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Tulum Visitors Guide

How to Get There, Things to Do & More

Updated June 2024 ⋅ Written by Laura Schulthies ⋅ Edited by Daniel Mode

Tulum Visitors Guide: The Best Things To Do In Tulum Mexico
Tulum Visitors Guide: The Best Things To Do In Tulum Mexico

Welcome to Tulum Mexico

Breathe it in… the salty air, the wafting of floral incense, the deep sweetness of tropical flora and fauna…exhale slowly. You have arrived in Tulum. The magic of Tulum, and the reason it has become such an extraordinary destination in Mexico’s Riviera Maya, lies not only in the history of the nearby Mayan ruins of the same name, but in the energetic pull the city and sea have over those who come to visit. Even if you’re staying in a Tulum all inclusive resort, we suggest getting out and exploring all the great things to do in the area. Below is our guide to making the best of your visit to Tulum. We hope you enjoy!

Breathe it in… the salty air, the wafting of floral incense, the deep sweetness of tropical flora and fauna…exhale slowly. You have arrived in Tulum.

The magic of Tulum, and the reason it has become such an extraordinary destination in Mexico’s Riviera Maya, lies not only in the history of the nearby Mayan ruins of the same name, but in the energetic pull the city and sea have over those who come to visit. Even if you’re staying in a Tulum all inclusive resort, we suggest getting out and exploring all the great things to do in the area. Below is our guide to making the best of your visit to Tulum. We hope you enjoy!

Tulum Map

Tulum Map

Contents

Tulum Ruins At Sunrise
Tulum Ruins At Sunrise
Tulum History

A Bit Of History

Tulum was the last great city constructed and inhabited by the Mayan people between the 13th and 15th centuries. It was a site of worship to the Great Descending God whose image adorns the temples within the site.

Tulum was also of great importance for sea trade, most specifically for the trading of obsidian. Tribes from all over Mexico and other Central American countries would travel to this Caribbean port for commerce.

It’s said that the great wall around the city was erected to protect it from envious traders and pirates who wanted to steal the prime location for themselves.

Tulum Today

Tulum Today

Tulum has become a very popular tourist spot in recent years for visitors of all types. The ancient Mayan ruins, perched on cliffs overlooking the Caribbean Sea, are well preserved and make for an impressive day tour. The beaches are stunning, with soft sand and clear blue water, perfect for relaxation. The town has a relaxed and bohemian feel, with unique shops and tasty local food. Tulum has more recently become a hot spot for luxury travelers as well and offers numerous gorgeous resorts and impressive nightlife options. Whether you’re exploring history, enjoying the beaches, or soaking up the town’s laid back vibes, Tulum offers a memorable experience for everyone.

Is Tulum Safe?

Is Tulum Safe?

Tulum is considered a fairly safe town to visit in Mexico, although crime rates have risen a bit in recent years. It doesn’t face too many issues with gang-related violence, but petty crime and theft towards tourists do occur from time to time.

Despite the little rise in crime, Tulum is a hotspot destination and it is still possible to have a very safe and enjoyable visit as long as you travel with general caution. Avoid being out after dark and be aware of your surroundings.

Where is Tulum?

Tulum On A Map

Tulum is located on the eastern side of the Yucatan Peninsula, in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. The town, often called Tulum Pueblo, and the nearby Tulum Mayan Ruins are in the heart of the Riviera Maya on the Caribbean Sea. Tulum is approximately 45 minutes south of Playa del Carmen and 90 minutes south of Cancun by car.

Tulum, like other towns and islands in the region, is adjacent to the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the second-longest coral reef system in the world. This puts Tulum and its neighbors in a perfect spot for turquoise Caribbean waters, white sand beaches, and world-class snorkeling and diving. This is DEFINITELY the island life!

The Best Time to Visit Tulum

Looking for the best month to visit Tulum? The tropical climate in Tulum is fairly predictable and easy to make plans around. Without much of a temperature difference throughout the year, (the average temperature lingers around 83° F) it’s the rainy season that most travelers should pay attention to.

Looking for the best month to visit Tulum? The tropical climate in Tulum is fairly predictable and easy to make plans around. Without much of a temperature difference throughout the year, (the average temperature lingers around 83° F) it’s the rainy season that most travelers should pay attention to.

