Tulum is known for its beautiful beaches, cenotes that are crystal clear, Mayan ruins, and hip vibe. There are many fun and unique activities to do here.
Tulum was once a small beach town. Today, it is a vibrant mix of ancient and modern. The combination of super-luxury and budget backpacking draws a wide range of people and creates an unforgettable experience. We’ve compiled this list after using Tulum as our base for Yucatan adventure. We hope that you have as much fun exploring Tulum, as we did.
These are the 21 best things to do in Tulum
Tulum offers something for everyone, from glamorous parties to clear cenotes, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and some of the most beautiful Mayan ruins in Yucatan.
Sim Card and Internet
You have many options at Cancun Airport. Our Telcel sim provided excellent coverage in Tulum as well as throughout the rest of Mexico.
How to Get to Tulum
You have a variety of options when traveling between Cancun & Tulum. There is a rental car, public bus, and private/shared transfer. For more information, see our guide on travelling from Cancun To Tulum.
1 | Tulum Ruins
Tulum is a Mayan site that stands out because of its stunning cliffside setting. Castillo, an impressive castle perched on the cliff edge, was once a watchtower. The Temple of the Frescoes is also part of the 13th Century walled-city ruins.
You can enjoy a spectacular view of Tulum’s ruins from the steps that run alongside the castle. The view from the viewing platform overlooks the Castle. It shows both the ruins as well as the backdrop of yellow sand, turquoise waters and the Caribbean Sea. It is a striking contrast between history and nature.
The Beach at the Tulum Ruins
After admiring the stunning view from the ruins, you can descend the wooden stairs to Playita Tortuga beach where you can take a dip in the clear blue waters. Although the beach is closed during the summer months to nesting sea turtles, it is still possible to swim in its clear waters at any time of the year.
Sian Ka’an Biosphere
The Sian Ka’an Biosphere, located just 10 km south of Tulum is a peaceful and unspoiled escape from the bustling town. The reserve’s name means “Where the sky is born” and it is home to quiet beaches, Muyil Mayan ruins and a coral reef. It also has a large animal population, including turtles, land crabs, and crocodiles. The biosphere has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
4 | Playa Pariso
The Tulum beach road splits between the north, which has great public beaches, as well as the south, which is home to luxurious resorts that lead to private beaches.
Playa Pariso (or Paradise Beach) is a popular public beach in Tulum. It has turquoise waters and white sandy beaches. It is home to great food and drinks and has a laid-back vibe. Playa Paraiso is popular for snorkelling and boat trips to take in the view from the water of the Tulum Ruins.
The crooked palm tree
Playa Pariso is the home of Tulum’s most iconic palm tree! You can find the El Paraiso Hotel near the palm tree. Take a great Instagram shot by shimmying up the tree!
Hire a bicycle
Tulum is quite small so cycling is the best way to get around. Although we had a car, parking in Tulum is difficult, especially in the hotel area. Renting bikes is a great way to get around. This is a great way to explore Tulum.
You will find many places to rent bikes on the main street, so it won’t be difficult to find somewhere to rent.
Santa Fe Beach
Santa Fe Beach, which is more tranquil and closer to Tulum’s ruins, can be found north of Playa Pariso. Santa Fe is still very popular but the vibe there tends to be more relaxed. There are many small bars and restaurants along the beach, all decorated with Tulum swing seats.
Swim in a Cenote
Cenotes are naturally occurring, water-filled sinkholes. Tulum has some of the most beautiful cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula. One of our favourite things to do in Tulum is to swim in the clear, cool waters of a Cenote. There are many great cenotes close to Tulum.
The small, chilled Cenote AkTun Ha can be found easily from Tulum. Because it was once used to wash cars, the cenote was named Carwash Cenote. A large pool is located just feet away from the car park. It is home to a wide variety of wildlife. Cenote Carwash can reach up to 50 feet deep and divers often emerge from its waters.
Another great option is the Cenote Zacil Ha open air, which is next to the Carwash Cenote.
It is worth exploring the cave system of the popular Gran Cenote. The double sinkhole at Cenote Dos Ojos is also a wonderful way to spend an afternoon.
Cenote Azul is one of the most popular Playa Del Carmen cenotes. The cenote’s swimming area is open to all the sky. The cenote’s shallow waters make it an ideal choice for families. Additionally, the natural platform makes for great jumping fun.
