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It is well known that Tulum is one of those bucket-list places to visit in Mexico. The incredible beaches, local food, and deep history are just a few of the sights that make Tulum so popular. You could easily get lost spending over a week exploring the city and surrounding areas!
With so much to see, Tulum is a great hub for your vacation to the Yucatan Peninsula. It is especially great for those travelers who seek a bit of adventure paired with a lazy beach day.
We love booking adventure tours while traveling to a different country because it makes the logistics much simpler and allows you to see things you normally wouldn’t be able to – like swimming with whale sharks or tequila tasting while visiting the Tulum Ruins!
There are so many great tour options out of Tulum, that we have put together a list of some of our favorite activities and places. Hopefully, this will help scratch the surface of the amazing experiences you can have in Tulum!
Why Book a Tour in Tulum
Tulum and the entire Yucatan Peninsula truly have so much to offer travelers! It can be a little overwhelming to figure out exactly how to best use your time in this beautiful place. I also find it stressful to have to figure out the details of travel, like transportation, getting a fair price, or where to rent equipment. If I’m visiting somewhere awesome, I want to enjoy my time!
This is why we love booking tours!
Not only do they handle the logistics that can be confusing in a foreign country, but you also get way more out of the experience. Tours usually include a local guide who takes you to places that are off the beaten path and fills your day with useful information about the area you’re exploring.
Tours also allow you to do some pretty awesome things because they provide equipment and ensure your safety, like ATVing, ziplining, or diving in cenotes!
Note: We love booking tours through the website Viator because they have a great cancellation policy, so if your plans change at the last minute, it’s no big deal. It gives us reassurance that our time and money are best being used while we travel.
Our TOP Three Tulum Tours
Best full-day tour:
No trip to the Yucatan Peninsula would be complete without visiting the Chichen Itza and the cenotes, and this full-day tour does this and so much more. This was one of the most well-crafted itineraries I enjoyed on the my trip, no wonder that the tour has over 12,000 5-star reviews!
You can grab tickets online for this tour here, costing just $69 USD per person – that’s such great value considering it’s an all-day tour.
Best cooking tour:
Is anything more authentically Mexican than learning local dishes from a local in their own home? This 3-hour cooking class is ideal for foodies, and with a maximum of 10 people per tour, you have tons of one-on-one time with your host. Tickets for this tour cost $87 USD per person and can be booked online here.
Best nature tour:
This Si’an Ka’an adventure tour has you visiting the largest coastal protected area in Mexico, which is such a unique treat and an unforgettable experience! With hotel pick-up included, one of the best parts about this tour is that it’s capped at just 6 people, making for an incredibly intimate and fun experience.
Tickets for this tour cost $189 USD per person and can be booked in advance here.
The BEST Tours in Tulum
1. Chichen Itza, Cenote, and Valladolid All-Inclusive Tour
Two of the most iconic sights of the Yucatan Peninsula are Chichen Itza and the cenotes nearby. We love this tour because it includes stops at both, as well as visiting the colonial city of Valladolid. You’ll spend the day exploring the ancient history of the Mayans, early Spanish cities, and the natural beauty of the cenotes!
Your tour starts off with a visit to Chichen Itza, the historic Mayan Ruin site. Your guide will spend two hours taking you to the most important ruins, such as El Castillo (the iconic pyramid ruin), and give detailed information about the structures.
Next, you’ll head to Saamal Cenote, which is probably my favorite part of this tour! The natural sinkhole is a great place to cool off after wandering through the hot sun all day, and it is truly incredible to see! Most tours to Chichen Itza from Tulum stop at the super popular (and overly touristy cenotes) but not this one, Saamal Cenote is more of a hidden gem – which is fantastic!
Finally, you’ll head to the historic city of Valladolid. You will explore the city center and markets to get a good look at this colonial town. Honestly. Valladolid is so picturesque!
