On the Caribbean coastline of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula lies the gorgeous seaside town of Tulum, one of the last cities built and inhabited by the mighty Mayan people.
Tulum was once a quiet beach town, but in recent years it has become a thriving tourism hotspot and one of the best resort towns in Mexico. The magic of the town, and its turquoise blue waters attract visitors from all over the world.
Tulum has way more to offer than just pretty beaches. There’s an activity for every kind of traveller and every kind of budget.
From exploring the ancient Mayan ruins of Tulum to swimming in healing cenotes, here’s a list of the best things to do in Tulum to help you make the best of your trip.
33 Things to do in Tulum
Table of Contents
- 33 Things to do in Tulum
- 1. Head to One of Tulum’s Public Beaches
- 2. Visit A Cenote
- 3. Discover Tulum Pueblo
- 4. Paddle Through The Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve by Kayak
- 5. Play a Round at the Riviera Maya Golf Club
- 6. Take a Street Art Tour
- 7. Enjoy a Bird’s Eye View of Tulum from the Tulum Tower
- 8. Travel Back in Time at Chichen Itza
- 9. Whiz Through the Jungle on a Zip Line
- 10, Visit the Tulum National Park (Parque Nacional Tulum)
- 11. Drive an ATV Through the Jungle
- 12. Take a Tasty Food Tour
- 13. Learn to Cook Your Favourite Mexican Dishes
- 14. Go On a Shopping Spree
- 15. Relax at One Of Tulum’s Beach Clubs
- 16. Snorkel Around Tulum’s Reef
- 17. Rappel Down Into a Cenote
- 18. Surf Along Tulum’s Waves
- 19. Go on a Stand-up Paddleboarding Adventure
- 20. Visit the Xel-Ha Park
- 21. Take a Bike Tour Along Tulum’s Tropical Trails
- 22. Discover A Secret Oasis at the Bacalar Lagoon
- 23. Scramble up the Temples at Coba
- 24. Take a Day Trip to Playa Del Carmen
- 25. Take a Mud Bath in a Lagoon
- 26. Try a Sensory Awakening Experience
- 27. Enjoy a Sailing Adventure
- 28. Give Kitesurfing a Try
- 29. Visit the Punta Laguna Nature Reserve
- 30. Try Mexican Cold Brewed Coffee
- 31. Explore the Xcaret Park
- 32. Swim With Dolphins
- 33. Learn About Mayan Culture
- Final Thoughts on Things to Do in Tulum
1. Head to One of Tulum’s Public Beaches
It would be criminal to travel to Tulum and not spend at least one day on one of its beautiful beaches, even if you’re not the biggest fan of the beach.
Tulum is said to have some of the best beaches in Mexico, with long stretches of silky-smooth white sand and crystal clear blue waters. It has a number of resorts that have their own private beaches and cabanas.
To visit the beach without paying for beach club access, you can head over to one of the public beaches in Tulum, which are equally as beautiful and peaceful.
There are three public beaches in Tulum : Las Palmas, Playa Paraiso and Playa Ruinas.
2. Visit A Cenote
Cenotes are natural sinkholes that result from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater. The word “cenote” is a regional term used in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.
These ancient sinkholes were mainly used as water supplies for the ancient Mayans. They were, however, more than just water suppliers and held a deep spiritual significance.
Mayans believed that the cenotes were a mystical threshold between them and the underworld and often used the sinkholes as sacrificial offering grounds.
Today, thousands of cenotes can be found across the tropical jungle forests of Yucatan. Freshwater cenotes are the entrance to a vast number of underground waterways waiting to be explored.
Tulum has an abundance of cenotes where you can scuba dive, snorkel, or even just float around in the healing waters of these magical natural pools.
3. Discover Tulum Pueblo
Tulum’s town centre (also known as the Tulum Pueblo), is located about 5 km (3.1 miles) from the nearest beach. While this part of Tulum is a short walk to the beach, it’s a world away from the fancy resorts and beach clubs that are always on display.
If you want to get a taste of how the locals live, then Pueblo is the right place to go. This part of town is also full of markets, stalls, and art galleries waiting to be explored.
