15 EPIC THINGS TO DO IN TULUM – THE ULTIMATE GUIDE

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There are many things to do in Tulum and it can be overwhelming trying to figure out where to start! Well, if you’ve found this Tulum Blog, you’ve come to the right place because I’ve got you sorted with everything you need to know about Tulum!

Tulum has very quickly become one of the must-see places in Mexico! Full of tropical beaches, amazing cenotes, Mayan ruins and a vibrant nightlife, it’s no wonder everyone seems to be flocking to Tulum for their holidays.

I spent one week in Tulum and have put together the ultimate guide of 15 Epic Things To Do In Tulum to help you plan your trip!

Also in this Tulum Travel Guide, I have included some useful information on how to get to Tulum, where to stay in Tulum, getting around and the best time to visit!

 

Have you got travel insurance for Mexico? I know that nobody likes to talk about this stuff but accidents can happen and having World Nomads Insurance can save you thousands of dollars if something goes wrong. 

 

HOW TO GET TO TULUM

There are a few ways to get to Tulum and they are by plane, bus or car.

The majority of tourists that visit Tulum are typically traveling south from Cancun to Tulum or heading north from Chetumal on the border of Belize. Whichever direction you happen to be traveling in, there are plenty of transportation options to reach Tulum.

• Cancun → Tulum: 1 hour 45 minutes

• Playa del Carmen → Tulum: 1 hour

• Chetumal → Tulum: 3 hours

BY PLANE:

The closest airport to Tulum is located in Cancun. From Cancun International Airport to Tulum, it’s approximately a 1 hour and 30-minute drive.

Search All → Flights to Cancun on Skyscanner.com

BY BUS:

Traveling to Tulum by bus is the most convenient, affordable and popular means of transport among travelers.

The main bus company in Mexico is ADO with daily buses running every hour from major cities such as Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Chetumal. 

The main bus station in Tulum is situated on the edge of the main road in the center of town. From here, you can take a taxi to your accommodation for around 50 – 100 MXN if you are staying in town, or 150 – 200 MXN if your accommodation happens to be somewhere along Tulum Beach. 

BY CAR:

Renting a car in Tulum is another great way to travel around at your own pace. This particular area of Mexico is said to be the safest when it comes to getting behind the wheel yourself, so it’s definitely an option to consider.

I always use Rentalcars.com to search and book car rentals in Mexico as they generally offer the best rates.

 

WHERE TO STAY IN TULUM

You are spoiled for options when searching for where to stay in Tulum with cheap hostels, luxury hotels and beachside resorts! Tulum has it all to suit the needs of budget backpackers, luxury travelers and everyone in between.

The majority of the accommodation in Tulum can be found in 3 main tourist areas: The Main Town, Tulum South Beach and Tulum North Beach.  

I have put together a complete guide of Where To Stay In Tulum which you should definitely have a read of. Otherwise, if you’re in a hurry, I have listed a few Tulum accommodations below that I can personally recommend:

 

Luxury: The Beach Tulum

Receive the celebrity treatment at The Beach Tulum with this adult-only, beachfront resort in South Tulum. With an outdoor pool, a beach club, an onsite restaurant and even a spa. This really is the height of luxury and one of the best things to do in Tulum in itself. Each luxurious, beach-front room has stylish, minimalist décor, air-conditioning, free wifi and a seating area. These deluxe rooms come with large comfortable beds, private entrances, ensuite bathrooms and right on the shoreline in the South Beach area, surrounded by shops, cafes and restaurants. This Tulum resort is highly popular with couples. With the smaller, more intimate rooms this makes for the perfect couples getaway.

Check prices on AgodaCheck prices on Booking.com


 

Mid Range: Playa Esperanza Hotel

This is eco-sensitive hotel and resort boasts unique cabins made from natural materials and is located right on the shoreline on Tulum’s North Beach. With 15 different styles of rooms to choose from, natural interiors, large comfortable beds and private bathrooms. Enjoy the free wifi, beach bar and ocean views. This is great for a group of friends traveling together or couples. Choose between a room with 2 single beds or one with a double bed. Book directly through the hotel and get every 3rd night free!

Check prices on the website

 

Budget: Che Tulum Hostel & Bar

One of the most top-rated hostels in Tulum! With an outdoor pool, a lively bar and a large green area to hang out. Free wifi available throughout and even lockers to keep your belongings safe. Each bedroom has been modeled to offer natural lighting and features private bathrooms, air-con, new beds and mattresses. With a huge range of rooms on offer, pick from one of the many dorm rooms or private rooms. This budget hostel in Tulum is great for travelers used to that hostel life.

