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Tulum, Mexico, is the perfect place for travelers to explore. It’s full of exciting things to do and offers everything from Mayan ruins to pristine beaches to fantastic food.
In recent years, Tulum’s popularity as a tourist destination has exploded! Word got around about how incredible this small town really is. Now tourists from all over the world visit Tulum, with new hotels popping up on what seems to be every corner.
Honestly, it doesn’t surprise me – Tulum is one of the best places to visit in Mexico, with lots of fun things to see and do.
With that said, such a bucket list destination deserves the be enjoyed properly. That means checking out some of the top attractions in Tulum, some of which aren’t that easy to find.
So, as a regular visitor to Tulum, I decided to share everything I’ve done and learned during my extended stays. This is the only list you need when looking for the best things to do in Tulum, Mexico!
- 1. Go to the beach
- 2. Explore the BEST cenotes near Tulum
- 3. Go scuba diving in cenotes
- 4. Go on a food tour
- 5. Learn to cook Mexican food
- 6. Drink beer at Cervecería Tulum
- 7. Go boutique shopping
- 8. Rent a bike and explore
- 9. Visit the Tulum Ruins
- 10. Swim with whale sharks
- 11. Do some yoga
- 12. Do a Temazcal ceremony
- 13. Go Ziplining
- 14. Enjoy the nightlife of Tulum
- 15. Visit Chichen Itza
- 16. Take a photo with the Tulum sign
- 17. Visit the Coba Ruins
- 18. Visit Xplor Adventure Park
- 19. Sailing tour from Tulum
- 20. Rio Secreto Underground River
- 21. Laguna Kaan Luum
- 22. Visit Instagrammable spots in Tulum
- 23. Head over to Isla Holbox
- 24. Day trip to Playa del Carmen
- 25. Muyil Ruins
- 26. Sian Ka'an Biosphere
- 27. Visit Xel-Ha
- 28. Akumal Bay/ Beach
- 29. Yal-Ku Lagoon
- 30. Visit Cozumel
- 31. Explore Bacalar
- 33. Refresh at the Yellow Nest
- 33. See the Tulum murals
- 32. Have a sensory experience at Mystika Immersive
- 35. Learn how to surf
About Visiting Tulum, Mexico
Tulum is a town in the Quintana Roo region of Mexico that attracts people from all over the world for its pristine beaches, Mayan ruins, as well as unique cenotes.
The amazing landscape combined with friendly locals in a relatively safe area is undoubtedly the reason this area saw almost 10 million tourists in 2016 alone (as reported by the Yucatan Times.)
Large volumes of high-budget vacationers visiting have increased the price tag attached to traveling to this area of Mexico.
Tulum is about 3 hours driving from Cancun or about 1 hour from Playa del Carmen. It is the least touristic of the three while still being in the thick of all of the “must-see” attractions of the Quintana Roo.
Things to Do in Tulum, Mexico
1. Go to the beach
The town of Tulum isn’t right on the beach, however, there are lots of beaches close by! One of the closest beaches to Tulum is Paradise Beach which is arguably one of the most beautiful beaches in Mexico. You can easily get to Paradise Beach by taxi, bike, or walking. It takes about one hour to walk to the beach from central Tulum, 20 minutes to bike, or a taxi costs less than $10 USD.
At Paradise Beach, you can rent lounge chairs for around $10 USD for the entire day and there are also lots of amazing restaurants nearby to eat and enjoy the view. If you’re only planning on visiting one beach in Tulum, make it Paradise Beach.
With that said, beach lovers like myself should certainly check out more of the beaches around Tulum. Some of my favorites include:
Playa Ruinas – This gorgeous beach is located just north of Paradise Beach below the Tulum Ruins. Those planning on visiting the Tulum Ruins should combine their visit with Playa Ruinas. Be warned though, the beach area is small and by lunchtime, it’s usually overcrowded!
Playa Las Palmas – Las Palmas Beach is the closest beach to Tulum and is a rather secluded beach perfect if you like to escape the vendors and restaurants. I love coming down here in the morning – it’s so beautiful!
Related Read: Learn about all of the fun things to do in Riviera Maya, Mexico!
2. Explore the BEST cenotes near Tulum
One of the most famous things to do in the Yucatan Peninsula is exploring the cenotes which are literally everywhere! There are just too many to see them all – so you must choose wisely which ones to check out.
Definitely ask around for other peoples’ recommendations but I will tell you about the ones we chose to visit (based on what we heard are the absolute best! These are just a few of the many cenotes in and around Tulum:
This cenote is a complex underwater cave system. From land, it actually seems like two different cenotes as they connect underwater.
Dos Ojos entrance gates are easy to get to by colectivo (only 20 minutes from Tulum.) Once at the entrance gate, it is another 2 km (1.24 mi) walk to the actual cenotes.
Dos Ojos Cenotes cost 350 pesos ($18 USD) entrance fee which is one of the pricier cenote fees. However, if you have never seen a cave with bright blue water before then definitely check this one out regardless of the price. It’s also a popular cenote to dive.