This tour includes a buffet lunch, transportation, guides, and hotel pickup (or meeting at a designated point, depending on where you’re staying). The tour costs $69 USD for adults and $64 USD for children. One thing to note is that admission to Chichen Itza is not included in the tour pice and is an additional 533 MXN pesos ($26 USD) for tourists.
Still, this tour from Tulum is great value considering all that it includes and the rave reviews! You can book this tour online in advance here to avoid missing out!
2. ATV, Zipline, and Cenote Tour
If you’re a thrill-seeker looking for a real adventure on your trip to Tulum, then look no further! This tour includes an ATV ride to a cenote, followed by an exhilarating zipline course above the treetops. Not only is it a great way to see what the Tulum area has to offer, but it also makes for an exciting day full of adrenaline!
Your tour starts with a hotel pickup in Tulium and takes you to your first destination: ATVing through the jungle! You can drive your own ATV if you are 18 years old or you can double up and share the thrill. You’ll spend a few hours traversing trails full of mud, rocks, streams, and rugged terrain. ATVing is always an exciting way to explore any area, and this part of Tulum is simply stunning!
Eventually, you’ll make your way to a cenote, which is not only a natural wonder to see but was considered a sacred place for the Mayan people. You’ll spend some time swimming through the cool blue water before the adventure starts again. For us, cooling off with a swim in the cenote was ideal after riding in the hot sun (and getting covered in dirt!)
Your last stop on the tour takes you to a zipline course through the jungle!
Included in this tour are transportation, adventure and safety equipment, lunch, and your guides! This tour is available to book online here for $65 USD, although prices may vary depending on where your hotel is located.
3. Akumal Beach snorkeling tour
One of my favorite parts of Tulum is exploring the stunning landscape. The best part is that this beauty isn’t only on land, but also in the gorgeous blue ocean! If you love the water, then this Tulum tour is for you!
Your day begins by heading straight to cenotes. These natural sinkholes allow you to swim through a limestone cave system. You’ll see the bright blue water below and unique rock formations above, it is quite unlike anything I’d ever experienced before.
You’ll then head to Akumal Beach for some of the best snorkeling in Riviera Maya! This is where having a local guide comes in handy, as they take you to areas you might not have found if you were exploring on your own (not to mention snorkeling at Akumal Beach is not allowed unless you are with a guide!)
What put Akumal Beach on the map is the sea turtles that call it home. That’s right, when snorkeling at Akumal Beach you are almost guaranteed to see at least one turtle! When we were last there we actually saw three different turtles while snorkeling, not to mention all the fish – we even saw a squid!
Your tour will end with spending time at a local beach club to relax, eat lunch, and enjoy the gorgeous beach. This tour is the perfect mix of exciting and relaxing.
Hotel pickup/drop off is included, as well as your snorkeling equipment, lunch, and your awesome guides. You can reserve your spot online here for $149 USD for adults and $139 USD for children.
Why We Book Tours with Viator
Viator is a trusted online booking system for tours around the world! We almost always book our tours using Viator for a couple of reasons:
- Free cancellation on most tours – Most of the tours on Viator allow you to cancel and get a full refund up to 24 hours in advance. This is handy in case plans change, or if booking an outdoor activity, the weather forecast is looking grim.
- Reserve now and pay later – You can secure your spot on some of the most popular tours well in advance and not pay until closer to the day of the tour.
- Pay in your chosen currency – Avoid costly international transaction fees by choosing to pay in your home currency.
- Peace of mind – When booking with tour operators you find in person on the street or in small booking offices, you are often promised one thing and given another. This online platform holds tour operators accountable with a written description of inclusions as well as the opportunity for customers to leave reviews.
Check out the Viator website here!
4. Swim with Whale Sharks
This tour is one for the bucket list! Here, you’ll get the chance to snorkel around the islands off the Yucatan Peninsula with manta rays, turtles, and – the star of the show – whale sharks!
