Located on the scenic Mayan Riviera and the famous Caribbean coastline of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, Tulum is a small town with a laid back atmosphere. Although it was formerly a fishing village, within just a few decades this small town had managed to grown into one of the most sought after beach destinations in the world, and it’s a top destination for those planning a trip to Mexico. This has mainly been attributed to it’s long and wide stretches of white pristine sandy beaches. While the town may be well known for its top-notch beaches, Tulum also features a ton of attractions and endless things to do. The best part is that it is only 90 minutes drive from the Cancun airport which has connections all over the world, making it very accessible. To help you get the most out of your visit, here are the top things to do in Tulum.
1. Visit the famous Tulum Ruins on the water!
Located strategically on a cliff that overlooks the Caribbean sea, the Tulum ruins are without a doubt the top attractions in the town, just after the beach. Although they may not be the biggest Mayan ruins in the country, their spectacular location makes them marvelous and attractive to many tourists who even end up taking numerous photos. If you are planning to visit the area, it is advisable to do so very early in the morning to enable you explore the area fully and take envy-inducing photos. Come late and you will be pushing through crowds plus the sun really gets hot later in the day.
2. Relax at the Beach
Your trip to Tulum wouldn’t be complete without spending a day or two at a beach. Being the biggest attractions in the area, there are a couple of public beaches in Tulum. However, if you want to relax comfortably on a sunbed protected from the sun by an umbrella with a great selection of food then you will have to rent out a daybed at a Tulum beach club. This will enable you to have access to Tulum’s breathtaking south beach.
3. Shop for art and local crafts
After visiting the area, you will definitely want to take back home with you at last one authentic piece of Mexico. Thankfully, there are a large number of souvenir stalls and properly curated art shops all over Tulum where you can shop for local crafts. If you ask any tourist any typical Mexican souvenirs, most of them would mention sombreros, tequila, blankets, and mass-produced trinkets like maracas or skulls.
If you like art, then you will really enjoy shopping in Tulum. This is an artsy town with a lot of locals as well as expats making all kinds of beautiful pieces. In fact, one of our favorite travel souvenirs was painted in this area by a local man. We watched him paint and couldn’t help ourselves, we had to buy one!
4. Sample the tasty local food
Tulum has a wide range of hotels which feature plenty of Yucateco specialities on their menu. One of the delicacies you will easily come across is the Sopa de lima Yucateca which is a rather light but revitalizing chicken soup that has also been flavored with limes. You can go for shrimp in garlic sauce or sample pescado tikin xic if you really want to be authentic. When it comes to drinks, you will find ice-cold aguas frescas to be very refreshing and more preferred than even alcohol.
5. Go swimming in a Cenote
When you are from Tulum and you are on your way to Coba and Chichen Itza, you will come across Cenotes less than 3 kilometers away. Cenotes consists of natural sinkholes that were formed after limestone collapses and revealed the underlying underground river systems. You will find a couple of cenotes that are ground level, something that makes them very ideal for swimming and snorkeling. You will also find those that are deep underground and require you to descend upon a long set of stairs for you to reach the water. While there are numerous ground level cenotes found on the Yucatan Peninsula, the best one for swimming is the Gran Cenote. This is a very popular snorkeling and swimming spot among many tourists and locals.
There are SO many cenotes scattered around the Yucatan region, you simply must spend some time to enjoy them. To makes it easier to plan your dip, check out our post about the top cenotes in this area of the Yucatan.
6. Find some thrills
As you go about out enjoying yourself in the beaches, you will realize that it gets a bit windy from time to time. While these can be seen as a distraction, it also makes this place perfect for windsurfing. The good thing is that you will find several operators who will be ready to teach you how to perfectly crush the waves. As we have seen before, snorkeling will have become a favorite activity if you managed to visit a few cenotes. If you did not get a full thrilling experience after swimming and snorkeling in the town’s cenotes, you can also book for a dive. Since Tulum features three of the longest and most popular underwater systems, you will find it to be the best place to do some cave diving.
Read More: Hidden Worlds Adventure Park, Near Tulum
7. Experience a festival
If you love dancing then you will be so excited to learn that there is always something going down in Tulum. One of the biggest festivals here is the Papaya playa project which features world renowned DJs and artistes. It happens every month on the Saturday that is closest to full moon. Another famous festival is the Riviera Maya Jazz Festival. It features 3 full nights of free great Jazz music on the beach towards the end of November.
8. Rent a car and take a day trip
When in Tulum, you will realize that the constant need for you to travel between the beaches and back to Tulum town can be very daunting. While there are numerous taxis that operate in that route, the most affordable and fun way to do that is by renting a car and taking a day trip. While on a day trip from Tulum, you can choose to pass through the picturesque Coba ruins, the famous ruins at Chichen Itza, and even Playa del Carmen. A road trip to these places will make for a more enjoyable and fun-filled journey from Tulum.
We rented a car in Cancun for our trip, and we spent more than a week driving around the Yucatan. It made our experience much more enjoyable because we had so much freedom to explore all the different cenotes and ruins outside of town!
With So Many Things to Do in Tulum, How Will You Choose?
It is arguable that Tulum in Mexico is one of the biggest and famous beach destinations in the world. Although it’s popularity continues to increase day by day, it still remains a quiet town with a more authentic and laid back experience for every traveler. As you make your journey to visit some of the incredible things to do in Tulum, you will quickly unearth why it has quickly grown to become one of the most sought after travel destinations on the planet.