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The beautiful boho town of Tulum is one of Mexico’s top travel destinations. With its laid-back vibe, some of the best Mayan ruins in Mexico, a plethora of cenotes, and gorgeous Yucatan beaches, it’s no surprise that tourists love this town so much.
We’ve been here a ton of times, and we’ll definitely be back!
Tulum is about a 2-hour drive from Cancun, which is probably Mexico’s most visited tourist city. If you’re staying in Cancun, visiting Tulum is a must! Cancun’s beaches and Hotel Zone are a ton of fun, but it’s great to get out for a day trip from Cancun and see another side of the peninsula.
Whether you want to go snorkeling, explore cenotes, or visit the town’s ancient ruins, there are a ton of fantastic things to do on a Tulum tour. We’ve rounded up the 6 best Tulum tours from Cancun to help you choose the right one for you!
Our Top Choice for a Tulum Tour from Cancun
If you’re itching for a day trip and don’t have time to read the entire blog, we’ve picked out the absolute best tour of the bunch. This highly-rated tour of Tulum (seriously it has thousands of great reviews!) takes you to ALL the spectacular highlights. You’ll wander the impressive Tulum ruins set on a cliff facing the sea, snorkel around a stunning coral reef, and journey deep into the Yucatan rainforest to swim in a hidden cenote. All your transportation from Cancun and lunch is included for $119 USD, but it’s a Viator-exclusive tour so you can only book online!
Tulum is quieter and more laid back than Cancun (especially the Hotel Zone), but it has become super popular in recent years. It’s now quite an expensive part of Mexico to visit because luxury travelers tend to flock here. Being only 2 hours from Cancun and 1 hour from Playa del Carmen, these three resort cities have become the pinnacle of tourism on the Yucatan Peninsula.
Tulum is a bit like Bali in the sense that it has become famous for its wellness-focused expat scene. You’ll find lots of yoga classes, spas, boutiques, and Instagram hotspots here!
But don’t worry if that’s not your thing, because Tulum also has a ton of natural beauty to enjoy. From freshwater lagoons and the best cenotes to the beautiful Paradise Beach, there’s a lot to explore here. It’s also an epic place to go scuba diving or snorkeling, as you can go in both the ocean and the cenotes!
You can easily get to Tulum from the Cancun Airport by taking an airport shuttle. Or you can rent a car in Cancun so you have the freedom to take day trips from Tulum and explore the surrounding areas on your own!
Basically, Tulum is one of those places that has something for everyone, whether you’re into luxury, adventure, or just laying on the beach. We love visiting Tulum because there’s just so much to do and we enjoy the laid-back pace of life in the town.
How far is Tulum from Cancun?
Tulum is 131 kilometers (81 miles) away from Cancun. The drive usually takes about 2 hours each way. All of the tours we’re going to list in this blog post include transport, but you do need to be prepared for a long day! There will be 4-6 hours of travel time involved, depending on how many other passengers are picked up along the way.
Most of the journey from Cancun to Tulum is along a straight highway and the road is in good condition, so at least it’s a smooth and comfortable ride. Plus, all of the transport will be air-conditioned, so at least you can sleep on the way home!
Why book a tour to Tulum from Cancun?
A tour is a great way to see Tulum’s top highlights in a single day if you’re short on time. You can see what the area has to offer and see the cenotes, which are the best in the whole of Mexico!
Tulum is also one of those places that tend to divide opinions. Some people (us included) love it, while others find that it doesn’t live up to their expectations. It’s often not what people think it is, so a day tour from Cancun is a great way to get a feel for the place and decide if you want to return for a longer stay.
Plus, the Tulum Ruins are absolutely amazing. Taking a day trip from Cancun will ensure you will see them, as they’re easily some of the best ruins in Mexico. You won’t want to miss them!
Related Read: Cancun is actually surrounded by a beautiful, dense jungle! The best way to explore it is by taking an adrenaline-pumping ATV tour in Cancun.
What are the best tours to Tulum from Cancun?
1. Viator Exclusive: Tulum Ruins, Reef Snorkeling, Cenote and Caves
This tour tops our list because it gives you a fantastic overview of Tulum. There is truly so much to explore and this full-day tour of Tulum packs in all the highlights. It is also one of the highest-rated tours in Tulum, so you know it will be a good experience!
You start off by visiting the Tulum Ruins, which is the main draw for travelers and well worth a visit. They are seriously impressive and hold such a significant history! We learned that this is the only Mayan city built on the beaches of the Caribbean and it was likely an important trading port specializing in turquoise and jade. The clifftop views from the ruins are spectacular and since it faces east, catching a sunrise here someday is on my bucket list!
