What to do in Tulum? 12 things you need to do

Are you planning a trip to Tulum, Mexico and don’t know what to do? Tulum is a beach town on the Yucatán Peninsula in eastern Mexico, about an hour and a half drive from the tourist resort of Cancun. We spent two months in the Yucatán and had the opportunity to explore Tulum. We’ve got a list of things you need to see and try.

1) Set aside at least one day at the beach

The most beautiful beaches in Tulum
The most beautiful beaches in Tulum

You wouldn’t think so, would you? 🙂 But it’s not to be missed, the beaches are really the biggest attraction if you’re going on holiday to the Yucatán. No wonder, the fine sand and crystal clear water enchanted even us, and we are not really into beaches at all!

Warning:Due to global warming, the Yucatán is experiencing an influx of untold amounts of seaweed that can remain on the beaches for weeks or even two months. It’s impossible to tell when exactly they arrive and to be honest with you, it kind of spoils the whole experience of the otherwise perfectly white beaches.

2) Cenotes


If you’ve done any research on the Yucatán, you’ve already come across karst caves filled with underground and rainwater. Some of them have sunken ceilings, forming deep pools of fresh (or semi-sweet) water, which is refreshing in contrast to the sea.

Take a trip with local Czech guides in Yucatán! The offer can be found on the website likexpats.com.

One of the best places in the world to dive

There are just over 6,000 cenotes in the Yucatán , and one is more beautiful than the other. Not far from Tulum you will find our favourite
Gran Cenote
(there are turtles there!), and if you head towards
Playa del Carmen
, we also recommend visiting
Cenote Azul
. Both of these Cenotes are suitable for snorkeling and perfect for photos.

Those of you who know how to dive should definitely go to Dos Ojos, but be warned, you will need a basic PADI diving license. If you want to go for a swim, we recommend visiting the lesser visited Cenote Xunaan Ha.

If our tips aren’t enough, you can find a clear and updated list of the best cenotes in the Yucatán at
Anna Everywhere

3) Where to swim for free with turtles in Yucatan? Akumal Beach

Where to go for turtles
You can swim with turtles for free at Akumal Beach

The best place to swim with turtles is Akumal beach just outside Tulum. Park just outside Oxxo (on the right hand side when coming from the motorway) for 50 pesos per day.

Entrance to the beach is free, although the locals will try to convince you that it is not and will try to guide you to the “official entrance”. In fact, you don’t pay for access to the beach, but for the use of their showers and toilets. Yes, even a lot of foreign blogs get this information wrong.

Don’t let the locals fool you!

Instead, look for the Akumal Dive Shop, through which you can walk to the beach for free. As of 2019, there is a gate next to the Akumal Dive Shop mentioned above that will ask you to pay $5, but you go through the shop.

At Akumal Beach, there are two ways to snorkel with turtles. You either pay $35 per person for a trip where they take you a short distance from shore, or you go left after exiting the Akumal Dive Shop to the end of the beach when you can snorkel on your own. We learned this information by accident when Mexicans came to the beach and the “chasers” told the tourists “this is for tourists only, go back there.” Yes, the “chasers” have uniforms that are supposed to give an “official” impression.

Early birds can go snorkeling on their own, others will have to pay for the trip

If you decide to snorkel alone, we recommend arriving early in the morning, preferably before 9:30. After 11:00 the water starts to get murky due to the cruise ships and you would not see anything. If you arrive late, it is better to pay for a boat trip. The locals will take you a short distance from the shore, where visibility is good again.

Where to buy snorkelling equipment

Don’t rent snorkeling gear, you’ll pay more for it than if you bought it at Wallmart. We got ours for 230 pesos with a snorkel (but you can get them for 150 pesos). We bought one and took turns in the water. Your own equipment is also worthwhile for snorkelling in the Cenotes. If someone tells you that you have to have a life jacket, again, this is not true.

4) Instagram-friendly museum IK LAB

Iklab Tulum
Iklab Tulum

If you like Instagram posts or are, like us, a fan of modern architecture, stop by IK LAB. This gallery belongs to the famous Azulik Hotel and Kin Toh Restaurant, but unlike the hotel, you can enjoy the gallery for free. The tour only takes 20 minutes. Be warned, you are only allowed to take photos and videos inside with your phone, but it’s definitely worth a visit.