Gran Cenote is a very popular cenote located just outside of Tulum. The cenote is made up of caves as well as an open-air section.
Gran Cenote is popular for snorkeling, and the best part is that it is accessible by a short bike ride from Tulum (or a couple of dollar taxi ride.) The entrance fee for Gran Cenote is 100 pesos ($5 USD) per person.
Cenote Calavera is one of my favorite cenotes in Mexico. This small cenote is just a hole in the ground but underneath you can explore deep caves which are perfect for diving. It’s become very popular in recent years and now gets very crowded.
Cenote Calavera now has a 250 pesos ($12.70 USD) entrance fee per person and can be reached by bike or taxi from Tulum.
Cenote Zacil-Ha is a small but stunning open-air cenote not far from Tulum. It’s one of the best cenotes for swimmers and is basically just a natural limestone pool!
Entrance to the cenote costs 80 pesos ($4 USD) per person.
Cenote Azul is a large open-air cenote that is just gorgeous. It’s really fun for swimmers and those who like cliff jumping. There is even a shallow area for kids to swim in, so it’s perfect for families.
Cenote Azul is located between Tulum and Playa del Carmen and can be reached by taxi or colectivo. The entrance fee is 120 pesos ($6 USD).
If you want to visit a few cenotes and you don’t have a car, there are some excellent Tulum tours that visit a few in one day. This specific half day cenote tour visits Cenote Cristal & Escondido, Gran Cenote, and Casa Cenote.
The tour includes transport, snorkeling gear, and a professional guide. It costs $116 and lasts for 4 hours.
3. Go scuba diving in cenotes
Diving in cenotes was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for Bailey and me. This was something I had been looking forward to for weeks. Although we had done a few ocean dives in the Caribbean already on this trip, I was excited about something different – and it sure was different!
We first dove the Casa Cenote which was really neat because you literally dive underneath mangroves. When I looked up I could see all of the roots of the trees. This was a good dive to start with because although there were some covered areas, there were many openings allowing lots of light in and easy access to the surface if needed.
The next cenote we dove into was Cenote Calavera, which was completely opposite of Casa Cenote. Calavera Cenote was all cave diving around the large opening of the cenote. We saw lots of white rock formations and there was also a false surface effect that is created where the freshwater meets the saltwater.
This dive was a little bit more intimidating at first as we needed our flashlights the entire time and involved swimming in between some smaller spaces, but it made for a very exciting dive.
Diving in cenotes is best done with a guide, even if you’re certified. With the added danger of caverns and caves, this type of diving can be very dangerous without a knowledgeable guide.
If you’re a certified diver, check out this awesome cenote dive experience for $119 USD! It includes two 40-minute dives, one in Casa Centote and the other in Dos Ojos. It includes all your equipment, go-pro photos, and video, an expert divemaster, and transport.
If you’re new to scuba, you can still dive in a cenote – it just won’t be in a cave. I recommend booking this Discovery Dive in Casa Cenote which gives you a nice introduction to diving in an open cenote. The version costs $128 USD.
For those of you who want to get your PADI certification, you can also do that in Tulum. Unfortunately, it’s not in a cenote, but once you’re certified, you’ll be able to dive wherever you want!
4. Go on a food tour
Mexican food is amazing! So, it’s no wonder that joining a food tour made this list of things to do in Tulum. Of course, this will cost you a lot more than just wandering around and trying the street food, but you’ll also visit the best restaurants in Tulum (and go to the local secrets!)
From the humble taco to other delicious Mexican foods such as mole (mole is so good!), you’ll eat your way around the streets of Tulum and the best part is you’re going to leave with a full belly!
A great tour to do is this walking food tour through Tulum. Juan is an amazing guide and you’re sure to have an awesome time! The tour visits seven locations including one of the best taco stands in Tulum, Mercado Tulum, Tamales Don Taco, and Parque Dos Aguas. For only $59.50 USD, it’s one of the best value tours in Tulum!
5. Learn to cook Mexican food
Let’s be honest, do you really want to go back to eating Tex-Mex after your Mexico Trip is over? Yeah, neither do I!
The best way to avoid this is to join a Mexican cooking class. Now, I didn’t do a cooking class in Tulum, instead, I actually did mine in Mexico City – but it was honestly one of the best things I did in Mexico.
So, I highly recommend doing one during your trip regardless of whether you do it in Tulum or another city around Mexico (one of the best things to do in Puerto Vallarta is also a cooking class!)
Most cooking classes go for around 3 hours but there are different styles to choose from depending on the experience you’re after.
This cooking class and mezcal tasting is the top-rated tour in Tulum and comes highly recommended. Nothing is more Mexican than tacos and Mezcal, and on this top-rated tour, that’s just what you’ll get! You’ll cook a 3-course meal as well as homemade salsa and tortillas. Then it’s time to try some authentic mezcal!
