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26 Best Things To Do in Tulum: The Ultimate Guide [2024]

Heading to Tulum soon? Oh, I’m so jealous! Check out the top things to do in Tulum, Mexico; you’ll also find ideas for day trips and useful info to plan your trip to Tulum.

Tulum almost doesn’t need an introduction. This charming town set in the southern portion of the Mayan Riviera is one of the most popular destinations in Mexico and the Yucatan Peninsula.

Image of Laguna Kaan Lum from above inserted in a list of the best things to do in Tulum, Mexico.

And no wonder, I’d say. Paradise beaches, Mayan ruins, incredible cenotes, eco-friendly hotels, a great foodie scene… All of this can be found in Tulum, a town that offers everything you could need to enjoy a blissful vacation.

Wondering what to do in Tulum? I’ve spent a considerable amount of time there and it’s one of my favorite places in Quintana Roo and Mexico. I want you to have the best experience possible, so I’ve created this gigantic list of the best things to do in Tulum.

You’ll probably have to extend your holiday!

No time to read the article? No worries! Here you have the absolute must-dos in Tulum:

• Visit the Tulum Ruins with an expert guide. It’s the town’s top attraction!
• Go snorkeling in the cenotes.
• Relax at the paradisiac Tulum beaches.
• Go on a day trip to Chichen Itza or Coba Ruins for a dose of history.
• Eat your way through Tulum Town!! Definitely a favorite activity among…everyone!

HOW TO GET TO TULUM FROM CANCUN

If you are coming from Cancun International Airport or the city, getting to Tulum is quite easy as you have a few options.

➤ You can take a private transfer from Cancun Airport to Tulum. Your English-speaking driver will be waiting for you at the arrival area to take you to your private vehicle. Insurance is included, and you’ll be taken directly to your hotel in Tulum.

While it’s more expensive than other options, it’s certainly convenient and more comfortable. If you’re indeed a group of 8 people, it’s even very cost-efficient! BOOK IT HERE

➤ Otherwise, you can opt for a shared shuttle, which is especially a good choice if you’re traveling on a budget with a small group of people. This shared shuttle is for minimum of two people.

Shared transfer from Cancun Airport to Tulum

The downside is that you’d be sharing the ride with other travelers, and it will likely take longer as the vehicle will stop along the way so passengers can get off. If you’re a large group, however, you’re better off booking the private transfer, as it’s not only more comfortable but also cheaper. BOOK IT HERE

➤ Other options include taking the ADO bus, which departs from the airport multiple times a day, or renting a car.

I wrote a full post about how to get from Cancun to Tulum. I suggest you check it out for additional info.

HOW TO GET FROM PLAYA DEL CARMEN TO TULUM

Playa del Carmen and Tulum are just one hour away, so it’s very easy to get to Tulum from Playa. You’ve got many options like the collective (shared van), bus, taxi, and more.

I also wrote a full post about the best ways to get to Tulum from Playa del Carmen, check it out for specific info.

9 BEST THINGS TO DO IN TULUM

Now that you know how to get here, check out what to do in Tulum. Whatever you like to do, I bet you’ll find it here. Let’s start with the top 9 things to do in Tulum!

Visit the Tulum Ruins

There’s no such thing as visiting Tulum and not visiting the Tulum’s ruins. After all, the iconic image of these Mayan ruins perched on the rock by the blue water is what made Tulum so famous in the first place.

The Tulum Ruins are part of an ancient Mayan city that was perched on the edge of a cliff. The views from up here are absolutely stunning!

No wonder the original name of the ruins is “Zama”, which means “place of the dawning sun”. The name referred to the fact that from the citadel, you could get an incredible view of the rising sun.

Image of a woman looking at the Tulum ruins inserted in a list of the top things to do in Tulum, Mexico.

The walled city of the Tulum Ruins served as a seaport fortress, which explains its proximity to the beach. The main pyramid of these Mayan ruins is known as El Castillo, which was used as the ancient lighthouse while the site was still in operation.

Other ruins to check out are the Temple of the Frescoes, The House of the Halach Uinic, and the House of the Columns.

READ MORE: A Complete Guide to the Tulum Ruins

Tulum Mayan Ruins Opening Hours: Daily from 9 AM to 5 PM.
Entrance Fee: 614 MXN (36 USD) per person.

Looking for the perfect tour? I like the Viator Exclusive: Tulum Ruins, Reef Snorkeling, Cenote and Caves because you get to explore the best of Tulum in one day.

The tour starts with a guided tour of the Tulum Ruins; after that, you’ll go on a boat tour to snorkel in the coral reef in the Caribbean Sea. The tour ends with a swim at Cenote Caracol, a beautiful cave cenote, and a tasty lunch.

This tour includes: Roundtrip transfers, entrance fees, a guide, snorkel hear, lunch, and bottled water. BOOK IT HERE

Swim in the Breathtaking Tulum Cenotes

You can’t possibly be in Tulum and not visit the cenotes in town! They might very well be the highlight of your trip. I’m saying it because it was it for me – you know, you can find beautiful beaches all around the world, but the cenotes are something quite unique to this area.

The massive underground river system in the Yucatan Peninsula has resulted in the formation of many cenotes. There are plenty of very cool Tulum cenotes that you can check out, as this region of the Riviera Maya teems with them.

READ MORE: 13 Best Cenotes in Tulum

One of my favorite cenotes in Tulum is Cenote Dos Ojos. This cenote almost needs no introduction – it’s that popular!

You can’t help but be amazed by the color of the water of Cenote Dos Ojos, which is a beautiful turquoise blue that almost looks photoshopped. You can snorkel, dive, or simply swim here.

