Last Updated on February 22, 2023 by Nellie Huang
Spearmint water, lush jungles, ancient Mayan ruins: Tulum is the stuff of dreams. We’ve rounded up the best things to do in Tulum for the ultimate escape.
Once a sleepy coastal town, Tulum has been transformed into a charming hippie haven loved by yogis, honeymooners and boutique hotel lovers. While the town is undergoing vast development, Tulum Beach still retains a wild, jungly setting. This is where the jungle meets the Caribbean Sea.
But there’s more to Tulum than the beach – here you’ll also find cenotes (sinkholes filled with crystal clear waters), secluded lagoons, turtle reserves, and fascinating Mayan ruins that have been tumbled and shaped by time. Nearby wilderness areas like the Sian Ka’an Reserve beckon nature lovers and more adventurous souls.
For such a small town, Tulum sure packs a punch. I live just 1 hour away from Tulum and have explored this part of the Riviera Maya countless of times. Here’s a super detailed list of 30 cool things to do in Tulum, ranging from outdoorsy activities to spiritual experiences. Read my detailed Tulum travel guide for a deeper dive!
Table of Contents
- Things to Do in Tulum Beach
- 1. Explore the Archaeological Zone Tulum
- 2. Visit Mystika Tulum
- 3. Hit the Beach
- 4. Swim in Cenotes
- 5. Wander around SFER IK Art Museum
- 6. Have a Sundowner in a Nest at Kin Toh
- 7. Admire the Ahau Sculpture Park
- Practical Resources for Tulum Travel
- 8. Stop for a Snap at the Tulum Swing
- 9. Have a Drink at the Tulum Craft Beer Brewery
- 10. Visit Escobar’s Beach House
- Things to Do in Tulum Town
- Things to Do in Tulum at Night
- Things to Do Around Tulum
- 21. Visit the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve
- 22 . Explore the Muyil Ruins
- 23. Visit the Protected Turtle Reserve at Xcacel
- 24. Swim with Turtles in Akumal
- 25. Snorkel in the Unique Yal-Ku Lagoon
- 26. Visit the Akumal Ecology Center
- 27. Get Wet and Wild in Xel-Ha Park
- 28. Explore the Coba Ruins
- 29. Wander the Colonial Town of Valladolid
- 30. Swim in the Laguna Bacalar
- Tulum Travel Guide
Things to Do in Tulum Beach
1. Explore the Archaeological Zone Tulum
The the Tulum Archaeological Zone is often the main reason that brings travelers to the Riviera Maya. This ancient site may not be as impressive as those of other Maya ruins, but it has the rare advantage of a waterfront location. It sits high above the turquoise Caribbean Sea, with different shades of blue as its backdrop.
Thanks to its strategic location, Tulum proved to be one of the most powerful city-states during the 13th and 14th centuries. However, shortly after the Spaniards began their occupation of Mexico, the ancient Mayas who once called this majestic site their home abandoned it.
💡 Entry: 85 MXN (US$4.25); Gates open at 8 AM, but the lines can be long so I recommend arriving an hour earlier. You can also join a guided tour.
2. Visit Mystika Tulum
Right by the Tulum ruins is the new museum, Mystika Tulum. It’s a one-of-a-kind sensory experience, designed to take you on a journey through large-format photographs and multi-sensory installations. This spectacular venue has behind the brilliant mind of its founder Pepe Soho, one of the most recognized Mexican photographers. The place is small and the entrance fee is higher than local museums, but those traveling with kids would love it.
💸 Entry: 450 MXN (US$22.5) for adults, 270 MXN ($13.5) for kids under 12. Mon-Sun 9am-6pm
3. Hit the Beach
I live in Mexico and can safely say that Tulum beaches are some of the best in the Riviera Maya. Beaches in Tulum are gloriously wide, with powdery fine sand and spearmint turquoise water (and even pretty big waves sometimes). They’re not usually overcrowded like in Playa del Carmen or taken up by massive all-inclusive resorts like in Cancun.
The most popular stretch of beach in Tulum is Playa Paraiso, a hot favorite among locals and visitors alike. It’s situated next to the Tulum ruins, so you can easily combine a day at the beach with a visit to the ancient site. But get there early, as it can get pretty packed by mid day!