Lily is a fantastic teacher and has been doing this tour for years in Tulum. You won’t regret booking it!
6. Drink beer at Cervecería Tulum
If you love craft beer then you simply must visit Cervecería Tulum! This is arguably the coolest brewery in the world and not only serves up delicious craft beer but also a decor that will blow your mind.
Cervecería Tulum is located on the outskirts of Tulum, around 10 minutes from town. You’ll know when you’re there because there is a huge Tulum sign out the front that’s arguably more spectacular than the actual Tulum sign (it is!)
Once inside, grab yourself a table and let the beers flow. They have a huge range of craft beer on tap and also serve delicious food. Visiting Cervecería Tulum was easily one of my favorite things to do in Tulum and one you don’t read much about elsewhere!
7. Go boutique shopping
It’s no secret Tulum has become a mecca for ex-pats. Although this has changed Tulum from the sleepy beach town it once was into a busy tourist destination, Tulum is now filled with small boutiques selling high-quality clothing and accessories from designers from all around the world.
You don’t have to wander far to visit some of the best shops in Tulum either. In fact, there are too many to mention them all in this blog. However, a few of my personal favorites include:
La Pulga Boutique Tulum – If you’re not feeling “hip” enough in Tulum, then pick up some beautiful pieces from here. The items are very beachy but with a hip twist.
Pura Vida Tulum – This is one of the most popular in Tulum and a great place to shop. You can find both women’s and men’s clothing here, ranging from dresses to jewelry to hats and accessories.
Kaahal Home Tulum – This boutique shop is a mix between some clothing items and home decor. You can find lots of great items here, and all are unique (unlike many other decor stores in Tulum.)
8. Rent a bike and explore
Renting a bike is one of the best ways to explore the small streets of Tulum and even take a trip out to the beach. Not only can you get around with ease, but you’ll get to explore a lot more than on foot.
Bike rental in Tulum is relatively cheap at around $6 to $8 USD per day. Ola Bike Tulum is one of the best bike rental companies in Tulum and their rentals are not only good quality but also cheap. Their rentals are only $8 USD a day and you can rent for multiple days without returning the bike.
If you’re thinking of getting a scooter too, IBike Tulum is a good company to choose. They have bikes and scooters for great prices in the center of Tulum.
If you would prefer to do a bike tour and let a guide lead the way, this 5-hour bike tour around Tulum is perfect. On the tour, you’ll visit 3 cenotes as well as learn all about the area. You’ll also get lunch and a fun local guide.
9. Visit the Tulum Ruins
Tulum was once a huge trading hub for the Mayan people and its steep limestone cliffs provided the perfect fortress to protect its port. The Tulum Ruins are what’s left of this old fortress and they make for an awesome place to visit!
For one, these ruins are located right on the coast some 12 meters high (30 feet) above the pearly white sand beach below – where you can swim! And two, it’s a very interesting archaeological site in the region.
There’s lots to learn about the Tulum Ruins including how they used a pyramid as a lighthouse, but you’re sure to find out more about this on your visit.
It only costs 80 pesos ($4 USD) to visit the ruins and another 45 pesos ($2.30 USD) if you want to use your camera there. You can visit the ruins on your own which makes it very cheap. Just get the ADO bus from Tulum to Playe del Carmen and get off at the ruins. This bus costs 80 pesos ($4 USD).
If you want to know more about the ruins you can join this early-access private tour with an archeologist. It’s a great tour for those wanting to know more about the history of the Mayan culture and the ruins. Plus, it is early access meaning you get to visit before the place gets VERY busy!
10. Swim with whale sharks
Don’t let the word “shark” conjure up images of Jaws and scare you away from this amazing once-in-a-lifetime experience in Tulum! Whale Sharks are called the “gentle giants” of the Mexican Rivera.
Whale Sharks are large at 5-10 meters (16-33 feet) in length but are slow-moving and very docile. For many, swimming with Whale Sharks is an experience on their bucket list that you can luckily do right in Tulum!
This particular tour will pick you up from the hotel and take you on a day-long snorkeling tour to see the Whale Sharks from Tulum. They provide all the snorkeling equipment in addition to lunch, snacks, and drinks. It’s one of the top-rated tours in Tulum and the company is certified to do these types of tours.
You’ll not only see Whale Sharks, but tons of wildlife and fish along the way – your expert guide will help point out some of the interesting creatures that live in the ocean.
Related Read: You can also swim with whale sharks near Playa del Carmen! These gentle giants are incredible to see.
11. Do some yoga
Tulum is a popular area for wellness retreats and yoga. I mean, with gorgeous beaches and a laid-back atmosphere, it’s no surprise people come here for a bit of R&R! If you’re looking to do something creative, get some movement in, and find your inner Shanti (peace), make sure to check out a yoga studio in Tulum.
Yoga classes in Tulum are not like the ones at your community center back home. Many are in gorgeous bamboo villas right on the water, often with a nearby spa to visit after your class! You can choose drop-in classes at studios or hotels, or stay for a night or multi-day retreat.
