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Top Attractions and Activities in Tulum, Mexico

In the past, Tulum was a tranquil, lovely village that has been changed into a celebrity hotspot. Here are the top things to do in Tulum, Mexico, from exploring cenotes to lazing on the beach.

Tulum was formerly known as Zama, the “Metropolis of Dawn,” because of its ancient Mayan city.

Can you tell me exactly where Tulum is? Located roughly two hours south of Cancun, along Mexico’s Riviera Maya, is this tropical paradise. Scuba divers will delight at Tulum’s many cenotes and caves, which are surrounded by gorgeous white sand beaches and crystal-clear water.

Tulum is a place where the old and the new coexist together. As of today, you’ll discover an eclectic mix of old Mayan ruins and yoga retreats as well as shops, restaurants, and celebrities flocking to the area for a spiritual reset.

A new international airport and train will be built in Tulum by the Mexican government by the year 2023.

The Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico has been home to me on and off over the past few years, and I wanted to put together a guide for first-time visitors to Tulum on what to see and do there.

Restrictions on Travel to Mexico by 2022

All COVID-19 entry rules, even for American tourists, have been eliminated in Mexico. As of January 2022, there will be no need for immunization and test records.

New health and safety standards have been implemented at most hotels and attractions, although you may still be required to follow specific requirements (such as wearing masks) depending on your destination.

TULUM TRAVEL GUIDE

Check out the ruins of Tulum (Archeological Site)

The Tulum Archaeological Site is a stunning Mayan city perched on a cliff overlooking the Caribbean Sea. The ruins, perched 12 meters above the Caribbean Sea, are an ideal location for a photo op.

The name Tulum, which means “fence” in Mayan, may be linked to the city’s 5-meter-tall walls.

The Templo Dios del Viento or Temple of the Wind God, the Pyramid El Castillo, the Temple of the Descending God, and the Temple of the Frescoes are some of the most significant structures in Tulum’s ruins.

Arrive at least an hour early if you want to be the first in line; the gates open at 8 a.m. Alternatively, you can go on a tour with a guide.

Tulum’s Pueblo Historico Is a Must-See! (El Centro)

Tulum is actually divided into three distinct districts, all of which are referred to as “Tulum” by locals and tourists alike.

Tulum Town, also known as Tulum Pueblo or El Centro, is the heart of Tulum’s business district. Shops including supermarkets, restaurants, and other Mexican establishments can be found here.

To get to any of the nearby beaches, resorts, or tourist attractions, you must go to Tulum Beach (also known as Tulum Hotel Zone). Tulum Town is around a 5- to 10-minute drive away. It would take around 1 hour to walk this distance (not recommended). Instead, use rideshare, a bike, or a cab.

Then there are the Tulum Ruins, which I briefly mentioned before. Both the town and the beach are located north of the ruins.

Tulum Town’s La Chiapaneca for street tacos, Del Cielo for breakfast or brunch, and Huerto del Eden for fresh juice and coffee are all excellent stops to get a feel for native Mexican culture.

On Tulum’s Best Beaches, Soak Up the Sun

It’s difficult to pick a favourite among Tulum’s many verdant beaches with fine sands and crystal-clear waters. Hotels in Tulum, Mexico, attempt to charge tourists for “using their lounge chairs” despite the fact that Mexican law permits free access to all beaches.

We’ve narrowed down our favourite Tulum beaches to the following:

You can relax on the beach with coconut palms and pristine beaches at Playa Paraiso.

Ruinas Beach is a small, secluded beach located just below the Tulum Ruins. It opens at 10 a.m. each day and can only be reached via the archaeological site.

The entrance fee to Ziggy’s Beach is $35 USD, which includes the use of a lounge chair. This beach is ideal for families with young children.

Playa Paraiso is north of Santa Fe Beach, which is just south of the ruins. There are numerous small beach bars where you may get a bite to eat or a drink.
If you want a peaceful area to watch the sunrise, head to Mirador Tulum Beach.

Tulum’s immaculate white-sand beaches can occasionally become a little less clean due to a sargassum seaweed invasion, which is something most visitors are unaware of. If you’re unlucky, the seaweed maybe there throughout your visit this year.

When possible, hotels and resorts clean the beaches, but it can overload an area. Although the seaweed is not harmful, if it is not removed as soon as possible, it may decompose and begin to smell.

The Biosphere Reserve at Sian Ka’an

Sian Ka’an means “portal to heaven” or “sky origin.” The Sian Ka’an Biosphere is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located south of Tulum. It was designated a World Heritage Site in 1987.

More than 300 species of birds, 120 kilometres of shoreline, a variety of flora and fauna, coral reefs, a lagoon, and at least 23 Mayan ancient sites may be found in Sian Ka’an.

