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Out of all the places I have visited in Mexico, Tulum is by far my favourite. Tulum is located on the Carribean Coast near Cancun and Playa Del Carmen and has a super laid back vibe. Days in Tulum are generally spend drinking cocktails on the perfect beaches, parasailing, jet skiing and cruising around on a moped.
My favourite travel experience happened in Tulum. One afternoon, walking along the beach at sunset with not a person in sight, we suddenly saw hundreds of baby turtles hatching and running for the ocean. This was the most amazing, unexpected thing I have experienced.
This blog is a full guide to Tulum: Things to do in Tulum, places to stay and other travel tips.
And if you want more tips for backpacking Mexico, check this article out.
Things to do in Tulum
Beaches in Tulum: Are by far the nicest in the region, you can easily spend a few days lazing on the beaches.
Tulum Ruins: The Tulum Ruins have a stunning backdrop of turquoise waters and bold cliffs. The archeological site hosts a number of housing structures, burial sites and pyramids. You can swim on the beach off the coast of the Tulum ruins. Entry to the ruins is around $15 per person.
Snorkel Cenotes: A cenote, for those who don’t know, is a natural pit or sinkhole resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposed groundwater underneath. The Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, including Playa Del Carmen and Tulum, is home to hundred of cenote systems. Therefore, Tulum makes the perfect base to explore these cenotes.
Cenotes near Tulum include Grand Cenote, Cenote Calavera, Cenote carwash, Cristal Cenote and Cenote Escondido.
Ziplining: Why not combine a cenote tour with a zip lining tour? And while you’re at it, why not swim with turtles too. I had a great day ziplining in Tulum, but what really made the day was the total package.
I booked a day trip through Edventure Tours and highly recommend it. It was the perfect day, hotel pick up and drop off, lunch and beers included, zip lining, snorkelling and swimming with the turtles included and a coco loco (fresh coconut with rum) at the end of the day.
Swim with the turtles at Akumal: I did this as part of the Edventure tour, but it could so easily be done solo. From Akumal Beach, which is a nice beach area halfway between Tulum and Playa Del Carmen, you can rent a snorkel and go swim the turtles alone. If you prefer you can hire a guide from the beach to help you spot the turtles.
Go Parasailing and Jet Skiing: The conditions for parasailing in Tulum are absolutely perfect!
Tulum Monkey Sanctuary: A privately owned ranch just outside of Tulum. This ranch rescues animals, looks after them and releases them once they are healthy. We saw a camel, several monkeys, emus and whitetail deer. The tour was very informative, to the point that is almost got boring, but the information was interesting, it just needed to be condensed. The highlight was definitely the cenote that you jump into at the end. I wouldn’t recommend this tour unless you really want to see monkeys. I would also recommend cenotes other than the one on this property.
Other things to do in the Yucatan region
Chichen Itza: A large Mayan Ruin and popular tourist attraction.
Explore Playa Del Carman and Cancun
Take a cruise to Isla Mujeres, off the coast of Cancun.
Recommended length of stay
I recommend staying in the Yucatan Peninsular for two weeks: Cancun, Playa Del Carmen and Tulum.
Mexican Pesos and US Dollars. Tipping is customary in Mexico, see a guide to tipping in Mexico here.
Getting to and around Tulum
If coming from overseas, you would fly into Cancun Airport. From Cancun Airport you can organise a transfer or get a taxi or bus to your accommodation. I recommend organising a transfer through Shuttle In Cancun.
Once in Tulum, I recommend hiring a moped to get around.
Where to stay in Tulum
Yoga Shala: Located in the tropical and enigmatic region of Tulum, offering a range of Yoga classes suitable for different experience levels. The accommodation is out of Tulum, which makes it difficult to access shops and convenience stores, but on a positive note, it is quiet, surrounded by rainforest and only 50 meters from the beach. I would recommend Yoga Shala to travellers on a higher budget. Accommodation is relatively cheap but the lack of access to shops means you spend a lot at nearby resorts on eating out.
Mango Tulum Hostel/Hotel: Centrally located in Tulum, within walking distance to the beach, shops, restaurants and ruins. Mango Tulum is better suited to budget travellers with a nice courtyard and pool available to hang out by. Breakfast not included.
Search for cheap accommodation options here.
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Disclosure: This post on things to do in Tulum contains affiliate links.