Check prices on AgodaCheck prices on Booking.com


 

FOR ALL OTHER PLACES TO STAY IN TULUM, SEARCH ON AGODA OR SEARCH ON BOOKING.COM

 

GETTING AROUND TULUM

There a number of ways of getting around Tulum and they are by car, taxi, bicycle or on foot.

If you are staying in town, you must know that it is around 1 hour and 15 minutes walk to the beach, so if you’re quite fit, go for it, otherwise, I would highly recommend renting a bicycle or taking a taxi from the main town to Tulum Beach. It’s approximately a 15-minute drive or a 30-minute bike ride from the main town to Tulum Beach. 

Bicycle rental is generally around 150 MXN per day and you can find a set of wheels at your hostel or from one of the many bike rental stores in the main town. If you’re staying along Tulum Beach, there are also a few bicycle rental stores along the main street. 

A taxi ride from the main town to Tulum Beach or vise versa is a set price of 150 MXN, so if there are a few of you it works out better to split this cost. Some cab drivers will try to charge you 200 MXN but you shouldn’t pay more than 150 MXN.

If you have your own rental car then great, however, parking along Tulum Beach can sometimes be an issue. During high season it’s near impossible to find free street-side parking though there are some parking lots with plenty of spaces that cost around 100 – 200 MXN for the day.

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THINGS TO DO IN TULUM OVERVIEW

  1. Swim at Playa Paraiso
  2. Visit the Tulum Ruins
  3. Take a photo of the bent palm tree
  4. Visit Grand Cenote
  5. Watch the sunrise at Sunrise Beach
  6. Clan Destino Bar & Cenote
  7. Mirador Tulum Beach
  8. Raw Love art installation
  9. ‘Follow That Dream’ sign
  10. Discover El Cenote Encantado
  11. Have lunch at Tunich Cafe
  12. Dive into Cenote Calavera
  13. Check out the Azulik Museum
  14. Fly the drone at Laguna Kaan Luum
  15. Sunset & live music at Mateo’s

 

15 EPIC THINGS TO DO IN TULUM

Now that you’ve got all the information on how to get to Tulum, where to stay in Tulum and all the logistics, let’s get to the fun stuff!

So without further ado, here is my Ultimate Tulum Travel Guide which includes 15 Epic Things To Do In Tulum!

 

#1 SWIM AT PLAYA PARAISO (PARADISE BEACH)

Hands down one of the best things to do in Tulum when you arrive is head straight to the beach and the most beautiful is Playa Paraiso which translates to Paradise Beach. Located on Tulum’s northern stretch of coastline, Playa Paraiso is a hard-to-beat destination!

The name says it all – Playa Paraiso is indeed a slice of paradise and the most popular beach in Tulum. With a long stretch of glistening white sands, a palm tree fringed shoreline and azure blue waters, Playa Paraiso is not to be missed on your list of things to do in Tulum Mexico!

I was lucky enough to spend a few nights at Playa Esperanza Beach Resort located right on the beach at Playa Paraiso and spent many hours soaking up the sun, swimming in the shallow waters, going for long beach strolls and watching the sunrise three days in a row. It was indeed the most ultimate tropical (working) holiday I have ever had.

If you’re looking for an awesome day at the beach, Playa Paraiso is your best pick. There are plenty of beach chairs and umbrellas to use, all you need to do is purchase something from the beachside restaurant and bar, or if you’re on a budget you can perch up under a coconut palm for free.

Must Read → 9 Awesome Things To Do In Bacalar

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#2 VISIT THE TULUM RUINS

The next location to check off your list of things to do in Tulum is the Archeological Zone of Tulum featuring amazing temple ruins enriched with Mayan history.

Tulum Ruins are located at the very end of Tulum’s northern beach, Playa Paraiso. The opening hours are 8:00 am to 4:30 pm, 7 days a week and the Tulum Ruins entrance fee is 75 MXN.

These ancient Mayan ruins in Tulum aren’t quite as impressive to that of Chichen Itza in Valladolid or Tikal in Guatemala, but it’s definitely worthy of checking out while you’re in the area. The biggest draw to these Tulum ruins is its location, set right on the beach with stunning views of the coastline.

Hot Tip → Get there early when doors open as this is one of the more popular Tulum activities to do and it gets very crowded during the middle of the day. If you want to get some decent photos without hoards of tourists in the shot, then the earlier you arrive the better. 