Located halfway between Tulum and Playa del Carmen, Cenote Azul boasts crystal clear, turquoise waters. Cenote Azul is an open-type cenote that looks like a natural pool, with cliffs where you can jump off from.

Tulum Gran Cenote is another of the most popular cenotes in the area. It’s made of multiple cenote caves with stalagmites and stalactites. It’s great for both snorkeling and scuba diving (and totally kid-friendly!)

You can combine a few cenotes in one day and visit them on your own, or you can join a tour for a hassle-free experience. I’ve written a whole post about the best cenote tours from Tulum, but here are my favorites.

The Cenote Trail Bike tour will bring you to three cenotes, including the gorgeous Cenote Escondido, and Cenote Cristal. You’ll have time for swimming and snorkeling in each of them, followed by a tasty lunch. This tour will quench your cenotes thirst!

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This tour also includes: Bikes and helmets, a professional guide, and all entrance fees. BOOK IT HERE

The Cenote Triple Adventure Tour in Tulum is ideal for divers, avid snorkelers, or anyone who loves water adventures. On this guided tour you’ll visit three different cenotes to free-dive, snorkel, and free-jump. You’ll also explore incredible caverns and rock formations.

This tour also includes: Roundtrip transportation, equipment, snacks, and GoPro photos. BOOK IT HERE

Take a Day Trip to Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve

If you can make it to only one place around Tulum, please make it this one.

The Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of the great diversity in flora and fauna. It’s located to the south of Tulum – when Tulum ends, Sian Kaan starts.

When I say that this is one of the best places to visit in Tulum? It’s because it’s home to deserted white beaches fringed by palms, the bluest water ever (seriously – it’s the best water I’ve seen in the WORLD!), and ruins hidden in the jungle.

You will be able to spot dolphins, crocodiles, turtles, manta rays, and flamingos. Sounds pretty dreamy, doesn’t it?

Just to have a clearer idea, check out this drone video taken by my friend Raphael.

You could explore Sian Ka’an on your own but the road is unpaved, bumpy, and you definitely need a 4×4. We tried to enter with a regular car and the guard at the entrance stopped us, saying we would have gotten stuck. So, I decided to go with a tour.

Tours to Sian Ka’an aren’t cheap, but trust me when I tell you that it’s one of the best things to do around Tulum. It will probably end up being the highlight of your trip! If you have to choose between one of the parks like Xcaret and this, this one beats it.

➤ The Sian Ka’an Adventure Full-Day Trip to Punta Allen is a full-day excursion. It takes you around the Biosphere Reserve so you can experience it to its fullest. You’ll go snorkeling in the Mesoamerican Reef, spot wildlife, go on a boat ride, and explore Punta Allen.

This tour includes: Roundtrip transfers, lunch, snacks, snorkeling gear, and a local guide. BOOK IT HERE

FOR MORE OPTIONS CHECK OUT: 5 Best Sian Kaan Tours from Tulum, Cancun, Riviera Maya

Don’t Miss a Day Trip to Chichen Itza

Image of a woman standing in front of the Chichen Itza pyramid, one of the best things to do in Tulum.

Very few people come all the way to Tulum, Mexico, and don’t go visit Chichen Itza. And you really should make time for it! The most famous archaeological site in Mexico, Chichen Itza is a city that was built by the ancient Mayans.

Not only are these Mayan ruins a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but they were also named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. This archeological site is located near Valladolid, a picturesque colonial town. Are these enough reasons for you to go?

Opening hours: Daily from 8 AM to 4.30 PM (last access at 4 PM).
Entrance Fee: 614 MXN (36 USD) per person.

If you’re going on your own, I recommend heading there early and enjoying the place with fewer crowds. You’ll also avoid the intense heat of midday this way.

READ MORE: A Complete Guide to Visiting Chichen Itza (2024)

If you prefer going with a guide, this is a great tour:

➤ The Chichen Itza, Cenote and Valladolid All-Inclusive Tour is the most popular tour to Chichen Itza from Tulum. You’ll visit the famous UNESCO-listed site, stop for a swim at a beautiful cenote, and finish the day by exploring the colonial town of Valladolid. A delicious buffet lunch is included.

This tour also includes: Roundtrip transportation, all entrance fees, a buffet meal, and a guide. BOOK IT HERE

Enjoy the Beaches of Tulum, Mexico

The collection of incredible white-sand beaches is what makes Tulum one of Mexico’s best destinations. It’s also one of the main reasons people from around the world visit Tulum, and an absolute dream for beach lovers!

If you are after powdery white sand shores and turquoise waters, this is the beach bum’s ultimate tropical paradise.

Now, let’s talk about the elephant in the room. Tulum has had a problem with sargassum seaweed these past few years on its public beaches. Well, it is a serious problem, but it’s mostly a seasonal one.

Sargassum usually comes to shore between April and July, so if you’re planning a trip at this time, better to check what’s the situation like before going. I visited in November and while there was some seaweed, it wasn’t unbearable in any way, nor did it make my trip less enjoyable.

Image of one of the best beaches in Tulum seen from above.

Playa Paraiso (Paradise Beach) stands out as one of the best beaches in Tulum, no wonder its name means “Paradise Beach”. It’s located right south of the ruins, and it’s the typical Caribbean beach. Find here the whitest, powdery sand, lined by palm trees.

Playa Ruinas is another of the best beaches in Tulum, particularly if you want to combine two of the best Tulum attractions – the beach and the ruins.

This beach is notable for the nearby Mayan ruins, which provide an overlooking view of the Caribbean Sea.

Or, if you are looking for a more secluded beach, you can head to Las Palmas Public Beach, located 0.6 miles south of the ruins. This is a less commercialized beach, you’ll only find a small restaurant with plastic chairs, and beach chairs are for rent.