January – April

Perfect weather-wise, but is considered the “peak season” with the highest influx of tourists. If you are not a people person, consider this. The ocean, cenotes and swimming pools (that aren’t heated) can still be a little chilly for some.

May – October

The hottest and rainiest months of the year but still plenty of wonderful sunshine and fantastic warm water for swimming and snorkeling. Sargassum seaweed can be a problem during the summer as it builds up on the beaches. The hurricane season peaks in September and October so keep an eye on the forecasts and definitely get travel insurance just in case. Fewer tourists mean lower rates at hotels, resorts and tour companies during this time.

November – December

The autumn-winter months are considered by many to be the best times to visit Tulum. The hurricane season has passed by this time, and the humidity is low. It can be a little “cool” in the evenings so bring a jacket.

January – April

Perfect weather-wise, but is considered the “peak season” with the highest influx of tourists. If you are not a people person, consider this. The ocean, cenotes and swimming pools (that aren’t heated) can still be a little chilly for some.

May – October

The hottest and rainiest months of the year but still plenty of wonderful sunshine and fantastic warm water for swimming and snorkeling. Sargassum seaweed can be a problem during the summer as it builds up on the beaches. The hurricane season peaks in September and October so keep an eye on the forecasts and definitely get travel insurance just in case. Fewer tourists mean lower rates at hotels, resorts and tour companies during this time.

November – December

The autumn-winter months are considered by many to be the best times to visit Tulum. The hurricane season has passed by this time, and the humidity is low. It can be a little “cool” in the evenings so bring a jacket.

  When Is Tulum Hurricane Season?

Tulum hurricane season begins in late May and lasts until early November, with the peak occurring between August and October. The odds of a hurricane hitting Tulum are low (less than half a dozen hurricanes have hit the Yucatan in the past 40 years), but hurricanes traveling near Tulum can still cause inclement and severe weather. Be sure to check weather reports ahead of time and we always suggest getting travel insurance during these months just in case.

Hurricane Season
Sunny Tulum Beach
A Sunny Day At Tulum Beach
Sunny Tulum Beach
A Sunny Day At Tulum Beach

How to Get to Tulum & Around

There are a few ways to get to Tulum and around the area.

Mexico Airport

Arrival by Air

Most people fly into Cancun International Airport (CUN) when traveling to Tulum. This is the largest airport on the Yucatan Peninsula offering direct flights from the United States. It takes around 1.5 hours by car and 2.5 hours by bus to get from the Cancun International Airport to Tulum.

The new Tulum Felipe Carrillo Puerto International Airport (TQO) is now open, and direct flights began arriving in March 2024. With carriers such as American, Delta, and United offering direct flights to the new Tulum Felipe Carillo Puerto International Airport, travelers have a convenient new way to explore the Yucatan Peninsula. The airport is an easy 48 minutes from both the famous Tulum Mayan Ruins and Tulum’s Hotel Zone by car.

  Search for great deals on flights to Cancun here.

Island Life Mexico

Airport Shuttles to Tulum

Private or Group Shuttles can be pre-arranged to pick you up at the airport and take you to your Tulum accommodation. Group shuttles may stop at numerous hotels before yours, so this method could take a bit longer than a private shuttle (while being a bit cheaper).

Shared shuttles to Tulum’s hotel zone are around $45 per person, while private minivan shuttles can be booked for between $180 to $260 per van. You also have the option to book a luxury SUV/van shuttle for between $260 to $435. We recommend getting a private shuttle if you are in a group of 2 or more people.

  You can easily book ground transportation from the Cancun airport to your Tulum hotel here.

Island Life Mexico

Rental Cars in Tulum

Renting a car might be the best scenario if you plan on exploring the area a bit. You can rent a car in Tulum town or at the Cancun airport. Rental cars are typically between $40 to $50 per day (once taxes and fees are added) at the Cancun airport. We recommend using National or Enterprise for your rental car at the Cancun airport.

If you rent a car at the Cancun airport, head down the only highway southbound. You will pass Playa del Carmen, Akumal and after approximately 90 minutes you will arrive in Tulum Town. Be sure to check if your lodgings are in the Zona Hotelera (hotel zone) or Centro (town center), as your turn off will be on different sides of the road.