Some great places include:
Azulik Maya Spa – This is one of the most beautiful yoga studios in Tulum. They offer lots of yoga sessions for $35 USD and even sound healing sessions. They are also a hotel and this is one of the coolest places to stay in Tulum.
Nomade Tulum – These guys offer lots of yoga classes throughout the week as well as other wellness classes.
Jungle Yoga Tulum – The last studio I’ll mention offers lots of yoga experiences including SUP Yoga. They also do yoga on the beach and focus on taking your yoga out into the wild!
12. Do a Temazcal ceremony
Visiting Mayan ruins will certainly give you an idea of how the Mayan people lived; however, another fun and unique way is to join a Temazcl ceremony. This ancient tradition is kind of like a sauna that rejuvenates the body with ancient rituals under the close eye of a shaman. It’s easily one of the most unique things to do in Tulum!
On this specific Temazcal tour, you’ll be picked up from your hotel in Tulum and taken out to the Temzcal ceremony site – a beautiful area in the forests. You’ll first meet your shaman or temazcalero before beginning the ceremony in the Temazcal. The ritual works by changing the heat levels up and down and by using mud, honey, aloe vera, and teas. This is supposed to cleanse the body.
The ceremony finishes with a refreshing dip in a plunge pool that makes you really feel alive (and cool you down.) It’s super fun, and I guarantee you won’t regret trying this tour out.
I myself did a temazcal tour in Lake Atitlan, Guatemala, and loved it.
13. Go Ziplining
Ziplining is one of the best tours you can do in Mexico. This fun activity is popular all over the country, and the lush jungle provides the ideal conditions to enjoy it.
There are lots of different ziplining tours you can do from Tulum; however, none compare to the experience at Selva Maya Eco Adventure Park. The 4-hour tour in the park includes a thrilling ride down nine ziplines and also across five hanging bridges. Afterward, you get to do a little rock climbing and even repel down into a cenote that very few get to visit. Cool off here with a swim.
The tour does not include transport; however, you can get a taxi out to the park for under $15 USD. This makes this ziplining tour much cheaper than others, and for $81 USD, it includes lunch, water, entrance fees, all activities, and even the use of snorkeling equipment.
14. Enjoy the nightlife of Tulum
Tulum is a great place for nightlife, although it’s not nearly as wild as the nearby towns of Cancun or Playa del Carmen. Weekends are definitely the most lively in Tulum, although many bars also have DJs or live music during the week.
There is also a pub crawl that takes place every week which is perfect for getting to know other travelers and discovering new fun venues in town. On Saturdays, you need to head to Papaya Playa Project, which hosts fun parties where you can dance the night away. This is an expensive place, though, so keep in mind that you’ll most likely spend quite a bit here.
For a more relaxed experience, head to La Zebra Hotel, which hosts Salsa nights where you can learn how to dance or improve your skills. For a true nightclub experience, Kiki will be the place to go. Open Wednesdays to Saturdays; this club has a happy hour and a great crowd of travelers from all around the world.
Another fun place for drinks is I Scream Bar, which has delicious food and also ice cream, which is a huge bonus if you find yourself hungry after a night out in Tulum.
Recommended by Victoria from Guide Your Travel
Related Read: Partying is also one of the best things to do in Cancun!
15. Visit Chichen Itza
Chichen Itza is the most famous Mayan ruin in the world. The archeological site is most well known as the home of El Castillo – the main temple at the site. It’s a true show of the Mayan peoples’ knowledge of the earth and planets.
However, Chichen Itza is also home to The Great Ball Court. This is the largest in Mesoamerica and is 168 by 70 meters (551 by 230 feet.) The game played here was called Pitz. Overall, it’s one of the coolest sites I have visited and a must-do activity while in Tulum.
On this Chichen Itza tour from Tulum, you’ll get a well-informed English-speaking guide, entrance to Chichen Itza, and a guided visit to Ik-Kil Cenote (the best cenote in Mexico.) Afterward, you’ll also enjoy lunch in Valladolid – a beautiful city in Mexico. It also includes transport, which is essential since Chichen Itza is about a 2-hour drive from Tulum.
16. Take a photo with the Tulum sign
One of the top things to do in Tulum is to take a picture of the large letters that spell out “TULUM.” The letters can be found in Tulum’s Centro, on the corner of Avenida Tulum and Calle Osiris Sur. If you enter “Letras de Tulum” into Google Maps, you can easily find them.
Depending on the time of day, you might have to wait a bit to get the picture you want. There may be others taking pictures, or there may be locals just sitting on it. When we visited, there were kids playing on it. Luckily, we weren’t pressed for time and waited until the kids left.
Just like when we visited Teotihuacan without a tour, we visited Tulum on our own as well. We didn’t want to feel rushed like we would have if we had been on a tour. There are vendors in the area, so you can always enjoy an ice cream while you wait to get your shot.