But maybe you’d like to upgrade your beach experience and enjoy the comforts of beach club facilities. There are plenty of beach clubs in Tulum equipped with loungers or cabanas, umbrellas, and great restaurants and bars.

Some even boast a swimming pool or watersports equipment. Below you’ll find the best Tulum beach clubs.

One of my favorite beach clubs is the Papaya Playa Project. I’ve gone to this club a couple of times with my friends. We occupied a few beach umbrellas with day beds and spent the afternoon there.

The beach club requests a minimum spend of 1,500 MXN (80 USD) per person. Since we arrived after lunch they waived it and we were just required to have a few drinks. We didn’t have to pay extra for the umbrellas and day beds either.

The beach club has a well-equipped bar, oceanfront palapas, and a semi-private seating area. I liked it as it seemed to be a lot quieter and less crowded than others.

Opening hours: Daily from 10 AM to 6 PM.

For a beach club closer to the Tulum ruins, check out Villa Pescadores. Most of the sun umbrellas are reserved for hotel guests, but some are available for day visitors. We bought lunch and a few drinks and the use of the facilities was included.

Opening hours: Daily from 7.30 AM to 10.30 PM.

Ziggy’s Beach Club is one of the most popular beach clubs, and it’s hard to find a spot here during the high season. It features super comfy sunbeds, palm trees that provide shade, a restaurant, and daily events. The club requires a minimum consumption of 50 USD per person.

Opening hours: Daily from 10 AM to 6 PM.

Climb the Pyramid at Coba Ruins

A woman climbing the steps of a Mayan pyramid in Coba

The region around Tulum is filled with so many incredible Mayan ruins that it’s hard to choose which ones to visit and which ones to skip.

One of the sites I recommend you find the time to visit is Coba. The Coba Ruins are another archaeological site, but the good news is that they are close to Tulum and without the crowds you’ll find at Chichen Itza.

The ancient city of Coba is most famous for the large network of stone causeways that are known as sacbes in Mayan. These pathways bring you to the main pyramid Nohoch Mul.

Nohoc Mul remains one of the last pyramids in Mexico, and the world, that you can still climb. It’s a pretty steep walk up to the top, but it’s worth it to enjoy the views of the lush surrounding jungle!

READ MORE: Coba Ruins: A Complete Guide (2024)

Opening hours: Daily from 8 AM to 5 PM.
Entrance fee: 100 MXN (6 USD) at the time of writing.

➤ If you prefer to join a knowledgeable guide, check out the Coba, Tulum Multun-Ha Cenote and Paradise Beach Reduced Group. It covers A LOT just in one day. You’ll visit both Coba and Tulum ruins, plus swim in a cenote and relax on Paradise Beach. The tour includes lunch, as well as hotel transfers and entrance fees.

This tour also includes: Hotel pick-up and drop-off, entrance fees, a guide, and lunch. BOOK IT HERE

Head to Playa del Carmen for Shopping and Dinner

5th Avenue in Playa del Carmen at daytime, with people walking along and colorful stalls on the sidewalks

From Tulum, you can also go on a day trip to another famous destination, Playa del Carmen. It’s about 39 miles (64 km) from Tulum to Playa del Carmen, and the trip will take you about an hour.

What to do when you get here, you say? Well, there’s a lot to visit, including some other beautiful beaches and cenotes near Playa. But for something different, go shopping!

5th Avenue is one of the best places to go for some souvenir shopping. You’ll find anything from t-shirts to magnets, Mexican sombreros, tequilas, and more.

When you have had your fill of shopping, it’s time to grab your dinner! Some of the best choices include El Fogon for tacos, Nativo for smoothies and vegan food, and El Sangha Rito for great guacamole and healthy options.

Go Ziplining in Tulum at Xplor Park

A woman swimming in the green waters of a natural lagoon, inserted in a post about things to do in Tulum

The location of Tulum in the Yucatan Peninsula gives you easy access to some other beautiful destinations in the area.

One of them is Xplor, a thrilling adventure park with seemingly endless activities to keep you entertained – and with your heart pumping – for hours.

Xplor is home to fascinating underground rivers and stalactite-filled caverns where you can swim and go kayaking. It also features jungle roads and river beds where you can drive an ATV. There are zipline courses, hiking trails, snorkeling spots, and fantastic facilities.

The Xplor Admission grants you access to the park for a full day. You’ll get to use all the activities and facilities, including showers and lockers. A scrumptious buffet lunch is included to help you refuel. BOOK IT HERE

To enjoy the adrenaline-inducing activities with a twist, check out Xplor Fuego. It grants you access to the park and all its adventures…at night! You’ll be ziplining under the stars, driving an amphibious vehicle in the dark, and swimming in underground rivers.

Enjoy the sounds of the jungle in the background as your adventures’ natural soundtrack!

The Xplor Fuego Admission offers unlimited access to its attractions after dusk. You’ll also relish an all-you-can-eat buffet dinner and non-alcoholic drinks. Free parking and use of the facilities are part of the package as well. BOOK IT HERE

READ MORE: 11 Unmissable Day Trips from Tulum

Enjoy the Cafes and Restaurants in Tulum

One of the best things to do in Tulum Town is EAT. Being such an important foodie destination in the region, there’s an incredible choice of really good restaurants in Tulum.

You’ll be spoilt for choice in every meal. There are mouthwatering cafés to grab a healthy breakfast, great eateries where to have lunch, and really nice places to indulge in a fancy dinner.

If you are wondering where to go in Tulum, Mexico, for amazing food, these are my recommendations.

ARCA is a unique restaurant, set amid lush vegetation as if it were a natural haven. The menu was created in tune with the local roots and traditions. It features bold flavors, seasonal ingredients, and dishes that are meant to be shared. There’s an open fire where most of the meals are prepared!

