Playa-Paraíso-Beach-Tulum-Mexico

20 Best things to do in Tulum: Your Ultimate Guide [2022]

A town known for its white sugary beaches, lush Mayan jungle and ancient ruins, Tulum is a postcard picture from Mexico’s Caribbean.

When you visit Tulum, it’s easy to see why it has become so popular: it has a great foodie scene, gorgeous cenotes, some of the best beaches in Mexico, and close access to some of the best destinations in the Yucatan Peninsula.

Many visitors love this charming pueblo for its spectacular scenery and the sheer amount of things to do in Tulum. I visited Tulum several times and can say that although it can feel touristy, it’s a place that you have to put on your Mexico itinerary.

If you are still curious about Tulum, keep reading! This article provides a detailed overview of the Caribbean town as well as the best things to do and places to visit in the area.

Where is Tulum located?

Tulum is located in Quintana Roo State along Mexico’s Caribbean Coast. It takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes to reach Tulum from Cancun via 307 Highway.

How to get to Tulum to Cancun

Most travelers visit Tulum from Cancun, home to the largest international airport in Mexico’s Rivera Maya. 

There are a couple of ways to get from Cancun to Tulum, and you can find a detailed overview in this article.

Here are a couple of ways to get from Cancun to Tulum:

Private transfer

Shared shuttle

  • A shared shuttle is a popular option among budget travelers. Unlike private transfers from Cancun to Tulum, shared shuttles have between 10-15 passengers and take slightly longer, as they make multiple stops to pick up everybody. 

Rental car

  • Renting a car in Cancun is a good option, if you plan to explore the Yucatan Peninsula beyond Tulum, and don’t want to rely on taxis and public transportation. City Car Rental is one of the best car rental companies in the area that is located less than 10 minutes away from Cancun International Airport. 

ADO bus

  • ADO is the largest bus company in the region, and its buses depart from the airport multiple times per day. It’s a popular option among budget travelers, as it allows you to save a good chunk on change, but takes more time than other types of transportation. 

Taxi

  • Taking a taxi is by far the most expensive option which will cost you about 1,500 Mexican Pesos on average. Note that at this point, there’s no Uber in Cancun, so you will have to rely upon taxis at the airport or private taxi companies. Make sure to negotiate the price upfront, and have cash, because credit cards are rarely accepted by taxis in Mexico. And, if you want to stay safe on the road, check my top tips for Mexico travel. 

Do I need to rent a car for my trip to Tulum?

Whether you need a car depends on your plans. 

If you want to stay near the beach and hit a few bars and restaurants, you might not need a car. Those tourists who stay in Tulum hotels along the beach get around by bicycle or scooter which could be rented in Tulum. To check out Tulum ruins or take a dip in cenotes near Tulum, you can take a taxi.

However, if you plan to explore the Yucatan Peninsula and don’t want to travel by bus, I recommend to rent a car in Cancun before leaving for Tulum. 

Things to know about renting a car in Mexico

Before you rent car for your trip to Tulum, let’s go over a couple of things.

When you look for your rental car online, watch out for very low bait-and-switch rates as they typically involve a high insurance which is not disclosed. Insurance is mandatory for car rentals in Mexico, and if you fail to do your homework and check a rental company, you could be hit with a few hundred dollar bill on top of your daily rate.

PRO TIP: Check my complete guide to renting a car in Mexico to avoid some some of the bigger tourist traps.

Best beaches in Tulum

Best things to do in Tulum

Besides boasting some of the best beaches in the Caribbean, Tulum has many cultural and natural wonders. For best experience, plan to spend some time in Tulum and visit some of the nearby Mayan ruins as well as natural and historic landmarks.

Whether you want to explore or relax on the beach, tis article provides a complete overview of the best things to do in Tulum.

PRO TIP:  ALWAYS carry Mexican Pesos when you travel in Mexico. While convenience stores, restaurants and shopping malls accept credit cards, small local markets, street vendors and artisans only accept cash.

Learn more Mexico tips for your trip in this article!

Best beaches in Tulum

1. Bask in the sun at Tulum beaches

When it comes to best things to do in Tulum, nothing beats sugary-white Tulum beaches! This is one of the main reasons to visit Tulum.

Tulum beaches boast powdery white sand and clear turquoise waters. Called “playas” in Spanish, they sit along the road that runs through the town. While south beaches are often accessible only through resorts and boutique hotels, north beaches in Tulum are more spacious and touristy.