The rainforest mangroves and saltwater lagoons of Sian Ka’an can be explored by booking a boat or kayaking tour. There are also excursions for snorkelling. On these tours, dolphins, turtles, manatees, and a wide variety of birds can be seen.

Cenotes are a great place to go snorkelling or scuba diving.

Tulum, Mexico is a must-see for everybody who visits. To get to the Mexican underground river system for swimming, snorkelling, and scuba diving, visitors to the Tulum cenotes must first swim in a natural limestone sinkhole. Archaeological sites and artefacts can be found in several of the cenotes.

Many stunning subterranean caves and caverns can be found throughout Riviera Maya, which is home to the greatest underground cave system in the world, connecting thousands of cenotes. Near Tulum, some of my favourite cenotes to see are:

  • This is the entrance of Tulum’s sacred system, the Sistema Sac Actun, and it’s the most popular cenote in town.
  • Surrounded by mangroves, Casa Cenote has a tunnel that leads to the ocean.
  • An excellent spot for snorkelling and cave diving, this cenote is also known as the “Two Eyes Cenote.”
  • Carwash (also known as Aktun Ha) is a popular swimming and cave diving spot located off the main road to Coba.
  • Calavera (also known as the “Temple of Doom”) is a renowned diving site because it resembles a skull from the bottom up. However, a ladder and a rope swing are also available.
  • Cenote Taak Bi Ha – One of Tulum’s most popular cenotes, this enormous cavern is filled with crystal pure water. Cave divers frequent this cenote.

Attend A Yoga Session

Yoga retreats, music therapy sessions, and other health and wellness activities abound in Tulum, a popular vacation spot for hippies, bohemians, and other new-age types.

The oceanfront yoga studio at Sanara or Naga Tulum might help you unwind and immerse yourself in some yoga sessions while you’re in the area.

Climb the Coba Ruins of the Mayas

Coba is a 45-minute drive from Tulum. Overlooking the surrounding bush, a series of high pyramids can be seen. These ruins date back to the Middle and Late Classic periods of the Mayan civilisation (500 to 900 AD). Even yet, the ancient city of Coba dates back to around 50 BC.

The Nohoch Mul Pyramid, Sacbe, Coba Group, Coba Stelae, Macanxoc Group, and Conjunto de Pinturas are the most popular sites in Coba. The opportunity to climb the main pyramid at this Mayan monument is one of the most distinctive aspects of this site.

Get out of town and see Yal-Ku Lagoon

Just a short drive from Tulum, the Yal Ku Lagoon is an ideal location for snorkelling and sunbathing alike. What makes Yal Ku different from the rest? Flowing into a lagoon, this cenote is also an entryway to the sea.

The lagoon is an excellent place to go snorkelling because of the unique combination of salt and fresh water. It’s not uncommon to see turtles and rays in shallow waters near the cenote, while larger fish can be found in the deeper seas towards the sea.

It’s possible to rent snorkelling and diving gear in the immediate area, as well as refreshments.

Visit Tulum’s Shopping District

As a tourist destination, Tulum is a great place to shop. Mayan apparel, souvenirs, and a few Western styles can be found in boutique shops.

Attractions such as Wanderlust, Arte Sano and La Troupe are common in Tulum. The street-side kiosks are also a good place to look for bargains. However, you should expect to pay Western pricing!

Consider Eating Out at a Local Spot

In Tulum, Mexico, you don’t need to eat at the most renowned restaurants in order for you to have a taste of local cuisine. Opt instead for some delicious snacks from one of the many nearby food stands. Here are a few of our top picks!

Instagram is awash with people raving about the plant-based smoothies, Kombuchas, and Acai Bowls offered by Matcha Mama.

The burritos at Burrito Amor are among the greatest in Mexico!

Raw Love is a hippie-style vegan cafe known for its raw chocolate and other vegan treats.

You can enjoy a seven-course meal with unlimited alcoholic beverages at the Mexican Dining Experience as the hosts explain the ingredients to you at a communal table.

Origami Tulum – The greatest gelato in Tulum can be found here!

Hartwood is one of Tulum’s greatest restaurants, serving locally sourced, fire-cooked cuisine.

The Nightlife Is Spectacular, Don’t Miss It!

Tulum’s nightlife is thriving, and beach bars are virtually always packed, especially on the weekends. Some of Tulum’s top bars may be found right here.

Gitano – Enjoy cocktails and tapas at our open-air jungle bar!

For the full moon and weekends, the Papaya Playa Project is a hotspot.

Infinite Peace and Happiness – There are great vibes and fantastic beverages here!

Batey — This pub is famed for its local cocktails made with prickly pear fruit and is known for the blue-coloured beetle parked outside!

