Tulum is a stunning destination situated along Mexico’s Riviera Maya, just a 2-hour drive south from Cancun. It is a picturesque beach paradise with white sand, crystal clear water, and plenty of scuba diving opportunities. There are many cenotes and caves to explore for those seeking an adventure.
One of the best beach towns in Mexico, Tulum has become a major tourist destination in recent years, with people from all over the world flocking here to experience the beauty and culture of this small Mexican town.
With plenty of new hotels and attractions popping up, it’s easy to see why Tulum is quickly becoming one of the most desirable travel destinations. Tulum should be fully appreciated, which means exploring its best attractions – some of which are hidden.
If you’re planning a trip to Tulum, Mexico, you’ll have a wide variety of activities to choose from. From exploring the stunning beaches and Mayan ruins, to indulging in delicious Mexican food and nightlife, there’s something for everyone in Tulum. To make your stay even more memorable, here’s a list of the best things to do in Tulum:
How to get to Tulum?
The most convenient way to get to Tulum is to fly to Cancun Airport, which is located close by. From there, it should take about 2 hours by car or 2.5-3 hours by bus to arrive in Tulum.
In order to avoid getting ripped off by taxi drivers at Cancun Airport, it’s best to arrange for a private transfer from the airport to Tulum prior to your arrival. By booking your transport in advance, you can be sure that you will get to your destination safely and without having to worry about any shady business.
Travelling on the ADO bus is the most cost-effective way of getting around Mexico. Regular buses run from Cancun Airport to Tulum bus station in the centre of Tulum. Tickets can be bought on the ADO website here: https://www.ado.com.mx/ and cost roughly 365 MXN pesos ($20 USD).
If you want to make your journey in Mexico simpler, renting a car is a great way to get around. It’s a good idea to book your car in advance from either Tulum or Cancun in order to secure the best rates. You can rent them directly in the airport, or online through one of the many rental services. We recommend Rentalcars.com for the best deals and ease of use.
Best Things to do in Tulum
Explore the Tulum Ruins
The Tulum Ruins is a Unesco World Heritage Site, once home to the ancient Mayan city of Zamá. This archeological zone is a remnant of the bygone Maya culture, and is a reminder of the advanced civilization that existed centuries ago.
Between the 11th and 16th centuries, the ancient Maya populated the ancient seaside city, constructing various significant edifices such as El Castillo and the Temple of the Frescoes. This city was a bustling center of commerce and religious activity and served as an important hub for the Maya.
Perched atop a towering forty-foot cliff that overlook the Caribbean Sea, this Mayan site boasts breathtaking views of the ocean and is blanketed with lush palm trees and tropical vegetation.
If you want to visit the ruins of Tulum, you can simply bike there from the town (15 minutes) or take a taxi. The entrance fee is only $75 MXN pesos. Because it’s so close to the town, it’s one of the most popular things to do in Tulum.
Although there isn’t much signage with information, it’s best to book a tour guide to get the most out of your visit. There are a few great tours on Viator who offer a combined tours of Tulum Ruins and surrounding attractions.
Relax on the Beaches
Exploring the stunning sandy beaches is one of the best free things to do in Tulum. Many people are unaware that Tulum offers a variety of different shorelines. From the north all the way to the south, travelers can find picturesque strips of sand and crystal-clear waters to enjoy.
A stunning beach with palm trees and a view of the Mayan ruins of Tulum can be seen from Playa Ruinas, which can be accessed from the ruins.
Playa Paraiso is the most easily accessible beach, just south of Playa Ruinas and can be reached via bicycle or taxi from the main town. Experience the gorgeous white-sugar sand and warm sunshine of the Caribbean.
Located just south of Playa Paraíso, Las Palmas is a secluded public beach which offers visitors a peaceful and undisturbed experience. With no vendors or restaurants to be seen, this tranquil beach is the perfect spot to relax and enjoy some quality time with friends and family.
The southern beaches, or Zona Hotelera, are a great destination for those looking to stay in luxury resorts, visit beach clubs, and eat at trendy restaurants. Unfortunately, it can be hard to access this area unless you’re a guest at one of the hotels.
Exploring the beaches of the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve may be challenging, but those that are easily accessible, such as Playa Paraiso and Playa Las Palmas, are well worth the effort. Take the time to stay for at least a week to have the best experience.
Enjoy the Nightlife
Tulum’s nightlife is vibrant and full of energy. From beach clubs to hostels to private parties, the party scene here is incredibly diverse. A lot of people come to this beach town simply to party and go festivals, and it’s by far one of our favourite things to do in Tulum.