Playa Ruinas

Perhaps one the most beautiful beaches in Tulum is Playa Ruinas that is right below the famous Tulum Ruins. It boasts amazing turquoise waters and a great scenery, so if there’s one beach in Tulum you have to visit, it is definitely Playa Ruinas!

Playa Paraiso

Paradise Beach in Tulum is a pristine stretch popular with yoga enthusiasts and snorkelers. It has plenty of restaurants and cafes nearby where you can buy food and snacks. If you are looking for gorgeous setting and proximity to amenities, you should definitely include it in your Tulum itinerary.

Playa Las Palmas

Las Palmas is one of my favorites beaches in Tulum because it’s a lot more secluded than other beaches in Tulum and provides a quiet retreat. Since this beach doesn’t have any restaurants or food stands nearby, don’t forget to bring your own food and water. 

Secret Beach

Secret Beachis a perfect place for those who are looking for a bit of an adventure.

This beach is located deep in the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve and boasts a secluded location away from other tourist hot spots. Frequented mostly by locals, this beach sees few tourists, so be prepared to speak Spanish if you need to buy something or ask for directions. Secret Beach is about one hour away from Tulum which makes it one of the best day trips from Tulum.

2. Learn the Mayan culture

Did you know that although the Mayan civilization had collapsed thousands of years ago, the Mayan culture is alive in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.

If you love culture and history, learning the Mayan culture is one of the best things you can do in Tulum. But how do you do that? There are a couple of ways: For example, you can visit some of the best Mayan ruins in the area or take a Mayan language class where you can learn fascinating facts about the Maya culture and its language.

Located in the heart of the Mayan jungle, Tulum is one of the best places in Mexico to learn about the Mayan culture.

How to visit Tulum Ruins

3. Visit Tulum ruins

Facing the turquoise Caribbean waters, Tulum ruins are considered some of the most scenic Mayan ruins in entire Mexico.

Tulum was built as a fortress on the Caribbean Sea and served as an important trading point for the ancient Mayans. The most prominent feature of the site is the castle, El Castillo is perched above the cliff along the coast. If you continue going north of El Castillo, you will see a trail going along the cliff.

PRO TIP: To learn more about best Mayan ruins in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, read my complete guide.

The Temple of the Frescoes is another notable feature of this site where you can see cool hand-painted artworks inside.

One of the biggest draws of Tulum ruins is the stunning beach with powdery white sand right below the ruins where you can swim after taking a walking tour of the ruins.

It’s a perfect mini getaway from Tulum without having to rent a car or get on a bus, but the downside of this convenience is that Tulum ruins can get crowded even in the morning, so try to visit when the site opens or later in the afternoon around 4 p.m.

GOOD TO KNOW: Another thing that you should keep in mind is that these ruins have virtually no shadow. The entire site is very open and it can hit, especially if you are visiting in late spring or summer.

Price: 65 Pesos + additional fee of 30 pesos if you have a camera and want to take photos 

Hours: 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

Can you climb the ruins: No

Best things to do in Tulum

4. Check out downtown Tulum (aka Pueblo Tulum)

Pueblo Tulum (or downtown Tulum) is home to many budget hotels, great unpretentious eateries, yummy street food, and some of the best shopping in Tulum. I particularly recommend trying some street tacos in Tulum, as well as freshly squeezed juices and smoothies that are made right on the spot by local street vendors.

Here is a quick breakdown of the best restaurants in downtown Tulum:

Burrito Amor – One of the most popular restaurants in downtown Tulum, Burrito Amor has the best … burritos in town!

Flor de Michoacan – This is a must visit in Tulum where you can try delicious popsicles.

El Vegetariano, Mar y Tierra – Tucked away in a quiet street away from the hustle and bustle of the Main Street, this is a popular restaurant that offers a good variety of options for plant-based eaters and carnivores. Here you will find traditional Mexican staples as well as sandwiches and falafel wraps.

Matcha Mama – A classic Tulum staple, Matcha Mama has yummy smoothie bowls and smoothies in a gorgeous setting. Many people come here simply to snap a couple of photos, so don’t forget to grab your camera when you come here.

Antojitos La Chapaneca – A local restaurant with an authentic flair, Antojitos La Chapaneca offers an authentic experience and is more popular with locals than tourists. Their menu has sopas, paunchos, tacos and many other Mexican staples.

5. Explore Tulum by bicycle

Exploring the area by bicycle is one of the best FREE things to do in Tulum. You can quickly get around town and go from the beach to downtown Tulum and stop at stores and restaurants along the way.