According to Mexican law, all beaches in Mexico are public; but many of beach hotels in Tulum charge exorbitant fees to use their lounge chairs. Most beach clubs require a min consumption of US$25-50 per person on food/drinks. It’s ridiculous how overpriced Tulum beach has become, so I suggest bringing your own mat and snacks and heading to one of these free public beaches instead.
Best Free Beaches in Tulum
- Playa Paraiso — clear water, powder sand, palm trees, and simple beach bars.
- Playa Pescadores — a fisherman’s favorite with awesome views of the Tulum Ruins.
- Playa Las Palmas — an exceptionally quiet beach with no restaurants or vendors.
- Santa Fe Beach — public beach north of Playa Paraiso.
- La Zebra Beach Club — our favorite beach club; entry is US$30 per person but it’s a family-friendly place and food is always good!
*Playa Ruinas (pictured above) is located right beneath the Tulum ruins, but the stairways to the beach have been closed off since COVID19 and have yet to reopen.
Trouble in Paradise: Tulum's Sargasso Problem
Since 2011, masses of sargassum seaweed have washed up on the Caribbean coastlines. Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula has been particularly affected by the ecological problems. Scientists chalk it up to increased runoff of agricultural inputs and sewage from the Amazon River in Brazil as well as warming water temperatures. In Mexico, sargassum seaweed season is generally between May and October each year, but it's often unpredictable. Hotels try to clean it up from the beaches, but sometimes it's so much that their efforts are futile. The seaweed is harmless, but it can start to rot and give off a foul smell. If you're concern about the sargassum affecting your trip, check this sargasso daily update.
4. Swim in Cenotes
When a deadly asteroid slammed into the sea floor off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula 66 million years ago, it created over 6,000 fresh water sinkholes and caves called cenotes. The ancient Mayans used these groundwater pools as sacred wells and performed offerings and spiritual rituals here. Today, these cenotes are open to the public for exploring, swimming, and scuba diving.
The most popular cenote in Tulum (also my favorite) is the Gran Cenote, a gorgeous sinkhole filled with clear turquoise-colored waters, partly open to the sky and partly under a cave. But what makes this cenote stand out from the rest is what lies beneath: you can literally snorkel amidst stalagmites and stalactites that run for miles underwater. Entry is 500 MXN (US$25) and includes use of snorkeling gear and life vest.
We have our own car here, so we usually visit several cenotes in one day. It’s affordable and relatively easy to drive in Tulum, plus you won’t need an international license to drive here. Search for car rentals here! But if you don’t intend to drive, I recommend booking a day tour so to make the most of your time.
Best Cenotes in Tulum
- Gran Cenote — the most popular cenote in Tulum; Entry: 500 MXN (US$25)
- Cenote Calavera — great for cliff jumping; Entry: 250 MXN (US$12.5)
- Dos Ojos Cenote – great snorkeling and scuba diving; Entry: 350 MXN (US$17.5)
- Cenote Carwash – open-air cenote once used for washing cars; Entry: 200 MXN (US$10)
- Cenote Yax-Kin – uncrowded cenote great for kids; Entry: 150 MXN (US$7.5)
5. Wander around SFER IK Art Museum
Tulum’s bohemian vibes have long drawn in a multitude of artists and designers, many of whom have set up shop here. SFER IK contemporary art museum, part of the AZULIK hotel, is truly one of its kind. Constructed mainly from bejuco wood with traditional Maya artisan techniques, this building was designed specifically to blend in to the backdrop of the Tulum jungle.
Wander barefoot through the weaving corridor and bridges made of knotted vine-like wood and take in the permanent art collection created by world-renowned artists such as Ernesto Neto and Artur Lescher. There are also sacred Mayan plants and traditional masks on display. Entry: 200 MXN or US$10 (be sure to remove shoes at the entrance).
💡 They’ve recently opened up a new SFER IK in the village of Francisco Uh May, 45 minutes from Tulum Beach. The venue is said to be bigger and more innovative than ever.
