10 Best Things to do in Tulum, Mexico 10 Best Things to do in Tulum, Mexico

10 Best Things to do in Tulum, Mexico

Explore the beautiful boho-town of Tulum, perched at the edges of the Yucatan Peninsula’s jungles. It’s here where stunning turquoise waves of the Caribbean Sea meet powdery, white-sand beaches, making it the perfect tropical paradise to escape to. Steeped in rich Mayan history, it’s more than just a destination: it’s a place to recharge, soul-search, or party. From exploring ancient ruins atop the shore cliffs to diving into mystical cenotes and shopping in charming boutiques – here are all the best things to do in Tulum, Mexico.

Things to do in Tulum

Located only 2 hours south of busy Cancun, Tulum’s slower, laid-back vibes are a welcome change for those looking to relax. But no worries if you’re looking to party; there are also plenty of events across town.

Every moment here is a new adventure, whether spending a day on the beach, snapping cool pictures in the jungle, or cooling off in hidden cenotes. Discover all the best things to do in Tulum, Mexico.

1. Take a Stroll in Tulum Town

Tulum is split up into two different areas: downtown and the Hotel Zone. The center makes the perfect place to go boutique shopping, find cool souvenirs, or go on the hunt for some delicious tacos. It’s also the area where you’ll find cheaper hotels in Tulum and where most locals live, offering a glimpse into their daily lives. 

Stroll through the main street, lined with cute shops, vibrant taquerias, and bars. Turn into the side alleys to discover beautiful murals and busy cafes.

Don’t forget to check out the iconic alleys known for street food. Here, you’ll find many food stalls perched on the sides of the road, selling everything from refreshing smoothies to delicious fish tacos (even vegan!). You’ll find some of the best on Calle Gemenis Sur and Avenida Satelite. Join the local food tour or vegan food tour in Tulum.

2. Visit the Tulum Ruins

One of the highlights and best things to do in Tulum is visit the town’s famous archeological zone. Situated on the bluffs of the Caribbean Sea, this site was once one of the many great Mayan cities. Explore the narrow pathways through the jungle, admire the well-preserved temples and stone walls, and look out onto a neverending turquoise sea.

The Tulum pyramids in Mexico are believed to be over 800 years old. They date back to a time when the Maya civilization flourished and when Tulum, the only city on the coast, was an important trading hub. El Castillo (the castle) is the main pyramid, perched high on the cliffs facing the ocean.

Entrance to the Tulum Ruins

The entrance to the ruins is slightly confusing, as no signs point you to the ticket office. You’ll find the ticket office here. From there, it’s a short 800m walk to the actual ruins on the shore.

The ticket includes two different fees: one for the national reserve (58 MXN/3.40 USD) and one for the ruins (90 MXN/5.25 USD). Many people might try to sell you tickets beforehand, but these aren’t always valid.

Tour the Tulum pyramids on your own or hire a guide to tell you about the ruins’ history, people, and culture. Remember that this is the most-visited spot in Quintana Roo, so prepare for crowds. (Or book your tour here)

3. Cool Down at a Cenote

Besides the turquoise Caribbean Sea and various lagoons, Tulum offers another natural place to cool off: cenotes. These sinkholes are created when limestone collapses, exposing the groundwater the ancient Maya used for water and sacrificial offerings. 

Nowadays, these water-filled caves make the perfect place to go swimming, with many dotted across the Yucatan Peninsula. Follow the staircase leading into the cenote, slip on your water shoes (and sometimes mandatory life jacket), and hop in the refreshing water.

Swimming in a cenote is one of the best things to do in Tulum. Here are some of our favorites:

Gran Cenote

By far, the most popular cenote in Tulum, Mexico, is the Gran Cenote. Due to its fame, it’s also the most visited and expensive cenote you’ll find in the region, with an entrance fee of 500 MXN (29.20 USD). However, with various boardwalks, lush nature, and different caves, it’s the perfect spot to unwind or go freediving. The Gran Cenote is open from 8 AM to 5 PM.

Cenote Corazon del Paraiso

Located 15 minutes from Tulum Center lies the beautiful Cenote Corazon del Paraiso. This large open cenote is surrounded by lush shrubs and trees and offers a great spot to cool off. The water is incredibly clear and even has some turtles, so make sure to bring your snorkel and go-pro! (Join this cenotes tour)

If you don’t have a snorkel, you can rent one for 50 MXN (3 USD). This peaceful cenote is the perfect spot to escape the busy crowds, though we do recommend coming early.