If you’re visiting the hotel zone, you’ll have the chance to experience some of the best beach clubs in the Yucatan Peninsula. These beach clubs often feature live musical performances in the evenings, although drinks tend to be more expensive than those found at regular bars in town.
If you’re in the town center and looking to connect with other travelers, one of the best places to do so is the rooftop bar at Straw Hat Hostel in Tulum. This spot is perfect for meeting other travelers and party at the same time. After that people tend to head to the beach clubs or Santino club in town.
The music scene in Tulum is usually electronic and there are famous DJs from around the world spinning tunes on the beach or in the jungle. If you’re looking for a wild night out, Tulum is the place to be.
Cool Off in a Cenote
Tulum, is home to some of the best cenotes in Mexico, if not the world! With over 6,000 cenotes in the region, many of them still undiscovered, there is plenty to explore in the area. If you’re looking to cool off and relax, then a visit to a cenote is definitely something you should add to your itinerary.
Most of the cenotes are just a 10 to 20 minute ride away, either by bicycle, colectivo or taxi, and ithey typically only cost arund 150-300 pesos. Whether you’re looking for a quiet spot to take a dip in crystal-clear water or go cave diving, you’re sure to find something special when you visit one of the many cenotes near Tulum.
The beaches in Tulum are stunning and a great place to relax, but many locals prefer the cooler and refreshing waters of the cenotes, and it’s one of their favourite things to do in Tulum. Taking a dip in one of these natural pools is an experience you won’t soon forget an
Discover the Coba Ruins
The Coba Ruins are the perfect alternative to Chichen Itza (which are more than 3 hours away), located near the town of Tulum and surrounded by lush jungle. There’s no need to battle the crowds here, and it’s one of the few pyramids in Mexico where you can actually climb all the way to the top!
Plus, you can rent a bike and explore the area on two wheels for only 45 pesos. A must-visit spot for adventurous travelers! Upon reaching the summit of the 120-step staircase, you will be rewarded with a breathtaking view of the lush jungle below. As one the tallest pyramid in the Yucatan Peninsula, it is an amazing sight to behold and one of the most rewarding things to do in Tulum.
If you don’t have a car of your own, you can still get to the Coba ruins from Tulum in three different ways. You can take the QROO 109 road, passing the popular Gran Cenote on your way. You can also take a public bus or hire a taxi to get you to the Coba ruins. Renting a car is also an option, allowing for an easy drive from Tulum town to the ruins.
Day Trip to the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve
Just half an hour south of Tulum, the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve is a must-visit destination. There is a myriad of activities you can do, from discovering ancient relics to snorkeling in the world’s second-biggest coral reef, the Meso-American Reef. You can explore secret beaches and even venture out to the isolated Punta Allen.
Sian Ka’an is an absolute must-see when visiting this part of Mexico and one of the best things to do in Tulum. This incredible location provides visitors with a unique experience, offering a wide range of activities and sights.
From spotting rare birds, to kayaking through the mangroves, to snorkeling in the Caribbean Sea, Sian Ka’an is the perfect place to explore and enjoy the beauty of the Mayan Riviera. We recommend one of the several tours here, to make the most of your time.
Stay in a Jungle Resort
If you’re in the mood for a luxurious getaway, then staying at one of the all-inclusive resorts available might be an option. You can simple relax and enjoy the sun, sea and sand in the comfort of your own private paradise.
Tulum has grown in popularity and is now known as one of the most luxurious seaside destinations in the Mexican Caribbean. You can enjoy a wide range of beach resorts that offer luxurious amenities and stunning views of the ocean. With its paradisiacal atmosphere, travelers from all over the world come to Tulum to experience its beauty and laid-back lifestyle.
While Tulum doesn’t offer as many all-inclusive resorts as Cancun, they are definitely unique in their own way, with Bali-esque vibes and unique Mayan-influenced architecture. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing getaway or a romantic escape, you can find a resort to suit your needs in Tulum.
Rent a Bed at a Beach Club
One of the most delightful things to do in Tulum is renting a day bed at one of the seaside clubs, sipping on a refreshing drink, listening to music by a DJ, and taking a break from your worries.
Despite the fact that many beach clubs here are expensive, there are options that fit any budget such as Ziggy’s and Playa Paraiso Beach Club. If you have the money to spend, you can head to the hotel zone and splurge at some of the more fancy beach clubs such as the infamous Taboo or La Zebra.
Take Pic at the Ahau Statue
The Ven A La Luz (Come Into the Light) statue is a beloved and renowned sight to behold in Tulum, Mexico. Located at the Ahau Resort, this monument is one of the most photographed places within the country, and its bright yet subtle lighting is a captivating feature that draws many visitors to the area.
