Over the past year or so, Tulum has exploded. On Instagram, it’s hard to avoid pictures of travellers and influencers enjoying their holiday in Tulum and the town has become a celebrity hotspot.
Why is it so popular? Tulum boasts some beautiful beaches with soft white sand and refreshingly blue water. The combination of the bohemian and luxury vibe is what attracts a lot of travellers, people just have to see what the fuss is about.
Running parallel to the beach you’ll be spoilt for choice with luxury hotels, restaurants and beach clubs. All of which are beautifully designed and create an irresistibly bohemian vibe.
You can easily spend your days lazing on the beach, sipping a cocktail in a beach club, but if you’re up for some exploring, there’s plenty to do.
Get your bucket list ready. In this guide, we’ll show you the best things to do in Tulum and how to experience them.
Need help planning your trip? Check out our tips for visiting Tulum — you’ll find the best restaurants, where to stay, how to get around and more!
Top tours in and around Tulum
- Tulum, Coba and Cenote Full Day Tour for $42
- Jungle and Cenote Bike Tour for $100
- 3 Cenotes with GoPro Footage Tour for $116
#1 Go cenote hopping
Tulum’s location makes it a great place to visit lots of cenotes. If you don’t already know, cenotes are sinkholes that result from the collapse of the bedrock exposing groundwater. The Maya believed cenotes to be a gateway to Xibalba, the underworld, and it’s easy to see why. There’s something other-worldly about them!
Tulum has a selection of cave cenotes and open-air cenotes, giving you a variety of options to visit. Here are our top 3:
The Gran Cenote is a series of small caves connecting to a larger cenote, perfect for exploring with a snorkel. The water is as clear as it can get, glistening against the cave walls.
The best thing about the cenote is that you’ll be swimming amongst fish as well as turtles that love to bask in the sun on the cenote rocks.
Entrance to the cenote is 500 MXN ($29.00).
Another great cenote for both swimmers and divers is Cenote Calavera. The cenote has both a jumping platform and a swing, taking your visit to a whole new level of fun.
Calavera actually translates to a skull. The reason for this is when the sunlight streams into the cenote, it gives the appearance of a skull from the water.
Now imagine yourself jumping through these tight holes into the cenote.
Entrance to Calavera is 250 MXN ($14.50).
Cenote Dos Ojos
If you are a diver, head to Cenote Dos Ojos! You’ll get to explore an underwater world that’s missed by everyone else floating on top of the water.
The cenote has a vast cave system that is just waiting to be explored. It covers over 80 km, with some zones going down to 120 meters.
The general entry fee to this cenote is 350 MXN ($20.00). If you do want to scuba dive, there are lots of companies available with the entrance fee already included.
Can’t get enough of cenotes? The three cenotes we shared above are our top picks, but there are many many more to explore if you have time. Some other popular cenotes include Car Wash, Tortuga and Pet Cemetery (the names might not be the most inviting but we promise they’re great!).
Book your cenote tour here:
#2 Go back in time at Tulum ruins
Tulum isn’t particularly renowned for its culture and history, but one site that does add a sprinkling of historical interest is the Tulum Archaeological Zone.
Dating back to the 13th century, Tulum’s ruins aren’t as well preserved as some others in Mexico, but the Castillo’s structure is worthy of admiration. Most importantly, it’s the dramatic setting that attracts visitors. Precariously perched on top of the clifftops, the archaeological site is set against a backdrop of the crystal blue waters crashing against the rocks. The view is truly spectacular.
The ruins are a nice way to spend a few hours in Tulum, plus the entrance is relatively cheap at just 80 pesos.
One of the best ways to get to the ruins is by bike as there’s a flat path leading up to them and you can park right outside, whereas vehicles are stopped earlier on.
On your way back you can also visit some of the public beaches in this area that have pathways leading off from the road.
Tick off all the best things to do in and around Tulum in one day on this Tulum, Coba, Cenote Full Day Tour for $42
#3 Explore Tulum by bicycle
As we mentioned in our compact Tulum Travel Guide, one of the best ways to get around Tulum is by bike.
It’s also a fun way to spend the day and get some exercise in. The cute pastel bikes with baskets have also become quite a thing on Instagram.
Tulum is a great place to cycle around due to it being relatively flat and having cycle paths that run along the main road. However, when you get to the beach area, you’ll need to cycle along the road which can get quite bumpy.
How much does hiring a bicycle cost in Tulum?
You can hire a bike for around 100 MXN ($5.50) – 150 MXN ($8.50) a day. Or if you’re lucky, your accommodation may include bikes for free.