NU Tulum is another restaurant completely immersed in the jungle. It blends its culinary knowledge with nature and a strong sense of community. NU Tulum offers a wholesome dining experience with a sustainable menu, and delicious cocktails.

Alegria Cafeteria is the perfect spot for breakfast and brunch. The extensive menu features all-time favorites along with Mexican specialties. Opt to have either pancakes or chilaquiles to start your day! The café has an indoor section and a patio.

Matcha Mama is a bar specializing in all things matcha. It boasts a fun, tropical vibe with a beautiful outdoor setting, and its menu includes everything from smoothie bowls and kombucha to cold brews, juices, snacks, and teas.

Burrito Amor is a must-visit if you’re craving authentic burritos! It has an extensive all-day breakfast menu along with a great selection of Mexican favorites. Burritos come in all sizes and shapes, and with spectacular fillings. There are vegetarian, gluten-free, and dairy-free alternatives.

Taqueria Honorio is tacos paradise. It’s a favored spot for breakfast among locals, and its tasty tacos are freshly made every morning. The fillings you can choose from are plenty, including the traditional Cochinita Pibil, Al Pastor, Arrachera, chicken, and vegetarian.

READ ALSO: Where To Eat in Tulum, Mexico
19 Tulum Restaurants Not To Miss in 2024

OTHER FUN THINGS TO DO IN TULUM

Experience a Temazcal, or Practice Meditation and Yoga in Tulum

Tulum is a town renowned for its healthy cuisine, healing practices, and mindfulness. It comes as no surprise that there are so many offers for yoga classes and spiritual teachings!

One of the most unique cultural experiences to add to your Yucatan itinerary is a Temazcal ceremony. This ancient ritual is performed in a sweat lodge, a sort of sauna made of clay, locally known as Temazcal.

The ceremony, led by a shaman, is designed to purify the mind and body and heal sicknesses. It was first practiced by the indigenous people of Mesoamerica during the pre-Hispanic period. You can try it at Casa Violeta Tulum or Maya Tulum Retreat & Spa.

If you’d like to start the day with an energizing yoga class or a meditation session, you’ll find the best experiences at Sanara Tulum. This luxury and eco-chic hotel is known for its yoga retreats in a beautiful setting. Beach-side yoga studio, anyone?

Up for a challenge? Take the class to another level with SUP Yoga Tulum, which offers standup paddle yoga in the water. Check out these fantastic yoga retreats in Mexico for more options.

Escape the Crowds at Kaan Lum Lagoon

Drone image of Kaan Kum Lagoon, with a wooden jetty and people lounging or swimming

Known as the best kept secret of Tulum, Kaan Lum Lagoon is a great alternative to visiting cenotes (not that you would want to skip that!). The lagoon itself is actually a gigantic cenote, and the water is usually pretty warm, so it’s perfect for a dip and a mud bath.

Kaan Lum Lagoon is unique because of the color of the water. The shallow portion of the water is crystal blue but the center portion is a very deep blue. No wonder, since this area is 80 meters deep!

There isn’t really a shore, and you can jump in the water from the pier. There are basic facilities such as bathrooms. It seems like a restaurant has recently opened, but I recommend bringing your own food.

The Lagoon Paddleboarding Tour in Tulum is a fun way to explore Kaan Luum. Suitable for experienced and beginners, this half-day adventure will have you paddling across the lagoon. Then, refuel with a tasty taco lunch. The trip includes transfers, and GoPro photos as a souvenir. BOOK IT HERE

The ticket price is currently 300 MXN (17 USD). Laguna Kaan Lum is 3 miles (5 km) south of Tulum, off Highway 307.

 Join a Cooking Class in Tulum

A kitchen table with a pink plate in the center with a Mexican taco, and bowls with lemon wedges, guacamole, and chips. Inserted in a post about things to do in Tulum

No visit to Mexico, especially Tulum, would be complete without indulging in local fare. But isn’t it better to also learn how to cook some of the best dishes, so you can go home and surprise everyone with a Mexican dinner?

When in Tulum, things to do that are bound to become a memorable experience include cooking classes. Check this one out!

➤ Check out this Mexican Cooking from Scratch and Mezcal Tasting in a Local Home in Tulum. You’ll meet your host and learn to prepare typical meals from scratch. Use traditional ingredients and flavors, and at the end of the class sit down to enjoy your meal and a Mezcal tasting. BOOK IT HERE

Take a Day Trip to Bacalar, Holbox, or Las Coloradas

A drone image of Bacalar lagoon, with its various shades of blue, and lush vegetation

There are various day trips you can enjoy from Tulum, as its prime location in the Riviera Maya means it’s well connected.

Bacalar is one of the most popular destinations to visit. Located in southeastern Mexico, close to the border of Belize, the town is famous for its Lagoon of Seven Colors. It’s named after the water’s very different shades of blue.

Things to do in Bacalar include exploring its charming town, snorkeling in cenotes, and going on a boat tour across the lagoon.

➤ The Bacalar Lagoon of 7 Colors from Tulum is a full-day trip that includes all the main adventures. Admire the turquoise tones of the lagoon during a boat tour, do some kayaking, swim in cenotes, and savor a tasty lunch. BOOK IT HERE

➤ If you’d rather get there on your own, check out my guide on how to get from Tulum to Bacalar.

Another spectacular destination to visit is Holbox, the closest thing to picture-perfect paradise. Its insanely clear waters, powdery white sand, and seclusion from the outside world make it a dreamy place to unwind.

There are no cars in Holbox; instead, you’ll find flamingo communities, sandy streets, and beautiful beaches.

