Not many places in the world are as beautiful as Mexico’s Tulum. Located on the Mayan Riviera in Mexico, Tulum used to be a sleepy fishing village with not much urban development going on. Nowadays, this coastal city is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the region with miles of white-sand beaches with crystal clear waters.
Whether you are visiting the Mayan Riviera with your family, group of friends, or with that special someone, Tulum’s oozes charm on every turn. From its ancient Mayan ruins to the incredible natural limestone sinkholes also known as cenotes, there are many unique attractions and activities to enjoy in this Mayan City. Without further ado, here is our list of the best 16 things to do in Tulum.
1. Archeological Zone of Tulum – Mayan Port City
Kick-off your Tulum travel itinerary with a visit to the city’s Mayan ruins. One of the most visited archaeological sites on the Yucatán Peninsula, the Mayan ruins are definitely the main attraction in Tulum attracting millions of tourists every year. Enjoy the sweeping vistas and admire the haunting paintings at the Temple of the Frescoes. Keep in mind that this is a relatively small site and can often get super crowded with fellow tourists. This is why we recommend paying a visit to Tulum’s ruins early in the morning.
2. Gran Cenote
Interested in discovering the Mayan sinkholes also known as cenotes while visiting Tulum? Located right outside the city, Gran Cenote allows travelers to swim in cenote’s transparent waters and admire the beauty of the surrounding rock formations. While swimming in cenotes, travelers will also have an opportunity to see turtles and bats. There are many guided tours of Gran Cenote that you can join and many of them provide life jackets and snorkeling gear.
3. Mexico Kan Tours – Eco Tours Tulum Riviera Maya
Venturing outside the city gates can be a rewarding experience, but planning a trip and organizing everything from transportation to places to visit can be a real drag. The good news is that Mexico Kan Tours offers quality day trips from Tulum and can take visitors to a diverse range of sites outside Riviera Maya. From the World Wonder Discovery Tour and Cenote Trail Bike Tour to Bird Watching in Punta Laguna and Mayan Inland Expedition, Mexico Kan Tours has plenty to offer.
4. Cenote Calavera
A visit to Cenote Calavera makes for an easy day trip from Tulum, as it is located just a 10-minute drive from the city. Also known as “Temple of Doom”, Cenote Calavera offers excellent conditions for diving and swimming. With a depth of 50 feet, this cenote allows you to witness halocline (a place where freshwater meets seawater) while diving. Apart from swimming in turquoise waters, you can admire the sheer beauty of the rock formations. For those who don’t know, Calavera is the Spanish word for skull.
5. Paradise Beach
Paradise Beach (Playa Paraíso) is the main and the most popular beach in Tulum. Located just south of the ruins, this spectacular beach is famed for its looming palm trees, postcard-worthy rugged cliffs, and shallow sea with crystal-clear waters. Expect to find many beachfront bars and restaurants that offer delicious snacks and refreshing drinks, as well as plenty of hammocks and soft couches where you can unwind while enjoying that icy beer or a refreshing Long Island cocktail.
6. Tulum National Park
Whether you are looking for things to do in Tulum alone or you wish to explore the city with family and friends, a visit to the Tulum National Park should definitely be included in your Tulum travel itinerary. This eco-archaeological site is home to several cenotes, boasts a nicely preserved archaeological compound set, and preserves a vast array of vegetation including tropical shrubs, coconut palm trees, and chit trees. The best time to visit the park is right before dawn when there are fewer tourists around.
7. Playa Pescadores
Located just north of Paradise Beach, Playa Pescadores is an ideal beach for both couples on vacation in Tulum and families with kids. This stunning beach offers magnificent views of the Tulum’s ruins and is well-known for its calm and clean waters where even the little ones can enjoy swimming. From May to November, it is possible to see many turtles on Playa Pescadores. Many snorkeling tours are also organized on this lovely beach.
