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Tulum Visitors Guide

How to Get There, Things to Do & More

Updated November 2021

Tulum Visitors Guide. What to do in Tulum and the best things to do in Tulum. Plan your trip to tulum.

Welcome to Tulum

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 on the Yucatan Peninsula 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.

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 on the Yucatan Peninsula 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.

Tulum Ruins
Maya At Tulum, One Of The Best Things To Do In Tulum

A Bit Of History

Tulum was the last great city constructed and inhabited by the Mayan people between the thirteenth and fifteenth 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 here 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 Town, One Of The Best Things To Do In Tulum

Tulum Today

The pull of ancient Mayan energies combined with the magic of the natural wonders and historic sites, have been bringing in spiritually centered tourism for decades now. Once a quiet, beach town with slowly wandering yogis and artists, Tulum has developed into a thriving tourism hot spot. Modern hotels and amenities are now available but don’t worry, there is still plenty of the Mayan spirit to discover. Below is our guide to making the best of your visit to Tulum. We hope you enjoy!

Where Is Tulum?

Island Life Mexico

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 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!

When To Visit Tulum

The tropical climate in Tulum is quite predictable and easy to make plans around. Without much of a temperature difference throughout the year, (the average temperature lingers around 83 degrees F) it’s the rainy hurricane season that most travelers need to pay attention to.

January – April

Perfect weather-wise, but sees the highest influx of tourists. If you are not a people person, consider this.

May – October

The hottest and most rainy months of the year but still plenty of sunshine and fantastic warm water for snorkeling & diving. Also, 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 you can typically expect 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. Can be a little “chilly” in the evenings.

A Sunny Day At Tulum Beach
A Sunny Day At Tulum Beach

Getting There & Around

There are a few ways to get to Tulum and around the area. Note that some larger hotels in Tulum may provide free airport transportation to town, so check ahead.

Island Life Mexico

By Shuttle

Some suggest the easiest way to get to Tulum is by hiring a shuttle ride in advance. The shuttle company will send a driver to meet you at the Cancun airport and take you directly to your hotel in Tulum.

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

Island Life Mexico

By Car

Renting a car might be the best scenario if you plan on exploring the area a bit. From the Cancun International Airport, rent a car and head down the only highway southbound. You will pass Playa del Carmen, Akumal and so on. Approximately 90 minutes later 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. We recommend booking your car here for the best prices.

Book a car for pick up at the Cancun airport here.

Book a car for pick up in Tulum town here.

Island Life Mexico

By Taxi

If you want to take a taxi to Tulum, they are everywhere in Cancun & Playa del Carmen and will take you straight to your accommodation in Tulum. Be sure to discuss the prices in advance of taking the ride so you don’t get overcharged. Taxi’s from Cancun or Playa del Carmen to Tulum are convenient but can be quite expensive. Taxis in Tulum are an easy way to get around. Flag them down on the road or have your hotel call one for you.

Island Life Mexico

By Bus

The bus system is very usable here 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, although definitely not the fastest.

How To Get To Cancun

For more transportation information, check out our Getting Around The Yucatan Guide

Driving From Cancun
Driving From Cancun

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. It’s really easy to make each day in Tulum a special experience. Here are just some of the activities you can enjoy!

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Explore 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. Don’t forget to bring your swimwear and hit the gorgeous beach, only accessible from the site.

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.

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

  To join a great 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.

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

  ISLAND LIFE TRAVEL TIP : GET TRAVEL INSURANCE

When going on vacation in the time of Covid, Travel Insurance is a must in our opinion. Most of the current policies cover Covid medical issues as well as vacation delays due to Covid. They typically even cover your hotel if you test positive in Mexico and have to extend your trip a few days until you get a negative test. Our visitors almost unanimously choose a Trawick International Safe Travels plan which was a Forbes top-rated travel insurance plan of 2021. Easily compare the different Trawick, Generali and other top travel insurance plans here.

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Visit A Cenote
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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 cenote day tour that visits four of our favorite cenotes (Gran Cenote, Casa Cenote, Cenote Cristal & Cenote Escondido) for a fun day of swimming and snorkeling. Sidenote: Ignore the first image of scuba divers on the tour listing, there is no scuba diving on this tour, just swimming and snorkeling!

  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 cenote recommendations, be sure to check out our Ultimate Cenote Guide.

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Get Wild In The Jungle
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3. 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.

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Go To The Beach
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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.

 Be sure to check out our Tulum Hotel Guide for information on the different neighborhoods to stay in Tulum.

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Visit The Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve
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5. Visit The Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve

The Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve is an 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 adventurous whim.

Take a kayak through the winding river canals, float with the 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.

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Discover 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.

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Let Yourself Go
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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.

  Check out this popular cooking class, this yoga class and this scuba diving introduction class.

  ISLAND LIFE TRAVEL TIP : GET TRAVEL INSURANCE

When going on vacation in the time of Covid, Travel Insurance is a must in our opinion. Most of the current policies cover Covid medical issues as well as vacation delays due to Covid. They typically even cover your hotel if you test positive in Mexico and have to extend your trip a few days until you get a negative test. Our visitors almost unanimously choose a Trawick International Safe Travels plan which was a Forbes top-rated travel insurance plan of 2021. Easily compare the different Trawick, Generali and other top travel insurance plans here.

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.

Encantada Tulum, One Of The Best Hotels In Tulum Mexico

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 guide for what to bring on your Mexican vacation!

More

MEXICAN CARIBBEAN

Cancun, Islands, Tulum and More

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This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. 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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