➤ This Holbox Full-Day Tour with Lunch From Riviera Maya includes roundtrip transfers from your hotel, and the ferry to reach Holbox. You’ll visit the pristine Isla Pasion and Secret Beach on a boat tour, swim in Yalahau Lagoon, and enjoy free time to explore the town or chill by the beach. BOOK IT HERE

Las Coloradas is one of the most surreal places in Mexico, as it’s home to vividly pink lagoons…that are not photoshopped nor man-made!

Rio Lagartos Biosphere Reserve, located right next to Las Coloradas, is often visited on the same trip. It’s a prime location for getting a glimpse of flamingos and crocodiles – among other wildlife!

➤ You can visit them with this Tour Las Coloradas & Rio Lagartos only from Tulum. It’s a full-day excursion that includes a stop at the pink lakes, a sailing trip in Rio Lagartos, a traditional Mayan mud bath, and a tasty seafood lunch. BOOK IT HERE

Go Enjoy the Hustle and Bustle of Cancun

A woman standing in front of a Hard Rock Cafe sign in Cancun downtown

Unlike Tulum which has a laid-back beach town vibe, Cancun has more of a city vibe. If you are looking for a change of pace, you can schedule a day trip from Tulum to Cancun (check out how to get from Tulum to Cancun).

If you visit the Hotel Zone area, expect a more buzzing atmosphere. It’s filled with resorts, hotels, shops, and restaurants, and it’s basically made for tourists.

If you want something more traditional, head to Downtown Cancun. There you’ll find colonial buildings, markets, and incredible street food!

READ THE FULL POST: The Best Things To Do in Cancun – The Ultimate Guide to Cancun

Feel like Indiana Jones at Muyil Ruins

A Mayan pyramid at Muyil pyramids, one of the attractions to visit from Tulum

Not done with exploring archaeological ruins in Tulum yet? Here’s one more to add to your list – Muyil Ruins. This ruin site, located in Sian Kaan, is known as the earliest and longest-inhabited ancient Mayan ruins in the Yucatan Peninsula.

The Muyil Ruins might not be as popular as Chichen Itza or Tulum Ruins, but they are very different from them. In fact, they are a lot wilder and less visited, located in the middle of the jungle right next to the Caribbean Sea.

You can visit the ruins for free, but it’s not super easy to get here since they’re in the middle of the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve.

You could visit on your own but you would need a 4×4 – I highly suggest a tour. On this type of tour, you’ll also get to float down the saltwater lagoons by using your life jacket as your own floating chair – pretty cool!

➤ Check out the Sian Ka’an and Muyil Archaeological Site Tour to explore the Muyil ruins with a professional guide. You’ll walk along a nature trail, spot local wildlife, and take a boat ride down an ancient trading canal. Delve into the Maya civilization’s rich history while enjoying a picnic lunch.  BOOK IT HERE

Go Scuba Diving in Tulum Cenotes and the Ocean

A person diving in an underground cenote, inserted in a post about things to do in Tulum

Scuba diving is one of the most popular Tulum activities. In Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, you can scuba dive in both the ocean and the deeper cenotes.

The year-round diving conditions are great in Tulum but for the best visibility, plan your diving trip from May to September. Although, if you’re not just interested in diving, the best season to visit Tulum is between October and April.

Some of the best cenotes in Tulum for cave diving are Cenote Angelita, Pet Cemetery Cenote, Cenote Calavera, and Cenote Carwash.

As for scuba diving in the ocean, the best scuba dive sites include Tankah Deep and La Piscina.

➤ Check out this 2-Tank Cenote Certified Dive in Tulum to experience the magical underwater world. Enjoy two dives in different cenotes with a small group. You have to be a certified diver to join the tour, which includes transportation, equipment, and lunch. BOOK IT HERE

Go Shopping in Tulum

A clothing boutique in Tulum
Isabellaphotography / Shutterstock.com

No trip to Tulum would be complete without some shopping. Tulum Beach is filled with lots of boutiques and shops that sell handmade jewelry, artisanal crafts, chic kaftans, hand-woven hats… The list goes on.

Some of the best shopping on Tulum Beach Road is to be done at Josa Tulum, Arte Sano, and CALO.

There is also an abundance of local gift shops and handicraft shops. There you’ll find a wide range of souvenir items, although I recommend also heading to Tulum Pueblo for more options.

Enjoy the Chill Tulum Nightlife

If you have been to other destinations like Cancun, you’ll notice that Tulum’s nightlife isn’t as loud or rowdy. However, it’s becoming more of a party hotspot lately.

Don’t expect gigantic clubs like Coco Bongo, but there are a variety of beach bars and clubs that you can go to if you want to enjoy a few cocktails to end your day.

Instead of the tequila shooting madness, Tulum’s nightlife scene is more upscale but without the pretentiousness and strict dress codes.

The best hotspots to hit vary depending on what day of the week you decide to go out.

Gitano, one of the best bars in Tulum, is the place to be on a Friday night to enjoy their Gypsy Disco. You’ll find an impressive selection of cocktails and drinks, and a DJ set from 10 PM on.

On a Saturday, one of the most fun things to do in Tulum at night is partying at Papaya Playa Project. It features a live DJ set and an all-night party that starts after midnight. Once a month, Papaya Playa Project also throws a Full Moon Party, which is probably the biggest party in town.

On Sunday evening you can enjoy a super entertaining salsa party at La Zebra Beach Restaurant. Arrive at 6.30 PM to practice the steps, and then join the latino dance experience on the beach.

Other locations worth checking out include Casa Jaguar on Thursday nights, and Batey Mojito & Guarapo Bar any day of the week.

