From stunning cenotes to paradise beaches and street food, these are the best things to do in Tulum for an unforgettable trip!
Turquoise beaches, ancient ruins, jungle cruises and water sports … Tulum, Mexico has it all! If you’ve read this blog before, you’ll know that this part of Mexico really captured my heart. So much so, I’ve returned time and time again.
Tulum is a city located in the Mexican region of Quintana Roo. What was once a quiet and sleepy beach town has become one of Mexico’s top travel destinations. I’ve witnessed it change a lot over the past 10 years, but don’t worry, there’s still a lot to love!
While it’s true that Tulum’s major selling point is its beautiful, sandy beaches and turquoise water, there are lots of exciting things to see and do all along this stretch of the Riviera Maya.
Thanks to Tulum’s rich history as a seaport, you’ll be able to explore the history of ancient civilisations that once travelled here from all over Central America. But there’s so much more to experience than Tulum’s ruins! Tulum offers a wide variety of fun activities from relaxing at the beach to clothes shopping and thrilling water sports. You could even go snorkelling and spot some of the area’s famous sea turtles!
If you’re planning your own tropical holiday to Mexico, then I hope my guide on the best things to do in Tulum will come in handy. I’ve included all my favourite must-see and do activities including plenty of amazing places to visit in Tulum! There are even some tips for things to do in Tulum at night, for those who enjoy nights out as much as days on the beach.
10 Fun Things to Do in Tulum
Visit a Famous Tulum Beach
When you see the colour of the water, you’ll be desperate to visit the beaches in Tulum. From exhilarating water sports like kitesurfing and wake-boarding to enjoying a romantic couples’ massage, the beaches here offer something special for everyone!
With so many beautiful beaches to visit it might be hard to pick just one. My favourite choices are the white sands and clear shallow waters of Playa Paraisao or the Playa Ruins, an isolated beach located right below the Tulum Archaeological Site. Just pack a towel and some suncream and enjoy a relaxing afternoon in the Mexican sunshine! What more could you need?
Marvel at the Tulum Ruins
You can’t visit this region and not explore the Tulum Archaeological Site. Dating back to the 13th century, these ancient Mayan ruins are perched on a cliff overlooking the sea. The location is just magical – a real merging of history with the present day. Keep an eye out for the lizards who relax on the ancient rocks here too.
If you’re a lover of history, you might also want to visit the Coba Ruins, which are just a 45-minute drive from Tulum. The ruins are located outside the small town of Coba and, unlike many other archaeological sites in the area, you can even climb them (climbing is forbidden at most ancient ruins including Chichen Itza).
Go on a Tulum Cenote Adventure
This is an absolute Tulum must-see! Mexico is home to lots of majestic cenotes, which are natural pools of crystal clear water. Visiting a cenote is the perfect way to cool off from the Mexican heat while also experiencing fun water sports like swimming, snorkelling, scuba diving and caving.
There are several famous cenotes close to Tulum, including Dos Ojos, Cenote Calvera and the Gran Cenote. The best way to make sure you don’t miss any highlights is by taking a day tour. I highly recommend this cenote tour which includes transport and a guide. Not only will you experience four cenotes in one day, but you’ll also stop by a small Mayan village for an authentic lunch!
Browse Tulum’s Unique Boutiques
If you’ve already ticked off the most popular Tulum attractions, how about spending an afternoon shopping? One of the best things to do in Tulum is to check out the cluster of small boutiques found on Tulum’s South Beach Road. Here, you’ll find a lovely assortment of small boutiques selling local handicrafts, traditional Mayan clothing as well as some hippie and Western-inspired fashion. It’s a great place to pick up gifts for anyone at home too!
You’ll want to allow plenty of time to rummage for hidden gems in the stalls along the streets here too. It’s a touristy area, so you might want to put your haggling skills to the test!
Enjoy a Mud Bath at Laguna de Kaan Luum
If you’re looking for one of the most unique activities in Tulum, be sure to visit the mud baths at the Laguna de Kaan Luum. Located just 9 km outside of Tulum, this natural oasis is home to a huge underground cenote which gives the water its beautiful turquoise hue.
This experience is about more than just the mud bath. You could try other exciting activities like swimming, scuba diving, snorkelling or even book in for a relaxing massage. According to local legends, the mud at Laguna de Kaan Luum has healing properties, so be sure to slather some on before you go!