You can rent a bike in Tulum in many hotels and bike shops around downtown, all you need is cash and your ID. Most of these stores ask to put down a deposit between 500-1,000 pesos which you will get back when you return your bike. 

Some of the shops where you can rent a bicycle in Tulum are Iguana, Kelly Bike Rental and Barbel. Many hostels and hotels in Tulum also offer bike rentals to their guests.

Best things to do in Tulum

6. Take a Mexican cooking class

Of course, we all go to Mexico to try some of the most popular staples from Mexican cuisine like tacos, burritos, and enchiladas, among many other things. But what if you could learn some of these cooking secrets from local masters?

Not everybody knows this, but you can take a Traditional Mexican cooking class while in Tulum to learn the authentic recipes and the secrets of cooking.

7. Eat delicious Mexican food

Visiting Tulum restaurants is an experience in itself.

As a vegan, I found tons amazing plant-based restaurants in Tulum. Many of them offer traditonal Mexican food such as tacos, burritos and tortillas as well as Western-style restaurants with classic staples such as pizza and pasta, among other things. 

Best vegan restaurants in Tulum

The vegan restaurant scene in Tulum is on point. When I first visited Tulum, I didn’t expect so many plant-based eateries, and yet, I was able to find enough options, which allowed me not to get bored going to the same place every day.

Here’s my breakdown of the best vegan restaurants in Tulum.

  • La Hoja Verde – La Hoja Verde is by far one of my favorite restaurants in downtown Tulum! The food here is mouthwatering, and the menu offers dishes ranging from traditional Mexican to Italian and Middle-Eastern food. I especially enjoyed their breakfast options such as açaí bowls and omelet made out of scrambled tofu. Additionally, there are plenty options for non-vegan eaters, so this place has something for everyone. 
  • Laylo – Another amazing vegan spot in Tulum, Laylo is a small eatery that is tucked away around the corner from the main thoroughfare of downtown Tulum.

What I particularly like about Laylo is its selection of hearty vegan bowls made with fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and nuts. Also on the menu, you can find vegan burgers, nachos, and freshly squeezed juices and smoothies. 

If you have a sweet tooth, try their raw vegan brownie that is served with a cup of almond milk. Yum!

  • Suculenta – A small eatery a few blocks away from downtown Tulum that offers mouthwatering tacos and tamales.
  • Raw Love – One of the most popular vegan restaurants in Tulum, Raw Love has two locations: one in downtown Tulum and another one in the village near the beach.
  • Burgerito – A popular restaurant along the main drag in downtown Tulum that offers vegan and non-vegan comfort food.

GOOD TO KNOW: The entrance to Raw Love is marked by the wooden sculpture of the lady by the name Ven a La Luz (Come to the Light), whose body is filled with greenery. While prices are slightly higher at Raw Love than at other plant-based restaurants in Tulum, you get to enjoy the yummy food and the one-of-a-kind atmosphere.

8. Try your hand at water sports

Tulum’s location along the Caribbean Coast of Mexico makes it a perfect place to try water sports. Whether you want to try kite surfing, snorkeling, paddleboarding, or scuba diving, you will have a blast.

Kitesurfing has become particularly popular in Tulum in recent years, and you can book kite surfing lessons in several kite surfing schools like Siankite in Tulum.

9. Visit Punta Laguna Nature Reserve

One of Tulum’s hidden gems, Punta Laguna is a natural reserve where you can spot spider monkeys, all kinds of birds, and even jaguars and pumas. Although there’s no direct transportation from Tulum to Punta Laguna, you can take a boat tour to explore the area.

Visiting Punta Laguna is one of the best things to do in Tulum for adventure lovers and it is located about one hour away from Tulum.

Sian-Ka'an-Biospehere-Reserve-Mexico

10. Explore Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve

The largest protected area in Mexico’s Rivera Maya, this biosphere boasts over 1.3-million acres wilderness and is home to many marine creatures such as manatees, dolphins, turtles, and rays. Sian Ka’an was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987, a year after it gained a status of a Biosphere Reserve.

Visiting Sian Ka’an on a day trip is one of the best things to do in Tulum if you want to escape the crowds. The lagoons of Sian Ka’an boast crystal clear water and swimming in the canals amid mangroves is such a fun experience!

Visiting Sian Ka’an is only possible with a tour. Typically, tours pick you up in Tulum (the closest town to Sian Ka’an) or any other town in the Mexican Rivera Maya by colectivo (a small van) and drive to the entrance of Sian Ka’an, from where you will get on a boat.