As an iconic figure of Tulum, the Ven A La Luz statue is an unforgettable sight to behold, and it continues to entice people from all over the world. It could take up to an hour and 60 pesos to take a picture with the renowned sculpture depending on how busy it is.
Rent a Bike and Explore Tulum Town
Tulum Town, is located around 20 minutes from the beaches, away from the resorts and Tulum Hotel Zone. The area offers a unique cultural experience, with its charming cstreets, colorful buildings, and array of restaurants, bars, and boutiques.
For those looking to escape the touristy beach scene, Tulum town provides a great alternative. From its local artisans, to its lively markets and festivals, the town has something for everyone. Don’t miss out on a chance to explore this vibrant and unique part of Mexico.
Exploring by bike is the best way to get around town, to see all the great shops, restaurants, bars and cafes located along the main street in town. Renting a bicycle for the day costs between 100 and 200 MXN pesos, and we recommend using Ola Bikes, as they only require a 500 peso deposit, and the rental costs 150 pesos per day.
You can’t visit Mexico without at least trying the great tacos, and Tulum is no exception when it comes to delicious street food. With plenty of international restaurants around, it would be a shame to miss out on trying some of the delicious tacos Tulum has to offer. Make sure to try some tacos while you’re here – you won’t regret it!
The town center has some great taco places, but the absolute must-tries are Taqueria la Chiapaneca, Taqueria Honorio, and El Carboncito. The tacos al pastor at Taqueria la Chiapaneca are especially delicious and at avery good price.
The town also has several street food tacos, available well into the night for those late-night drunken cravings. No matter what you do, don’t miss out on the opportunity to eat tacos, one of the simplest and most enjoyable things to do in Tulum!
One of the few disadvantages of the wonderful beaches in Tulum is the occasional gusty winds that can make the beach atmosphere a bit challenging. But these same winds make Tulum the ideal place to practice kitesurfing.
If you’re looking for an exciting adventure activity, why not try learning to surf the waves of Tulum’s stunning south beach? Numerous operators offer lessons, so you can get a workout while having fun and enjoying the beautiful scenery.
Book a lesson with a certified instructor and spend a few hours flying through the water. During this lesson you’ll get the instruction you need to become a confident and safe kitesurfer.
Get Lost at a Music Festival
The music scene in the area is gaining notoriety as more renowned DJs are attending large festivals such as Zamna, which have become increasingly popular, especially since the pandemic.
Tulum is an ideal destination for travelers looking to experience music festivals with a beautiful backdrop. Whether it be on the beach or in the jungle, there is no shortage of music festivals to attend and it’s sure to be an unforgettable experience, and one of the most memorable things to do in Tulum.
Explore one of the nearby Adventure Parks
Perhaps one of the most fun things to do in Tulum and surrounding area is to hit up one of the many adventure parks.
On the stretch of road between Cancun and Tulum, tourists and locals alike can find a variety of interesting parks to explore. Popular parks in the area include Xel-Ha, Xcaret, Xplor, and Rio Secreto, which can be enjoyed from all ages.
The Yucatan Peninsula is a great destination for adventure seekers. ATVing, cenote exploring, zip-lining, hiking, caving, and snorkeling are just some of the activities available. Water parks also provide a great way to cool off in the warm climate. There’s something for everyone!
When visiting Tulum, consider booking a sailing tour. It’s an incredible way to explore the Caribbean Sea and view the stunning coral reefs, stingrays, and turtles. Recline in the sun or take a dip in the sea and capture photos of the extraordinary marine life.
The tours typically come with lunch and drinks included, so you can relax and sip cocktails while taking in the gorgeous scenery. Prices for these sailing trips start at around $100 USD and you can book them here.
Check out the Muyil Ruins
Yes, more Mayan ruins to check out, and if you haven’t figured it out by now, visiting ancient archeological sites is one of our favourite things to do in Tulum.
The ruins, situated on the edge of the Sian Ka’aan Biosphere Reserve, are simply breathtaking. Exploring the ruins of this ancient site is an awe-inspiring experience. Surrounded by lush jungle, the tall pyramids stood majestically, and the peace and quiet that filled the air was something that could not be found in the more popular tourist spots.
The entrance fee is also incredibly affordable, making it a great value for anyone looking for an enriching experience. If you’re pressed for time, combining a visit to Muyil with a trip to Sian Ka’aan Biosphere Reserve is an excellent choice, as it is in close proximity.