Walking around Pueblo is nice, but it’s much better to get around with a bicycle. It gives you the opportunity to get in some good exercise and is a great way to explore some hidden gems along the way.
You can usually grab a bike from your accommodation, but you can also rent a bike from almost anywhere in the town centre and be on your way.
4. Paddle Through The Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve by Kayak
The Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve is an awe-inspiring natural wonder that is still largely undiscovered. This natural oasis was named Sian Ka’an by the Mayan people and when translated its name means “Origin of the Sky.”
It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987 and remains the largest protected area in the Mexican Caribbean.
Consisting of ancient canals, rainforest, 120km (74 miles) of coastline, mangroves, and coral reefs, it’s also home to a vast number of flora and fauna and 300 species of birds.
There are lots to do in this reserve and one of the best things is to discover this area by kayaking through the winding river canals alongside manatees and sea turtles.
Tip: You can take a guided trip through the Sian Ka’an if you’re not keen on self-exploring.
5. Play a Round at the Riviera Maya Golf Club
In most parts of the world, playing golf in the jungle is unlikely, but not in Mexico. Located just 24km (15 miles) outside Tulum, sits the Riviera Maya Golf Club.
The Riviera Maya Golf Club is an impressive golf course designed by legendary golf course architect Robert Trent II. It has been ranked as one of the top five golf courses in Mexico. The course has been cleverly integrated into the surrounding Mayan forest in the greater Riviera Maya area.
This magnificent course is a golfer’s paradise and is the perfect place to practice your swing. Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, you can enjoy the amazing views of the rugged and unique surroundings.
6. Take a Street Art Tour
Tulum has a booming street art scene with vivid murals, paintings, and sculptures. These exciting works of art give visitors a glimpse into local Mexican culture.
The best place to experience Tulum’s thriving art scene is at the Holistika Art Walk, known as the wildest art gallery in Tulum. The art walk aims to create awareness of the environment.
The art walk takes visitors on a journey of discovery and creation with surreal, magical, and natural paintings and sculptures, in a part of Tulum that most visitors miss.
Whether you’re an avid art lover or not, if you’re looking for a way to discover the true magic of Tulum then a street art tour is one of the best ways to do so.
7. Enjoy a Bird’s Eye View of Tulum from the Tulum Tower
The Tulum Tower is an imposing structure that looms 36 metres (118 feet) high over Tulum. It is a one-of-a-kind building that challenges visitors to see the world from a new perspective.
A trip up the Tulum Tower is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. You’ll start off with a short flight up the tower on a rollercoaster-like ride. Along the way, you’ll learn about the history of Tulum and the ancient Mayan culture.
Once you reach the top, you’ll get to take in the majestic views of the jungle which extends far beyond what the eye can see, and the Mayan Archaeological Sites in the area.
8. Travel Back in Time at Chichen Itza
Chichen Itza is one of the most-visited landmarks in Mexico. This historical site is a complex of Mayan ruins in the Yucatan Peninsula. This massive site is situated on the brim of a well and its name means “at the mouth of the well of the Itza”.
It has earned the status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was named one of the New 7 Wonders of The World in July, 2007. The site has 26 ruins in total that can be visited and it welcomes 2.5 million visitors every year.
Chichen Itza is believed to be one of the largest cities ever built by the Mayans, once home to more than 35 000 people. It boasts towering pyramids such as El Castillo which sits at the centre of the site, and impressive temples such as the Temple of Kukulcan.
This site is one of the most important in the Mesoamerican Region, and gives great insight as to how the ancient Mayans lived and extended their empire.
9. Whiz Through the Jungle on a Zip Line
If you’re looking for something to get your heart racing, then ziplining through the Mayan jungle is one of the most thrilling things that you can do while in Tulum.
This action-packed activity allows visitors to discover the beauty of the Mayan jungle and its incredible wildlife. After whizzing through the trees, you can then rappel down into a cenote where you can enjoy a swim to cool off.
If you’ve ever dreamt of being a modern-day Tarzan or Jane, then be sure not to miss out on this exciting activity.