Cenote Cristal & Cenote Escondido

These two cenotes, only meters away from one another, are another great option. Right next to the main highway that leads to Chetumal, you can visit one or both of the sinkholes. Start off with the popular Cenote Cristal (Naharon) to soak up the atmosphere before larger crowds arrive, and make your way to Cenote Escondido after. You can purchase tickets at each of the cenotes or get tickets for both at Cenote Cristal. (Join this cenotes tour)

4. Visit Zona Archeologica de Muyil

Just 20 minutes outside of Tulum, you’ll find the lesser-known Muyil ruins, one of the most important Mayan remnants within the Sian Ka’an biosphere. Though it lies a little off-the-beaten path, its surrounding nature makes it one of the more unique Tulum things to do. (Book your tour here)

It made a strategic location for the Mayans, allowing them to reach the Caribbean Sea through numerous lagoons and carved canals. The ruins are relatively small and connected by a well-marked pathway, with numerous buildings and the iconic 12-meter-tall El Castillo. 

From there, continue into the reserve, following a 500-meter-long boardwalk trail through the jungles and wetlands (don’t forget your non-toxic bug spray!). Listen to the sounds of the forest, full of birds, frogs, and howler monkeys, while you pass thousands of different plant species. Eventually, you make it to the Muyil Lagoon, where you have the option to join a boat tour.

5. Swim at Laguna de Kaan Luum

Another part of Sian Ka’an worth exploring is Laguna de Kaan Luum, a huge open cenote and popular swimming spot near Tulum, Mexico. It’s a busy spot on the weekends, with many locals coming to relax after a long work week. Soak up the sun while you lazily hang in a hammock above the vibrantly blue water, sipping on a fresh coconut – the Sian Ka’an lagoon is a must-see! (Book a tour including Sian Ka’an and Muyil)

Though the deep part of the lagoon is off-limits, you can rent a SUP or kayak (120 MXN) to paddle out on the shallow waters. Note: Due to the harsh chemicals in many sunscreens and bug sprays, you’re not allowed to wear them in the reserve (and many other places in Mexico). Instead, choose a non-toxic bug spray and reef-safe sunscreen

6. Relax at Tulum Beach

Tulum Beach, with its enchanting blue waters and powdery white sands, is a slice of paradise and one of the main reasons people visit the Caribbean boho town. As you step out onto the beach, you’re immediately enveloped in a serene world where the sea gently laps onto shore.

It’s lined back-to-back with eco-chic resorts and buzzing beach clubs, offering a unique experience for everyone. The beach is easiest to visit if you’re staying at one of these resorts, but you can also go there if you don’t.

If you’re not staying in the Hotel Zone, the beach resorts also offer day passes that include a towel and chair. However, you’ll have to pay for parking and entry to access the beach through one of these resorts. Alternatively, you’ll find a free public beach here.

Tulum Jungle Gym

Looking for a workout between relaxing and adventuring? On Tulum Beach, you’ll find the area’s very own Jungle Gym spread out in the sand, with wooden weights and machines. Make sure to bring plenty of water, as working out in the tropical heat can be exhausting. 

If you stay at one of the Ahau Tulum hotels (Alaya, Villa Pescadores, Casa Ganesh, or Kanan), you’ll have free access to the gym. Otherwise, it’s 600 MXN (35 USD) for a single entry or 2400 MXN (140.50 USD) for a weekly pass.

Opening Times: The gym is open from 9 AM to 5 PM. Between 8 AM and 9 AM, you can reserve the whole gym for a private session. 

7. Take a Photo at the Ven a la Luz Sculpture

Capturing a moment at the iconic Ven a la Luz sculpture in Tulum makes the perfect picture for your Instagram. This towering wooden sculpture, cradled in the lush embrace of the town’s tropical landscape, is one of the best things to do in Tulum. As you approach it, you’ll notice its grand size and intricate details, which depict a woman emerging from the earth, making a stunning backdrop. 