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#3 TAKE A PHOTO OF THE BENT PALM TREE

Another one of the top things to do in Tulum Mexico is to get the classic Instagram shot of the bent palm tree that sticks out over the ocean. I’m a sucker for coconut palm trees in general, so I couldn’t resist heading to this awesome Tulum attraction to get some photos.

The famous bent palm tree in Tulum can be found along the northern shores at Playa Paraiso (Paradise Beach). It’s best visited early morning if you want to get some shots without hoards of other tourists around. 

Because of its east-facing location, this is a great location to watch the sunrise. I recommend setting your alarm for 6:00 am and making you way down to Playa Paraiso to catch the sunrise at Tulum’s bent palm tree! 

Find All → Hotels / Hostels / Resorts in Tulum

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#4 VISIT GRAND CENOTE

Grand Cenote is arguably the most popular tourist attraction in Tulum, apart from Tulum Beach, and not to be missed during your visit. If you don’t know what a cenote is, it’s basically a natural sinkhole filled with fresh groundwater which is typically a vibrant blue or crystalline color due to the surrounding limestone rocks.

Some of the best adventures to be had, which I highly recommend adding to your list of what to do in Tulum, is visiting as many cenotes as you can, and the Grand Cenote should be at the top of your list. 

Grand Cenote is a short 10-minute drive, 25-minute bike ride or a 1-hour walk from the center of town. Grand Cenote Tulum is open 7 days a week, from 8:00 am to 4:45 pm, and the entrance fee is 200 MXN. 

As I mentioned earlier, Gran Cenote is the most popular tourist attraction in Tulum and it gets VERY busy during the day. I recommend arriving before doors open to be the first in line and once inside, you’ll get around 30 minutes to 1 hour to enjoy swimming in the cenote without hundreds of others around. Believe me, it’s far more enjoyable with fewer people and your photos will turn out great!

There are two main swimming areas at Grand Cenote, one features a large open-air sinkhole and a wooden deck that is surrounded by crystalline waters. You can also spot freshwater turtles swimming around in the Grand Cenote. 

The second area can be accessed by swimming through a natural tunnel that emerges in a smaller cenote filled with turquoise waters and a little island of palm trees sits in the middle. This was my favorite spot to go for a dip and it wasn’t too crowded. 

If you would like to book a join-in tour to visit Grand Cenote and other Tulum attractions, see below for the most top-rated tour on Get Your Guide:

 

 

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#5 WATCH THE SUNRISE AT SUNRISE BEACH

Watching the sunrise is a daily routine of mine and if you’re an early person like myself, be sure to check out Sunrise Beach during your visit to Tulum.

Sunrise Beach is located along Tulum’s southern coastline and it’s a public beach with no entrance fees, unlike some of the beaches in Tulum. Here is the exact pin location of Sunrise Beach on Google Maps.

Sunrise Beach is a large cove featuring a rocky shoreline at the northern end and a beautiful white sand beach at the southern end, which is an ideal spot to watch the sunrise.

You can also find a bright yellow roadside street sign at Sunrise Beach that says STAY PRESENT on one side and EMBRACE THE MYSTERY on the other. There are a few of these signs dotted around Tulum which make for an awesome Instagram-worthy shot!

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#6 CLAN DESTINO BAR & CENOTE

Through word of mouth, I discovered the Clan Destino Bar and Cenote which turned out to be one of my favorite things to do in Tulum!

Situated right in the heart of it all along Tulum’s south beach tourist area, Clan Destino Bar features its very own cenote surrounded by lush jungle. It truly is a little hidden gem that I highly recommend checking out while you’re in the area!

There is no entrance fee to swim in the cenote, all they ask is that you purchase something from the bar or restaurant. The best seats in the house are the ones that are situated on the wooden deck on the very edge of the cenote. 

I spent around one hour sipping on a Michelada and swimming around in the crystalline waters. I honestly could have spent an entire day at Clan Destino Bar but there were more places to check off my Tulum things to do list!

Find All → Hotels / Hostels / Resorts in Tulum

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#7 MIRADOR TULUM BEACH

If you like beaches and viewpoints be sure to add Mirador Tulum Beach to your list of things to do in Tulum.

‘Mirador’ is the Spanish word for ‘Viewpoint’ and this particular one is very easy to find. Situated at the southern end of Sunrise Beach, you’ll see a rocky islet that sticks out over the ocean and you can simply walk out to it from the beach.

Enjoy panoramic views to the north and south of Tulum Beach and over your shoulder, you’ll catch an incredible sight of the expansive Tulum jungle.