6. Have a Sundowner in a Nest at Kin Toh
Arguably the best spot for sunset in Tulum is at the legendary Kin Toh, AZULIK’s in-house restaurant made famous by their photogenic jungle views, large lounging net and treetop nest tables. Perched above the jungle canopy along the beach, these nests reveal unbelievable views of both the beach and jungle. [Check out AZULIK here.]
The food of course is the star of the show. Kin Toh is helmed by Michelin-starred chef Jaime Coll, who specializes in Mayan-Mexican avant garde cuisine using local and organic ingredients. You can go for the 5-course tasting menu (about $135 per person); but if the menu is out of your budget, opt for the Sunset Experience at US$50 per person which includes one drink.
7. Admire the Ahau Sculpture Park
Only opened in October 2021, the Ahau Tulum Sculpture Park was recently built to give a better home to the hugely popular Ven a la Luz sculpture. The 10m-tall giant wooden sculpture, depicting a woman, was first created by the South African artist Daniel Popper in 2018 as part of a festival. Today, it’s become an icon of Tulum and has definitely gained Insta-fame.
Previously, visitors had to line up for hours to take a photo here; so it was moved to its current location in the Ahau Tulum Sculpture Park. Ven a la Luz is the centerpiece in this sculpture garden, but more art installations are slowly being added. They are all made with wood and other natural materials, representing human’s delicate relationship with nature. The park is actually on the beach at the Ahau Tulum Resort.
💸 Entry: 60 MXN (US$3); Open daily 9am-6pm.
Practical Resources for Tulum Travel
✈️ Book affordable flights to Cancun on Skyscanner for $100+
🛏️ Read our guide on the best places to stay in Tulum
🚗 Rent a car from Cancun to Tulum on Discover Cars
🚌 Reserve bus tickets from Cancun to Tulum on Bookaway for the best rates
📷 Book your day tours from Tulum on Viator or GetYourGuide
🏥 Insure your Tulum trip with Safety Wing, a global travel insurance company.
📱 Get an eSIM on Airalo to get cheap internet data
🧳 Pack a quick dry towel, dry bag, and waterproof phone holder
8. Stop for a Snap at the Tulum Swing
Living up to its name as a hip and chic destination, Tulum has no shortage of Instagram-worthy spots. One of the most prominent spots is the big Tulum sign along the Federal Highway. It’s a gorgeous shade of indigo blue, with a hammock on the letter “U” that you can actually swing in.
It’s so conspicuous you’ll see it on your drive to Tulum from Cancun Airport. In case you don’t spot it, it’s located right in front of the Tulum Cerveceria Artesanal, just 10 minutes from Tulum Beach. Click for its Google Maps location.
9. Have a Drink at the Tulum Craft Beer Brewery
While you’re at the Tulum swing, make sure to have a drink at the Tulum Craft Beer Brewery. This is where the Tulum craft beer is made, and you’ll not only get to taste it but also see the entire process from its gorgeous restaurant/bar.
They pride themselves in brewing beer (and cooking) with sea water and organic, chemical-free ingredients. When we visited, the bartender was very generous and let us taste all of their beers so we could decide which one we liked before ordering.
10. Visit Escobar’s Beach House
Do you like art as much as you like a good story? This will be right up your alley. Pablo Escobar’s old mansion in the Tulum beach has been turned into an art hotel called Casa Malca by collector Lio Malca.
The house is full of Leo’s contemporary pieces as well vintage furniture. It’s lavish as it is eccentric, and definitely makes for a unique experience. Just remember that if you’re not a guest at the hotel, there is a 1000 MXN (US$50 USD) minimum consumption on drinks and food.
Things to Do in Tulum Town
Tulum is split into two main areas: Tulum Beach and Tulum Pueblo (town); and it takes approximately 10 minutes to get from one area to the other. There are two main roads that link the beach and town – Avenida Coba and Avenida Kukulcan – both of which you can easily navigate on bicycle or car.
While Tulum Beach has become overpriced (with pretentious vibes), Tulum Pueblo has largely remained local with taquerias and artisan shops lining the main avenue. The town might not be the most attractive place, but it is definitely much more budget-friendly than the beach. For those who want to keep it real, I definitely recommend spending some time in Tulum town.