➤ You can also join a Social Pubcrawl Barcrawl Tulum to experience the best of the town’s nightlife. Join a group of other party animals and visit various bars and clubs for a free drink or shot. There will be party games, dancing, prizes, and party props. BOOK IT HERE

Take All Those Instagram Photos in Tulum

A woman standing in front of a white and blue van, with lush vegetation in the background

Tulum is teeming with instagrammable spots! If you are looking for that perfect shot of Tulum, here are some of my favorite spots to get it.

Coco Tulum is a beach club with a white-themed bar that looks exquisite against the white sand and the turquoise waters. Take the classical IG shot while sitting on one of the bar swings!

Did you know that Casa Malca, currently a hotel, was once Pablo Escobar’s villa? If they let you in, this is another spot to go to for that picture-perfect shot. You will find couch swings and designy interiors with incredible views over the sea.

Nomade Tulum is a beach hotel that features a Moroccan feel with its beautifully conceptualized rooms and interior decor. Its palapa-style roofs, colorful poufs, and mismatched carpets create the ultimate photo backdrop.

A must-see in Tulum is Sfer IK, listed among Time’s 100 World’s Greatest Places of 2019. This artsy spot is a cutting-edge museum featuring a spectacular nest-like structure.

Made with locally sourced wood and cement, it looks like a design tree house, and is located inside Azulik Hotel.

Escultura Ven a La Luz is one of the most iconic landmarks in Tulum. You’ve probably seen it hundreds of times on social media, but don’t let that deter you from visiting!

The incredible sculpture is imposing and can be found on the beach, right outside the Ahau Hotel.

➤ Want to check all the photogenic spots off your list? Join this Tulum Instagram Photo Experience. Let a team of professional photographers take you on a whirlwind trip around the most iconic locations, and receive a digital photo package with the memories. BOOK IT HERE

Go Snorkeling in Tulum

Since Tulum is located right on the Caribbean Sea, it’s not a surprise that engaging in water sports is a bucket list item for nearly all visitors! And snorkeling is among the top activities in Tulum due to the colorful coral reef and rich marine life.

Head to Sian Kaan Biosphere Reserve or Cozumel for some of the best snorkeling spots in the region. Or simply embark on a snorkeling trip from Tulum…the Caribbean Sea teems with underwater treasures!

➤ Check out this Snorkeling with Caribbean Fish and Private Cenote Exploration. It offers the perfect combination of snorkeling in the Caribbean Sea and swimming in a cenote. Marvel at the impressive limestone formations, and relish a local lunch. BOOK IT HERE

➤ This Small-Group Eco Friendly: Whale Sharks tour in Cancun & Riviera Maya takes you snorkeling with the giants of the sea. Enjoy an informative briefing from your biologist guide to ensure a safe – and memorable – interaction. Lunch and soft drinks will be served after the experience. BOOK IT HERE

I’ve written a whole post about the best snorkeling tours in Tulum, check it out!

Rent a Boat in Tulum

The sparkly Caribbean Sea is not only enjoyed underwater, mind you! Rent a catamaran for the day and set sail to visit nearby landmarks. Enjoy refreshing dips or snorkeling stops when you feel like it, and sunbathe on the deck with a drink.

➤ The Half-Day Luxury Sailing Experience in Tulum with Open Bar lasts hours. Sail with your group of 15 and make the most of the onboard open bar and all-inclusive lunch. You’ll be provided snorkeling gear and paddleboards to have fun on the water as well. BOOK IT HERE

➤ This All Inclusive Tulum: Luxury 34´Catamarán Aventura accommodates groups of up to 8 people. You’ll sail along the coastline on a spectacular vessel, and stop at a reef to go snorkeling and paddleboarding. Back onboard, enjoy an a la carte lunch and drinks from the open bar. BOOK IT HERE

I’ve written a whole post about the best Tulum catamaran and boat tours, check it out!

Eat Your Way Through Tulum on a Food Tour

Can you say you’ve been to Mexico if you haven’t absolutely stuffed yourself with Mexican food?! My favorite way to do it is by joining a food your.

This way, a foodie local introduces you to the city’s culinary scene and takes you to the best eateries – both hotspots and hidden gems. You’ll also get to try a great variety of dishes in one go!

➤ This Tulum Local Walking Food Tour lasts 3 hours, and it takes you away from the tourist area to visit local restaurants and food stalls. Sample your way through town with bites of tacos, tamales, mole, desserts, and juices. Vegetarian options are available. BOOK IT HERE

Kayak in Tulum

Kayaking might not be as popular as snorkeling, but it’s an incredibly fun activity to enjoy in Tulum.

There are many opportunities to go paddling, from trips to nearby destinations like Sian Kaan and Xenotes to tours that combine kayaking with visits to Mayan ruins or cenotes.

➤ Check out this Coba Ruins, Punta Laguna Nature Reserve, Cenote and Mayan Family. Start the day with a trip to Coba Ruins. Then, head to a Nature Reserve with a stunning lagoon to go kayaking, zipline in the jungle, and visit a Mayan family for lunch. BOOK IT HERE

I’ve written a post about the best kayak tours in Tulum. You can read it for more inspo!

Spend the Day at Xcaret Park

Xcaret is another popular adventure park in the Riviera Maya, located 36 miles (58 km) north of Tulum. This incredibly vast attraction has an aquatic park, a theme park, and an archaeological site, all rolled into one.

Ziplining, snorkeling, ATVing, river rafting, and tubing are a few of the 50 (!) activities on offer at Xcaret Park. And to top it all off, every evening it features one of the most astounding shows in the region, called Mexico Espectacular.

Make sure to visit early when you do, because you’ll be spending there all day!

➤ The Xcaret Plus Admission grants you access to the park and its 50 attractions, as well as free parking, use of the facilities, and all equipment. You’ll get to refuel with a buffet lunch with a beer and soft drinks. BOOK IT HERE

ATV and Jungle Tours in Tulum

The Mayan Jungle is the perfect setting for thrilling activities. It’s no coincidence there are so many adventure parks in the region!