10, Visit the Tulum National Park (Parque Nacional Tulum)
The Tulum National Park is an eco-archaeological site that is perched on a 12-metre (39 foot) cliff along the Yucatan Peninsula. It’s one of the most well-preserved coastal Mayan sites.
The Tulum National Park was established in 1981 to protect the Mayan ruins located along the Caribbean Sea. The park features a well-preserved archaeological compound surrounded by rich vegetation.
The park includes a number of cenotes, as well as an entrance to one of the public beaches below the site.
While Tulum National Park may be one of the best-preserved Mayan sites, it’s also one of the most photogenic sites, as it has some of the most jaw-dropping views of the Caribbean.
11. Drive an ATV Through the Jungle
If you don’t mind getting a little dirty, then driving through the jungle on an ATV is one of the coolest things to do while you’re in Tulum.
The ride might be a little bumpy as you bounce around the tracks of the jungle and slide across pools of mud, but it’s all worth it. Once you’re done, you can wash off in a cooling cenote.
12. Take a Tasty Food Tour
One of the best ways to learn about a country is by sampling some of its food. Mexico is known for having rich, tasty, and really healthy food.
If you love Mexican food, or if it’s your first time trying it out, there’s no better way to try out a variety of Mexican dishes than by going on a food tour. You can choose to do some self-exploring, by hopping around restaurants and bars.
You could also opt for a walking food tour led by a local guide who will entertain you with interesting facts and stories.
As you walk around you’ll get to tuck into tasty street stall tacos, drink fresh juice from one of the markets, and devour up some of the best tamales and other popular Mexican dishes.
13. Learn to Cook Your Favourite Mexican Dishes
If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to cook your favourite Mexican dishes, then Tulum is one of the best places to do so. The best part is, you don’t have to be a pro in the kitchen to do so.
Most classes start by heading to one of the local markets to pick up some fresh ingredients. After all, it’s important to see what goes into your food right?
You’ll then head back to the kitchen, throw on an apron and get ready to discover the secrets behind so many of Mexico’s mouth-watering dishes.
Just try not to eat everything as you go along, although it might be very tempting to do so.
Tip: Lina’s Mexican Kitchen comes highly recommended as one of the best cooking classes in Tulum.
14. Go On a Shopping Spree
Tulum is a shopping paradise with a ton of bazaars, markets, and boutique shops where you can shop to your heart’s content. You can get anything from souvenirs to flowy clothes, intricate pieces of jewellery, handmade gifts, and colourful pieces of art.
Most designers are inspired by the sea, palm trees, and the jungle which is expressed in the clothing and works of art.
15. Relax at One Of Tulum’s Beach Clubs
While Tulum’s public beaches are beautiful, they do tend to get a bit crowded. If you’re looking for something a little more private, you can head over to a beach club.
These clubs are usually located at various beachfront properties in Tulum’s hotel district such as the Gramercy Tulum. Beach clubs in Tulum range from family-friendly, and relaxing to more lively ones with a party atmosphere.
If you’re a guest at one of the hotels, access to the beach clubs are free. If not, entrance fees usually start at around $20 per person.
For $20 you can typically enjoy amenities such as comfy beach chairs, sunbeds, toilets, world-class restaurants, and uninterrupted views of the Caribbean.
Some of the most recommended beach clubs include :
- Ahau Tulum
- Coco Tulum
- Ziggy Beach Club
- Mia Restaurant & Beach Club
- The Papaya Playa Project Club
16. Snorkel Around Tulum’s Reef
Tulum is located in the Mesoamerican Reef, which extends 1000km (621 miles) across four countries including Mexico. It is the second-largest reef in the world, after the Great Barrier Reef.
The reef is home to 350 species of mollusks, more than 60 types of coral, more than 500 species of fish, and sea turtles. It’s also home to the largest concentration of whale sharks on the planet.
Snorkelling in Tulum is a great way to discover the magical marine kingdom that lies beneath the Caribbean waves, and should definitely be one of the activities on your Tulum bucket list.
17. Rappel Down Into a Cenote
If you’re looking for an exciting adventure that will make the hairs of the back of your neck stand up, then rappelling down into a cenote might just be the thing for you.