How to visit Sian Ka'an in Mexico

At Sian Ka’an, you can see dolphins, turtles, manatees, crocodiles and lizards. Depending on a tour, you might also have an opportunity to snorkel along the reef that protects this huge lagoon.

PRO TIP: If you plan to visit Sian Ka’an, get a biodegradable sunscreen that will not damage its fragile ecosystems. You can also use it when you go for snorkeling in cenotes, so when you shop, look for the reef-safe label.

muyil is one of the best things to do in tulum

11. Get off the beaten path in Muyil

If you visited Tulum and Coba and made a trip to Chichen Itza, you might feel like you’ve seen some of the best Mayan ruins in Mexico. Now let me tell you about a hidden gem about 20 minutes south of Tulum and feels like the world away.

PRO TIP: Visiting Mayan ruins is one of the best things to do in Tulum. Check my complete guide to best Mayan ruins in the area.

Muyil is is one of the best places to visit near Tulum
Why you should visit Muyil near Tulum

Muyil was one of the earliest and longest inhabited ancient Maya sites on the eastern side of the Yucatan Peninsula. Located in the jungle, it is dominated by the pyramid (El Castillo) that stands 56 feet tall and also boasts a boardwalk through the lagoon which leads to a cool observation tower.

PRO TIP: Muyil also offers access to Sian Ka’an Biosphere, so if you would like to get a tour, you can combine these two activities. I spent a day at Muyil and I got to check the ruins, climbed the tower, and took a boat tour of Sian Ka’an where my guide and all of our group took a swim in one of the canals.

Visiting Muyil and Sian Kaan on the same trip was by far one of my favorite things to do in Tulum.

I highly recommend booking the tour of Muyil and Sian Ka’an!

Best things to do in Tulum

12. Go shopping in Tulum

Unlike Cancun and Playa Del Carmen, Tulum doesn’t have huge commercial malls and plazas.

But it has something better: many small boutique stores that are owned by local people. It also has many stands with artisan goods and products where you can buy handmade goods, clothing, and souvenirs that were made by Mexican artisans in villages around the Yucatan Peninsula.

Buying these things will help to support the local economy and provide salaries for many local craftspeople who work so hard to create some of the arts and crafts that you see on the streets of Tulum.

Best cenotes near Tulum

13. Swim in Tulum Cenotes

Visiting cenotes is by far one of the most popular things to do in Tulum.

But what is a cenote?

A cenote (pronounced seh-no-te) is a sinkhole filled with fresh groundwater that is formed when the bedrock collapsed exposing the groundwater underneath.

There are over 6,000 cenotes around Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula – the vast majority of them either too hard or impossible to access. Still, there are many cenotes where you can swim, snorkel and even dive. There are tons of cenotes around Yucatan Peninsula with Tulum, in particular, boasting a high number of cenotes that can be accessed by bicycle or a quick car ride.

The ancient Mayans who lived in this part of Mexico believed that cenotes were the entrance to the underworld and there’s evidence that sacrifices have taken place in many cenotes around Yucatan.

PRO TIP: Check my complete guide to the best cenotes near Tulum that includes helpful tips, prices and directions.

The best cenotes near Tulum:

Best cenotes near Tulum

Gran Cenote

Price: 180 Pesos 

Hours: 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

How to get there: The closest cenote to Tulum, Gran cenote can be accessed by a quick bike ride from downtown Tulum.

Gran Cenote is a beautiful cenote comprised of several sections that are connected by wooden broad walks. This cenote is popular for swimming, snorkeling, and photography, as many visitors come here to admire the crystal clear waters of this cenote.

Best Tulum cenotes

It’s also possible to see turtles in one of the snorkeling areas. 

Pros: Gran Cenote is very easy to access and you don’t even need to rent a car to do that. You can just rent a bicycle and take a quick ride from Downtown Tulum along the highway toward Coba. Be sure to watch out for traffic though. 

Cons: This is the most popular cenote near Tulum, thanks to its proximity to the town, and it can get very busy. Consider coming here early for a better experience. 

Best Tulum cenotes

Cenote Car Wash

Price: 50 Pesos. This cenote is also popular for diving thanks to its beautiful underwater features, however, you must bring your diving equipment. To dive here, you have to pay additional 120 pesos

Hours: 9 a.m.- 5 p.m.

How to get there: Cenote Car Wash is located about 5.5 miles from Downtown Tulum past the entrance to Cenote Calavera. This is one of those cenotes near Tulum which makes sense to rent a car (especially if you plan on visiting multiple cenotes), however, you can catch a taxi for about 150 pesos one way.