11. Rent a Bicycle
Tulum is big on bikes, and they’re cheap to hire in town or from your resort. It’s the best way to move around if you’re staying on the beach, as the dusty beach road often gets clogged with traffic. You can rent one of the ubiquitous turquoise bikes for just 150 MXN (US$7) per day from Ola Bike on Avenida Coba.
If you’re not sure about safety and prefer doing it with a guide, this bike tour takes you through quiet roads, hidden paths and through the pueblo to a variety of natural, cultural, historic and culinary attractions that Tulum has to offer.
12. Eat Street Food in Tulum Town
Tulum town itself doesn’t have any particular attractions, but it’s great for strolling around and stopping for street tacos and cheap local food. The restaurants here are much more affordable than near the beach and offer more authentic options too.
Here are some places we love:
- Avenida Satelite – In the evening, you’ll find the street lined with food carts selling tacos, marquesitas (crepe) and burritos at the best prices!
- Antojitos la Chiapaneca – This popular joint is a local’s favorite, and is known to have the best tacos in town! It’s located along the highway, Avenida Tulum.
- Burrito Amor – A personal favorite, this hip yet casual spot serves up the best burritos I’ve ever had and deliciously spicy sauces made in-house.
- La Hoja Verde – If you’re a vegetarian, I highly recommend this place for cheap vegan options.
- Restaurante Estrada – Best spot for affordable seafood; the grilled octopus is a must-try!
13. Enjoy Acai Bowls at Raw Love Cafe
Tulum has this holistic, wellness vibes that attract many health freaks and hippies. There are plenty of raw food cafes and breakfast bars in Tulum that serve up delicious acai bowls, smoothies, and vegan food.
One of the most well-loved joints in Tulum is Raw Love Cafe, known for their gorgeous smoothie bowls that not only look good but also taste good. Their vegan chocolate cakes are the best cakes I’ve ever had! Another place we really like is Matcha Mama, a photogenic spot with Matcha-based smoothies, kombuchas, and juices. They’ve got these swings that make for great shots! [Both have branches at Tulum Beach and in town.]
14. Chill at Kaan Luum Lagoon
Just a 15-minute drive from Tulum pueblo is one of the best kept secrets of Tulum. Kaan Luum is a stunning circular lagoon with shimmering waters that alternate between baby blue and dark indigo. This little-known spot has shallow swimming areas (great for those traveling with kids!), sparkling clean waters and mud that’s known to have healing powers.
Come before 12pm – mid day seems to be the time when locals pour in – and you’ll have the place to yourself! Swing on the rainbow-colored hammocks and climb the lookout tower to get a picture-perfect view from above – it’s a slice of Tulum that you’ll want to keep to yourself.
💸 Entry: 300 MXN (US$15), 100 MXN ($5) for kids under 12, and extra 100 MXN (US$5) for drones.
15. Visit a Mayan Village
Not many people know that Tulum actually lies in the heart of the Zona Maya. There’s a substantial Mayan population in Tulum, and many of them still speak their native tongue.
Consider a full-day Maya village tour to visit local communities who will share their customs and lifestyle with you. It will certainly give you a peek into the past and a greater understanding of the local people.
16. Sign up for a Mayan Cooking Class
And if you’re interested in delving deeper, take a crash course in Maya ancestral cuisine. When you book a cooking class with a local Maya family, you’ll get to know them, take a peek into their lives, and learn about Maya ingredients and traditional dishes.
My friend did this Airbnb experience and absolutely loved getting to learn all about Mayan ingredients (such as achiote spice) and making staples like tamales from scratch. She got to visit a local market with the Mayan family and also got to talk to them and learn more about the Mayan identity.
17. Experience a Temazcal Ceremony
Tulum is a great place to try the Temazcal, an ancient Mayan ceremony that involves cleansing negative energy from your body. Temazcal translates to ‘house of heat’. The ceremony is conducted in a hut where volcanic rocks are heated until the hut replicates a sauna.
You sit back surrounded by aromatic herbs, medicinal plants, and candles, and soak in the varying heat levels. It’s a spiritual and physical purification process traditionally performed by shamans. Book this authentic Temazcal session in Tulum.