Mateos is a fantastic spot to get a drink or a meal. The rooftop terrace frequently hosts live music at dusk!

Drink plenty of Mexican Mezcal while you’re here, of course. In many Mexican cocktails, you’ll find this agave liquor.

Take a trip to a Mexican amusement park

The Yucatan Peninsula’s natural landscape has inspired a slew of outdoor adventure theme parks throughout the Riviera Maya.

These include Xcaret, Xel Ha, Xplor, and Rio Secreto, among many others. Ziplining through the woods, swimming in caves, driving ATVs, or diving with brightly coloured fish are just some of the activities you may participate in on these excursions.

Families will enjoy these theme parks in Mexico, but adults will also have a fantastic time. It was Rio Secreto which was my favourite since it felt more authentic and less crowded.

Recreational Water Sports

Tulum’s crystal-clear waters are ideal for water-based activities. Popular water sports include stand-up paddling, canoeing, kayaking, windsurfing, and boating. In the cenotes, you can go snorkelling or scuba diving, or take a river tubing trip. Kiteboarding and kite surfing is the most popular tourist activities on the shore because of the abundance of wind.

Additionally, surrounding ranches provide zip lines, jungle tours, and rappelling adventures.

Tulum’s Most Instagrammable Places

With so many prominent artists and designers visiting Tulum, the Tulum Hotel Zone is brimming with art and sculpture. The Azulik Museum is like being on an acid trip.

Located in Ahau Tulum, a large wooden sculpture beckons you to join its embrace. A Moroccan fantasy comes to life in Nomade’s Macondo restaurant, which has the appearance of a Moroccan palace.

Additionally, murals by local painters can be spotted all across Tulum Town. It’s a dream come true for Instagram addicts!

In Tulum, I particularly enjoy the following photo opportunities:

  • Come to the Light Sculpture (Ahau Resort)
  • The Tulum Sign in All Its Colorful Glory
  • Tree with an Uneven Canopy (Playa Paraiso Beach Club)
  • Swings on the Beach (Coco Tulum)
  • Mama Matcha is the tea’s name.
  • Take Notice of That Dream Sign (Lolita Lolita Tulum)
  • I’m Safer Ik, by the way (Azulik Resort)

Take part in a Temazcal Ritual

Take part in a Temazcal ritual while visiting Tulum to learn about Mayan culture. A small stone or wood cabin is used in this Mayan purifying ritual. Entering the sweat lodge, which is transformed into a steamy sauna by the addition of hot rocks and water, requires that you strip down to your underwear (or swimsuit).

Participant care is taken care of by an indigenous shaman, who administers the rite. The shaman pours water over the hot rocks, and chants, and uses herbs to invoke spirits during the temazcal ceremony.

For thousands of years, Temazcal has been practised as a purifying ritual for the body, mind, and spirit. The shamanic chanting enhances your meditative state while you sweat in the little hut.

Lagoon of the Kaan Luum

The Laguna Kaam Luum is one of Tulum’s best-kept secrets, resembling the blue hole in Belize. The lagoon’s waters are said to have magical abilities, and you can take a dip in them for $15 USD (300 MXN). You may also fly a drone here for an additional 150 pesos.

Swimming is prohibited in the deeper section, which makes it ideal for scuba diving or freediving. Climb the little tower to get a bird’s eye view over the lagoon from the water hammocks, swings, and more.

Take a road trip to Chichen Itza.

Chichen Itza, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, is also a World Heritage Site. The most popular Mayan ruins in Mexico are also located here.

During the period from 525 to 1200 AD, the Mayan civilization created a huge city complex. The cost of admission is 80 pesos plus 417 pesos.

While vacationing in Tulum, Yucatan, it’s a two-hour trip from Tulum Town with a rental car, but there are numerous scheduled tours that will take you there.

Obtain a Wheelchair

Take to the streets of Tulum on a bicycle rented from a local shop. Most of the beaches and restaurants within a 15- to 30-minute bike ride of Tulum Centro may be reached by renting a bike (Downtown). Renting a bike ranges from $5 to $10 a day in the United States.

Another option for seeing the sights and learning about the culture of Tulum is by taking a bike tour, which will allow you to see some of the area’s less-visited archaeological sites as well as some lesser-known cenotes.

A Visit to Pablo Escobar’s Beachfront Mansion

The Medellin Cartel was formed by Pablo Escobar, who was killed in 1993. Art collector Lio Malca bought his Tulum jungle estate in 2012 and converted it into an art hotel called Casa Malca.

Browse through Leo Malca’s collection of contemporary art and furnishings to see what you can find. For non-hotel guests who wish to visit, you must spend a minimum of 1000 pesos (approximately $50 USD) on beverages, food, and other amenities.