As you descend the limestone cliffs into these magical underwater caves, you’ll get to see the Mayan jungle like never before and discover places few people will ever see.
After conquering your fears of heading into the unknown, you’ll be rewarded for your bravery with an experience like no other when you reach the bottom of the cenote. From there you can snorkel or float around in its crystal clear waters.
18. Surf Along Tulum’s Waves
Riding along the waves of the beautiful Caribbean coast is one of the most exciting things you can do in Tulum. Surfing is heaps of fun for pro surfers and beginners alike.
If it’s your first time out on the water, you can take a surfing lesson where you’ll learn the basics to help you read the ocean and give you the confidence boost that you need to head out onto the open sea.
After that, it’s time to plunge into the sea and put your newly learned skills to the test.
19. Go on a Stand-up Paddleboarding Adventure
Paddleboarding is a great activity the whole family can enjoy, and it doesn’t take too long to pick up the basics, so you’ll be off exploring in no time.
Paddleboarding adventures in Tulum range from paddling out into the turquoise blue waters of the Caribbean Sea, and gliding through the Sian Ka’an.
You can also explore the waters of the Riviera Maya and mangroves at a leisurely pace. Be sure to keep an eye out for the colourful marine life in the waters around you as you paddle out.
20. Visit the Xel-Ha Park
The Xel-Ha Park is an aquatic-themed park and eco-tourism development located just 20 minutes outside Tulum.
There’s an endless list of activities to keep the whole family happy from lazy rivers, waterslides, and ziplines. The park is also a great place to swim and snorkel, as it has hidden coves and cenotes that lead to the mysterious Mayan underworld.
There’s also a massive 40 metre (131 foot) lighthouse where you can soak in 360-degree views of the jungle.
21. Take a Bike Tour Along Tulum’s Tropical Trails
If you’re looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of the town, then grabbing a bike and pedalling through some of Tulum’s quieter roads and forest trails is a great way to relax and explore this beautiful area.
Along the way, you’ll cycle through rural villages where you’ll get to meet some of the friendly locals and learn about their culture and ancient traditions.
As you make your way through the jungle, you’ll come across secret caves and freshwater cenotes, where you can take a refreshing swim after working up quite a sweat.
Be sure to pack in a few snacks and drinks as there will be plenty of spots for you to stop at and enjoy a picnic in the lush surroundings of the Mayan jungle.
22. Discover A Secret Oasis at the Bacalar Lagoon
The Bacalar Lagoon, also known as the Laguna de Los Siete Colores, is an inland freshwater lagoon. The colours of the lagoon are so out of this world that you have to see it with your own eyes to believe it.
The Bacalar is part of a larger lagoon system that stretches 55km (34 miles) out into Chetumal Bay. It’s about a 2-hour drive from Tulum, but once you get there, it will be well worth the trip.
It’s well off the beaten tourist track and has a leisurely vibe to it. You can spend the day lazing around in a hammock, sailing along its waterways, or go kayaking.
23. Scramble up the Temples at Coba
Coba is an ancient city built by the Mayans, which lies about 43 km (27 miles) northeast of Tulum. The ruins located here are unlike any on the Yucatan Peninsula, as they are surrounded by four natural lakes.
This site is quite remote and does not see nearly as many visitors as Tulum or Chichen Itza, but because it’s so quiet, it also makes it a great place to explore. The site is largely unexcavated and surrounded by dense jungle.
Coba has many imposing temples. The side steps are quite steep but if you’re adventurous enough to climb them, you’ll be rewarded with uninterrupted views of the jungle.
24. Take a Day Trip to Playa Del Carmen
Playa del Carmen is a coastal resort town located about an hour from Tulum. It is well-known for its white-sand beaches, crystal clear waters, and bohemian vibe, much like Tulum itself.
What was once a small fishing village has now been transformed into a playful hub with a ton of activities. Including watersports, archaeological sites, and tons of eateries and nightclubs.
Be sure to head over to 5th Avenue which runs parallel to the beach. Here you’ll find art galleries, shops, and great restaurants and bars.