While it might sound a little scary to swim with “sharks”, it’s important to know that whale sharks are not actually sharks at all, and are actually the world’s largest fish species. These gentle giants are known to be harmless and only feed on small fish like plankton. They physically can’t bite humans, and eat only through small fish filters.
On top of that, the guides make sure you are safe the entire time. One of the things that we love about this tour is that it only accommodates up to 10 travelers, so you really get enough time in the water and talking to the biologist on board to learn about these fascinating creatures.
You’ll be picked up from your hotel and taken to the boat launch area, where you’ll hop aboard and begin exploring the Isla Contoy, Holbox, and Isla Mujeres areas. You’ll be provided with snorkeling equipment and safety instructions before you slip into the water to swim with the whale sharks.
I’ve had the opportunity to snorkel in a lot of places, and this was one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had! It’s quite amazing to swim with whale sharks around Isla Mujeres because you can get up close in their natural habitat.
After a few hours of snorkeling, your group will make its way to Playa Norte on Isla Mujeres. Here you will spend some time relaxing on the white sand beaches, swimming in the turquoise water, and having a traditional Mexican lunch on the beach.
This area of Mexico is one of the few places you can swim with whale sharks in the world! With that said, you do want to make sure you only join this tour during ‘whale shark season’ which typically runs from May until September. Peak time is generally July and August.
This amazing tour includes transportation, snorkeling equipment, guides, and lunch and can be booked online here for $144 USD. Note, children must be at least 8 years old to participate in this tour.
5. Tulum Ruins, Tequila Tasting, and Cenote Tour
This list of tours in Tulum won’t be complete without a tour that includes a tequila tasting! Not only will you have a fun day exploring the Tulum Ruins and cenotes, but you’ll also get a chance to try some locally-made tequila for an authentic Mexican experience!
This is a small group tour of up to 10 people, which makes it a little more personal. Your tour will pick you up at your hotel and take you to the Tulum Ruins for your first stop. Your admission fee is included and your guide will lead you around the ruins, filling you in on the immense history – this is where I find these tours invaluable as the guides provide so much insight into the Mayan culture.
After your time at the ruins, the tour will take you toward cenotes for a refreshing swim. But before you get there, you’ll take a stop to try a few local tequilas! You’ll then head to the cenotes to swim in three different locations! This tour takes you to a couple of the best cenotes in the Tulum area!
The tour will finish with a traditional Mexican lunch back in Tulum.
Note: This tour has the option of skipping the tour of the ruins and instead, taking a boat tour to see the ruins from the water for $172 USD. Just choose the option that you prefer when you book!
6. Sian Ka’an Adventure
Sain Ka’an is a biosphere reserve located just south of Tulum. It is the largest coastal protected area in Mexico, stretching 652,000 hectares, and is home to abundant wildlife. This area also holds the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, which is the second-largest barrier reef in the world!
This large reserve is insanely beautiful and this tour is the perfect way for nature lovers to explore it!
This tour gives you a full day to explore the nature preserve. Your local guide will pick you up from your Tulum based hotel and take you deep into the preserve. You’ll feel like Indiana Jones as you go down the bumpy road to board a boat and continue exploring the preserve by water. You’ll explore the coastal lagoons and marine ecosystems that make this area unique.
If the weather is good, you’ll have a chance to snorkel in the barrier reef. If it isn’t, you’ll still be able to explore a cenote in the area!
One of the main draws of this tour is the vast wildlife that lives in the preserve. You might see crocodiles, dolphins, manatees, turtles, fish, and birds! We also love that the naturalist guides are a wealth of information, making this not only a fun day but also incredibly informative.
This tour accommodates up to 6 travelers, so you and your friends can really get to know the area, ask lots of questions, and have an intimate experience! Lunch, snacks, equipment, and transportation are included for $189 USD. You can book this unique tour online here!