  Search for great deals on rental cars at the Cancun airport here.

  Search for great deals on rentals cars in Tulum town here.

Buses in Mexico

Buses in Tulum

The bus system is very usable in Tulum town and you can easily catch a bus to Playa from the Cancun airport, then change busses to continue to Tulum. This is by far the most affordable way to travel to Tulum from Cancun, although definitely not the fastest. You can check out the ADO bus schedule here. Busses do not stop at hotels. Only bus stations.

Taxi in Mexico

Taxis in Tulum

Taxis in Tulum are an easy way to get around. Flag them down on the road or have your hotel call one for you. Within the hotel zone or within Centro, prices are around $4-$7 dollars. Traveling back and forth between the Hotel Zone and Centro can add up though.

If you want to take a taxi TO Tulum, they are everywhere in Cancun and Playa del Carmen and will take you straight to your accommodation in Tulum. Be sure to discuss the prices in advance so you don’t get overcharged. Taxis from Cancun or Playa Del Carmen to Tulum are convenient but can be quite expensive. Typically $50 (Playa) to $100 (Cancun) dollars.

Things to Do in Tulum

Tulum's Top Highlights

There is so much to do in Tulum. From visiting the Mayan ruins to beach lounging to bicycle riding and more. Here are just some of the activities you can enjoy!

Tulum Mayan Ruins
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Explore The Tulum Mayan Ruins
Visit The Tulum Mayan Ruins
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1. Explore The Tulum Mayan Ruins

The Tulum Ruins archaeological site is most likely what brought you to the region in the first place, so go see it! The energy of this magical, ancient place is what has been calling tourists here for centuries. The ruins are perched over the sea in a breathtaking locale near Tulum Centro.

Guides are available at the entrance if you are keen to really understand the historical significance of the place, but strolling solo is always a pleasure too.

  To join a great group tour that includes transport, lunch, the Tulum Ruins, ocean snorkeling at Turtle Bay, and a cenote, check out this tour.

  To join an inexpensive group tour that includes transport from Cancun, Playa or Tulum center, English speaking guide, and a fantastic side trip to swim at a local cenote, check out this tour.

  If you’d like a private tour including guide and transport from your hotel, this tour is the most highly rated.

 For more info on visiting the Tulum Ruins, check out our Tulum Ruins Visitors Guide.

Swim In A Cenote In Tulum
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Visit A Cenote
Swim In A Cenote In Tulum
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2. Visit A Cenote

Talk about healing properties. The cenote choices in the Tulum area are vast and diverse, as there are literally dozens of incredible locations nearby. You can swim, scuba dive, snorkel, or just walk through one of these breathtaking and powerful forces of nature.

  Check out this very popular full-day cenote tour that includes transportation, lunch and three epic cenotes. Also, this half-day cenote tour is highly popular as well.

  If you want to scuba dive in a cenote, try this beginners diving class that includes a lesson and an introductory cenote dive OR if you are already scuba certified, go for this top rated cenote diving tour in the area. For both tours, all equipment is included.

 For more cenote info and great Tulum cenote recommendations, be sure to check out our Ultimate Cenote Guide.

  ISLAND LIFE TRAVEL TIP : GET TRAVEL INSURANCE

Travel Insurance is a must in our opinion. Standard health insurance likely doesn’t cover you while outside of the country so travel insurance will cover any emergency medical needs as well as trip cancellation, lost or stolen luggage (it happens), flight delays, missed connections and more. You can easily compare the top-rated travel insurance plans here.

Adventure Parks in Tulum
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Experience The Adventure Parks
Adventure Parks in Tulum
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3. Experience The Adventure Parks

Just north of Tulum are a cluster of world famous adventure parks unlike anything you’ve probably experienced before. The most famous is Xcaret, with its meandering canals you can swim through, incredible beach coves, cultural shows, jungle hikes, and so much more. They are a little pricey, but the adventure parks are widely considered a must-do in the area. Other very popular parks include Xplor with its caves, ziplines, rafting and ATVs, Xel-Ha with its waterslides, snorkeling, mangrove tubing and other water activities, Xplor Fuego a nighttime torchlight adventure, Xenotes cenote experience, Xoximilco floating fiesta and the oddly popular Xenses optical illusion park. We HIGHLY recommend purchasing tickets for these parks in advance as the parks have limited capacity and long ticket lines.