25. Take a Mud Bath in a Lagoon
One of Tulum’s best-kept secrets is the Laguna de Kaan Luum which is just 9km (5 miles) outside of Tulum. This amazing lagoon has a massive cenote in its centre which fills the rest of the lagoon with a spectacular array of colours.
The cenote produces mud in the lagoon, and according to local legend, bathing in this lagoon has healing properties. Plus, it’s great for your skin, so you’re guaranteed to leave there feeling refreshed.
26. Try a Sensory Awakening Experience
Tulum has long been recognised as a place for its healing and spiritual practices. If you’re looking for a holistic experience, then you may want to give sensory awakening a try.
This experience consists of guided meditation through the voice of an instructor and harmonic sounds. The aim is to keep participants in a present state by observing their bodies and understanding the importance of the body.
It also aims to recall positive memories where you can reflect on the blessings of life and creation.
27. Enjoy a Sailing Adventure
Hop onboard a luxurious catamaran and set out to sail into the beautiful Caribbean Sea. You’ll be spoilt for choice with a range of sailing tours. You can pick between a full day, half-day, and even a sunset cruise.
Onboard, you’ll be treated to a light lunch, snacks, or even dinner as you sail around Tulum. You can snorkel, take a dip or just soak up the sun and work on your tan. If you opt for a sunset tour, you’ll get to experience the true magic of Tulum.
28. Give Kitesurfing a Try
Embrace your adventurous side and skim across the ocean with a kitesurfing adventure. If you’re trying it out for the first time, there’s no need to panic as you’ll get a quick lesson teaching you the basics.
Then it’s time to tackle the water and show off your new moves as you jump and fly over the waves. You’ll definitely be soaked at the end of it all, but that’s all part of the fun.
29. Visit the Punta Laguna Nature Reserve
The Punta Laguna Nature Reserve is situated 64 km (40 miles) north of Tulum and is one of the most unique attractions in Yucatan. If you’re a nature lover, then this is definitely the place to be.
The reserve is home to spider monkeys, jaguars, pumas, and dozens of birds. There’s also a nearby Mayan village where you can get a glimpse of how the indigenous Mayan people live.
30. Try Mexican Cold Brewed Coffee
Mexico is the 8th-largest coffee producer in the world. It is well known for its delicious variations of hot coffee that are mixed with spices, chocolate, sugar, and heavy whipped cream.
Tulum has an abundance of coffee shops all around town. If you’re after a truly unique type of coffee be sure to try out the Chale cold-brewed blend, which is unique to Tulum.
This coffee was created back in 2016 by two Tulum locals who created a masterpiece made from Chiapas coffee beans and rainwater from the jungle and is also 100% organic.
Be sure to head over to the Matcha Mama bar where you can taste this unique blend on tap.
31. Explore the Xcaret Park
Xcaret Park is a great place to spend the day out with family and friends. This waterpark has over 50 attractions to discover and the possibilities for fun are endless.
Some of the park’s highlights include Jaguar Island, Manatee Lagoon, underground rivers, and a massive coral reef aquarium. There are also Mayan ruins looming in the background that you can explore.
32. Swim With Dolphins
If you’ve ever wanted to get up close and personal with some of the most loveable sea creatures, then you can do so by heading over to Dolphin Discovery in nearby Playa del Carmen.
You can enjoy seven interactive programs in a controlled environment. You’ll get to swim with them and see them perform their best tricks. They might even shake your hand.
33. Learn About Mayan Culture
Tulum is located right in the heart of the Zona Maya. This is the perfect place to learn about Mayan culture and traditions and what made them some of the mightiest people of the ancient world.
You’ll get the opportunity to learn about their unique numbering system, glyphs, and hear unique stories told through the eyes of their descendants. You can even take a quick Maya language class.
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Final Thoughts on Things to Do in Tulum
Tulum is truly a magical place and is one of the jewels of the Mexican Caribbean. There’s so much to do and explore and you’ll have no problem finding an activity that’s right for you.
From imposing Mayan ruins to beautiful white sandy beaches surrounded by turquoise waters, and cenotes surrounded by lush jungles, Tulum has it all.
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