There are a number of bike rental places along the main road, but a highly recommended shop is Ola Bike Tulum. Their bikes are good quality and you can reserve them online to avoid disappointment for 150 MXN ($8.50).
Build up a sweat before going for a dip on the 3 Cenote Bike Tour with Lunch for $100
#4 Indulge in luxury at one of Tulum’s beach clubs
Tulum has become renowned worldwide for its beach clubs, famed for the ultimate luxury experience.
The beach clubs have managed to get the balance between luxury and rustic just right, giving the clubs a tropical beach feel. You’ll find huge sunbeds sprawling out onto the sand, hammocks swinging between the trees and fully-stocked bars with swim-up pools. In short: paradise!
By night, these beach clubs turn into some of the best parties hosted by famous DJs who fly in from across the world.
How to pick the right beach club
The entry fee to these beach clubs varies hugely. A lot of the beach clubs allow you to spend your entry fee on consumption. For example, if entry is $30, you can spend this towards any food and drink on the menu and have access to the beach club. Prices range from $20 to hundreds of dollars for the day (yup, you read that right!).
#5 Chill on the beach all day long
The crowds are drawn to Tulum for a reason. It has idyllic white-sand beaches and turquoise waters — every beach bum’s dream.
However, a day at the beach in Tulum isn’t as easy to organise as it may seem. The beach is split up into public beaches in the north and private beaches owned by beach clubs and hotels in the south.
To access the private beaches, you’ll have to spend the day in a beach club which will involve spending money. A lot of them will have a minimum spend on food and drinks.
Not all the good beaches are private, though. Many of the public beaches in Tulum are just as beautiful, and free! Besides the most famous Playa Ruinas, two other favourites are Playa Paraiso and Las Palmas.
#6 [Closed down] Head to La Eufemia
Here’s how you can get around paying those high beach club prices to access the private beaches. Head to La Eufemia!
It’s a quirky beach-style bar that has no minimum spend. Drink prices are relatively cheap compared to the rest of Tulum, and they sell some really great tacos. You can enjoy your drink and tacos in the bar or on one of the many sun loungers and bean bags that sprawl onto the beach.
There’s often live music and a great atmosphere all day long, especially during sunset.
Edit: Sadly, La Eufemia is now permanently closed.
#7 Visit Chichen Itza, one of the new 7 Wonders of the World
Want to tick off one of the new 7 Wonders of the World? Well, you can!
Chichen Itza receives over 2.5 million visitors every year, each one eager to explore the Mayan complex dating back to 600 AD. There are 26 Mayan structures in total, with El Castillo (literally) taking centre stage as the main pyramid of the complex.
Although Chichen Itza isn’t right on the doorstep of Tulum, it’s still a good base to visit Chichen Itza from as a day trip. The best option would be to join this day tour from Tulum.
Expect a super fun day of 12 hours including:
- skip-the-line ticket for Chichen Itza
- visit to Valladolid
- Visit to a sacred cenote
During the day you will also get a free buffet meal and you will be accompanied by a knowledgeable guide who can tell you everything you want to know about the Mayan history.
Where’s the best place to visit Chichen Itza from?
If you’re planning on visiting multiple destinations on the Yucatan peninsula, you will get more chances to visit Chichen Itza. The drive from Tulum to Chichen Itza is only 2 hours. See here the distances and rates of the best tours from three main destinations along the Riviera Maya:
- Cancun: 2.5-hour drive. Day tours starting from $28
- Playa del Carmen 2.5-hour drive. Day tours starting from $28
- Tulum: 2-hour drive. Day tours starting from $32.50
(Chichen Itza entrance fee of $30 is not included in tour price)
Top tip: If you’re visiting independently, take the time to explore some of the nearby cenotes. Cenote Ik-kil is an 8-minute drive from Chichen Itza and is a stunning underground pool of water surrounded by hanging vines and vegetation.
#8 Take a day trip to Coba ruins
If Tulum’s ruins don’t satisfy your craving for Mayan ruins, then you can also head to Coba ruins, only 45 minutes from Tulum.
These ruins aren’t as busy as some of the others in Mexico, making them even more enjoyable to visit. Set amongst the jungle, the large network of stone streets connects the pyramids and structures within the site.
A big draw of Coba used to be that you were able to climb the pyramids, something you can’t do at Chichen Itza.
Entrance to Coba costs 100 pesos.
Covid-update: Unfortunately, climbing most of the pyramids is currently suspended.
#9 Visit the Sian Ka’an biosphere reserve
Sian Ka’an biosphere reserve is the largest protected area in the Mexican Caribbean, home to thousands of species of flora and fauna. It’s only a 20-minute drive or a 60-minute bus journey from Tulum, making it perfect for a day trip.