The beaches of Tulum
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Go To The Beach
The beaches of Tulum
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4. Go To The Beach!

With so many beautiful beaches to choose from it’s a sure bet you can find find a dreamy spot, perfect for a sarong and a picnic basket! Bring your swimsuit as the water can be perfect. Take a fun kitesurfing lesson if you’re bold, Tulum is famous for the sport. Hotels in the Zona Hotelera are on the beach, but if you’re staying in town, the beach is just 10-15 minutes away.

 For more Tulum beach info and great beach recommendations, be sure to check out our Tulum Best Beaches Guide.

*Note: Since 2008, Sargassum (seaweed) has regularly arrived on the Caribbean coast of Mexico (Cancun, Tulum, Playa del Carmen, etc.) from April to August. Many resorts and beaches remove the seaweed from the sand daily, but it can pile up by the water’s edge and be stinky in places where it’s not removed. For this reason, we suggest getting a hotel with a nice pool area for swimming or spending some time on the islands of Cozumel or Isla Mujeres which are largely protected from the seaweed.

Beautiful Sian Ka-an Wetlands in Tulum
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Visit The Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve
Beautiful Sian Ka-an Wetlands in Tulum
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5. Visit The Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve

The Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve is a UNESCO World Heritage Site consisting of ancient tropical canals, rainforest, 120 km of coastline, an abundance of wildlife, and coral reefs to delight your every adventure whim.

Float the winding river canals, take a boat to see manatees and sea turtles, or simply relax under a forest canopy. It is an unforgettable experience not to be missed!

 Check out this highly reviewed tour of the Sian Ka’an biosphere that also includes visiting the nearby Mayan ruins of Muyil.

Explore Tulum Pueblo
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Discover Tulum Pueblo
The Best Things To Do In Tulum: Explore Tulum Pueblo
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6. Discover Tulum Pueblo

Tulum town center (aka Tulum Pueblo) has a magic all of its own. We always recommend to new travelers that the most important thing you can do when visiting a new place is to see where the locals live. The art, food and culture will delight you.

From Acai to Zanahorias (carrots) and all the delicious options in between, traditional Yucatan fare abounds here. Exploring the town on foot is nice but bicycles are also a popular way to get around. Bikes are for rent everywhere in town. Enjoy the journey!

  Check out this fun Tulum walking food tour that goes off the beaten path to show you the best of local cuisine.

  For the best food in Tulum, check out our Tulum Restaurant Guide and 7 Yucatan Foods That Will Blow Your Mind.

Cooking Class in Tulum
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Let Yourself Go
Cooking Class in Tulum
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7. Let Yourself Go

Discover something new or dabble in the peculiar. It’s what makes Tulum stand apart from the rest of the Yucatan. Take a cooking class, visit the art zone, explore the immense yoga and meditation class options, try your hand at scuba diving, take a dance class, start a conversation with a stranger…your options are endless here.

Getting out of your comfort zone and opening yourself up to new possibilities is what makes this beautiful place so intoxicating for so many. Open your mind and your courage to the possibilities. Be happy, be free.

  Take a look at this popular cooking class and this scuba diving introduction class.

Check out this unique SUP Yoga Class on a private lagoon.

Junlge tours with ATV's & Ziplines in Tulum
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Get Wild In The Jungle
Junlge tours with ATV's & Ziplines in Tulum
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8. Get Wild In The Jungle

The jungles around Tulum make for some incredible adventures! Numerous tours in the area will take you on jungle ATV rides, ziplining, cenote swimming, and more.

These Tulum adventures are different from the fancier adventure parks up north like Xcaret, Xplor, Xel-Ha & Xenotes and are more about getting wild out in nature. Prepare to get a little dirty and don’t forget your swimsuits!

  Explore several popular ATV/Zipline jungle tours here.