But if you don’t have the time – or simply don’t feel like – spending your day in one of them, you can embark on a jungle tour for a few hours.

➤ The Riviera Maya Jungle Half-Day Tour: ATV, Ziplines, Cenote Swim, Rappel is a 4-hour trip. Get your adrenaline pumping as you go off-roading, soar above the treetops, and rappel into a cenote. Cap off the day with a Temazcal ceremony. BOOK IT HERE

➤ Check out the Selva Maya Eco Adventure Park: Ziplining, Hanging Bridges, Rappelling and Cenote. It’s an action-packed experience that will have you soaring in the canopy, snorkeling in freshwater sinkholes, driving on jungle roads, and cliff jumping. Refuel with a tasty lunch at the end! BOOK IT HERE

I’ve written an extensive post about the very best Tulum ATV tours that you can look into.

Swim in an Underground River at Rio Secreto

Rio Secreto is an impressive underground river and cave system that’s well worth the visit. Also known as the crystal museum for the staggering amount of stalagmites and stalactites it features, it’s a mesmerizing natural attraction.

Rio Secreto held great importance for the Mayan people, who performed rituals at the site. You’ll get to know all about it when visiting the river.

➤ The Rio Secreto Plus Admission Ticket with Transportation from Riviera Maya Hotels takes you hiking, biking, and swimming at the attraction. Learn about its geology, and enjoy a magnificent light and sound show inside a cave. A buffet lunch and snorkel gear are included. BOOK IT HERE

WHERE TO STAY IN TULUM

Here are a few options of hotels and holiday rentals in Tulum Town (aka Tulum Pueblo). Book your accommodation by using the map below. Change the location to Tulum Beach if you prefer to stay by the beach in the Tulum hotel zone.

OUR PICK: Wakax Hacienda – Nestled in a 160-hectare estate and boasting colonial-style buildings with rooms that match the natural surroundings, this luxurious accommodation offers an escape from civilized life. It has a full-service wellness center, a restaurant, bars, a private cenote, and plenty of jungle adventures.

LUXURYLa Valise Tulum – This luxury Tulum beach hotel is nestled between the Caribbean Sea and the Yucatan jungle. It features a heated infinity pool, beachfront beds, and spa services. The jungle bungalows offer open-air showers, and guests enjoy daily breakfast in the room.

BOUTIQUE HOTEL: Zamas Hotel – This hotel in Tulum hotel zone features a swimming pool, a private beach area for guests, and colorful thatched cabins. It also offers pre-booked massages and breakfast, and it’s pet-friendly. All rooms have balconies overlooking the sea, hammocks, and private bathrooms.

ON A BUDGET: Che Tulum Hostel & Bar – This hostel, located in Tulum Town, has an outdoor swimming pool and a fully equipped kitchen. It hosts parties and offers group excursions, plus there’s a 24-hour front desk, a bar, and a restaurant.

HOW TO GET AROUND TULUM

Getting around Tulum is pretty easy, there’s a variety of transportation options available. First of all, you can easily walk around Tulum Town and the beach area.

However, if you have to move from the beach to the town or viceversa, you’ll need some sort of transportation. Same thing if you’re planning to visit some cenotes near Tulum or you’re planning to go on a few day trips.

➤ Traveling by taxi is the easiest option. Ask your hotel to call a taxi for you, or flag one on the road. Most drivers will refuse to use the meter, so make sure you agree on a fair price before you get in the car.

You can ask your hotel receptionist what’s the fair rate for where you’re going.

➤ Another option is the colectivos (shared vans), the cheapest way that you can choose for getting around in Tulum.

Now, there are colectivos from the beach to the town that would be a lot cheaper than taxis, but apparently they are reserved for locals. I don’t know if there’s an agreement with taxi drivers or what is going on, but I was never able to get on one.

However, you can get on a colectivo from Tulum Pueblo to go to the cenotes that are located on the side of the highway or the road to Coba. I have many articles about specific cenotes with detailed instructions on how to get there, so I suggest you read them for more info.

You can also use colectivos to get to Playa del Carmen, Cancun, Xcaret, and more attractions.

➤ You can choose to rent a bike for the day. There are rental places both in Tulum Pueblo and Tulum Beach, and the ongoing rate at the time of writing is about 80 pesos per day.

Keep in mind that the sun is strong, so avoid biking at midday, and always bring sunscreen, a hat, and a bottle of water with you. Avoid driving on very trafficked roads, it’s safer and more enjoyable to stick to side streets.

➤ Another option is to rent a car. Driving in the Yucatan Peninsula and Quintana Roo is pretty easy, and the roads are usually fine.

Renting a car will give you a lot more flexibility when it comes to going on day trips, but I do not recommend renting a car if you’re mostly planning to stay in Tulum.

Parking is very difficult and expensive in Tulum Beach, so taking a taxi is a better idea. However, if you’re not a beach bum and you’re planning to visit other places in the Riviera Maya, renting a car is the way to go.

I usually use Discover Cars to book a car online so I don’t get any surprises when I get there. This search engine compares all the major rental car companies, ensuring I get the best deal. COMPARE PRICES HERE

Discover Cars is a booking service offering a wide range of rental options from various car rental agencies in Tulum. It makes it easier to find a rental car that suits your needs and budget.

I particularly like their cancelation policy, which allows you to cancel your booking for free up to 48 hours before the pickup time – a much more generous cancelation policy than other platforms. However, it’s always important to read the specific terms and conditions of your rental agreement, as policies can vary based on the rental company and the rate you choose.

