Things to do in Tulum: An Ultimate Guide

Tulum, Mexico, is every beach lover’s dream. Located on the Yucatan peninsula, the city is in the heart of Riveria Maya. It is also adjacent to the mesoamerican barrier reef, the world’s second-largest coral reef system.

The welcoming Caribbean breeze will pull you in right away, but the plethora of things to do in Tulum will keep you entertained for weeks on end. 

About Tulum

ocean view in Tulum

Tulum should be high on your list when considering where to go in Mexico! Tulum is the perfect beach town if you aren’t quite looking for the pumping nightlife of Cancún but don’t want to sacrifice great restaurants and entertainment either. 

The city has plenty of modern hotels with great packages for travelers looking to relax. Still, part of the charm of Tulum is that Maya culture is still evident.

The weather is almost always excellent in Tulum. Temperatures average around 28℃ (83℉), except for September and October, the worst months for hurricanes. November and December tend to be the best months to visit as the worst weather is over, but there are fewer tourists. 

How to get to Tulum

How to get to Tulum from Cancún 

The easiest place to come from is Cancún. Cancún to Tulum’s distance is about 120 km (~75 miles).

A standard bus by Ado will take about two and a half hours and cost $10 per person. 

The bus will go from Cancún airport to Tulum and has several departures each day.

If you prefer to take a minivan, some will pick you up at Cancún airport and drop you at any hotel in Tulum. Tickets start at $30 per person.

Your final option is to hire a private car. This is a great choice if you are traveling in a group or would prefer to set your own schedule. Private cars tend to be a bit quicker, and the ride from Cancún to Tulum would only take two hours and cost about $88 for four people.

If you’re coming from Playa del Carmen, read our traveler review of how to get there step by step.

Best things to do in Tulum

Tulum ruins

Tulum is packed full of things to see and do. You could easily spend months exploring and still find yourself wanting more. 

Here is a list of top suggestions for some unique things to do in Tulum during your stay:

  1. Check out the Tulum Archeological Site to explore the Tulum Maya Ruins.
    These ruins are an absolute must! Situated on a 12-meter (39 ft) cliff, the ruins provide an amazing view of the Caribbean Sea. This is the site of the last city built and inhabited by the Maya.
  1. Climb on the Coba Ruins.
    While this ancient archeological site is more remote than some of its rivals, the Coba site is definitely worth visiting. Many historians and archeologists believe that the Coba ruins are one of the most important Maya cities.

    Also known as The City of White Roads, this place is unique because you can actually still climb on the structures and check out the ancient city from a new perspective. The largest pyramid is called Ixmoja. Scurry up the 120 stone steps if you think you can! These stairs are pretty steep, but the views from the top are breathtaking. 
  1. Explore the Cenotes in Tulum.
    Just outside of Tulum you’ll find Gran Cenote, one of the most popular in the region. It is great for swimmers, divers, and snorkelers, and it’s the perfect place to visit if you’re headed to the Coba Ruins. 

    Cenote Ak Tun Ha, fondly known as the Carwash Cenote, is another option if you are looking for a more laid-back experience. Here, you’ll be able to find an abundance of fish and turtles swimming around, and you can also check out the vast cave system.

    If you want a unique experience, head to Casa Cenote. It is a shallow cenote at only 6 meters deep. The pristine turquoise waters are surrounded by lush trees and tangled mangroves. You can even kayak, swim, or paddleboard here. 

    This spot is located just off the highway between Tulum and Playa del Carmen, making it the perfect pitstop if you are on a Mexican road trip. It is easily accessible through tours if you aren’t driving. 
cenote in Tulum
  1. Enjoy the turquoise waters and white sand beaches of Playa Paraiso.
    Head out here for a day trip to enjoy one of Tulum’s prettiest stretches of sand. It’s a stunning area and the beach is great for relaxing and swimming. There are also plenty of spots to grab drinks or lunch nearby.
  1. Visit the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve.
    This UNESCO site is a spectacular area of natural beauty.
    Sian Ka’an is home to thousands of different plants and animals, and the reserve has plenty of eco-tours for environmentally conscious visitors. It is also one of the most ecologically diverse places on the entire planet! 

What to do in Tulum when it rains? 

As long as it isn’t hurricane season, many activities continue as usual! Swimming in cenotes and in the sea is very common. 

You can also try a traditional Temazcal ceremony. This is an indigenous sweat lodge and is a great cultural experience.

Other possibilities include a yoga class with an ocean view, of which Tulum has many options. 

Or you could go on a pub crawl until the rain passes. It usually doesn’t last for long!

What to do in Tulum at night? 

The city also has great nightlife, and there is plenty to keep you busy!

  1. Enjoy cocktails at Batey. This mojito bar has amazing drinks served straight out of an old VW Bus.
  1. Go dancing at Papaya Playa Project. This beach club is located inside the Papaya Playa hotel and has a moonlight dance party every month. You can’t miss it!
  1. Have a drink at Nana Rooftop bar. Nana’s is pretty relaxed for a rooftop bar. It is a great place to try a range of cocktails made from all over Mexico. 
  1. Take a salsa dancing class. Head to Hotel La Zebra to learn all the salsa moves and enjoy a night of dancing right on the beach.
  1. Taste all the food during an evening walking food tour. You’ll taste unique local dishes and learn about Tulum’s history. If you enjoy Mexican food (and who doesn’t?), you should add this to your list of things to do in Tulum.

How to get around Tulum

bike in Tulum

Now that you have plenty of things to do in Tulum, you need to know how to get around the city. 

Tulum transportation is somewhat limited, but it’s very bike-friendly. You can rent bikes at most hotels and hostels. There is no Uber in Tulum, but there are taxis. Be sure to negotiate before you get in.

FAQ

Is Tulum Safe?

The answer is yes if you use your common sense. Stay vigilant as pickpocketing and robbery are not uncommon. However, stick to the main road that is lit up at night, stay where it is more populated, and don’t get drunk and act foolishly. That just makes you a target. Don’t let that put you off going, though. You can have a great time in Tulum (and anywhere in Mexico, really) if you pay attention to your surroundings and stay alert. As you should in any country.

When is the busiest time of year in Tulum?

Tulum is most crowded with tourists between January and April. This also happens to be when the weather is the most idyllic. 

Are the Tulum Maya Ruins the same as Chichén Itzá?

No–they are two different sites. Chichén Itzá was recently named one of the world’s new seven wonders. The Tulum Maya Ruins, on the other hand, sit on a cliff, making their location absolutely stunning. Both are worth visiting and very different!

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