The letters are also in the same location as Parque Museo de la Cultura Maya. This park has beautiful sculptures reflecting the Mayan history of the area. So it’s a fun place to wander and take more photos after you’ve taken pictures of the Tulum letters.
The Tulum letters (and the park) are open 24 hours a day, and there is no fee, so you can visit at any time of the day.
Note: They changed the letters in September 2021 to celebrate the anniversary of Tulum becoming a Pueblo Magico (Magical Town). It is still in the same location, though.
Vicky of Buddy The Traveling Monkey
17. Visit the Coba Ruins
Those wanting to explore more Mayan ruins, or who maybe weren’t impressed by the smaller Tulum ruins, should make the trip to the Coba Ruins.
I visited the Coba Ruins on one of my first trips to Tulum and I really enjoyed how big the site was. In fact, to get to the ruins, you get to hike through the jungle! It’s a beautiful walk and learning about the ancient cultures that lived in Mexico is mindblowing.
The largest temple at Coba (pictured above) is no longer allowed to be climbed. The picture above was taken before the ban came into place.
The Coba Ruins are about 40 minutes away from Tulum by car or bus (ADO or collectivos go there regularly.) The entry fee is only 80 pesos ($4 USD) making it a cheap activity in Tulum. If you like to avoid crowds, go early in the morning and during the week. Especially avoid Sunday because it is free for Mexican locals and gets very busy.
18. Visit Xplor Adventure Park
After your next adventure? Then look no further than the Xplor Adventure Park, working in conjunction with the Xcaret Brand. It’s open from 9 am to 5 pm Monday to Saturday, conveniently located just off the Tulum/Cancun highway, about 40 minutes north of Tulum.
Entrance into the park starts from roughly $125 USD, which includes ziplining through the forests and waterfalls, driving amphibious vehicles, swimming through magical cenotes, and lunch. The easiest way to get there is driving yourself, but hotel pickup and transportation are available through organized tours.
A single day here is going to be one to remember, soaring the trees on 14 different zip lines covering a massive 2.4 miles on two different circuits. Additionally, with swimming/rafting through caves with stalactites and driving a four-wheel buggy through flooded caves and jungle scenes, it’s a day full of excitement!
Take the worry out of capturing the moments and purchase a photo pass on the day for $60 USD. This is what we did, and they are triggered through your helmet and strategically placed cameras surrounding the park. Take the adventure even further and visit at night for the Xplor Fuego experience. On this experience, Xplor Adventure Park is lit up in fire-driven Tiki burners – it’s a stunning sight to see.
Recommended by Chris Fry, The Aquarius Traveller
19. Sailing tour from Tulum
When visiting Tulum, make sure to book one of the catamaran tours. This is an amazing way to explore the beautiful waters of Mexico. The Caribbean coast is perfect for admiring coral reefs, stingrays, and turtles. You can enjoy the tropical sun or jump into the water and take incredible photos of marine life.
A luxury sailing experience along the coastline is one of the top things to do in Tulum. Prices start from about $100 USD, and some of them include lunch and drinks. Enjoying cocktails in the open bar is a great way to unwind during your holiday.
Depending on the tour, you might require transportation from Tulum to another town in Mexico, such as the Cancun Hotel Zone. Whether it is a catamaran tour to Isla Mujeres or a snorkeling adventure, you will fall in love with sailing across the Caribbean coast.
My favorite sailing experience was this tour to Isla Mujeres. Admiring crystal clear waters surrounding this beautiful island was truly amazing. During this trip, you can relax at one of the most beautiful beaches in Mexico. There is also the MUSA Underwater Sculpture Museum that you can explore, so bring your Go Pro. This amazing catamaran tour will surely stay in your memories forever.
Recommended by Paulina from Uk Everyday
20. Rio Secreto Underground River
Rio Secreto is one of the most breathtaking underground rivers in Mexico. This cenote can only be visited on a guided tour in which you swim and climb your way through the cenote exploring the beautiful stalagmites and stalactites while enjoying the crystal clear water.
Tours of the river cost $89 USD per person and this specific tour has over 198 5-star reviews on TripAdvisor! The tour lasts about 1.5 hours and includes all the equipment and a guide.
Unfortunately, my photo really doesn’t do this place justice (my apologies) but trust me, this is one spectacular place to visit in Tulum!
21. Laguna Kaan Luum
If you are tired of the salt on your hair after a swim on the beaches of Tulum, why not switch it up to one of the best freshwater gems in Tulum – the Laguna Kaan Luum? Though called Laguna Kaan Luum (Lake Kaan Luum), this “lake” is technically a cenote since the water source comes from an underground river. By definition, it is an open cenote.
Laguna Kaan Luum is situated in the midst of the mythical Mayan jungle, so the expansive lake is completely surrounded by lush vegetation. There are two sections to the lake, the deep center where it is fenced off, and the shallow exterior that is perfect for swimming. Because of the varying depths, the color of the water changes gradually as you get closer to the center of the lake. There are literally like 50 shades of blue!