Then, you head to Mayan Beach for a snorkeling tour during which you get to explore the amazing Tulum reef. You’ll see fish of every color of the rainbow, as well as turtles and stingrays if you’re lucky!
We have been diving in Tulum numerous times and can confidently say this is one of the best spots to explore underwater! The Mesoamerican Reef is the second-largest reef in the world, which makes for some impressive coral formations and an array of marine life that is so fun to swim through!
You will then finish your day off by exploring the Xtun Cavernas, a huge and historical cenote hidden in the rainforest. This is one of the best cenotes in Tulum and you’ll be able to snorkel inside its mysterious waters, as well as learn more about how it was formed.
The tour costs $119 USD including pickup from Cancun. You also get lunch included with this tour and bottled water, which you’ll definitely need as it gets hot in Tulum!
There’s also an additional $15 USD marine reserve fee that you’ll need to pay in cash on the day. This is standard for most Tulum tours! This is a Viator-exclusive tour, meaning you can only reserve this awesome experience online here!
2. Tulum Guided Tour, Magical Cenote, Lagoon Snorkeling and Beachside Lunch
This day tour of Tulum has 4 fantastic stops, including ruins, cenotes, a lagoon, and a relaxing afternoon at a beach club!
We like how this tour starts out with a bang by taking you to the Tulum Ruins first! You will have a guided tour, which we found super helpful so we understood and appreciated the site when we had time to explore on our own.
After the ruins, you head to two different swim spots, one of which is the amazing Cenote el Sueño – aka the Dream Cenote. Once you arrive and see its bright blue water, you’ll understand exactly why it got its name!
The other swimming spot is the Yal-Ku Lagoon, an open cenote that’s famed for its calm waters, well-kept grounds, and marine life. This is a great place to spot birds, too.
And then after a morning of exploring and learning all about the ancient and natural history of the area, you’ll stop at Punta Venado Beach Club for lunch. The beach club is in Playa del Carmen, on the way back to Cancun, so it breaks up the journey nicely. It’s a beautiful place to relax and you get fresh tropical juice with your lunch, which is super refreshing in the Mexican heat.
It is worth noting that lunch will be in the mid-afternoon so you’ll probably want to eat a decent breakfast before the tour or bring some snacks to tide you over. Alcoholic drinks are available to buy at the beach club, but they’re not included in the tour.
This tour costs $169 USD plus the $15 USD marine reserve fee. There’s a maximum of 16 people per tour, so it doesn’t feel too crowded and you’ll get lots of chances to ask your guide questions. This tour also includes hotel pick-up and drop-off from Cancun, so you don’t have to worry about any of the details of the day!
This tour will certainly be a good way to explore Tulum while staying in Cancun. Maybe you’ll love it so much you’ll have to make a trip back just to stay there! This is a popular tour that tends to sell out, so make sure to book this tour of Tulum online here if it’s calling your name!
3. Tulum Day-Trip Mayan Ruins With Cenote Swim
We think that this Tulum Ruins and Cenote Tour is a great choice for budget travelers, as it costs just $59 USD per person from Cancun. Coupled with the $15 USD reserve fee and $4 USD Tulum local tax, it’s $78 USD for the whole day.
The tour will pick you up from your Cancun hotel, and visit the Tulum Ruins first to explore and learn all about its fascinating history. You’ll have two full hours at the archeological site, beginning with a guided tour, and then have free time to explore on your own. This is a good amount of time at the ruins, as there is a lot to see!
After being in the sun for a few hours, you’ll be ready to cool off with a refreshing swim!
You’ll head to Casa Tortuga, which is a natural park with four different cenotes. Your guide will teach you all about how this underground network was formed and you can rent snorkel equipment for $10 USD to explore on your own! If you want to save money, you can bring your own snorkel gear or just swim. The cenotes are simply impressive to check out whether you snorkel or not.
The tour will end with a tequila tasting to add a little authentic Mexican flavor to your day!
Lunch isn’t included in the price of this tour, but you can either bring your own packed lunch or get tacos at Casa Tortuga. They’re really good here! This is definitely a fun experience and lets you see the best of Tulum. Be sure to reserve this tour in advance, as it can fill up quickly!
Related Read: Swimming with whale sharks is one of the most unique activities you can do in Cancun! There are a lot of tours out there, so check out all the things to know before swimming with whale sharks in Cancun so you can find the best tour out there.
4. Tulum Ruins Visit and Swim in Two Different Cenotes
This is another budget-friendly tour that takes you to the Tulum Ruins and two different cenotes!
You’ll spend about 2 hours exploring the Tulum Ruins, beginning with a guided tour, which is great because there is a lot to cover here! The guides are super informative and make the ruins more worthwhile. I learned that Tulum actually means “Wall” in Mayan, which is fitting as this is a walled city!