Things to Do in Tulum at Night
18. Join a Mezcal Tasting Dinner Party
One of the coolest things to do in Tulum at night is to go mezcal tasting. (Mezcal is a distilled alcoholic beverage made from agave, similar to tequila but it’s got a smoky taste that I love.) Airbnb has this interesting mezcal tasting dinner party experience that you can book and enjoy in a private jungle home in Tulum. It includes a 3-course dinner cooked on the fire paired with tastings of five artisanal mezcals.
For a simpler (and cheaper) alternative, check out this mezcal experience hosted by one of Mexico’s all-star craft cocktail experts. You’ll learn the basics of mixology, including some useful principles of making agave-based cocktails. Then, you’ll get hands on and creative with the ingredients, making your own mezcal cocktail following a suggested recipe.
19. Party on the Beach at Papaya Playa Project
Papaya Playa Project is one of best places in Tulum to chill out and dance the night away on the beach. The beach club features famous DJs and great music – and it stays open until 3-4 AM. Once a month is the legendary full moon party, which is the biggest of its kind in Tulum.
Gitano is another sexy spot for mezcal cocktails under the stars. Set under a thatched canopy in a stylish jungle-like venue, Gitano attracts a more laidback and mature crowd.
20. Join the Social Pub Crawl
If you’re looking to enjoy Tulum’s nightlife (safely) and meet new people, book a spot in the Social Pub Crawl Tulum. You’ll get to mingle with other travelers, get free drinks and entry to clubs. If you’re a solo traveler, please don’t go out on your own and get drunk. This is a safer option.
Things to Do Around Tulum
21. Visit the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve
About a 20 minute’s drive away, the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve is a vast wilderness area that lies at the edge of Tulum. In the language of the Mayan people, Sian Ka’an means ‘Origin of the Sky’. The 1.3 million-acre UNESCO World Heritage Site is made up of a wide array of ecosystems, ranging from tropical forests to mangroves and marshes. It’s a highly protected area and there’s a limit to the number of visitors each day.
For those who love nature, this is one of the best day trip from Tulum. The easiest way to visit the Sian Ka’an Biosphere is on a boat trip through its ancient canals dug out by the Mayans centuries ago. First, you’ll need to get to Muyil ruins, then walk the trail behind El Castillo to get to the dock. A 2-hour boat tour with a Mayan local costs a fixed price of 1,000 MXN (US$50) per person.
The speed boat will whisk you through two lagoons before dropping you in one of the ancient canals. It’s a glorious and relaxing 40-minute drift along crystal clear waters to your next pickup point. While drifting down canals, try to spot giant land crabs and manatees, and listen out for howler monkeys. As you walk along the boardwalk back to the boat, keep a lookout for jaguars in the savannas!
22 . Explore the Muyil Ruins
In order to get to Sian Ka’an, you actually need to pass through the Muyil Ruins. The archaeological site itself is not big, but it is much less visited than other Mayan ruins and you’ll have the place to yourself.
Muyil was actually one of the earliest and longest inhabited ancient Maya ruins in the Yucatan Peninsula; it was inhabited as early as 300 BC-250BC and up to about 1550AD. The largest intact structure is called the Castillo (or castle), and it is behind this pyramid where you’ll find the trail to the Sian Ka’an dock.
💸 Entry: 65 MXN (US$3.25) per person, free for kids under 12; 50 MXN ($2.5) to walk the trail.
23. Visit the Protected Turtle Reserve at Xcacel
A 25-minute drive up the coast from Tulum is a very special spot: the Xcacel-Xcacelito sea turtle sanctuary. Every year, around 200,000 white and loggerhead turtle hatchlings are released here. Their annual nesting and spawning season runs from May to November, during which activities on the beach are restricted. Xcacel will publish a calendar of activities on its web page so you can learn about what’s happening.
This is a highly protected area, and as such, it’s one of the very few wild beaches left in the Riviera Maya. When you visit, please follow the rules in order to protect the turtles’ natural habitat.
💸 Entry: 81 MXN (US$4); 10am- 4pm (closed on Mondays).
Rules at the Xcacel Turtle Sanctuary:
- No alcohol, no smoking, and no food.
- Bring your beach mat or towel (there are no benches to hire).
- It’s not allowed to enter the trails with abundant vegetation.