Recently, they have added an iconic swing that hovers just above the water, ideal for the perfect Instagram shot. For those wanting a little bit of a rush, they can jump from the central pier into the water. But if you are someone that would rather relax, then there are plenty of seating areas and palapas on the perimeter. Laguna Kaan Luum has something for everyone.
If you would like, you can also do tours to Laguna Kaan Luum. This specific tour visits the lagoon as well as 3 other cenotes. Or, join this simple SUP tour on the lagoon, which includes lunch, transport, equipment, and entrance fees.
Laguna Kaan Luum is situated a little more than 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) west of Tulum. It is not quite feasible to walk there from town, but visitors are welcome than welcome to get there on a bicycle. Otherwise, getting a taxi would be the other option. There is an entrance fee of 300 MXN ($15.30 USD) per person. Its opening hours are 9 am to 4 pm daily.
Recommended by Lau from LivingOutLau
22. Visit Instagrammable spots in Tulum
Tulum is one of the most Insta-famous places in the world, so searching for the most Instagrammable places around town is one of the best things to do when visiting Tulum.
You’ll find most of the Instagrammable hotspots at the beachside of Tulum, not the town more inland. The road along the beach is sometimes referred to as “Instagram street” and it’s full of pretty hotspots.
One of the most famous places in Tulum for photos is the Raw Love gate – called Escultura Ven a la Luz- which is an impressive wooden work of art in the shape of a person. We loved shooting a couple of photos here, but beware that it has become so popular you now need to wait in line and pay a fee.
It’s located close to Sfer Ik, another Instagrammable place that you should check out. This art gallery has no other art on display, as the main artwork is the special building itself. It is a wood-and-cement structure that was custom-made in the region and has an organic form. To experience the wooden floor and become one with SFER Ik, you must remove your shoes.
If you walk further down the beach road, you’ll find ‘Follow That Dream’ sign at Lolita Lolita store, which has become one of the most photographed spots in Tulum.
Keep on walking along this street, and you’ll come across all sorts of other Instagrammable places like restaurants, hotels, and shops – perfect for filling up your feed with beautiful photos! So, make sure to add visiting some of these Instagram hotspots to your Tulum to-do list.
RecoRecommended by The Orange Backpack
23. Head over to Isla Holbox
The coastline of mainland Mexico is becoming more and more built up. Hotels are popping up everywhere using their beachfront land to try to claim entire beaches and coral reefs. For this reason, it can be nice to get far away from the huge hotels and restaurants and head to a place visited only for its beauty.
Isla Holbox is the perfect getaway from it all. Imagine, a small beach town located on the most beautiful pearly white sand with minimal traffic and the most amazing sunsets!
Getting to Isla Holbox from Tulum is a bit of a mission as you need to get yourself to Chiquila first. To do so, get the bus from Tulum and from there you’ll need to catch a ferry from Chiquila to Isla Holbox for 150 pesos ($7.60 USD). The trip takes 15 minutes and the ferry runs every 30 minutes. You can check ferry times and prices.
Because of the long journey, it’s best to stay a night or two. Plus, there are lots of things to do in Holbox to keep you busy. There are lots of accommodation options on the island you can browse them all here.
24. Day trip to Playa del Carmen
Playa Del Carmen is the perfect day trip from Tulum. It’s about a one-hour drive north of Tulum and is larger and more developed. There is a lot to see and do in Playa del Carmen, so allow a full day to explore!
There is a large downtown shopping area (Quinta Avenida or Fifth Avenue) where you can get souvenirs like jewelry, textiles, hats, traditional handicrafts, and more. Just make sure you are ready to bargain to get some good deals! There are tons of restaurants and bars in this area to grab some food and drink as well.
Besides shopping, popular spots to visit are Parque Los Fundadores (waterfront park with unique sculptures), the Frida Kahlo Museum, and the 3D Museum of Wonders. There are many tours that also leave from Playa Del Carmen to close by cenotes (caves), Xcaret water park, or to swim with dolphins.
25. Muyil Ruins
Located just 15 minutes away from Tulum, Muyil is a small, less visited archaeological area that provides a perfect alternative to other more popular Mayan ruins like Chichén Itzá.
Muyil is a relatively small site with several pyramids and a tall observation deck from where you can see the surrounding jungle.
It also offers entrance to Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, a 528,000-hectare biosphere in Mexico (more on that below). When visiting Muyil, it’s a great idea to combine your stop with Sian Ka’an, as you can purchase a tour on the spot or ahead of your visit. The entrance to Muyil Costa 45 MXN ($2.30 USD) has to be paid in cash. The observation deck costs additional 50 MXN ($2.55 USD).
While you can easily catch a colectivo to Muyil from Tulum, it’s best to visit with a rental car because you will be able to travel at your own pace and also visit other places in the area like Bacalar, Laguna Ka’an Luum, and Coba ruins.
There are also tours to Muyil such as this specific tour. It includes a visit to Sian Ka’an, a float down a beautiful river, a tour through Muyil, and a picnic lunch.