Best things to do in Tulum

Cenote Car Wash got its name because people used to wash their cars right nearby and the cenote was used as a landmark to help people find the car wash. Crazy, right? Although it doesn’t get anywhere near as much attention as some of the most popular cenotes near Tulum such as Gran Cenote or Cenote Calavera, it’s worth a visit.

This open cenote looks more like a big lake than lime-stone caverns that you see around Yucatan. Most people come to Cenote Car Wash to see its impressive underwater garden that can be seen while snorkeling or scuba diving. Unlike other closed or semi-closed cenotes near Tulum, Cenote Car Wash gets plenty of sunlight which creates the right conditions for various plants to grow right underwater!

Pros: One of the most beautiful open cenotes near Tulum, the cenote car wash sees fewer people than Gran Cenote or Cenote Calavera. If you come during the low season which is from October through November, you might see very few people here.

Cons: Unlike other cenotes near Tulum, Car Wash has limited facilities and doesn’t offer any gear rentals on site. Diving in this cenote requires a special certification, which you can obtain in one of the diving schools in Mexico’s Rivera Maya.

Best Tulum cenotes

Cenote Nicte Ha

Price: 100 Pesos

Hours: 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

How to get there: Cenote Nicte Ha is located just 20 minutes north of Tulum along Highway 307. You can easily catch a colectivo or get a taxi from Tulum to this cenote. 

Cenote Nicte Ha is more like a pool with clear water than typical cenotes that you find around Tulum.The surface of the cenote covered with hundreds of gorgeous Lillies. The cenote is surrounded by lush vegetation and offers plenty of shade – which makes for a refreshing, but not overly cold swim. 

best cenotes in Mexico

If you want to visit Cenote Nicte Ha, combine your trip with a stop at Cenote Dos Ojos. Since Dos Ojos is located along the same highway and is more popular than Nicte Ha, you can stop there first and later head to Nicte Ha. 

Cons: The tranquility! Cenote Nicte Ha feels like a true oasis in the middle of a busy travel corridor. Not many people know about this cenote, and if you want to explore the places few other visitors get to see, I recommend you stop by!

Pros: The facilities at Cenote Nicte Ha are limited (there are only bathrooms) and there are no lickers on site. If you want to do snorkeling, you have to bring your gear. Since this is a relatively small cenote, you can just put your belongings on a boardwalk above the cenote. 

Best cenotes near Tulum

Cenote Escondido

Price: 70 Pesos (120 pesos for access to Cenote Cristal and neighboring Cenote Escondido)

Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

How to get there: Cenote Escondido is located along Highway 307 south of Tulum and requires just a 5-minute ride. You can get a taxi in Tulum but the easiest way to get here is by renting a car. 

Surprisingly few travelers know about this hidden jewel. This open cenote lives up to its true name thanks to clear waters and the surrounding jungles (Escondido means lost in Spanish), and you feel away from everything here, although this cenote is just 3 kilometers away from Tulum. 

The cenote has three platforms where you can get into the water and a 12-foot jumping platform for more adventurous visitors. Cenote Escondido is popular with snorkelers and divers, as there’s really good visibility.

Pros: On top of beautiful scenery, this cenote also offers great amenities. It has showers, bathrooms, changing rooms, and wooden tables and chairs where you can have a picnic after enjoying this cenote. Also, you can rent a life vest, since this is a deep cenote, up to 20 meters! 

Cons: When you visit Cenote Escondido, it’s tough to think of any cons! It’s beautiful, less discovered, and yet, so close to Tulum. I highly recommend you visit it! 

14. Scuba dive in Tulum cenotes

Did you know that there are some incredible cenotes near Tulum where you can scuba dive? A quick note though: scuba diving in Tulum cenotes requires special certification, since many of these cenotes have complex cave systems, and is typically done with a guide.

Luckily, there are many tour companies in Tulum that offer diving trips to Tulum cenotes. Some of the most popular cenotes near Tulum for scuba diving are Cenote El Pit, Cenote Dos Ojos and Cenote Car Wash.

To learn more about the best cenotes near Tulum, check my complete guide.

15. Or go on a snorkeling trip 

If diving is not your thing, take a snorkeling trip from Tulum. Snorkeling tours depart daily from Tulum, and you can take either buy a guided snorkeling tour in one of the tour agencies in Tulum, or get a tour right on the beach in Tulum. Many vendors sell tours right on the beaches of Tulum.