Tulum Travel Guide
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Go Paddleboarding in Kaan Luum Lagoon
Tulum Travel Guide
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9. Go Paddleboarding in Kaan Luum Lagoon

One of the hidden gems of Tulum is the Laguna de Kaan Luum, which sits around 5.5 miles (9 km) south of downtown Tulum. This magical lagoon is home to a vast cenote in its center, which imbues the lagoon’s water with a beautiful array of colors. You can visit the lagoon, rent a paddleboard, and paddle over the calm waters. No matter your level of experience with standup paddleboarding, Kaan Luum Lagoon is the perfect place to get out on the water.

You can also visit the Kaan Luum Lagoon and enjoy swimming, snorkeling, and relaxing on overwater hammocks. The lagoon has an entrance fee of around $17 USD (300 pesos). Although Kaan Luum Lagoon is rarely crowded, it’s a good idea to arrive early and visit in the morning on weekdays to have this tropical paradise to yourself. Keep in mind that sunscreen is not permitted in the lagoon, and no outside food or drink is allowed.

  We love this fun tour that includes some of the best tacos in Tulum, a paddleboarding guide, equipment rental, and an entrance fee to Laguna de Kaan Luum.

Tulum Travel Guide
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Have A Shopping Day
Tulum Travel Guide
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10. Have A Shopping Day

As a destination, Tulum is not just about beautiful beaches and yoga retreats. There is also an abundance of great shopping opportunities. These shops sell unique handmade Mayan crafts, artisan goods, and souvenirs. Tulum is filled with small boutiques and shops selling high-quality clothing and accessories from local artisans.

Tulum stands out for its traditional Mexican handicrafts, particularly textiles and jewelry. You can find beautiful huipiles (traditional dresses), handmade hammocks, embroidery, gourd lamps, art, handbags, and jewelry. Don’t forget about the locally made tequila and cocoa.

Tulum Travel Guide
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Rent A Bike and Explore Tulum
Tulum Travel Guide
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11. Rent A Bike and Explore Tulum

Exploring the streets of Tulum by renting a bike is one of the best ways to experience all this city has to offer. Bike rentals in Tulum are affordable at between $10 to $12 USD per day. Ola Bike Tulum is an excellent bike rental company, and the rentals are good quality and inexpensive.

One of the best ways to explore Tulum Pueblo is by bike, and it’s a great way to experience the area thoroughly. You can easily wind through side streets while on a bike and quickly get from one side of the pueblo to the other. Follow the bike path on Main Ave to grab a bite at fantastic restaurants, shop at local boutiques, or cool down with some ice cream.

It only takes around 15 minutes to get to some of Tulum’s best beaches on a bike. Take Coba Avenue to get to Playa Paraiso; there are several bike racks at the beach for easy storage.

  If you prefer a guided bike tour, this 5-hour bike tour around Tulum is perfect. You will visit 3 cenotes, stop for lunch and have a fun local guide. This is a great way to spend the better part of the day and still have time to go out and enjoy dinner in the evening!

Tulum Travel Guide
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Discover Rio Secreto
Tulum Travel Guide
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12. Discover Rio Secreto

Rio Secreto is one of the most beautiful underground rivers in Mexico. You can only visit this magical spot via a guided tour, and on the tour, you can swim and climb your way through the cenote. Explore the beautiful stalagmites and stalactites while enjoying the crystal-clear water.

The limestone formations and gorgeous turquoise water in these breathtaking caves will leave you stunned. Be advised that you will have to pay for photos as you are not permitted to bring your camera into the cave system.

  To experience this underground wonderland for yourself, it’s a good idea to book a tour before you visit. Spaces are limited for cave tours, with limited entry times per day.

Tulum Travel Guide
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Enjoy The Unique Mystika Immersive
Tulum Travel Guide
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13. Enjoy The Unique Mystika Immersive

If you are looking for a one-of-a-kind sensory experience, then Mystika Immersive is the place to go in Tulum. The immersive experience teaches you all about Mexico’s natural sanctuaries and cosmology.

Mystika Immersive has 7 different rooms, each holding unique experiences. One of the rooms leads you into a space with hundreds of gorgeous monarch butterflies. Another space is a 360-degree dome that allows you to sit under Tulum’s star-filled sky.