Recommended by The Discovery Nut
26. Sian Ka’an Biosphere
Sian Ka’an a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the biggest protected habitats in Mexico’s Rivera Maya.
Translated as “Entrance to the Sky” from the Mayan language, Sian Ka’an is home to an incredible array of biodiversity where you can see monkeys, dolphins, all sorts of birds, and fish. And, if you get lucky, you can even spot a manatee!
You can check out this amazing place with this tour, which will pick you up from your hotel in Tulum. You will take a peaceful boat ride through a mangrove forest, cenotes, and lagoons, ending out at a coral reef in the ocean! Your guide will point out all kinds of wildlife and provide you with snorkeling equipment to check out the coral reef.
The tour includes transportation, water and snacks, and entrance fees to the reserve for the flat rate of $189 USD.
Another way to enjoy Sian Ka’an is for bird lovers. This bird-watching tour is combined with a visit to the nearby Muyil Archaeological Site. You will really have optimal opportunities to see various types of birds that call this reserve home.
It starts at $139 USD but you can update this tour if you please to include a boat ride across two lagoons and a lazy river float.
27. Visit Xel-Ha
Xel-Ha (pronounced shell-ha) is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Tulum area, and is a great excursion for a day! The price for a day is about 2,022 MXN ($103 USD) and you’ll reach Xel-Ha within a 30-minute drive.
Xel-Ha is best for those who are obsessed with snorkeling and swimming. It’s a deluxe all-inclusive aquatic park with a huge snorkeling area (over 90 species live there!) It’s been described as snorkeling in an aquarium, a lazy river to tube down, zip lines, cliff-jumping, and a rope bridge. They also have hammocks and relaxed areas to chill or sip a margarita.
If you’re looking for a super fun day out everyone will enjoy, I highly suggest visiting Xel-Ha while in Tulum. It’s a playground both kids and adults will love – definitely one of the best family-friendly things to do in Tulum!
You can buy your all-inclusive tickets to Xel-Ha online in advance.
28. Akumal Bay/ Beach
Akumal Beach is easily one of the best beaches in Mexico and it’s famous in the Yucatan Peninsula. The beach is located just 30 minutes from Tulum and is home to many, many large and majestic sea turtles! You can either bring your own snorkeling gear or rent some in the area to enjoy swimming with these amazing creatures.
Akumal Bay can be reached by taxi or collectivo (shared minivan), or you can join a tour group with a guide. This is often the best option as they include your transport, equipment, and a guide who knows where to find the turtles.
The beach has restaurants and bars in the area to get some refreshments, too.
This particular tour costs $109 USD and lasts for 8 hours.
29. Yal-Ku Lagoon
Yal-Ku Lagoon near Akumal is a fabulous outdoor adventure trip from Tulum. You can either take a tour or self-design your own visit to this beautiful snorkeling spot.
The lagoon is a cenote that is open to the Caribbean sea, so the swimming is in a mix of salt and fresh water. It’s shielded from ocean waves, so you get a calm snorkeling experience, while you also get to view the ocean’s sea life.
Yal-Ku Lagoon is located a mile from Akumal, so you need to drive, take a taxi, or bicycle to the attraction. They are open from 9 am to 5 pm throughout the year. Adult admission is 300 pesos ($15), while kids are 215 pesos ($11). You can bring your own snorkeling gear or rent it there. There are lockers to leave your personal belongings.
The lagoon is wonderful for beginning snorkelers due to the convenient stairs to enter the lagoon and calm waters. Not only are there beautiful fish to see, but visitors will also enjoy the birdlife around the natural areas of the cenote.
The grounds of Yal-Ku are beautifully manicured, so you can relax between swims. There is an open-air snack bar on site. You can also take a picnic and spend the whole day enjoying the cenote and surroundings.
By Karen of Outdoor Adventure Sampler
30. Visit Cozumel
Cozumel is a small island just off the coast and makes a perfect day trip from Tulum! You can get there by heading north to Playa del Carmen and then taking the ferry across, which costs about 400 MXN ($20 USD) and can take up to 45 minutes.
Once on Cozumel, you can either rent a car, use taxis, or rent bikes to get around the island! You’ll love exploring this island, checking out new beaches and places to snorkel or paddleboard. You can head to the Punta Sur Eco Park to check out some crocodiles and other animals or try scuba diving, which Cozumel is famous for! The truth is that there are plenty of fun things to do on Cozumel island.
When you’re ready to refuel, there are a ton of good restaurants and bars, including Cerveceria Punta Sur or even a microbrewery with amazing food and beer!
31. Explore Bacalar
Lago Bacalar, or the lake of seven colors, is an absolutely stunning oasis located south of Tulum, near Mexico’s border with Belize. This tour will take you on a half-day excursion so you can explore it for yourself.
The freshwater lagoons of Lago Bacalar are crystal clear and a stunning turquoise color. Honestly, it is the most Instagrammable spot!