Many visitors come here to snap a photo, so make sure to come early, as you’ll have to stand in line. Once it’s your turn, you have one minute to snap some pictures, so have your camera settings ready. It costs 80 MXN (4.70 USD) to enter.

8. Visit Playa Paraiso

Playa Paraiso in Tulum, a name that literally translates to ‘Paradise Beach’, truly lives up to its name. This tranquil area (Tulum’s quietest beach) feels as if it’s a world away from the hustle and bustle, with beautiful water and soft, white sands. Watch how palm trees sway gently in the breeze, making the perfect backdrop for a day of relaxation and sunbathing. 

The calm, clear waters are perfect for swimming or snorkeling. Along the beach, you’ll find quaint thatched-roof cabanas; a cozy spot to unwind and take in the stunning views.

Tip: If you want to enter the national reserve behind the beach, you’ll have to pay 58 MXN (3.40 USD). From there, you can enter the Tulum ruins as well; just show them your bracelet to prove you’ve paid.

9. Go Boutique Shopping

Boutique shopping in Tulum is an adventure in itself, especially in the heart of town. Wander along the bustling streets, every turn leading you to new charming boutiques with fun treasures. From handcrafted goods like intricately designed textiles, unique ornaments, and Mexican liquors to fashionable beachwear, each store offers something different. 

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10 Best Things to do in Tulum, Mexico

You’ll also find several boutiques over the Hotel Area in Tulum, which you can easily get to by bicycle.

10. Explore the Sian Kaan Reserve

The Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve is the largest protected area on the Caribbean coast in Mexico, spanning over 1.3 million acres and home to many animal species and stunning landscapes. From jungle marshes and mangroves to large cenotes and incredibly blue lagoons, this protected UNESCO site offers a refreshing addition to Tulum’s all-inclusive hotels and party atmosphere.

Made up of different ecosystems, Sian Ka’an (‘where the sky is born’ in Yucatec Maya) is one of the most biodiverse places in the world. In between, you’ll spot a myriad of wild animals, from pelicans to turtles, manatees, howler monkeys, and even crocodiles.

Ancient Maya people inhabited the biosphere for over 1200 years, where they built waterways to get out to the sea. Now, most of the reserve is off-limits, with only a small section reserved for sustainable and low-impact ecotourism. This makes it one of the most interesting things to do in Tulum and on the Riviera Maya.

How to Get to the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve

To explore Sian Ka’an, you have to go down a long dirt road from Tulum’s Hotel Zone. Though time-consuming (2-3 hours), the journey is absolutely worth it, with the road wedged between the sea and the bright lagoons. Entrance to the reserve costs 37MXN (2.15 USD), and it closes at 6 PM.

If you go solo, it’s best to rent a car in Tulum and drive slowly, as there are many holes in the road. Make sure you have a full tank of gas, as you’ll find no gas stations once you enter the reserve. Note: ATVs are not allowed.

You can also visit the biosphere reserve with a guide (book your tour here) and include other activities like birdwatching, kayaking through the lagoons, visiting Maya ruins, swimming in ancient canals, or snorkeling. Expect to pay about 85 – 165 USD per person for a half-day trip from Tulum. 

Tours & Tickets 🥾View all

Alternatively, you can enter the reserve by visiting the Muyil Ruins first and walking 500 meters through the tropical forest. Frequent buses go here from Tulum Centro, and entrance costs 120 MXN (7 USD). Once you reach the lagoon, you can pay for a guided boat tour (1000 MXN/58 USD). These tours are offered between 8 AM and 4 PM daily and last about 2,5 hours.

Best Restaurants and Cafes in Tulum, Mexico

From Mexican classics like tacos, tortas, and quesadillas to Western meals like pizzas or burgers – you’ll find it in Tulum, Mexico. Start your mornings in one of the many cafes with a coffee and a filling smoothie bowl before grabbing lunch on the beach.

Some of our favorite restaurants in Tulum are: 

  • Taqueria La Chiapaneca
  • Rossina Cafe
  • Burrito Amor (fresh)
  • Sabor de Mar
  • Tacos y Tortas El Tío (food stand)
  • Orchid House Tulum
  • Matcha Mama
  • El Rincon Chiampaneco (local)
  • Bowls de Guadalupe
  • Raw Love Cafe (smoothie bowls)

Where to Stay in Tulum

As Tulum grows, new accommodations pop up everywhere. However, the most popular area to stay in is the Hotel Zone along the coastline. Prices are a bit higher here, but hotels and resorts include many amenities and have direct access to the stunning beach. 

