HomeMexicoDiscover the Top Unmissable Things to Do in Tulum for Adventure Seekers

Discover the Top Unmissable Things to Do in Tulum for Adventure Seekers

Wondering about things to do in Tulum? Our no-fluff guide takes you straight to the heart of Tulum’s vibrant culture and stunning natural beauty.

Whether you’re here to explore ancient ruins or relax in crystalline cenotes, we’ve outlined the essential activities that promise a genuine Tulum adventure. Read on for a distilled list of things to do in Tulum highlights designed to make every minute of your stay memorable.

Key Takeaways

  • The Tulum Ruins offer a fascinating exploration of Mayan history with iconic structures such as El Castillo, providing insight into the ancient Mayan city of Zama, and stunning Caribbean views.
  • Tulum’s natural limestone cenotes, like Dos Ojos, Cenote Azul, and Gran Cenote, provide a variety of water activities and tranquil environments, with both guided tours and independent visits available for different experiences.
  • Beyond the water, adventure seekers can embrace Tulum’s beaches, Mayan culture, bustling nightlife, and eco-friendly activities like cycling, all complemented by a range of accommodation options to suit different preferences.

Exploring the Tulum Ruins: A Journey Back in Time

The Tulum Ruins, an important Mayan coastal settlement, are a time capsule taking you back to the ancient Mayan city of Zama, meaning ‘City of Dawn’. As you wander through the complex, the dry-stone masonry and astrologically precise structures tell a tale of a civilization that was ahead of its time. These ancient Mayan ruins, including the famous Tulum Mayan ruins, offer a unique glimpse into the past.

Structures like El Castillo, the Temple of Frescoes, and the Temple of the Descending God, stand as silent testimonials to Tulum’s historical and religious significance. Some key structures include:

  • El Castillo: the most iconic structure, offers stunning panoramic views of the Caribbean and features carvings of important figures like Chaac Mool.
  • Temple of Frescoes
  • Temple of the Descending God

These structures, aka Tulum Pueblo, are a must-see for anyone visiting Tulum, especially if you’re staying in the Tulum hotel zone. So, don’t miss the opportunity to visit Tulum and explore its beauty.

Getting to the Tulum Ruins

If you’re planning a trip to Tulum, your journey will likely start at the Cancun International Airport, the gateway to the entire Riviera Maya region. Various transfer options are available from Cancun Airport to Tulum, including private shuttles, shared shuttles, and luxury suburban transfers, catering to different needs and budgets.

View of the Tulum Ruins with the Caribbean Sea in the background
View of the Tulum Ruins with the Caribbean Sea in the background

Alternatively, you can opt for a taxi or an Uber, although there are some limitations with airport pickups. If you prefer the freedom to explore at your own pace, renting a car can be a cost-effective choice.

Best Times to Visit the Ruins

We suggest you start your exploration of the Tulum Ruins early in the day for an enhanced experience. Not only will you beat the crowds, but the early morning light provides the best conditions for photography, capturing the ruins in all their glory.

Adventure in the Cenotes: Tulum’s Natural Wonders

When you leave the ruins behind, prepare for a natural spectacle as you approach Tulum’s breathtaking cenotes. These natural limestone sinkholes, perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving, are a must-visit. Dive into the crystal-clear waters of Tulum cenote Dos Ojos, which caters to all levels of divers, from beginners to experienced ones seeking unique experiences like exploring underwater clouds.

And if you prefer to stay dry, you can simply enjoy a leisurely walk through these stunning environments.

Cenote Azul and Gran Cenote

Two of the most popular cenotes in Tulum are Cenote Azul and Gran Cenote. Cenote Azul is an open-air cenote with crystal clear waters perfect for swimming and sunbathing. It features deep and shallow areas, as well as platforms for cliff jumping.

Scenic view of Dos Ojos Cenote in Tulum
Scenic view of Dos Ojos Cenote in Tulum

On the other hand, Gran Cenote is known for its stunning underwater rock formations and diverse wildlife, making it a favorite among snorkelers. Both Cenote Azul and Gran Cenote provide facilities like bathrooms, changing rooms, and lockers for visitors’ convenience.

Guided Tours vs Independent Visits

Whether to choose a guided tour or explore Tulum’s cenotes independently largely depends on what you prefer. Guided tours offer:

  • Convenience of hotel pick-up
  • Assistance from English-speaking guides
  • Access to parts of cenotes otherwise inaccessible to the public for safety reasons.

On the other hand, an independent visit gives you the freedom to explore at your own pace. However, choosing a guided tour can be time and cost-effective, with streamlined entry to the cenotes and all entry fees included.

Beach Bliss at Tulum’s Coastline


Having explored the cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula, you can now relax on the immaculate beaches of Tulum Mexico and Playa del Carmen. With their swaying palm trees, silky sands, and glittering turquoise sea, these beaches are a tranquil escape, especially in the early morning. Tulum Beach, renowned as one of the most beautiful beaches in Mexico, is a must-visit with its sugar-white sands and crystal-clear Caribbean waters. For those seeking serenity, Las Palmas Public Beach offers a secluded expanse of pristine sand.

Beautiful beach in Tulum
Beautiful beach in Tulum

For a touch of exclusivity, indulge at our beach club, such as Nomade and RosaNegra. These venues offer an exclusive atmosphere with exceptional food and drinks, adding a touch of luxury to your beach day. For luxury seekers, hotels such as La Zebra, La Valise, and Casa Violeta offer high-end accommodations, complete with private beach access.

Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve: Nature’s Paradise

If you venture beyond the immediate surroundings, you’ll find the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve waiting to be explored. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a massive coastal lowlands region, home to a plethora of wildlife and a stunning coastline. Some of the wildlife you may encounter include:

  • Dolphins
  • Turtles
  • Elusive manatees
  • Numerous bird species
  • Big cats, including jaguars and pumas
Wildlife in Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve
Wildlife in Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve

The Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve offers a unique opportunity to experience the beauty and diversity of nature.

A day trip to the reserve is a must, offering snorkeling on the Mesoamerican reef and the tranquility of remote beaches like Secret Beach.

Bird Watching and Wildlife Spotting

For bird watchers and wildlife enthusiasts, the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve is a haven. With around 350 different bird species, the reserve is a bird watcher’s dream come true. Early morning or late afternoon are the best times for bird watching, with private tours available for a tailored experience.

Apart from birds, night tours offer a chance to experience the reserve’s nocturnal wildlife.

Embrace Mayan Culture: Ceremonies and Local Life

During your stay in Tulum, take the opportunity to delve into the richness of Mayan culture. Participate in traditional ceremonies like the Temazcal, a spiritual cleansing ritual dating back approximately 1,000 years to Pre-Hispanic indigenous cultures of Mesoamerica. Conducted in a sweat lodge made from natural materials, the ceremony includes a fire ritual, expressions of gratitude, and the use of herbs like sage or copal for creating steam.

To prepare for the experience, wear appropriate attire, be well-rested, and focus on the detoxifying objective.

Thrills in Tulum Jungle: Eco-Adventure Parks

For thrill-seekers, eco-adventure parks such as Selva Maya Eco Adventure Park, Jungle Maya Park, and Punta Laguna Nature Reserve await. These parks offer a range of adrenaline-pumping activities including zip-lining, ATV rides, rappelling, and swimming in cenotes.

Selva Maya Eco Adventure Park is committed to an eco-friendly and exclusive visitor experience, with daily access limits to ensure personalization and immersive natural experiences.

Underwater Marvels: Scuba Diving and Snorkeling

If you’re up for an underwater adventure, Tulum, located next to the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, presents a fantastic underwater landscape for scuba divers and snorkelers. Some of the best spots for diving and snorkeling in Tulum include:

  • Cuevitas
  • Coquitos
  • Soliman Bay
  • Paamul Beach
  • Playa Pescadores
Underwater scuba diving adventure in Tulum
Underwater scuba diving adventure in Tulum

These locations in the Caribbean Sea offer vibrant reefs and marine life, including turtles and rays. Some even offer views of ancient ruins from the sea.

Culinary Delights: Tasting Tulum’s Cuisine

After a day filled with adventure, refuel with Tulum’s diverse cuisine. From local eateries like Aca Tacos de Canasta and Taqueria Honorio, serving traditional Mexican dishes, to upscale dining experiences at restaurants like Hartwood and Nü Tulum, your taste buds are in for a treat.

Cycling Through Tulum: Eco-Friendly Exploration

Experience Tulum from a different perspective – on two wheels. Cycling is an affordable and fun way to get around Tulum, allowing you to:

  • Explore its vibrant street art scene
  • Visit local shops
  • Discover hidden gems
  • Enjoy the beautiful scenery
  • Stop and take photos whenever you want

All at your own pace.

Off the Beaten Path: Muyil Ruins and Punta Laguna Nature Reserve

For those wanting to venture off the beaten path, the Muyil Ruins and Punta Laguna Nature Reserve are worth exploring. These lesser-known attractions offer unique experiences and a break from the crowds.

The Magic of Tulum Nights: Beach Bars and Live Music

As the sun sets, the magic of Tulum’s nights comes alive in Tulum town. The town boasts an array of beach bars with live music, providing the perfect setting to unwind after a day of adventures.

Planning Your Stay: Tulum Accommodation Guide

After deciding on Tulum as your destination, the next step is planning your accommodation. Tulum offers a range of accommodations to suit any budget, from hostels to luxury hotels.

Tulum Itinerary Suggestions: Maximize Your Visit

Here are a few suggested itineraries to ensure you make the most of your time in Tulum. Whether you have one day or a week in Tulum, these itineraries will ensure you experience the best of what Tulum has to offer.


In summary, Tulum is more than just an ancient Mayan city. It’s a destination where history, nature, and culture collide to offer an unforgettable travel experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Tulum best known for?

Tulum is best known for its well-preserved ancient Mayan ruins perched on cliffs overlooking the Caribbean Sea and its stunning beaches with soft sand and clear blue water. It has become a popular tourist spot for visitors of all types.

Is Tulum better than Cancun?

It depends on your preferences. If you want a vibrant party scene, choose Cancun. If you prefer tranquility and authentic culture, Tulum is the better choice for you.

Is 3 days enough in Tulum?

Yes, 3 days is enough in Tulum if it’s just one stop on a longer trip. However, consider extending your stay to 5 days to fully relax and experience more of what Tulum has to offer.

Why is Tulum so famous?

Tulum is famous for its beautiful beaches, impressive Mayan ruins, delicious cuisine, vibrant nightlife, and relaxed bohemian atmosphere, making it an increasingly popular tourist destination.

What is the best time to visit the Tulum ruins?

The best time to visit the Tulum ruins is early in the day to avoid crowds and take stunning photographs.

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Jessica Alvaro
Jessica Alvaro
Travel has always been close to me. For me, it's the air I can't breathe without. The sun, without which I forget what a smile is.