Next, you’ll head to Cenote Chen Há, an underground cave with nice cool water to swim in. This cenote isn’t as popular as others, so we appreciated the smaller crowds here.
After that, it’s onto Cenote Mariposa which is an open-air cenote with some wooden swings that make for amazing photo opportunities. Mexico is full of Insta-friendly beach swings, but I think a cenote swing really takes it to the next level. Just be careful on the wooden steps here, as they’re covered with slippery algae!
This tour costs $49 USD per person including pickup from Cancun. You’ll need to pay the $15 USD marine conservation fee on the day and you’ll also have to pay an extra $10 USD to swim at the cenotes, and a $5 USD entrance fee at the ruins. If you partake in all of these activities, the day will be $79 USD.
The tour doesn’t include lunch, but you can bring your own or there are affordable places to buy lunch along the way. You can reserve this fun day trip to Tulum online here!
5. Rio Secreto Underground River Tour with Crystal Caves and Tulum Ruins
Rio Secreto is an incredible underground river with turquoise water and huge stalagmites and stalactites. It’s a breathtaking sight to see, and the only way to explore it is by taking a guided tour, which is why we think that this is a fantastic tour option!
On a tour of Rio Secreto, you walk, swim, and climb through the cave as you learn all about how this amazing natural feat was formed. You’ll be equipped with a headlamp, helmet, and lifejacket as you explore the eerily quiet cave. It’s one of the best things to do in Tulum and it’s perfect for adventurous travelers. We had a blast here!
After caving, you can hang out in some hammocks, enjoy a buffet lunch, and relax in this incredible location!
This tour has some additional activities you can opt to add on as well. If you want to add a visit to the Tulum Ruins, it costs $139 USD or you can add a visit to the Coba Ruins for $149 USD. You can also choose a tour that includes biking, rappelling, and another caving experience for $129 USD. Or simply enjoy Rio Secreto for $92 USD, not including transportation.
To be honest, we think that you may as well add an extra activity if you’re only going to be in Tulum for one day! This unique experience can be reserved online here.
6. Tulum, Coba, and Cenote: Full-Day Tour
We think that the Coba Ruins are among the best ruins to visit in Mexico. This ancient archaeological site is less busy than the Tulum Ruins and even more epic, in my opinion. If you want to visit Coba from Cancun, then this full-day tour is a fantastic way to do it. Coba is about 2 hours from Cancun and 45 minutes from Tulum.
Coba was once a powerful Mayan city, and you can see lots of evidence of its former glory as you explore. The design and layout of this site are quite different than other Mayan cities, its iconic white roads (called “sacbeob”) all lead back to a central pyramid. The ruins are quite spread out so things don’t get too crowded and there’s plenty of shade, which is different than most other ruins sites.
The main pyramid, Ixmoja, is one of the tallest in the Yucatan Peninsula and you can even climb it, so you really will feel like Indiana Jones. There aren’t that many ruins you can climb anymore, so this is a pretty unique opportunity!
After you’ve explored the Coba Ruins, you’ll visit the Tulum Ruins. We don’t think that the ruins themselves are as impressive as the Coba Ruins, but the ocean backdrop is stunning!
The day finishes with a refreshing dip in the beautiful waters of Cenote Chen Ha. This cenote is an underground cave, so it’s also a nice break from the sun!
The 12-hour tour costs $59 USD including hotel pickup from Cancun and a buffet lunch. For a full-day experience, this is a really good value for money and a lot less than we would expect!
However, you do need to pay the $15 USD marine conservation fee on the day and the $5 USD Tulum tourist tax. But still, you’re only looking at $79 USD total for a fantastic day out. Be sure to book this experience in advance, so you don’t miss out!
Related Read: Bacalar is another gorgeous area on the Yucatan but with fewer tourists! If you need an escape from the crowds of Cancun, check out these boat tours of the Bacalar Lagoon and settle into paradise.
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.
Is Tulum worth visiting for one day?
Yes. If you’ve only got one day to visit Tulum it’s still worth going. It’s one of the best places to visit in the Yucatan Peninsula and it would be a shame not to go when you’re staying relatively close by. We love Tulum because there’s so much to do! In just a single day, you can see the spectacular Tulum Ruins, swim in some of Mexico’s best cenotes, or spend some time in the town and check out its amazing restaurants!
As we mentioned earlier, the vibe in Tulum isn’t for everyone, but the only way to know is to check it out for yourself!
If you fall in love, then you can come back, and if you don’t, then you still get to see some amazing cenotes and ruins. The tours really are a lot of fun and help you to make the most of your time in Tulum. And once you do decide to come back, there are even more epic tours out of Tulum to check out!