The lagoons are home to a variety of wildlife and animals and make for a unique nature experience. The tour will take you around on a boat to explore the area, including cenotes, and a stop for lunch at the Colonial City.
The price for the tour is about 884 MXN ($45 USD) and it is a half-day excursion.
Hot Tip: You can also visit the town of Bacalar and stay for a few days. There are lots of fun things to do in Bacalar that you can enjoy while you’re there!
33. Refresh at the Yellow Nest
The Yellow Nest is a hotel located in the middle of Dos Ojos Park 22 km (13.7 mi) from central Tulum. The cool thing about this hotel is that you don’t have to stay here to use the hotel’s amenities and on-site experiences.
Instead, you can book a day pass with transportation from Tulum and it includes a floating breakfast in the pool made fresh by the chef, a live guided 25-minute meditation inside a Tezmecal, the option to bike to the nearby cenotes, or just relax and enjoy the sounds of the jungle from a hammock.
This tour costs $77 USD and lasts for 8 hours so in my option you really get your money’s worth.
If you are interested in staying at The Yellow Nest you can check availability and prices here. Their hospitality is world-class and you can stay in either a bungalow or a villa.
33. See the Tulum murals
The murals in Tulum aren’t quite so known yet! You could even stay for a few days and not really notice them. That’s because it is still quite a growing art scene in Tulum and you have to go off the main road to discover them.
This is not to say there isn’t already a ton of incredible murals because there are! The best way to find them is to either rent a bike and ride around on the side streets or to go on this Tulum Mural Tour for $31 USD which comes with a local guide who can take you to more hidden street art pieces as well as provide some info on the artists and meaning behind their work.
32. Have a sensory experience at Mystika Immersive
Mystika Immersive is the top place to go in Tulum to have a sensory experience that connects you with Mayan cosmology and teaches you about Mexican natural sanctuaries.
There are 7 different rooms to have experiences in. One transports you to see humpback whales while another takes you into a space filled with monarch butterflies. There is also a 360-degree dome where you will sit under Tulum’s star-filled night sky.
Along with the fun immersive aspects, there is also breathtaking artwork filling some of the rooms. Everything is narrated so you will be able to connect with the artists and learn the inspiration for their work.
Admission costs $23 USD per person and can be purchased online in advance or in person. People typically spend between 1 to 2 hours here and it is right next to the Tulum Ruins so it’s easy to combine both activities on the same outing.
35. Learn how to surf
If you have been wanting to learn how to surf but haven’t yet maybe this is your sign to do it in Tulum?
This particular surf lesson takes place at the beachfront resort Ahau Tulum with a professional instructor.
You will go over all the surfing basics such as learning to paddle on the board, the correct position to catch a wave, how to turn, wave awareness, and more! After your lesson, there is an extra hour of time for you to practice on your own in the water.
A surfboard, leash, and rashguard are included in the cost of the lesson which is $51 USD lesson.
Where to Eat in Tulum, Mexico
One of the most important things to consider when visiting a new destination is the food! For me, visiting local restaurants when I travel is one of my favorite activities.
Luckily for you, there is no shortage of amazing places to eat in Tulum. Below are some of our personal favorites!
El Camello Jr.
One of my favorite types of tacos is seafood tacos and El Camello Jr. is a local favorite in Tulum. In fact, it was a friend of mine who grew up in Tulum who took me to this amazing place!
It’s within walking distance from almost anywhere in town and they serve amazing tacos, ceviche, and whole fish. Basically, anything you order is amazing..and fresh!
You only need to head over to Burrito Amor’s TripAdvisor page to know that these are THE best burritos in town. Like, go back every day for another burrito kind of place!
The location is perfect, right in the middle of town, and the environment and décor of the restaurant is fun, open, and modern. But really, it’s all about the burritos! They’re so yummy and they offer a lot of options for vegetarians or other diets.
Burrito Amor’s goal is to provide healthy, filling burritos that will keep you coming back every day! It is a great place to eat in Tulum.
Eat Street Food
Eating in Tulum on a budget is easy as there are so many affordable options when it comes to street food. Skip the fancy restaurants and give your wallet a break with street-side food trucks and taco stands.
We found lots of great-tasting, yet cheap, street food in Tulum. One of our favorites was also a local dish called Al Pastor, which is essentially pork-filled soft tacos.
Usually, you get about 5 small tacos for 3 USD and it is more than enough for one person. Street food is the best way to eat in Tulum on a budget.
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 Mexico 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 $42 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!
Hopefully, this guide to Tulum on a budget is useful and inspires you to check out one of Mexico’s most beautiful regions! We had some really great times in and around Tulum.
We would encourage anyone to visit Tulum on a budget – and when you do, let us know if you have any other tips to add below!
For more check out our Mexico page, it has all our blogs about Mexico laid out to make planning your trip easy!
Or maybe at a glance, you’ll find some of these related guides helpful too!
Guide to visiting Puebla, Mexico
The best waterfalls to visit in Palenque