Taking a snorkeling trip is one of the most popular things to do in Tulum.

16. Do a Temazcal ceremony 

A traditional Temazcal ceremony is one of the most incredible cultural experiences that a traveler can have while visiting Mexico’s Rivera Maya! This ancient ritual involves a shaman who guides participants through the ceremony that is supposed to cleanse the spirit. 

17. Take a day trip from Tulum

There are many cool places within two hours from Tulum, and you should spare at least one day during your stay in Tulum to explore some of them. 

Best Mayan Ruins in Mexico

Chichen Itza 

Distance from Tulum to Chichen Itza: 152 kilometers (94 miles)

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Chichen Itza is one of the most popular day trips from Tulum. Chichen Itza is one of the Seven Wonders of The World that is visited by 3 million people per year. 

The 75-foot Kukulkan Pyramid is the main feature of the sight and it was built by Myanas to follow astronomy and make sacrifices.

Chichen Itza is considered one of the most important archaeological sites in the world. Dominated by the big pyramid El Castillo, it also has a well-preserved market, Ball Court for the Mesoamerican game Pok a Tok, and a Temple of Warriors

El Caracol, one of the buildings in the complex was used to gauge the movements of the sun and planets. 

If you are visiting Yucatan Peninsula for the first time come early morning to beat the crowds. I also recommend skip-the-line ticket which will save you a lot of time, since this a busy archeological area.

How to get to Chichen Itza from Tulum: Although there are no direct buses from Tulum to Chichen Itza, you can take a guided tour or rent a car to get to Chichen Itza from Tulum.

PRO TIP: Chichen Itzá is a busy archaeological area. And it can be very crowded during the high season. To beat the crowds, arrive early to Chichen Itza when it opens at 8 a.m. If you don’t want to get up super early, spend the night in Valladolid, a colonial town near Chichen Itza where you can see historic buildings, swim in cenotes and shop local markets.

Coba-Ruins-Mexico

Coba 

Distance from Tulum to Coba: 27 miles

If you are visiting Tulum and want to take a day trip without driving too far, visit Coba ruins.

Located about 35-40 minutes from Tulum by car, Coba ruins are spread over 80 miles and have numerous structures including the tallest pyramid in the Yucatan Peninsula, Nohoch Mul, that you can climb to get very cool views.

While the town near the Coba ruins is pretty small, you can combine your tour of Coba Ruins with a quick visit to nearby cenotes Tankach-Ha, Choo-Ha and Multum-Ha.

Check my complete guide to Coba ruins and Coba cenotes to plan your trip.

Coba ruins are pretty spread out around the Archaeological Park with some of the sites located about 1 km away from one another. Most of the trail goes through the jungle, but you should still put on plenty of sunscreen and bring snacks and water.

Best hotels in Playa Del Carmen

Playa Del Carmen 

Distance from Tulum to Playa Del Carmen: 65 kilometers (40 miles)

One of the most popular destinations in Mexico’s Rivera Maya, Playa Del Carmen is a tourist hub with many stores, restaurants, fun activities and great connections to many popular destinations in the Yucatan Peninsula. It’s one of the best day trips from Tulum if you need to do some shopping and check out some restaurants. 

Playa Del Carmen is also a starting point for diving trips thanks to its proximity to the Great Mesoamerican Reef – the second largest barrier reef in the world. And it’s under one hour from Cancun, which means you can quickly head to the airport by bus or taxi. 

How to get to Playa Del Carmen from Tulum: You can catch collectivos to Playa Del Carmen from Tulum every hour. There are also many ADO buses from Tulum to Playa Del Carmen that depart from the main bus station in Tulum.

Best things to do in Bacalar, Mexico

Bacalar 

Distance from Tulum to Bacalar: 215 kilometers (133 miles)

Located along the spectacular lagoon of Seven Colors, Bacalar is one of my favorite day trips from Tulum (although to be perfectly honest, I think that Bacalar deserves more than a day). 

If you still decide to do a day trip from Tulum to Bacalar, I recommend taking a boat tour of the Bacalar lagoon ahead of time. And don’t forget to visit some of the best cenotes near Bacalar such as Cenote Cocalitos, Cenote Azul and Cenote Esmeralda.

The tours of Bacalar lagoon can be booked online ahead of time, however, there are also several companies in Bacalar that sell these tours on a spot. I did my tour with Bacalovesailing and loved them. They have an incredible all-female crew that is super knowledgeable about the lagoon and offer fun and educational tours.