8. Cenotes Dos Ojos
Famed for its insanely blue waters, picturesque cave formations, and dozens of remarkable hidden caves just waiting to be explored, Cenotes Dos Ojos is one of the best cenotes in the Yucatan peninsula and an ideal place for scuba diving. The visibility through the water is simply amazing, so it comes as no surprise that snorkelers just love this place. It is worth mentioning that the water temperature at a constant 24-26 degrees Celsius is ideal for both swimming and snorkeling.
9. Laguna Kaan Luum
Searching for unknown things to do in Tulum? Pay a visit to Laguna de Kaan Luu, a magical lagoon with a large cenote which is located just a short drive from the city. Well-known for its spectacular array of colors, this lagoon is definitely one of the most fascinating places in the region and attracts thousands of travelers every week. According to the legends, Laguna Kaan Luum has healing powers.
10. Punta Laguna Nature Reserve
Punta Laguna Nature Reserve lies about 40 miles north of the city and is home to a rather unique attraction on the Yucatán Peninsula, the famous spider monkeys. Apart from the monkeys, the reserve also showcases animals such as pumas and jaguars, as well as dozens of bird species.
It’s best to hire a licensed tour guide when visiting Punta Laguna Nature Reserve, simply because this person can provide a more authentic experience and more importantly knows where to find the spider monkeys in this giant reserve. The nearby Mayan village is also worth visiting if you wish to learn more about the local life here in this part of Mexico.
11. Witness Coba
The small site at Coba which is home to Mayan ruins is located around 30 miles from Tulum and is a must-visit place for all culture vultures and history buffs out there. Although the site hasn’t been restored as the one in Tulum, it offers a more authentic experience simply because it hasn’t been extensively refurbished. Also, there are fewer crowds here, which is always a plus. The highlight of the Coba ruins is Nohoch Mul which is actually the highest pyramid in the Yucatan peninsula. Climb to the top of the pyramid and enjoy magnificent views of the surrounding jungle below.
12. Ziggy Beach
Ziggy Beach is a private beach club and a must-visit place for everyone visiting Tulum. A tropical paradise with coconut palms and crystal-clear waters, this charming beach is an ideal destination for families on vacation looking for a relaxing experience. There is no loud music blasting from the speakers and the facilities are well-maintained. In case you get hungry, the on-site restaurant offers food delicacies like tuna and shrimp tacos. The entrance to the beach will set you back $35 per person and includes sun loungers and a parking spot.
13. Mayan Beach
You will find the Mayan Beach right below the ruins of Tulum. Famed for its swaying palm trees and dramatic cliffs, it’s a great place to chill after touring the ruins. Travelers looking for a picture-perfect setting will instantly fall in love with this place. Keep in mind that this is a public beach and there are no umbrellas and chairs. If you wish to admire the beauty of the Mayan Beach in total tranquility, make sure to come early in the morning when there are fewer people around.
14. LabnaHa Cenotes & Eco Park
Also known as the Magic Mayan World, LabnaHa Cenotes & Eco Park is a great place to visit for the entire family. From several zip lines and snorkeling to swimming in the Cenote Labnaha, a visit to this extraordinary eco-park promised to be an unforgettable adventure. What’s great about the park is that it only operates in small groups and the number of daily visitors is kept to a minimum. This means that you can enjoy all of the mentioned outdoor activities without being surrounded by hundreds of other visitors.
15. Tulum Tower
Tulum Tower is one of the city’s best-hidden gems. This 35-meter-high tower has a lovely sky bar on top and offers spectacular views of the ocean and stunning pyramids below. Visiting the tower is a unique and safe experience. All of the visitors are secured with a harness, and once in the air, the tower spins slowly and is suitable even for the little ones. During the visit, the guide will tell you everything you need to know about the history of the city and the Mayan civilization.
16. Delphinus Xel-Ha
There are many cool and crazy things to do in Tulum, Mexico and a visit to Delphinus Xel-Ha is one of them. The world’s largest natural aquarium, Xel-Ha is located just a short drive from the archeological site of Tulum. It is shaped by dozens of coves and lagoons and houses a variety of fishes and other marine life. However, the most popular attraction here are the cute dolphins and you can actually swim with these amazing creatures and share their intimate underwater space.