dishes while also teaching traditional recipes of ingredients unique to this area. During this time spent together inside their home, learn more about Mayan life through stories told by these incredible women before finally coming together over food crafted with love.
By joining this special activity, you are helping to conserve the ancient culture and customs of a Mayan community. Learn more about this incredible experience in Tulum!
20. Eat Tasty Tacos
While exploring Tulum, make sure to save room for some of the best tacos you’ll ever have! Taqueria Honorio and El Carboncito are all popular choices known for their Yucatecan snacks. Plus, don’t forget the al pastor tacos while you’re there– they won’t disappoint! For an unforgettable experience, however, join a taco-tasting tour to enjoy truly authentic Mexican fare. Regardless of where or how you do it though, be sure that your time in Tulum includes savoring these delicious treats!
21. Water Activities
Don’t forget the star of Tulum, its stunning waters! Set aside some time in your itinerary to submerge yourself and experience a plethora of aquatic activities available. From snorkeling to jet skiing or kayaking – there are plenty of enjoyable options for everyone along with vendors in beachfronts as well as town willing to make them happen! Swim away your cares and let this tropical paradise bewitch you with its serene waves.
Visiting Tulum FAQs
Is Tulum Safe?
Despite a pronounced surge in crime, Tulum continues to remain generally secure for travelers. Most of the criminal activity is linked to gang rivalries or disagreements over ownership rights at certain nightclubs and jungle raves. Nonetheless, so long as vacationers use their common sense and avoid trouble-seeking scenarios, they should have no issues with safety while visiting Tulum – one of Mexico’s most popular tourist hot spots!
Where is Tulum?
Nestled on the eastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, Tulum is home to serene stretches of white sand and mesmerizing cenotes. For years, this stunning region has been a top destination for those seeking an idyllic beach vacation in Mexico.
Best Time to Visit Tulum?
With its beautiful scenery year-round, there’s no wrong time to visit Tulum – just pick when you want your dream getaway!
December to January
While the late winter months have beautiful weather and might be outside of hurricane season, they can also bring a surge in tourism around popular holidays. As resort rooms may fill up quickly during this time, prices for accommodations could skyrocket as well.
February to April
Springtime in the Yucatan is an awe-inspiring experience, making it a perfect getaway spot for any time of year–especially during February and March when temperatures are pleasantly cool. Plus with reduced tourism numbers and prices as we enter April, you’ll be sure to find just what you’re looking for!
May to November
From May to mid-October, the weather in Tulum can be extremely hot and humid with periodic heavy rains. Be mindful of this as it is hurricane season; Tulum has experienced some strong storms over the last few years. For a more enjoyable experience with fewer tourists, try visiting at the end of November which falls outside of hurricane season and offers pleasant conditions.
Most popular things to do in Tulum?
From snorkeling in the Caribbean Sea to zipping through lush foliage, there is no shortage of fun activities for visitors to enjoy during their stay in Tulum. Don’t forget about taking day trips and exploring the area’s cenotes! To top it all off, be sure to leave some time for sampling delicious local fare available at beach bars and restaurants.
Best things to do in Tulum with kids?
Kids of all ages have plenty to explore in Tulum! Let them embark on an adventurous journey with snorkeling and ziplining, or take them to a waterpark for maximum fun. There are also spectacular cenotes waiting to be discovered as well as nature reserves that can teach your little ones about the local wildlife. Or if they’d rather just relax, let them bask in the sun while building sandcastles along one of Tulum’s stunning beaches.
What extreme sports can I do in Tulum?
For those seeking a thrilling adventure in Tulum, there’s no shortage of options! ATV tours, zip lining through the jungle canopy, repelling down cenotes and scuba diving are just some of the exciting activities available.
What are the top attractions in Tulum?
There’s no doubt that Tulum has some of the most remarkable attractions in all of Mexico. From Dos Ojos and Sac Anton to Gran Cenotes, travelers can explore archaeological sites like Playa Paraiso or Laguna Kaan Luum, soak up the sun on Tulum Beach, and experience nature at its finest with a trip to Punta Laguna Nature Reserve. Whether you want an adventure or simply a relaxing day away from it all – there’s something for everyone in this stunning destination!
Where is the best snorkeling in Tulum?
At Tulum Beach, snorkelers can explore the vibrant coral reefs and colorful marine life right off shore. For an even more exhilarating experience, join one of our guided boat tours that will take you to some of the most pristine snorkeling locations in Mexico! Or if land based exploration is your thing, don’t miss out on discovering the ancient ruins while wearing a mask and flippers.
Is it safe to swim in Tulum?
The waters of Tulum beach are calm and make for a stunning, secure swimming spot for all ages – young or old. However, if the waves become choppier than usual, it’s best to take extra care when entering the water especially with children or those who may not be as experienced in the pool.
How Many Days Should You Spend In Tulum?
If Tulum isn’t your main destination in the beautiful Yucatan Peninsula, then two to three days should suffice for a visit. However, if you are planning on using it as a starting point to explore the rest of this amazing area, I would recommend that you budget seven to ten glorious days here! With ample time allotted, there will be enough hours available to admire local cenotoes and Mayan ruins while also enjoying some well-deserved beach relaxation.
Tulum is filled with marvelous excursions, so make sure you dedicate a good amount of time to explore all that it has to offer. You’ll soon recognize why Tulum is now one of the world’s most in-demand holiday destinations.
Traveling to 🇲🇽 Mexico soon?
I recommend these travel resources for Mexico that I personally use:
🏨 Hotels: I have found that Expedia and Booking.com consistently have the best deals on hotels and resorts in Mexico. If you prefer to stay at a vacation rental, check VRBO that is usually cheaper than AirBnB’s added fees!
✈️ Flights: To find the best flight deals to Mexico, I always use Kayak. Remember to subscribe to their price alerts for the travel dates you want. Another great alternative for flight deals is Expedia.
🚗 Rental Cars: I always use and highly recommend Discover Cars because it allows me to compare several car rental companies and view ratings on various factors such as overall value, pick-up procedure, agent efficiency, car condition, and total time taken.
🚙 CancunAirport Transportation: For the fastest and easiest way to travel, I suggest arranging a private transfer with Cancun Airport Transportation. Honestly, no better way to travel from the airport to your hotel or resort.
🤿 Tours & Activities: For tours and activities in Mexico, I highly recommend using either Viator or GetYourGuide. These websites offer a full refund if you cancel your booking 24 hours before the start of the tour, and they also provide excellent customer service in case of any issues.
🚨 Travel Insurance: I always suggest purchasing travel insurance as a precaution before traveling, especially after a recent accident in a taxi in Mexico. For short trips, I recommend Travel Insurance Master, whereas for digital nomads, Safety Wing is a better option.
📷 Best Camera for your trip: I always carry with me a GoPro, It’s light, compact, takes great video and pictures, and most importantly, it’s waterproof! You just can’t go wrong with one. If you are interested in higher quality video and photography, I always carry with me on my trips and highly recommend the Sony A7IV which I think is the best travel DSLR Camera out there.
☀️ Biodegradable Sunscreen: Remember to include a good sunscreen to protect yourself from the summer sun. I always use and suggest Sun Bum Sunscreen, which is vegan, reef-friendly, and cruelty-free.
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