Alternatively, choose to stay in Tulum Center for more affordable stays and hostels. You’ll find plenty of good restaurants, souvenir shops, and night entertainment, and you can still easily get to the beach by bike, scooter, car, or colectivo.

How Many Days in Tulum, Mexico?

To fully immerse yourself in the beauty of Tulum and the town’s surroundings, it’s recommended to stay at least 4 – 5 days. During this time, you can relax on white sand beaches, dive into the many restaurants, explore hidden cenotes and ancient ruins, and visit the UNESCO biosphere reserve. 

How to Visit Tulum

To get to Tulum, you’ll have to fly into Cancun Airport and make your way down the coast. Tulum lies about 2 hours south of Cancun and is easy to get to by bus, car, or taxi.

Find flights to Tulum ✈️

Alternatively, if possible, fly into the new Tulum Airport (Aeropuerto Internacional de Tulum Felipe Carrillo Puerto), which lies only 26 kilometers from the center. From here, you can hop on a bus or private transfer or book a rental car to get downtown.

Generally, the cheapest way to get around the Yucatan Peninsula is to take the ADO buses. Though local minivans (colectivo) are also an option, they take much longer due to the many stops in between. They’re also known to refuse tourists with luggage. There’s also the option to taxi (though expect a large bill) or rent a car and drive yourself. 

Getting Around Tulum

Most of the things to do in Tulum are relatively close to one another, making it very easy to get around. Rent a car, motorbike, or ATV, and zoom across the beach roads to hidden cenotes and stunning lagoons. 

Taxi & Colectivo

Taxis have authority in Tulum, meaning prices are much higher, and it’s more difficult for visitors to get around by hopping on a local colectivo. Expect to pay between 500 – 750 MXN (29 – 44 USD) for a 15-minute taxi ride between Tulum Centro and the Hotel Zone. However, if you stay persistent with the Colectivo drivers, you should be able to hop on.

Car & Motorbike

You can easily travel between the Hotel Zone and downtown if you have a car or motorbike. In the Hotel Zone, you can park for 200 MXN (12 USD) a day and either relax at a beach club or visit the public beach. Keep in mind that you can’t park your motorcycle on the main road of the hotel area, as it’s very narrow and busy. 

By Bicycle

Another fun way to get around is to rent a bicycle. It takes about 30 minutes from Tulum Center to cycle down to the Hotel Zone and the beaches. Once you get to the coastal roads, make sure you wear sunglasses, as sand often flies up when cars pass by.

How Much Does Tulum Cost?

A vacation in Tulum can be budget-friendly or as luxurious as you like. If you’re backpacking through the Yucatan Peninsula, choose buzzing hostels downtown and local restaurants or food stands. Alternatively, if you’ve got a bit more money to spend, you’ll find high-end resorts on the coast and exclusive activities. 

Costs of Traveling in Tulum

Travel on a budget in Tulum, from $660 − $810 USD weekly per person, mid-range $1280 − $2680 USD, and high-end from $2500 − $4120 USD. However, costs depend on factors like accommodation, transportation, and activities. We did not include flights. Check flight prices here

* Average daily costs
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Note: Tipping is common in Mexico. Sometimes, this fee is already included in the bill, so make sure to always double-check before paying.

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Tulum is during the shoulder seasons (May – October). During these months, the weather is pleasant, and there are fewer tourists, resulting in more affordable accommodations and activities. 

Best
Good
Mixed
Poor
26°C
Jan
🌤
27°C
Feb
🌤
28°C
Mar
🌤
29°C
Apr
🌦️
30°C
May
🌧️
30°C
Jun
🌧️
31°C
Jul
🌧️
31°C
Aug
🌧️
30°C
Sep
🌦️
29°C
Oct
🌦️
28°C
Nov
27°C
Dec

However, early winter (January – February) is also a good time to visit if you prefer cooler and drier weather. There is less humidity and fewer mosquitoes during this time, as well as smaller crowds compared to the peak season (spring and summer).

21/02/2024 https://www.saltinourhair.com/mexico/tulum/
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