Must Read →  13 Things To Do In San Cristobal

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#8 RAW LOVE ART INSTALLATION

Raw Love is a restaurant that can be found along Tulum Beach and is most famous for its art installation located at the very entrance. I guarantee you would have seen a photo of this incredible wooden sculpture on Instagram (that’s how I found out about it anyway) and it’s not to be missed on your list of things to do in Tulum. 

The very talented artist from Cape Town, Daniel Popper, specializes in art installations all over the world and this is by far one of his most creative works!

I recommend heading there early morning to take a photo with the Raw Love art installation as it gets super busy during the day and you’ll most likely be queueing in line among other tourists. 

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#9 ‘FOLLOW THAT DREAM’ SIGN

Another Instagram-worthy location to add to your list of things to do in Tulum is the FOLLOW THAT DREAM sign.

Again, I found this location through Instagram and just had to go and check it out for myself! Located in front of Lolita Lolita store along the roadside in Tulum’s south beach tourist area. 

It can be quite tricky to get a good shot riding your bike next to the Follow That Dream sign as there are cars constantly driving up and down the road. If you get there early on in the day there will be less traffic, making it easier to get the perfect Instagram shot!

If you like, you can even pop your head into the Lolita Loita store to do a bit of shopping. Their range of products looked amazing from what I saw.

Free ∼ $40 AirBnb Discount

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#10 DISCOVER EL CENOTE ENCANTADO

One of my favorite cenotes in Tulum is El Cenote Encantado because of its large size and fewer tourists at this epic spot hidden in the jungle. 

El Cenote Encantado can be found at the very southern end of Tulum Beach, far away from the tourist areas and probably why it’s uncrowded most of the time. There are several entrances to this cenote as it’s shared between a number of accommodations. 

I personally entered via Maya Cabanas and walked along the wooden boardwalk to the back of the property to where the cenote is located. I didn’t have to pay an entrance fee though the receptionist was busy and I walked past unnoticed. If you do end up having to pay I believe it wouldn’t be any more than 75 – 100 MXN to enter.

El Cenote Encantado features a large natural swimming pool surrounded by mangroves and the water is crystal clear. There were some kayaks tied up at the end of the wooden boardwalk so I took one out for a paddle and spotted a group of friends throwing themselves off of a diving board at the other end of the cenote. Not a bad way to spend a few hours!

I decided to fly my DJI Mavic Drone to capture an aerial perspective and I was really happy with the shots I got. From above, El Cenote Encantado looks like the shape of South America and I could spot the other entrance trails leading through the jungle from the other accommodations. 

If you’re up for an adventure-filled activity, be sure to include El Cenote Encantado to your list of what to do in Tulum!

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#11 HAVE LUNCH AT TUNICH CAFE

I am pretty confident in saying that Tunich Cafe is one of the top restaurants in Tulum offering a wide range of Mexican and international cuisine as well as signature cocktails and a selection of beers, wine and spirits.

Tunich Cafe is located in Tulum’s south beach tourist area and is open 7 days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner. You can check out the Tunich Cafe website for more information.

Tunich also offers accommodation during your stay in Tulum, featuring cozy cabanas at the back of the restaurant.

I personally tried the eggs benedict and Kathy had the quinoa bowl. Both dishes were mouthwatering! For drinks, I recommend the passionfruit Mezcal cocktail and the spinach, celery and lemon juice.

See More → Best Camera Gear For Travel

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#12 DIVE INTO CENOTE CALAVERA

Cenote Calavera, in my opinion, is one of the best and most underrated cenotes in Tulum. Although it’s not as large as some of the other popular cenotes, Calavera is one for the thrill-seekers!

Cenote Calavera is located along the main highway in the same direction as the Grand Cenote. A short 10-minute drive, 25-minute bike ride or a 1-hour walk from the center of town, you’ll see a big white sign on the right-hand side of the road that reads CENOTE – you can’t miss it!

The opening hours are 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, 7 days a week, and the entrance fee is 100 MXN.

Featuring an almost perfectly round sinkhole filled with fresh water, a wooden ladder, cliff jumps and a chair rope swing, these are just some of the things that make Cenote Calavera so epic and photogenic at the same time. 

Again, if you arrive early enough you will get to enjoy Cenote Calavera all to yourself. It’s a great spot for cliff jumping from the edges of the cenote or pin-dropping into the pool below through one of the cracks in the top. 

When I visited there were a few scuba divers gearing up to dive down into the cenote, so it must be quite deep. If this is something you’d be interested in, it’s best to inquire at one of the dive shops in the main town. I believe the cost of a Calavera Cenote dive is around 200 MXN.

You could easily spend a couple of hours hanging out at Cenote Calavera as it’s one of the more adventurous things to do in Tulum!