Soar Above the City at the Tulum Tower
One of the best Tulum things to do for thrill-seekers is to head to the top of Tulum Tower. Enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime experience as you sail above the city at up to 35 metres (118 feet). You’ll get to spend an hour in total at the top while taking in the breathtaking views from above.
As the Tulum Tower is extremely popular, it’s best to book your tickets plenty of time in advance. To make the most of your visit, I would recommend booking a tour like this one. Not only will it cover your entrance fee, but you’ll also learn more about the city of Tulum and its rich history from a knowledgeable guide.
Enjoy Cocktails at a Tulum beach resort
One of the top things to do in Tulum at night is to enjoy the lively nightlife at Tulum Beach (sometimes referred to as the Tulum Hotel Zone). Tulum Beach is an area of Tulum’s downtown that is jam-packed full of resorts, restaurants, bars and shops.
If you’re looking to unwind and relax with a cocktail, check out the luxury Ahau Tulum Beach Resort. Located right on the water’s edge, this is a great place to enjoy dinner and a drink amongst Tulum’s tropical flora and vegetation.
Another luxurious dining experience to try is at the designer Papaya Playa Project Hotel. Merging local culture and modern design, it’s the perfect place to enjoy the local cuisine or have a cocktail by the water!
If you’re looking for other great places to eat, drink and stay in the town, check out my guide to the best luxury hotels in Tulum. They include gorgeous beach resorts, eco villas and boutique jungle suites with pools.
Go on a day trip to Sian Ka’an
If you’re an adventurous traveller seeking one of the best things to do in Tulum, you should definitely visit Sian Ka’an. This is an amazing jungle nature reserve that holds the heart of the ancient Mayan civilisation. You’ll be able to wander through historic ruins and even take a dip in the crystal clear water.
It’s around 1.45 hours away from Tulum, the best way to experience it is by a guided tour. To make the most of your trip, I would suggest booking a half-day tour. You’ll experience the lush jungle on a private boat cruise as a professional guide explains the area’s rich and vibrant history.
Walk Around Tulum’s Old Town
If you’re looking for a truly authentic Mexican experience, spend some time exploring the Tulum town centre (aka Tulum Pueblo). You’ll experience Tulum’s vibrant history, culture, and food first-hand, just like the locals do. Feel free to explore the town on foot or take advantage of one of the many bikes available for rent.
This is also a great opportunity to try some traditional Mexican street food. Not only is street food a real authentic treat in Tulum, but it’s also inexpensive too. Look for traditional options like street tacos, freshly squeezed fruit juice or refreshing, homemade ice lollies.
Stay at a beautiful boutique or luxury hotel in Tulum
Tulum’s hotel’s are pretty special, with sustainability at their heart, and an eye for architecture. Many have been designed to blend effortlessly with nature. If you’re deciding on your accommodation, I’d recommend reading my guide to where to stay in Tulum. Here are a few of my favourites…
Kick back in your very own rustic jungle bungalow, enjoying stunning sea views. If you need to cool down you can take a dip in the infinity pool, which also boasts gorgeous jungle views… or unwind in your very own open-air shower.
If you’re not restricted by budget, book the master suite which has an incredible seven metre palapa roof and a king-size bed that you can roll outside so that you can sleep right under the stars! How magical does that sound?
This is definitely one of the most photogenic on the Caribbean coast of Mexico! Located moments from South Tulum Beach, this is the best area to stay in Tulum for exploring Downtown and the famous Mayan ruins.
The hotel’s design is minimalist, blending effortlessly with the natural tones of the jungle, sand and sea.
In terms of 5-star hotels in Tulum, this adults-only resort is one of my favourites. Hotel Bardo’s design is like something from a magazine, with chic palapa-style villas, jungle gardens, outdoor private bathrooms and showers, an elegant swimming pool area and a beautiful synergy with its jungle location.
This is one of the most popular honeymoon hotels in Tulum as it strikes that great balance between privacy and luxury. If you’re into a more spiritual experiences, there are several on offer here, including a sound healing workshop, yoga classes, meditation and nightly sunset candle lighting ritual.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my guide to the best things to do in Tulum. No doubt you’ll fall in love with Tulum’s stunning tropical beaches, vibrant culture and rich history just as much as I did!
If you’re still deciding where to stay, I’d recommend reading my guide to the best boutique and luxury hotels in Tulum. It’s packed full of tips and recommendations.