The Muyil Ruins are a must-see.

The Muyil Ruins, which are located in the Sian Ka’an Biosphere, date back to 350 BC and feature Peten architecture. In the vicinity of the Sian Ka’an Lagoon, a group of ruins known as Chunyaxché may be found.

To get a bird’s eye view, you can climb to the top of the 17-meter-tall Castillo for a panoramic view.

Arrive At Bacalar!

Tulum is around three and a half hours away from Bacalar, a big, stunning blue lagoon. A great place to go sailing, kayaking, or exploring a unique cenote is the Laguna de Siete Colores. You can even go see a shipwreck!

It’s advisable to spend the night in Bacalar and return to Tulum the next evening. You can either rent a car or ride an ADO bus if you like.

Tulum’s best season to visit

During the months of January to April

Warm and sunny, with temps in the 80s F, this is a great day to be outside. Although this is peak season, there are also a lot more visitors. For the winter, a large number of Canadians and Americans relocate here.

May to October

The year’s hottest and wettest months fall during this time period. Some people may be overcome by the heat and humidity. It is hurricane season in the area in September and October. There are, however, far fewer visitors.

November to December

This is my preferred time of year to go to Tulum because the weather isn’t oppressively hot, hurricane season has passed, but the peak tourist season hasn’t yet begun for the destination.

Tulum’s Exact Location (Getting There)

A two-hour trip from Cancun, Tulum is located 131 kilometres south. After landing at Cancun International Airport, the majority of tourists arrive at Tulum. The cheapest flights to Cancun can be found on Skyscanner.com.

Private shuttle service or the public ADO bus are both available from Cancun International Airport to Tulum (much cheaper). Buses run every 30 minutes and cost roughly $15 USD.

The beach road in Tulum is notorious for its heavy traffic. It’s a muddle because of the mix of taxis, delivery trucks, and tourists riding bicycles. Take caution on the roads and don’t expect to travel quickly in a car during peak season.

Rent a vehicle

Discover Cars are the best place to reserve a car. They search both local and international car rental providers in order to assist you to get the best available deal. Renting a car and driving to Tulum, Mexico, is the simplest option.

Renting a car is the ideal way to see the Yucatan Peninsula’s more distant and less touristic areas. It’s my preferred mode of transportation for exploring Tulum.

Taxis in Tulum

Mexico does not have Uber, although there are cabs available. Take a taxi, but be aware of the “taxi mafia” operating in the Yucatan Peninsula, which will jack up the fare if it thinks it can get away with it. Prior to entering, always agree on a price.

Bike

Locals often use bicycles to get around. You may rent a bike for the day for roughly $10 USD (200 MEX). You may also be able to borrow free bikes from your hotel. Ola Bike Tulum and IBike Tulum both hire bikes.

Shuttles

If you’re looking for transport from Cancun Airport to Tulum, you’ll be bombarded with offers from a variety of airport shuttle providers. Cancun Airport Transportation is arguably the most well-known.

Buses operated by ADO

The ADO bus business provides transportation throughout the Yucatan Peninsula. From Tulum Centro or Tulum Town to the Tulum Ruins or Tulum Archaeological Zone, or anywhere else on the Yucatan Peninsula, you can take these buses. If you’d like, you can purchase tickets in advance, however boarding the bus usually only necessitates purchasing a ticket on the spot.

It is possible to get to the ruins of Coba by using the Mayab bus.

Colectivos

They’re minivans that shuttle a group of people back and forth from one location to the next. For the most affordable means of transportation in Tulum and the Yucatan Peninsula, this is your best bet. If you don’t speak Spanish, these are the methods natives use to move around the city.

Renting a Car

Find a decent bargain on a car rental by searching both local and international firms.

Tulum Accommodations: A Comprehensive Guide

Tulum’s lodging options range from budget-friendly hostels to five-star resorts. Col Huracanes, Tulum Playa, and Tulum Pueblo are the best places to stay if you’re looking for nightlife and bars.

Travel Tips & Advice for Tulum

Because of a recurring issue with algae, the pristine white sand beaches of Tulum are often obscured. Clean-up efforts by resorts are not always successful.

If you’re looking for a cheap vacation in Mexico, Tulum isn’t your best bet. It’s also a popular destination for celebrities to vacation.

During the months of January to March, many people visit, and from June to October, it rains. It’s preferable to visit in November or December to escape the crowds.

Tulum’s WiFi is notoriously poor, so don’t expect to be able to do much online while you’re there.

Tulum has a smattering of fee-free public beaches. If you want to visit the greatest beaches, you’ll have to pay a fee to get in.

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