TULUM TRAVEL TIPS

Safety in Tulum

Despite the surge in drug-related violence and crimes in other parts of Mexico, Tulum remains a safe destination. In any case, all the usual safety precautions apply, like any other destination in the world, especially if you are a solo traveler.

You should avoid walking around in Tulum at night, especially if you’re alone. While you’ll be perfectly safe during the day, you’re better off not taking risks after nightfall. If you are out late, take a taxi to get back to your hotel, and don’t get intoxicated unless you are with a group of trusted people.

Always lock the doors to your hotel or apartment when staying in Tulum.

Don’t drink tap water in Tulum… unless you want diarrhea. Only drink bottled water, and make sure they open the bottle in front of your eyes. Also, say no to ice as an extra precaution, unless you are at a resort or higher-end restaurant.

What’s the Best Time to Visit Tulum, Mexico?

The best time to go to Tulum is between late November and April. During this time of year, the hurricane season is over and you can expect the perfect weather (warm, but not too hot).

However, this also means a heavy influx of tourists in Tulum, so it will be the most crowded and expensive time of the year to plan a trip to Tulum.

June, September, and October are the rainiest months. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t visit at this time, though. Most of the time there are tropical storms that last a couple of hours in the afternoon, followed by clear skies.

Prices are lower this time of the year, and you should also consider that September and October are considered hurricane season.

Finally, expect very high temperatures if you visit between May and August. It can be uncomfortable, but at this time you can find better deals and it’s the best season to go swimming with whale sharks.

How Many Days Should You Spend in Tulum?

It will vary on how much time you have to spend in Mexico and your budget. You could spend a month here and travel all around the Yucatan Peninsula – there is so much to see.

In general, though, 3 days will be enough for you to explore Tulum and go on a day trip if later you’re planning to base yourself a few extra days in Riviera Maya, Playa del Carmen, or Cancun.

If you are planning to make Tulum your main base, then I recommend spending 5 to 7 days in Tulum. This will give you enough time to visit the beaches, cenotes, and ruins, and all the other things to see in Tulum.

 THINGS TO DO IN TULUM FAQs

Is Tulum, Mexico still worth visiting?

Tulum is worth visiting if you can spend a few days there and are planning to visit its attractions, from the Mayan ruins to the cenotes and gorgeous beaches. You’ll get to enjoy Tulum’s laid-back lifestyle and weekend parties, and eat delicious food at all the cute cafés and restaurants!

Is it safe to walk around Tulum at night?

Tulum is a generally safe destination during the day, but you should avoid walking around at night, especially if you’re alone! It’s not safe nor worth the risk, and if you need to get anywhere after dark, I highly recommend taking a taxi.

Is Tulum Mexico expensive?

While Tulum, being one of the most sought-after destinations in the Yucatan Peninsula, is not the cheapest town in Mexico, it’s still pretty affordable especially if you’re traveling on a budget and choose accommodation in town and skip the high-end restaurants.

Is Tulum better than Cancun?

Tulum and Cancun are very different destinations, and it all comes down to your interests. If you’re looking to go on countless activities and enjoy the nightlife, or you’re traveling with children, Cancun is a better option, and it’s also more affordable than Tulum. On the other hand, Tulum is the perfect destination for a laid-back, chill vacation, gorgeous beaches, and closeness to the ancient Mayan city, cenotes, and other natural attractions in the Riviera Maya.

How many days should I spend in Tulum?

A minimum of 3 days is necessary to really experience Tulum, visit all its attractions, and have time to relax at the beach or snorkel in the nearby cenotes. If you can stay more than that, even better!

This post contains affiliate links, which means if you book something through one of my links I might get a commission, at absolutely no extra cost to you

READ MORE

Mexico is one of my favorite countries, and I published tons of other Mexico posts that might be useful to plan your trip to Mexico. Start from these ones:

A Guide to The Top Things To do in Cancun
Isla Holbox, Mexico: A Complete Guide to This Paradise Island
The Perfect 3 Days in Mexico City Itinerary
The Ultimate Yucatan Road Trip Itinerary
13 Unmissable Places To Visit in Chiapas

I hope this Tulum travel guide was useful to plan your trip. Do you have other suggestions for cool things to do in Tulum that I missed? Let me know in the comments!

  • Stefania Guglielmi

    Stefania Guglielmi is the founder of Every Steph. Originally from Bologna, Italy, she's been traveling full-time since 2016 and has visited over 50 countries across 6 continents. She believes sustainable travel and luxury travel can go hand in hand and has been advocating for responsible tourism since 2014. Stefania's advice and travel experiences have been featured in important publications such as Business Insider, Refinery29, and Yahoo Money.

Becky

Tuesday 11th of May 2021

Hi there! How did you get around? Curious if you have any recommendations for private drivers who can take a group of 8 girls to 1-2 cenotes and Tulum town. Thank you!

Steph

Wednesday 12th of May 2021

Hi Becky! I went around with my friend's friend who had a car, so I was lucky. You have multiple option: if you want to hire a driver for a full day, you can either ask your hotel or negotiate directly with a taxi driver (although this last option might be the cheapest, it's also not the safest). There's also this company that I know personally that provides this service, it's not cheap but I know for a fact they are reliable and safe: https://www.cancunairporttransportations.com/cancun-tours/open-service-riviera-maya-6?idaff=1303 Going through your hotel might be cheaper, it's worth asking, but I know for a fact that prices in Tulum have gone crazy high in the last couple of years, so I wouldn't be 100% sure.

Otherwise, if you just want to go to a few places on separate days, taking a taxi will be much cheaper. It depends on your itinerary and how much you are willing to spend.

Ashley

Wednesday 14th of April 2021

Thanks for the guide! Looking forward to making a trip.