Admission costs around $27 USD per person and can be purchased online. You can expect to spend between 1 and 2 hours here, and it’s conveniently located right next to the Tulum Ruins parking lot.

  You can purchase your Mystika Immersive tickets here in advance to make things a bit easier.

Tulum Travel Guide
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Explore Punta Laguna Nature Reserve
Tulum Travel Guide
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14. Explore Punta Laguna Nature Reserve

You will find Punta Laguna Nature Reserve about 40 miles north of Tulum, and this is one of the most unique sightseeing attractions in the Yucatan because of the huge variety of monkeys to see. While the monkeys are a top draw for the reserve, it is also home to pumas, jaguars, and many species of birds.

The nearby Mayan village also gives you a glimpse into the indigenous Mexican lifestyle. It’s a good idea to hire a guide to tour the reserve, as guides provide a more authentic and informed experience for travelers new to Tulum. Guides also know where to spot the animals who call the nature reserve home. However, you can still have a great experience just wandering around the reserve on your own.

  There are many Punta Laguna Nature Reserve tours to choose from. Most are guided and provide transportation via coach or bicycle.

  We love this highly recommended Coba Ruins, Punta Laguna Nature Reserve, and Cenote tour, where you will zipline, hike, canoe, and then visit the reserve.

Tulum Travel Guide
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Take A Rejuvenating Yoga Class
Tulum Travel Guide
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15. Take A Rejuvenating Yoga Class

Something about Tulum’s island vibe draws people to the meditative practice while they are visiting. You will find plenty of yoga retreats, sound healing treatments, and other health and wellness activities in Tulum. If you want to unwind, relax, and immerse yourself in some yoga sessions, Tulum is the place for you.

Whether you’re looking for rejuvenating yoga studios, water yoga, sound healing, or tranquil meditation retreats, you will discover everything you need to restore your balance and health in Tulum.

  For a fun experience, try this Stand Up Paddle Yoga Class at a private lagoon where you can enjoy a 75-minute yoga class in the middle of the jungle.

Where To Stay In Tulum

There are all types of wonderful accommodations in Tulum. From all-inclusive resorts to boutique hotels and more. Location and amenities are the two top things to look for. For information about the different neighborhoods and great hotel recommendations, check out our Tulum Hotel Guide.

Balcony view at the Encantada Tulum Hotel

For hotel recommendations for every budget, check out our Tulum Hotel Guide

What To Eat In Tulum

Whether you’re looking to just grab a bite or go on a culinary adventure, there are some great restaurants all over Tulum. For some awesome restaurant recommendations at any budget, check out our Tulum Restaurant Guide.

Tulum Restaurant Guide. Beach Restaurant Tulum

For great restaurant recommendations, check out our Tulum Restaurant Guide

What To Pack For Your Trip!

The Mexican Caribbean is an enchanting wonderland of relaxation and adventure, one can easily have the trip of a lifetime here. Packing for such a vacation shouldn’t be hard, so we’ve put together a list to help you pack and included some of our favorites as well. Check out our What To Pack For Your Mexico Vacation Guide.

What to Pack For Your Mexican Vacation

Check out our Packing List For Beach Vacation!

Find The Best Tulum Flights

Finding the best flights to Tulum (via Cancun) shouldn’t be hard. We think the Kayak travel search engine is the best way to start. We’ve put together a quick guide to searching for the best flights using Kayak. Check out our Finding The Best Flights Guide.

Kayak Flights

Check out our Finding The Best Flights Guide!

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This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. Ajay says:

    I love the article!

  2. Katie says:

    This guide is amazing. Thank you!

    1. Daniel says:

      Hey Katie, you’re welcome!

  3. James says:

    Fantastic information. Thanks so much.

  4. Katey Harmon says:

    I recommend visiting the ruins in the morning. It is HOT in the late afternoon. Bring a hat!

  5. Marjorie Shantz says:

    Really helpful information. Will definitely use your guides to plan out next trip. Thank you.

  6. Tran Nguyen says:

    We look forward to visiting Tulum later this year. If looks beautiful.

  7. Sharron and Lee Hill says:

    The cenotes were our families favorite thing to do. The ruins were magnificent but swimming on a hot summer day beat all. Can’t wait to use your cenotes guide when we go back!

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