Within the Sian Ka’an reserve you’ll find a diverse range of habitats including jungle, freshwater marshes, lagoons, Mayan-built canals and even the barrier reef in the Caribbean sea. Essentially, there’s plenty to explore!
The reserve celebrates sustainable tourism, allowing you to explore the area whilst minimising the damage tourism can have on this type of place.
There are a number of tours available to help you get the most out of the reserve, from boat trips to snorkelling. You can find information about the tours available on the Sian Ka’an website.
There are two entrances to the reserve. If you enter via the Muyil entrance the fee is 45 MXN ($2.60) or 50 MXN ($2.90) at Sian Ka’an Boardwalk.
#10 Rejuvenate at Holistika
Tulum is a destination that screams wellness and self-care, with plenty of places to do yoga, get a massage or enjoy healthy food.
The jungle wellness retreat Holistika encompasses everything you need to look after both your body and mind. You can relax in the beautiful shalas, lounge around the pool, rejuvenate with a massage or explore the art walk. Some of the extra activities include yoga, temazcal, sonic experiences and cacao ceremonies. If you feel it’s time to treat yourself, this is the perfect place to do this.
You can book a stay here (there are private rooms and dorms available) or just drop in for an activity of your choice. View the activity schedule and book online.
#11 Go shopping at Tulum’s boutiques
If you’re looking to update your wardrobe or embrace the beach-style fashion that’s visible everywhere in Tulum, you are in the right place. You can easily spend hours hopping between the boutiques that line the beach road.
There are some really interesting and unique pieces in the shops, but this definitely comes at a price. Expect Western prices or higher!
How to get to Tulum
|Leaving from||Duration||Prices from||See details|
|Bacalar||2.5hrs – 3hrs||310 MXN ($18.00) – 3,500 MXN ($200.00)||Bacalar to Tulum|
|Cancun||2.5hrs – 3 hrs||87 MXN ($5.00) – 2,030 MXN ($115.00)||Cancun to Tulum|
|Playa del Carmen||1hr – 1hr 10mins||45 MXN ($2.60) – 615 MXN ($35.50)||Playa del Carmen to Tulum|
Rounding it up
Now you’ve picked the best things to do in Tulum, it’s time to start ticking off that bucket list. Not sure how to plan your trip? Our guide is here to help! You’ll find out how long to stay in Tulum, where to eat, how to get around and more. Happy planning!
Hotel Casa Santiago Tulum - Treating Yourself
There are too many great things to mention about Casa Santiago. It’s an eco-sustainable hotel with a refreshing pool and sun-loungers, perfect for relaxing around. An added bonus, all rooms offer balconies with pool views.
The star of the show though? The staff! They’re always there to help you out. Whether it’s answering a question, or helping you to organise a tour in Tulum.
- Outdoor pool and sun terrace
- Friendly and helpful staff
- Eco-friendly and sustainable hotel
- Natural toiletries made in the region
Double rooms start from $80 per night
Turquoise Petit Hotel Tulum - Treating Yourself
Put on your complimentary bathrobe and enjoy the tranquility of this hotel. Every aspect of the hotel is so beautifully and intricately designed that you can’t help but be relaxed here. The decor is truly stunning with splashes of turquoise all around you.
There’s not one, but two pools to take a refreshing dip in after you’ve enjoyed your complimentary breakfast. And at the end of the day, the modern and spacious rooms are the perfect place to retire to at the end of the day.
- Two outdoor swimming pools
- Beautifully decorated
- Attentive and friendly staff
- Great breakfast included
Double rooms start from $80 per night
La Palmita Budget Boutique Hotel - Mid Range
The creative murals that you’ll find throughout the entire hotel, give La Palmita a vibrant and artistic feel. Wherever you look, you’ll feel inspired.
The beds are massive and incredibly comfortable, offering a great night’s sleep after a busy day in Tulum. You can also chill on your own private balcony or the big roof terrace. Plonk yourself in one of the many hammocks and enjoy the sunset.
- Bike rental available
- Rooftop with hammocks and yoga mats
- Excellent location
- Huge beds
Double rooms between $40-$80 per night
Tubo Tulum - Budget Friendly
Looking for something a bit different? Tubo Tulum makes sleeping an experience of its own. You can sleep in a tent or in one of their large concrete tubes that house a comfy double bed.
The eco-friendly concept of the hostel, alongside their tropical garden, makes you feel like you’re chilling in the middle of the jungle. A very memorable stay for a very reasonable price.
- Great location
- Communal kitchen
- Delicious breakfast included
- Original and eco-friendly hotel
Private tents start from $19 per night
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