Clear Your Mind at a Yoga Retreat
Simply looking to relax and recharge is one of the most sought after things to do in Tulum. With its stunning beaches and laid-back atmosphere, it’s the perfect place to practice yoga, take part in a wellness retreat, and find your inner “Shanti” (peace).
If you’re seeking a creative outlet, make sure to visit one of the many yoga studios in the area to get your body moving and your mind at ease. Yoga classes offered in Tulum are unique and special, often taking place in stunning locations right by the ocean.
Many of these classes are held in villas made of bamboo, with a spa nearby to visit after your workout. It’s possible to sign up for a single class, or stay for an entire night or multi-day retreat.
Day Trip to Playa Del Carmen and Cozumel
If you’re vacationing in Tulum, why not take the opportunity to explore the beauty of the Caribbean coast by making a day trip to Playa del Carmen or even Isla Cozumel, the stunning Caribbean island?
Treat yourself to a beach getaway to one of the most beautiful tropical islands in Mexico! Soak up the sun on the white sand shoreline, explore the vibrant coral reefs while snorkeling or scuba diving, and top off the day with a refreshing cocktail in hand.
It is possible to visit Cozumel in a day trip from Tulum, with the journey taking two and a half hours each way. To do so, you can take the ADO bus or drive a rental car to Play del Carmen, before boarding a 40-minute ferry.
If you don’t have time for island hopping, you can also check out the popular Quinta Avenida in Playa Del Carmen and explore their amazing nightlife scene, one of the best in all of Latin America.
Immerse Yourself in a Temazcal Ceremony
A Temazcal ceremony offers a great opportunity to gain an understanding of the Mayan culture and lifestyle. This traditional sauna-like experience is overseen by a shaman and is a great way to relax and rejuvenate the body. It is a one of the most unique things to do in Tulum and is a must for anyone wanting to immerse themselves in the local culture.
There are several temazcal ceremony tours available to be booked for convenience, we recommend this one here which includes a private traditional Mayan healing and purification ceremony, and ends with a visit to a nearby cenote where you can dive in and cool off.
Where to Stay in Tulum
If you’re looking for budget accommodations, affordable hotels, jungle resorts, or luxury all-inclusive resorts – Tulum has you covered.
If you’re looking to save money while exploring the best things to do in Tulum, you’ll want to stay in hostel in the town center. We recommend Straw Hat Hostel if you’re looking for something super cheap and also a party atmosphere.
For more upscale luxury options in Tulum, you have almost unlimited options. Azulik is one of the best resorts in Mexico, with incredible Mayan-inspired architecture and a legendary jungle atmosphere and “Tulum vibes.” They also regularly host parties and events that you’ll be able to attend.
Azulik is a technology-free environment, with no televisions, phones, or electricity, creating a peaceful and relaxing atmosphere. The resort features a restaurant, spa, and wellness center, offering holistic treatments and experiences inspired by ancient Mayan traditions. The Azulik resort is popular among celebrities and high-end travelers looking for a luxurious and secluded getaway in Tulum.
Papaya Playa Project prides itself as a sustainable boutique hotel, boasting 900 meters of private beachfront, the complex of cabins and cottages offers spectacular views of the Caribbean Sea.
The cabins at Papaya Playa Project are designed with the environment in mind and feature high ceilings, a personal bathroom and plenty of natural light. Various cabins offer views of either the sea or the lush gardens.
Papaya Playa Project provides a unique experience of beachside entertainment to its guests. Every Saturday, international DJs are invited to the beach bar to perform their music and once a month, a full-moon party is held for an even more enjoyable atmosphere.
Along with the music, visitors can enjoy the spa that specializes in Mayan Shaman therapies or take advantage of the nearby beaches for fishing, water sports or simply relaxing.
Another impressive resort located on the beach is Ahau Tulum, where you’ll see the infamous Ven a La Luz Statue as mentioned earlier. Ahau prioritizes environmental sustainability and welcomes pets, while providing complimentary Wi-Fi access.
Guests can also enjoy yoga sessions, as well as opt for massage treatments available at an additional cost. The property utilizes both solar and wind panels for heating purposes, and incorporates a rain catch system to recycle water.
Things to do in Tulum Summary
As you can see, there are an endless amount of things to do in Tulum. From exploring ancient Mayan ruins and cooling off in one of the hundreds of cenotes, to indulging in the street food scene and soaking in the local culture, Tulum has something for everyone.
Some of the best things to do in Tulum include visiting the Tulum Ruins, relaxing at a beach club, exploring the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, and enjoying the vibrant nightlife of Tulum town. Whether you prefer a laid-back vacation or an action-packed adventure, Tulum is a destination that will leave you mesmerized by its natural beauty and rich history.
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