7. Magical Cenote and Paradise Lagoon Snorkeling
There is certainly no shortage of amazing water tours in Tulum. Between the vast number of cenotes and proximity to the beautiful ocean, there is so much unique marine life to explore! This tour takes you to one of the largest cenotes on the Yucatan Peninsula, then to the Yal Ku Lagoon for snorkeling!
This half-day tour is based out of Playa del Carmen, which is about one hour from Tulum. You’ll be picked up from your hotel and head to the beautiful cenote for your first stop. You’ll spend time exploring this vast underground river surrounded by limestone caves.
You’ll continue to the Yul Ka Lagoon, which is another fascinating marine paradise. This lagoon is made up of both freshwater from the underground rivers and saltwater from the nearby sea. This creates a unique ecosystem, allowing lots of different marine animals to thrive in this environment! You’ll get to snorkel and explore this beautiful lagoon and experience all the plants and animals it has to offer.
You’ll have quite a bit of time to walk around the lagoon and enjoy the area. They’ve built it up into a nice little paradise!
This relaxing tour includes transportation from specific hotels (when booked online 48 hours in advance), snorkeling gear, and your guides. It can be booked online here for $89 USD.
8. Tulum Local Walking Food Tour
One of my favorite parts about traveling is the food. You can really get to know a culture and the people simply by eating! It is well known that Mexico has some of the best food, making this Local Walking Food Tour a deliciously unique experience.
This tour takes you to some of the best, authentic restaurants that are off the beaten path in Tulum. Most of the time, getting out of the main touristy areas lets you find the hidden gems of gastronomy.
You’ll meet the tour at the designated point in central Tulum. Be sure to bring an empty stomach! Your local guide will begin by giving you a history of the area, the food, and how that is significant to the locals today.
You’ll make your way from a taco stand to try Tacos de Guisado to a fruit and vegetable market to try locally grown produce and juice. You’ll have more tacos, followed by homemade tamales, and mole! Mole is a chocolate-based sauce that comes from the area of Oaxaca, Mexico. It is a must-try if you ever have the chance.
And of course, no food tour is complete without dessert!
If you’re a foodie, this tour needs to be added to your itinerary! Included in this tour is all the food and your guide and their extensive history of the area. There are also vegetarian options! You can reserve your spot online here for $75 USD.
Related Read: More more good food, be sure to visit some of the best restaurants in Tulum!
9. Mexico Cooking Class
Here’s your chance to take your foodie-ness to the next level and learn how to make these delicious dishes yourself! Taking this cooking class is a great way to get immersed in Mexican culture and learn about its ties to ancient Mayan and Aztec practices.
This tour is an incredibly intimate experience because you’ll be learning to cook from a local in their own home! This is true Mexican hospitality. You’ll learn the authentic ways of cooking from handmade tortillas, spicy salsas, and perfectly grilled meats. By the end, you’ll have made a three-course meal!
No meal in Tulum is complete without Mezcal. Mezcal is a smokey spirit that is from the southern regions of Mexico. There are so many different variations to try, and there is even a specific way to drink it. Both Dan and I love Mexcal, we will choose it over tequila everytime!
This tour has a maximum of 10 people, so you get plenty of attention from your host, and it’s a great way to make some new friends! There is no transportation included in this tour, instead, you meet right at the host’s home. However, all the food, drinks, instruction, and wonderful hospitality are included in the price of $87 USD per person.
10. Beginner cenote dive
While there are a lot of cool ways to experience the famous cenotes of Tulum, one of the most epic ways to see them is by scuba diving. Luckily, there are plenty of options for scuba diving in Tulum – for both beginner and advanced divers!
Usually, you need some sort of certification or prior experience to scuba dive, but this tour is geared towards beginners, making this amazing experience accessible to anyone!
You’ll start by meeting at the dive center in Tulum, where you will get all of the necessary equipment and complete an introductory safety briefing. The guides will teach you how to use the gear, safety, and basic skills, such as emergency responses and how to communicate underwater.