Do you need to book a tour to Tulum from Cancun in advance?
Yes, the best tours tend to book up in advance, especially between November and April, which is the peak season. You get free cancellation on Viator up to 24 hours before your tour, so booking in advance is basically risk-free! If you don’t book in advance, you’ll still be able to get a tour, but it probably won’t be a very good one.
Related Read: Looking for an epic scuba experience? Pack your flippers and check out our guide to the best places to scuba dive in Mexico!
Other Activities to do While You’re in Cancun
Don’t let a Tulum tour be the only adventure you take in Cancun! I’ve been coming to Cancun since I was a kid and I never get tired of visiting. There are so many fun things to do in Cancun, that will make for an amazing vacation. So if you’re looking for even more activities, check out some of my favorites below!
- Hit the beach – I know it goes without saying that you’ll be spending a few days at some of Cancun’s best beaches! Make sure to vary it up and try a few different beaches while you’re here. Playa Chacmool is a hidden gem in the heart of the Cancun Hotel Zone I love and the sunsets at Playa Gaviota Azul are unreal.
- Tour an underwater museum – Whether you’re snorkeling or scuba diving in Cancun, a visit to MUSA (Underwater Museum of Art) is a must. There are hundreds of sculptures down here and it feels like visiting the Lost City of Atlantis! This snorkeling tour takes you to MUSA along with visits to a shipwreck and a cenote!
- See more Mayan ruins – Right in Cancun you can step back in time with visits to El Meco Ruins or the San Miguelito Ruins. Of course, to see some of the most famous Mayan ruins in Mexico, you’ll want to visit Chichen Itza from Cancun. We took this tour of the ruins that included a guide, a stop at a cenote, and lunch!
- Cancun Scenic Tower – As if Cancun wasn’t scenic enough, there’s another way to enjoy the views here! The Cancun Scenic Tower gives you amazing views of the Caribbean! The entire viewing deck lifts up, so you won’t even need to climb any stairs to get this view.
- Eat, eat, eat! – Calories don’t count on vacation, right? The restaurants in Cancun deliver amazing food – especially the Mexican restaurants of course. Mextreme has the best tacos and I always order the Aztec soup! If you want to try a bunch of different dishes in an evening, I recommend trying a taco tour in Cancun! My pick is this taco and beer food tour will take you to five popular spots for a fun night you’ll want to arrive hungry for!
Where to Stay in Cancun
Cancun is the land of hotels and there certainly is no shortage of fantastic places to stay. I have stayed at a huge variety of hotels both in the Hotel Zone and in downtown Cancun. To be honest, I prefer the Hotel Zone for a beach holiday!
For budget travelers, the Selina Cancun Laguna Hotel Zone is a great choice. It has the typical hostel vibes, which includes the woes of a shared living space, but overall I really enjoyed my stay. For the price (about $40 USD for a bunk or $100 USD for a private room) and fun atmosphere, you can’t go wrong! You can book this hostel on Hostelword or Booking.com.
If you prefer something a little nicer, I love the JW Marriott Cancun Resort. It’s not all-inclusive, which I enjoy because there are so many delicious restaurants in Cancun! The hotel is located right on the beach and has a huge pool. Rooms are typically $300-$500 USD depending on the time of year.
Of course, we all love a luxury all-inclusive stay and for that, I always book either the Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach Cancun or the Le Blanc Spa Resort Cancun Adults Only. Both are not cheap but are equally as luxurious with fantastic oceanfront locations, delicious food, quality alcohol, and more.
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 2023, 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!
Don’t get Caught without Travel Insurance!
We never travel without travel insurance! We’ve had a few instances during our travels when one of us has ended up in the hospital, and travel insurance has saved us thousands of dollars over the years!
SafetyWing is our go-to insurance, we both have policies with them whenever we travel.
They offer travel medical insurance that’s super affordable (only $45 USD per 4 weeks!)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!) While most travel insurance companies left people stranded, SafetyWing fully reimbursed us for our last-minute, pricey flights!
Also, because it is so affordable, there really is no excuse not to take out a policy. Check prices and get a quote online here with SafetyWing (you can even take out a policy if you’re already traveling!)
Thanks for reading!
Tulum is such a fun place to visit, and we love how convenient it is from Cancun! There is so much to see on the Riviera Maya, so taking a trip to Tulum is a must. We have stayed both in Cancun and Tulum multiple times, and each city has a different vibe and plenty to explore.
We hope these tours and info have inspired you to take a day trip to Tulum, you won’t regret it! If you’re looking for more information about things to do in Quintana Roo, or other areas in the country, check out our other Mexico blogs. We have traveled all over this wonderful country and are excited to share our experiences. Here are some of our favorite ones!