PRO TIP: To plan your trip to this magical town read my complete guide to best things to do in Bacalar. 

How to get to Bacalar from Tulum: Take Highway 307 toward Chetumal and continue all the way south until you arrive in Bacalar, if you are traveling with a rental car. But if you are traveling from Tulum to Bacalar by bus, you can catch an ADO bus from the main bus station in Tulum.

Things to do in Mexico

Akumal 

Distance from Tulum to Akumal: 29 kilometers (18 miles)

Located less than one hour away from Tulum Akumal is a small village that is known for its stunning bay with many sea turtles.

Located just north of Tulum, Akumal has been flying under the radar for quite a while, but in recent years, more tourists have been coming here.

GOOD TO KNOW: If you decide to take a snorkeling tour in Akumal to see these majestic creatures, make sure to keep your distance (at least 10 feet) and not to bother or touch them. This has become somewhat a problem, as many turtles have left this area because of the increased tourism activity in the waters of Akumal.

In addition, book a tour with a licensed tour guide who can give you proper guidelines for snorkeling.

Be respectful to all marine creatures, and remember that you are a guest in their world, not the other way around. And use a reef safe sunscreen that will not hurt turtles and bleach the reefs!

How to get to Akumal from Tulum: You can get to Akumal from Tulum by taxi or colectivo. 

How to visit Laguna Kaan Luum near Tulum

18. Visit Laguna Kaan Luum

Located about 15 minutes away from downtown Tulum along Highway 307, Laguna Kaan Luum is one of the best things to do in Tulum if you want a quick getaway. The most notable feature of the lagoon is the dark blue cenote in the middle which creates a stark contrast with the lighter outer areas of the lagoon.

Laguna Kaan Luum is a perfect place to escape busy Tulum, and relax in the nature thanks to shallow waters, wooden pier and opportunities for paddle boarding.

The laguna looks like a huge lake and has some basic facilities, hammocks, restrooms and huts where you can hide from the sun. Entrance cost: 300 pesos. If you want to fly your drone, you have to pay additional 150 pesos.

You can reach Laguna Kaan Luum by rental car, scooter or colectivo from Tulum.

19. Take a yoga class

Tulum is one of the most popular destinations for yoga retreats in Mexico thanks to its hippie and bohemian vibes. Participating in a yoga retreat or just taking a yoga class is one of the best things to do in Tulum if you want to relax and unwind during your visit.

Best hotels in Tulum

20. Stay in one of the most beautiful hotels in Tulum

Tulum is known to have some of the most beautiful hotels in Mexico.

Unless you are traveling on a budget, you should check out at least one of them. When it comes to best things to do in Tulum, nothing compares with staying in some of the most gorgeous hotels here like Nomade, La Zebra and Suenos.

But what if you are a budget traveler?

The good news is that many of these hotels have day clubs where you can spend time after paying an entrance fee and/or purchasing food and a drink. Some of the most popular day clubs are Coco Tulum and Papaya Playa Project.

PRO TIP: Want to learn about some of the best hotels in Tulum for any budget? Check my complete guide that gives a full overview of places to stay in Tulum.

Best hotels in Tulum

Where to stay in Tulum

Tulum is divided into the beach area and downtown.

The beach area is home to the most expensive hotels are Tulum. Here you can find boho villas, boutique hotels and luxury resorts. Meanwhile, downtown Tulum has a better selection of budget-friendly accommodations such as motels, hostels and Airbnb’s.

When deciding where to stay in Tulum, you should figure out if you want to be within a walking distance from the beach or if you want to save some money on accommodation and rent a bicycle or scooter to get around Tulum. 

Best Hostels Tulum

Staying in a hostel no longer means dull boring dorm rooms and mediocre accommodations.

Tulum hostels are gorgeous and feature beautiful aesthetic, tons of amenities and events. For example, I stayed in Ariche Tulum, a cozy hostel just a few blocks away from ADO bus station in Tulum, and had a great experience!

PRO TIP: If you are looking for the best hostels in Tulum, check Hostelworld.com, the top platform for finding great deals on hostels in all of Mexico’s Rivera Maya!

Other great hostels in Tulum are Botanica that has a stunning design, huge swimming pool and nice common areas. It’s by far one of the most beautiful hostels I’ve ever seen 😊

Another great stay is Holistika, one of the most beautiful hotels in Tulum that has private and shared rooms and offers a quiet setting away from downtown and tons of activities.