Full Blog Post: Cenote Calavera

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 #13 CHECK OUT THE AZULIK MUSEUM

The ephemeral architecture is the distinguishing feature of the Azulik Museum and Art Gallery which is not to be missed on your list of things to do in Tulum!

The best part about the Azulike Museum, also known as Sfer Ik Museio, is that it’s completely free to go inside and wander around. Upon entering, you must take your shoes off and leave them at the door and no professional cameras are permitted, only phone cameras are accepted. 

Sfer Ik is a nest-like structure constructed out of locally sourced wood, smooth cement and a haze of incense fills the room. It’s an extraordinary space, to say the least! Some of my favorite features inside are the elevated walkway and the rounded glass windows.

Azulik Museum has many different art exhibitions throughout the year though unfortunately when I visited they had just finished up one of the exhibitions and were about to install a new one. It was still very beautiful inside regardless!

Find All → Hotels / Hostels / Resorts in Tulum

Entrance to the Azulik Museum

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#14 FLY THE DRONE AT LAGUNA KAAN LUUM

For all the drone pilots out there, Laguna Kaan Luum is drone heaven and seriously looks incredible from a birds-eye perspective! If you don’t have a drone, no worries, you can still visit the lagoon, go swimming and marvel at the grandeur size of this epic Tulum cenote.

Laguna Kaan Luum, also known as Kaan Luum Lagoon, is located 15km southwest of the main town, approximately a 20-minute drive, and the entrance fee is 100 MXN and an additional 300 MXN if you wish to fly your drone. 

Kaan Luum Lagoon features an almost perfect circle, a long wooden pier that stretches out into a shallow-watered area for swimming and a drop-off into a very deep sinkhole that is around 80 meters deep. This particular area of the cenote is roped off to swimming but it’s possible to go scuba diving down there. 

This Tulum cenote is not quite as popular as Grand Cenote but it is known to get quite busy during the middle of the day so try to time your visit early in the morning when it opens at 9:00 am.

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#15 SUNSET & LIVE MUSIC AT MATEO’S

One of the best spots to watch the sunset in Tulum is from the 3rd level rooftop terrace at Mateo’s Mexican Grill. With live music and happy hour drinks, Mateo’s is not to be missed on your list of things to do in Tulum!

My accommodation happened to be a stone’s throw away from Mateo’s and so I visited this spot a number of times for lunch, drinks and of course at sunset. Mateo’s is open 7 days a week from 8:00 am to 11:00 pm.

Due to its popularity, you’ll want to arrive at Mateo’s a bit before sunset to score a seat on the rooftop terrace. Once you’re settled in you can enjoy table service and live music while the sun begins to set over the horizon! It’s the perfect place to sit back and relax after an adventure-filled day in Tulum!

Must Read → 11 Things To Do In Puerto Escondido

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BEST TIME TO VISIT TULUM

The best time to visit Tulum is during the winter season from December to April. During this time there is little to no rainfall and the temperatures are just perfect. 

The rainy season in Tulum is typically between May and October which sees higher temperatures due to the humidity. The only plus side to visiting Tulum during these months is there will be fewer tourists and prices are less inflated. 

 

BEST TOURS IN TULUM

 


 

 

TULUM MAP

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MY CAMERA GEAR

• DSLR Mirrorless Camera: Sony A7ii 

• Drone Camera: DJI Mavic Pro 2

• GoPro: GoPro Hero 8 Black

• Everyday Lens: Sony F2.8 24/70mm

• Camera Bag: Lowepro Protactic 31L

• Selfie Stick: Sandmarc Metal Edition 1.2m 

• Tripod: Joby Flexible GorillaPod

• GoPro Dome: Underwater GoPro Dome

• Power Bank: Anker Powerbank

• External Hardrive: WD Elements 4TB

 

WHAT TO PACK FOR MEXICO?

• Waterproof Phone Case: Universal Waterproof Case

• Reusable Water Bottle: Hydro Flask Water Bottle

• Rain Jacket: North Face Rain Jacket

• Water Shoes: Slip-on Water Shoes

• Day Bag: Nomatic 20L Day Bag

• Power Adapter: Universal Power Adapter

• Packing Cubes: 4 Set Packing Cubes

• Microfibre Towel: Quick Dry Travel Towel

• Travel Insurance: World Nomads Travel Insurance

• Money Belt: Hidden Money Belt

 

I hope you enjoyed reading this article and if you have any questions at all about Things To Do In Tulum Mexico, please leave me a comment below and I will get back to you as soon as I can.

Happy Travels!

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