Once you have the basics covered, you will head to Casa Cenote to practice your new skills in the water! You’ll practice in the shallow water first, but then take a 40 minute descent into the cenote with the help of your instructors.
You’ll see the mangrove roots underwater, tropical fishes, caverns, and more amazing underwater sights!
If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to scuba dive in Mexico, I can’t recommend this tour enough. Not only are the instructors very good at their job, but it is also one of the most unique areas you could learn!
Your 4-5 hour tour includes all the scuba equipment and your instructors. You can reserve your spot online here for $145 USD.
Related Read: If you’re eager to do more underwater exploring, you shouldn’t miss the amazing scuba diving in Cancun!
11. Jungle Maya Native Park Tour
This is another jam-packed tour that is well suited for thrill seekers! You’ll spend an afternoon in the Jungle Maya Adventure Park where you can wander through the jungle, soar on a zipline, rappel into a cenote, and snorkel through the underground river.
This tour is set up very well to accommodate your schedule or group size. Jungle Maya Park offers departures multiple times during the day, and everything is in close proximity so you can spend more time adventuring!
Your guide will start your tour by taking you on a jungle walk, teaching you about the animals, plants, and people that inhabit the area. You will then make your way to the world’s longest underground river where you can swim and snorkel in the Nohoch Nah Chich cavern. To kick it up a notch, you can rappel down a 12-meter (40-foot) cliff into the Yaxmuul cenote!
After spending some time swimming through the impressively large cenote, you will make your way to the zipline! Instead of swimming underground, you’ll now be flying over the treetops.
This is easily one of the best tours in Tulum for those who want to experience lots in a short amount of time!
This is an excellent tour for families or a group! Children ages 6 and up are welcome to join. Your guide and all necessary equipment are included, and there is an option to purchase lunch. You can reserve this day of adventure online here for $125 USD for adults and $95 USD for children.
12. Tulum Ruins Tour
Tulum is a great spot for those looking for a relaxing beach vacation, those who are seeking outdoor adventure, and also for those who are fascinated by a culture’s rich history! The Tulum Ruins are an incredible sight to behold, and visiting them is a must-do during your time in Tulum!
The Tulum Ruins date back hundreds of years to the Mayan civilization. Their fortified city sits right on the edge of the peninsula overlooking the ocean. It was once a hub for trade, which made this Mayan colony rich in resources. Today, this historical sight is simply stunning to explore.
This four-hour tour is a great way to experience the Tulum Ruins. There is so much history to learn that is truly helpful to have the guide leading the tour and telling of their rich history.
We also love this tour because it provides roundtrip transportation and admission to the park, taking the stress of planning and driving off of you, and allowing you to simply enjoy this amazing place!
This tour also departs in the morning, which is great because the sun gets quite intense at the ruins! You’ll have a few hours with the guide, and some time to explore on your own. I definitely recommend going down to the beach if you have a chance.
Included in this tour are transportation, your guide, water, and snacks! You can book this in-depth tour of the Tulum Ruins online here for $119 USD.
If you’re looking to explore the ruins but are staying in Cancun, there are other Tulum tours from Cancun that will get you here!
Related Read: Some of the best beaches in Mexico are located close to Tulum!
Where to Stay in Tulum, Mexico
No matter what you’re looking for in a hotel, Tulum has it! Offering everything from hostels to 5-star luxury hotels to glamping, there is accommodation for any budget!
Here are some of the best places to stay in Tulum (categorized by budget!)
Hostels in Tulum – $
Hostel Che Tulum – This hostel prides itself on having a great social vibe. They have a beautiful pool and a central location. For only $19 USD a night you can get a dorm bed in an air-conditioned room with breakfast included. Easily book a stay on HostelWorld.com or Booking.com.