Budget Hotels in Tulum

Despite its reputation, Tulum is not all about expensive resorts. The town has plenty of affordable options such as Mango Tulum Hotel just outside of the city center that boasts a garden and pool; or Teetotum Hotel that offers free bikes and free breakfast.

Another great option for budget travelers is Maison Tuluma colorful hotel a few blocks away from downtown Tulum and near the ADO bus stop.

Mid-Range Hotels in Tulum

If you are looking for a good mid-range accommodation in Tulum, you are in luck! The town has dozens of hotels catering to travelers who are willing to spend a bit more money. 

For example, Hotel Cabanas isn’t crazy expensive, but it offers a secluded location with some of the rooms facing the gorgeous white-sand beach. Diamante K is a moderately priced hotel that has beach-front bungalows; and Villas H2O, is a budget-friendly, yet extremely stylish place with a seasonal outdoor pool. 

Luxury Hotels in Tulum

Tulum is the ultimate spot for a luxury stay! From eco-lodges to rustic 5-star resorts, Tulum has many gorgeous hotels many of which are located along the beach. For example, Casa Malca, an upscale resort about 6 miles away from Tulum sits along the beach near the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve. 

Suenos Tulum is an extremely photogenic hotel along the beach. It boasts artsy Mayan-themed decor and a gorgeous outdoor setting  with hammocks and cozy decks. 

And if you want a more secluded spot, choose Hotel Bardo, one of the most beautiful hotels in Tulum that will blow you away with its amazing design! Another gorgeous eco-setting is Nomade Tulum that has incredible tree houses and cabins in the middle of the lush jungle. 

Most frequently asked questions about Tulum

Is Tulum safe to visit?

Tulum is safe to visit, but that being said, crime does occur here. Although a lot of criminal activity here has to do with drug trafficking, always keep an eye on your belongings and stay vigilant whether you are on the beach or in a popular restaurant. The most common types of crime in Tulum are pickpocketing and petty theft, but if you want to protect yourself, consider getting travel insurance ahead of your trip.

How many days should I spend in Tulum?

This is a tricky question. You can see most Tulum highlights in 3-5 days, and, if you plan on taking day trips from Tulum and exploring cenotes in the area, plan for a week stay in Tulum. That being said, many travelers fall in love with Tulum when they come here and end up expending their stay for months and even weeks.

If you have never been to Tulum I recommend no less than 5 days here to get a good feel of this place before continuing your adventures to other parts of the Yucatan Peninsula.

What’s the best time to visit Tulum?

When you plan your Tulum itinerary, you should be aware of seasonal changes such as the hurricane season that lasts from September through early November in this region of Mexico. During this time, you will see more rain and clouds than usual, so if you plan a classic beach getaway, it is definitely something to consider.

The winter season (January through early April) is the busiest time not only in Tulum but in most of Mexico’s Rivera Maya when many visitors from colder climates of North America come here to escape winter, and prices on accommodations around this time tend to be higher. 

The best time to visit Tulum is November through early January. The hurricane season is over, the weather is not extremely hot, and hotel prices in Tulum are great during this time!

I hope you were able to get some inspiration for your Tulum itinerary and will have a great time when you visit this stunning part of Mexico’s Caribbean Coast. 

Do I need Spanish in Tulum?

Here’s the best way to put it: most people who work in hospitality industry, especially in more expensive hotels, as well as restaurants and tour companies do speak English. However, as soon as you go to downtown Tulum, you will find fewer people speaking English. Speaking Spanish is very helpful if you plan to buy street tacos or grab some food in more local restaurants.

My advice is to learn at least a couple of Spanish phrases ahead of your trip to Mexico.

Is Tulum worth visiting?

As someone who has visited Tulum multiple times, I can say that it is worth a visit! That being said, some travelers find it very touristy and “less authentic,” as Tulum has grown considerably over the last 10 years. The truth is the tourism has definitely increased in Tulum, but the town still has a wonderful charm and some of the best beaches in Mexico’s Caribbean.

Final thoughts on best things to do in Tulum

Tulum is one of the most popular destinations in Mexico’s Caribbean, and although it can feel touristy, it is absolutely worth a visit! Here you will find wonderful postcard scenery, ancient Mayan ruins, and dozens of wonderful cenotes in the dense Mayan jungle. Make sure to include Tulum on your Mexico itinerary!

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. At no cost to you, I might earn a small commission if you make a purchase through the links in this article. 

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Best Things To Do In Tulum
Best Things To Do In Tulum
Best Things To Do In Tulum

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