- There are no garbage cans; you will have to take everything you bring with you.
- Use only biodegradable sunscreen or insect repellants that won’t damage the ecosystem.
24. Swim with Turtles in Akumal
Just 5 minutes further north of Xcacel is the quiet beach town of Akumal, where you can actually swim with turtles just off the beach. All year round, loggerhead and green sea turtles can be seen swimming and feeding in the bay. As it’s protected by the reef, Akumal Bay boasts calm waters and plenty of sea grass that keep the turtles coming.
Unfortunately, it’s no longer possible to go snorkeling on your own (trust me, we tried) at Akumal. It’s mandatory to join a snorkel tour to see the turtles and it costs around 500 MXN (US$25) per person. A guide will take you in small groups to snorkel off the beach and into the reserve (part of the sea that has been cordoned off). Sightings of turtles are almost always guaranteed.
25. Snorkel in the Unique Yal-Ku Lagoon
One of my favorite things to do in Tulum is snorkeling in the Yal-ku Lagoon, a unique inlet from the ocean, near Akumal. What makes it special is that it contains a mixture of fresh and salt water and is home to an impressive variety of marine life including sea turtles, tropical fish and manta rays. It’s the best snorkeling I’ve experienced along the Riviera Maya coast!
Most of the lagoon is 5 to 15 feet deep and there are rocks where you climb on and rest. Look out for starfish, parrot fish, blue tangs and queen trigger fish, among other Caribbean species. Surrounding the lagoon is a sculpture garden with bronze statues that you can explore.
💸 Entry: 270 MXN (US$13.5) per person and 200 MXN ($10) for kids; life vests are mandatory. 50% off if you book tickets 21 days in advance.
26. Visit the Akumal Ecology Center
To learn more about Akumal’s fragile ecosystem, plan a visit to Centro Ecologico Akumal. It is a non-governmental organization that focuses on sustainability issues and improving the ecosystem in Akumal. They do research, education and protection of the sea turtles.
The center has several exhibits on reef and turtle ecology. They offer a four-week volunteer program focused on protection, conservation, and research of female sea turtles, their nests and hatchlings.
27. Get Wet and Wild in Xel-Ha Park
A 12-minute drive from Akumal is Xel-Ha, an outdoor adventure park built to take advantage of the natural landscape. Translated from the Mayan language, Xel-Ha means “the mixture of the waters.” This natural park is excellent for families, but adults would love the adventure activities here too. Book your day trip to Xel-Ha.
Choose from snorkeling in Aventura Cenote, swimming in underwater grottos, kayaking across the Black Lagoon, or floating on a tube down a lazy river. The bold ones can try the Cliff of Courage where you jump 5 meters (17 feet) from a bridge into the river below.
28. Explore the Coba Ruins
Located a short 45-minute drive inland from Tulum is another set of impressive Mayan ruins: Coba archaeological zone. Being relatively unknown, this site receives far fewer tourists than Chichen Itza and has pyramids that can be climbed. Towering over the thick foliage, Nohoch Mul is the tallest pyramid in the entire state of Quintana Roo.
Only partially complete in its excavation, Coba remains a rugged structure that peaks above the emerald trees to reveal the true remoteness of its setting. Scientists believe that more than 90 percent of the Mayan ruins in the Yucatan remain hidden. Make sure you wear a good pair of shoes, as it’s a steep climb up (120 steps) to the top of the pyramid!
💸 Entry: 120 MXN (US$6) per person; bicycle rental is 40 MXN ($2) and tricycle rental is 120-190 MXN ($5-10) depending on route.
29. Wander the Colonial Town of Valladolid
If you’re heading to Coba, you might as well add on Valladolid to your day trip. At a 1.5-hour drive from Tulum (and 50 minutes from Coba), Valladolid is one of the most underrrated Tulum day trips. Despite being the closest town to Chichen Itza, Valladolid is surprisingly quiet and laidback, and it’s brimming with culture.
Listed as one of Mexico’s pueblo magico (magical towns), Valladolid is lined with cobblestoned streets, pastel colored houses and old colonial buildings converted into art galleries or indie boutiques. Start by strolling along the Calzada de los Frailes, the most photogenic street in Valladolid. Be sure to stop at Idilio Folklore Cervecero, a stylish restaurant that offers a small museum and beer tasting sessions.