Oryx Hostel – Just a few steps from downtown Tulum, gardens surround the property so you’ll feel like you’re staying in a tropical jungle. There are hammocks and a nice pool area and fun activities like salsa dancing! Stays here are as cheap as $17 USD a night in a dorm room or around $56 USD for private rooms and can be booked on HostelWorld.com or Booking.com.
Budget-friendly hotels in Tulum – $$
Aruma Boutique Hotel – For a hotel only a few minutes’ walk from Tulum’s center and close to restaurants and shops, this is it. The breakfasts here are exceptional (there’s also espresso!) and the staff is super friendly. Plus, the rooftop pool and bar are so nice to relax on after a day of exploring. Expect to pay around $50-100 USD per night depending on when you’re visiting.
Joy Tulum Adults Hotel – For those looking for some peace and quiet in Tulum this is the place. No kids are allowed and a location slightly out of town makes for a quiet getaway. The outdoor pool is located among the trees. For $40-70 USD, you’ll get an entire double bungalow with a fan and included breakfast.
Hotel Blanco Tulum – This hotel is luxurious without the ridiculous price tag. For around $60-80 USD per night, you can get a deluxe double room with air conditioning and a balcony. The hotel is centrally located and offers an outdoor pool as well as a hot tub!
Luxury Hotels in Tulum – $$$
Hotel Boutique TerraNova – This boutique hotel is one of the top-rated in all of Tulum. They haven’t cut any corners when it comes to comfort and the staff is wonderful. All rooms are spacious and have air conditioning and a garden patio. There is an outdoor pool and the hotel is located right in town. Expect to pay at least $300 USD per night for a deluxe queen room.
Kan Tulum – This hotel is actually built around its own private cenote! The rooms here are uniquely designed and feel almost like a jungle treehouse. Every room is huge with a private seating area and terraces to watch the sunset from. You’re close to beaches and nightlife and rooms here cost around $300-400 USD per night.
Check out all accommodations available in Tulum!
Renting a Car in Mexico
Undoubtedly, one of the best ways to get around Mexico is in a rental car.
I struggled to get around by bus and taxi for the longest time. But after renting a car in Cancun in 2019, I never looked back. It allowed me to explore the country without worrying about tours or taxis. It was why I fell in love with Mexico and eventually decided to live here periodically.
I refuse to use local services whenever I rent a car in Mexico. The truth is they sometimes can’t be trusted or come with hidden fees (or costly insurance that doesn’t make sense.) There are even rental car scams! So instead, I use Discover Cars, the company most experienced travelers or ex-pats in Mexico recommend.
The rates on Discover Cars are cheap, too, with the average rental costing around $25 USD per day. Full coverage insurance can be added for an extra $10 USD a day too.
Driving in Mexico also only requires a driver’s license using the Roman alphabet. If yours uses another like Japan and China, you simply need an international driving permit.
Insurance is required, but if you book with Discover Cars and get the full coverage, that’s all you need! Oh, and being over 18 is required, and if you’re over 25, your rental will be much cheaper!
Travel Insurance is more important than ever right now!
If you’re traveling during these uncertain times, be sure that you have travel insurance!
SafetyWing is our go-to insurance when we are going on longer trips. They offer travel medical insurance that’s super affordable (only $45 USD per 4 weeks!) and even have coverage in case you get that dreaded c-word. The only thing to note is that the insurance must be purchased once you’ve left your home country – we typically buy it as soon as we land at the airport.
We’ve personally used SafetyWing for many different trips, and we’ve been reimbursed for countless expenses when we’ve fallen ill. SafetyWing even covered our flights back to Canada in full when the pandemic first happened (when last-minute flights before the borders closed were super expensive!)
It’s safe to say that travel insurance has saved us thousands over the years!
Thanks for reading!
There really are some great tours available in Tulum, and if you choose any of the above tours, you’re sure to have a great time! From swimming in cenotes to eating tons of tacos, Tulum is such a fun place to explore!
Be sure to check out all of our other blogs about Mexico including a few of our favorites below: