Top 9 Things to do While Visiting Tulum Mexico
Updated: Mar 19
Tulum has become all the rave of late with it's popularity begin to soar in 2020 during the COVID pandemic. Tulum is an ancient city perched on the edge of a cliff in Quintana Roo Mexico overlooking the Caribbean. Located along the Mayan Riviera tourist route, Tulum is roughly 2 hours outside of Cancun, and an hour outside of Playa Del Carmen. Tulum is well known for its ancient archeological sites, beautiful beaches and cenotes. Let's take a look at some of the great things to do while here. Also check out my other guides on things to do in Playa del Carmen, Cancun, and Cozumel, each within an hour or two of Tulum.
You can't visit Tulum without a stop at its famous archeological zone. The Tulum Ruins are a 13th-century Mayan archaeological site at Tulum National Park overlooking the sea. There are several pyramids and buildings to explore, along with a cenote and private beach you can swim in so be sure to pack a swimsuit.
This is a popular attraction and it's advisable you visit right when they open in the morning at 8 am. You should set aside 2 to 3 hours at minimum to visit this attraction and wear comfortable shoes cos you will have a ton of walking to do. The parking area is about a 20 minute walk to the entrance of the ruins. You can pay for a roundtrip shuttle ride if you want to avoid the walk.
Coba is another ancient Mayan city less than an hour North of Tulum. Once an important trade zone, this archeological site is located in the Yucatan Jungle. Due to it's remote location, it is less crowded than the Tulum Ruins. You can explore the ancient structures in Coba by walking, renting a bike or a bici taxi. If you're feeling up to it, climb to the top of the massive stone pyramid called Ixmoja and take in views of the surrounding lush vegetation.
Chichen Itza is an ancient archeological UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. The site is located about 2 hours North of Tulum and encompasses many Mayan ruins. Much of the ruins are still in pristine condition, and you're able to see the rich details in the carvings done on some structures. There is also a cenote on the site, as well as several more within its surroundings. When you're done exploring out in the Sun, you can go take a cool refreshing dip.
Cenotes are naturally occurring sinkholes which form over millions of years. Limestone bedrock collapses exposing fresh ground water. Cenotes are sacred to the Mayan people as it was their primary source of water. They considered cenotes as an entrance to their underworld where their gods live and their spirits reside after death.
There are dozens of cenotes in and around Tulum. The majority of them have pristine water, clean enough for you to see down to the bottom depending on depth, and view any wildlife present. Go cliff jump into one, snorkel and even scuba dive. The cool waters and environment make for a beautiful relaxing experience.
Xel-Ha is a park under the Experiencias Xcaret umbrella. It is an acquatic and nature theme park located on the outskirts of Tulum and located along the Mayan Riviera tourist route. The park offers roundtrip transportation for an extra fee should you need it.
At Xel-Ha you can snorkel, go river floating, slide 131 feet down the scenic lighthouse, swim in cenotes, hike through jungle paths and much more. Xel-Ha is also an all-inclusive park. Breakfast, lunch, snacks and drinks are all included with your ticket.
Cenotes are a big part of the Riviera Maya, and there's no better way to explore all the different kinds of cenotes than through a tour of Xenotes Oasis Maya. These enigmatic water tour offered under the Experiencias Xcaret umbrella allows you to explore natural environments through fun activities like assisted rappel, zip-lines, kayaking, and swimming. This is an all-inclusive tour offering transportation to four cenotes, certified guide, photographer, plus food and beverages.
Isla Mujeres is a small island just off the coast of Rivera Maya. Taking a day trip out to the island is a must do. They have watersports, beautiful beaches, shopping and great food.
You could easily take a short ferry ride from Cancun to Isla Mujeres on your own. My favorite way to get there is by taking a catamaran cruise to the island. You can party and drink along the way with unlimited open bar, snorkel and participate in other water activities and enjoy a lunch buffet when you arrive at the island before heading out to explore on your own. While on the island, try to check out the Garrafon National Reef Park, Tortugranja turtle conservation center and Dolphin Discovery.
While there may be plenty of delicious food at your all-inclusive resort, trust me when I say nothing beats eating local. Eat where the locals do and experience authentic Mexican dishes busting in flavor. You can find different unique places on your own or with an experienced guide.
Thrill seekers will enjoying riding an ATV through a muddy Mayan jungle. There are several ATV tours offered in Tulum. The tour I recommend gives you more for your money. Along with ATVing, it includes ziplining, rappelling, a cenote swim, a temazcal ceremony and roundtrip resort transfers.