Don’t be fooled by the small size of Valladolid. There are actually many things to do in Valladolid; I suggest staying for the night and exploring the cenotes and Mayan ruins nearby. Check out our Valladolid travel guide.
30. Swim in the Laguna Bacalar
Just a 2-hour drive from Tulum lies Bacalar Lagoon, a spectacular lake close to the border of Belize, with inviting spearmint water, stromatolite-rimmed shores, and overwater hammocks. Nicknamed Laguna de Siete Colores (lagoon of seven colors), the water alternates between light turquoise and dark indigo.
Rent a kayak or join a boat tour to see the 38-mile-long (60km) stretch of water, making stops at the Canal de los Piratas, a channel that used to be plundered by pirates, and Cenote Cristalino, fringed by ancient pancake-like rocks known as stromatolites. Read my complete guide to Bacalar Lagoon.
💡Speedboat tours leave every hour, and you can easily book them on the streets. If you prefer something more private, sail boat trips are more luxurious. During the high season, the pontoon tours and sailing trips are often sold out. Book them online here.
Tulum Travel Guide
How to Get to Tulum
Tulum doesn’t have an airport yet, but the new airport is currently under construction. It’s said to be completed in November 2023, along with the Maya Train. For now, Cancun airport is the closest airport to Tulum and it’s only a 1.5-hour hour drive away (or 73 miles/ 118 km away).
Flying into Cancun from the US is really affordable. You can fly from New York to Cancun for as little as $300 return (4.5-hour flight). Flights from Los Angeles to Cancun are slightly more expensive around US$350 return (4.5-hour flight).
Flying from Europe to Mexico is also affordable, especially from London and Madrid. We took a direct, one-way flight from Madrid to Cancun on Iberojet for just $350. You can get really cheap deals off season.
Mexico Travel Requirements
- Mexico has no travel restrictions, and there’s no need for proof of vaccine or PCR tests on the plane. Anyone is welcomed to travel to Mexico.
- However, I always recommend travelers to buy travel insurance, whether you’re traveling for a year or a week. These days, it is particularly important to have travel insurance that covers COVID-19. Read my travel insurance guide.
- Safety Wing is the most popular travel insurance company for COVID19-coverage. I use their Nomad Insurance plan, which covers COVID-19 as any other illness as long as it was not contracted before your coverage start date.
Cancun to Tulum Transportations
Tulum is just a 1.5-hour drive from Cancun airport; read our guide on how to get from Cancun Airport to Tulum. If you want to be free of the stress of getting a cab, I recommend booking a private transfer with Cancun Airport Transportations. They are reliable, responsive, and provide door-to-door service. If you’re traveling with family or a group of friends, you can easily split the cost: US$110 one-way.
Shared shuttle services to Tulum are a good option for solo travelers who don’t want to spend a lot yet seek a convenient service. You can pre-book your ride in a shared shuttle vehicle online for 740 MXN (US$37) per person one-way. Whenever I travel alone, I always book a seat in a shared shuttle with Cancun Shuttles. The vehicles are sanitized, comfortable, air-conditioned, and always clean.
Taking a bus is the cheapest option. Grupo ADO has regular departures from Cancun Airport to Tulum throughout the day. I’ve traveled in ADO buses many times and can safely say the bus company is top notch. Their buses are clean, safe, comfortable, and air-conditioned. Book your bus tickets here for 340 MXN (US$17) each way.
How to Get Around Tulum
Renting a bike is the best way to get around Tulum. But some of the best things to do in Tulum are further out, so I recommend renting a car. Traffic along the beach road can be bad at times, but having a car allows you to do day trips from Tulum.
It’s convenient, flexible, and relatively affordable; the average price ranges from 600-800 MXN (US$30-40) per day, including insurance and taxes. I always use DiscoverCars.com for car rentals worldwide, as they’ve consistently given me the cheaper rates and best services. Search for car rentals in Tulum here!
Budget travelers can also catch colectivos (shared minibus or minivan-like vehicles) to get around Tulum. The colectivo fares are cheap (less than US$1), and you just need to flag them down along when you see one. Be sure to have Mexican pesos in hand to pay the fare.