Enjoy some Tacos and Tequila at Mateos
Mateo’s is a great place to grab a bite to eat as you explore the Hotel Zone or south beach road. This fun restaurant serves Mexican cuisine for many years. It was our favorite place to eat in Tulum. The food is excellent and there’s a great atmosphere.
10 | Kaan Luum Lagoon
The Lagoon, surrounded by lush green jungle, is a beautiful and relaxed swimming spot. It’s also a great escape from the Tulum crowds. Kaan Luum, although it is close to Tulum and not too far from there, is a little hidden gem that offers a great escape from the crowds.
The lagoon’s calm and shallow waters are ideal for swimming, paddling and floating.
11 | Matcha Mama
The tiny Matcha Mama shack is located on Tulum’s south shore road. It packs a big punch and is both Instagram-worthy and food heaven. In cute surroundings decorated with swing seats and matcha puns, they serve plant-based, gluten-free delights like smoothie bowls, juices and acai bowls.
12 | Burrito Amor
Another Tulum favorite is the patio-style open-air Burrito Amor. Burrito Amor offers a clean and healthy eating experience. The flour tortillas are made in-house and served in banana leaves. We returned many times during our Tulum stay. The food was delicious and comforting. Our two-year old daughter could see the difference and was excited to try his fish burrito right away.
Follow That Dream sign
The south beach road of Tulum is lined with cute boutiques and laid-back shack food options. These are located opposite private resorts and hotels. One of the most adorable sights in town is the “Follow that Dream” street sign.
Explore the jungle at the Coba Ruins
Coba is considered one of the most important Mayan structures on the Yucatan Peninsula. However, only three settlements are currently open for visitors. You can still climb Nohoch Mul, Coba’s 137-foot high pyramid. Most visitors want to complete the 120-step climb. Amazing views of the lagoon and jungle surrounding you are the reward. After your tour of the Coba ruins, make sure you stop by the Coba cenotes for a refreshing dip.
Take a day trip to Chichen Itza
Chichen Itza, the most well-known sight in the Yucatan is about a two-hour drive from Tulum. However, it’s worth the day trip. The instantly recognisable Mayan ruins are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and one of the New 7 Wonders of the World. Cenote Ik Kil is a great place to take a dip after your visit. It was our favorite cenote in Mexico.
Shop in the Tulum boutiques
There are many boutiques selling unique pieces that perfectly reflect the Tulum atmosphere, including clothing, jewellery and home goods. There are so many options for fashion, including trendy beach dresses and a wide selection of straw hats. It is easy to create a new beach outfit.
Palo Volador, ‘The Dance of the Flyers’
Palo Volador, also known as the dance of flyers, is an ancient Mexican fertility ritual. Four dancers climb a tall wooden pole to reach a platform. Then they spin and turn back to the ground by slowly spinning. The top platform is occupied by a fifth person who plays musical instruments.
Explore the resorts and beach clubs
A strip of Tulum hotels on the south side of Beach Road houses some amazing boutique hotels and resorts, where rooms can be as high as hundreds of thousands of dollars per night. You can still access these glamorous hideaways by staying elsewhere.
Accessible via the museum and restaurants is the extravagant, adults-only Azulik Tulum with its elevated wooden walkways, incredible architecture, and amazing architecture.
Casa Malca was once Pablo Escobar’s hideaway and is now a boutique hotel. It feels like you are in a photo shoot. You will find amazing art and sculptures throughout the hotel. An antique swing is a popular Instagram favorite. You can get day access with a minimum spending requirement.
You should visit Tulum to party, so make sure you check out the beach clubs. Many Tulum resorts offer day access to private beaches, pools, restaurants, and day beds. Both Ziggy Beach Club or Coco Tulum offer great options.
Check out the entrances to Ahau Tulum and Mia Beach Restaurant
We’re amazed at the entrance to Ahau Tulum Beach Hotel, which is one of our favorite places on travel.
The hotel’s visitors will be guided through a massive wood-and-rope sculpture by South African artist Daniel Popper. The hotel’s entrance is made spectacular by the Ven a Luz (or ‘Come into the Light”) female torso.
20 | Tulum sign
You will often see large, colorful letters spelling out tourist attractions and towns all over the Yucatan. They were built as part of a tourism campaign and make great photo opportunities. Look out for the colorful Tulum signs to grab a photo!
21 | Sunrise Beach
Sunrise Beach is a Tulum treasure located south of the hotels and resorts along the Beach Road. It was discovered as we drove south towards Si’an Khan when a small section of ocean appeared. The picturesque beach is ideal for morning walks and shows a quieter side to Tulum.