Best Time to Visit Tulum
The best time to visit the Yucatan Peninsula is during the dry season between December and April, when there is virtually no rain. Head to the Yucatan at the start of the season (November to early December) when prices are lower.
The wet season begins in the south in May and lasts until October. The Caribbean coast can be affected by the hurricane season, which runs from June to November. Try to avoid public holiday as surcharges are common around Christmas, New Year’s, and Easter.
The Yucatan Peninsula celebrates many cultural festivals, including Carnaval in February, Semana Santa (Easter) in April , and Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) in October. But it does get really crowded in Tulum during these festivals.
How Many Days in Tulum?
Tulum is not a big town, but there are so many things to do in Tulum that I recommend spending 5 days to a week here. You’ll need time to explore the various cenotes in Tulum, chill out on the beach, and visit the museums and photogenic cafes. Plus, its outskirts is dotted with a smattering of eco parks, Mayan ruins, and wilderness reserves that would appeal to adventure lovers.
I also recommend combining a visit to Tulum with Valladolid, Chichen Itza, and Merida for the ultimate immersion into Mayan culture. I’ve designed a special 10-day Yucatan road trip to combine all of them into one epic journey for those interested in exploring beyond the beaches.
Where to Stay in Tulum
Hotels in Tulum Beach are definitely much more expensive than those in Tulum Pueblo. Budget travelers should base themselves in Tulum Pueblo, which is brimming with backpackers hostels and local taquerias. Those seeking peace and tranquility will prefer staying in the newly developed areas of La Veleta and Aldea Zama. Check out my complete guide on where to stay in Tulum.
Budget: Che Tulum Hostel
Situated in the center of Tulum Town, this may be a budget choice, but it still offers an outdoor pool and fun hip vibe. There are both private and dorm rooms available, as well as lockers and free wi-fi. They also rent bikes, so you can easily cycle to the beach. Check the rates here.
Midrange: Coco Hacienda
Sitting on the edge of town, the Coco Hacienda is a great option for those who don’t want to pay the high prices on the beach, but still enjoy being surrounded by nature. As it is located a bit out of the center, the hotel has a large tropical garden filled with palms and banana fronds. It’s built in a rustic colonial style and has two tranquil swimming pools. Check the rates here.
Luxury: The Beach
As the name suggests, this gorgeous eco-boutique hotel sits right on the beach and offers a boho-chic vibe with a rustic charm. The luxurious thatched cottages offer private plunge pools and hammocks, while the communal areas feature several pools hidden amongst the jungle foliage. There are also free yoga classes each morning. Check the rates here.
Is Tulum Safe to Visit?
With recent happenings, safety is understandably a concern for many. In October 2021, two women were murdered in the crossfire when opposing gangs opened fire on a well-known sidewalk restaurant in Tulum. The recent spate of drug-related violence has continued in neighboring Playa del Carmen and Puerto Morelos.
It is important to know that these crimes are often targeted and involve drug cartels. Practice safety precautions, avoid crowded places, and steer clear of drugs and rave parties. Avoid walking alone at night and try to stay in a group. My family and I live near Tulum actually and we have always felt safe.
Is it Worth Visiting Tulum?
Tulum has become a hugely popular tourist destination for good reason: the jungle-meets-beach setting is unrivaled and the array of activities in the area just keeps people coming back for more.
I hope this list of things to do in Tulum has helped you plan out your Tulum trip. Let me know if you have any questions in the comment section below.
For those who are planning to travel more of Mexico, check out other articles I’ve written on Mexico:
- The Ultimate Tulum Travel Guide 2022
- 20 Best Day Trips from Tulum
- Where to Stay in Tulum 2022 Guide
- How to Get from Cancun to Tulum
- 30 Fun Things to Do in Cancun
- Things to Do on Isla Holbox
- Where to Stay in Holbox 2022 Guide
- 10-Day Yucatan Road Trip Itinerary
- 35 Fun Things to Do in the Yucatan Peninsula
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links i.e. if you book a stay through one of my links, I get a small commission at NO EXTRA COST to you. Thank you for your support!
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