5) Mayan ruins in Tulum

Tulum Ruins
Ruins in Tulum

Head out in the morning. And not only because of the large number of people who visit the ruins, they won’t bother you as much as the crazy heat and almost no shade. If you love the history of the Mayan civilization, the morning hours allow you to walk through the ruins in peace, and still take pictures without the crowds.

The ruins of Tulum are not as majestic as Chitzen Itza or Uxmal, but they are perched high on a cliff, and you’ll probably see ravens and rhinos (cute animals) around the ruins.

The original Mayan city was originally called Zama (the place where the sun rises), and due to its location it belonged to the 13. and 14th century among the most important city-states of the Yucatán.

6) Lagoon – Kaan Luun Lagoon

Photo: caribbeanplanet
Photo: caribbeanplanet

A hidden treasure about 20 km from Tulum. A lagoon with beautiful emerald water, where you pay around 50 pesos for a swimming entrance and 150 pesos for diving. If you don’t have a car, you can use the colectivos from Tulum to Felipe Carrillo, and walk it from there. It’s not that far.

7) Visit Xel-Ha

We went to Xel-Ha theme park for one day and we didn't regret it.
We went to Xel-Ha theme park for one day and we didn’t regret it.

means “where water is born” in Mayan and is located 22 km from Tulum. It’s actually a huge aquarium and an amusement park at the same time. Ideal place for families with children or for those who just want to have fun and eat all day.

Entry for an adult is $80, but includes unlimited food, drinks, and even beer and some cocktails. There are climbing frames for the little kids, and the bigger kids will appreciate the water slide (well, not just the kids). Snorkelling equipment is included in the price and you can snorkel everywhere.

Definitely try some of their ziplajn and check out the cenotes there. There are some beautiful parrots in the park.

Two beautifully coloured parrots
There are also these beauties in the park

You can buy extra attractions (like swimming with dolphins and manta rays) in addition to the admission fee, and a photo pass for $27. There are professional cameras scattered throughout the park, so you don’t have to bring any equipment. Simply attach your wristband, activate the camera and purchase the photos at the end of the day.

8) Hippie and boho shops and restaurants in the hotel zone

Tulum has a large number of boho and hippie shops
Tulum has a large number of boho and hippie shops

Okay, now you might be thinking I’m crazy for suggesting you go to the stores. But nowhere have I seen such a concentration of stylish shops, cafes and restaurants as in Tulum. You will find everything your heart desires.

Handmade soaps,fair-trade clothing, vegan food, raw ice cream and perfect coffee. As we walked, my eyes lit up, dream catchers swung in the air, tourists rode bicycles along the paths, and restaurants served beautifully decorated meals. When it got dark and the lights came on everywhere, I was in paradise.

9) Try yoga on the beach

It’s not a problem to practice yoga on the beach in Mexico. We’ve seen classes advertised absolutely everywhere, so if you’re one of those people who love yoga, stay in the hotel zone and explore the area. You can probably find 2-3 places offering yoga within five minutes.

10) Explore the city outside the hotel zone

A couple giving each other a kiss and holding an ice cream cone.
And the best ice cream in Tulum is here! Helados Buena Estrella Tulum

The hotel zone is different from the city itself, although it too is similarly thriving. Souvenirs are much cheaper here, as is the food. If you want to enjoy at least partially authentic Mexican cuisine, be sure to venture out of the hotel zone and into the city for at least a day.

11) Visit the ruins of Coba

The ruins of Coba: Don't forget to rent a bike!
The ruins of Coba: Don’t forget to rent a bike!

Just under an hour from Tulum is Coba, the majestic ruins left behind by the Mayan civilisation. You will appreciate that there are fewer people than in Chitzen Itza and the entrance is a bit lower, only 75 pesos per person (about 100 CZK). Once you’ve walked the first few dozen meters, they offer you that you can rent a bike for 50 pesos. Definitely do that. The complex is rather large and marching in the hellish Mexican heat can be exhausting.

Coba is also one of the last few ruins that can be climbed! The highest pyramid has 120 steep steps and most people climbed them on all fours. But if you climb them, you will have a beautiful view.

12) Go snorkelling in a natural aquarium

Yal-ku is a beautiful natural aquarium just outside Akumal
Yal-ku is a beautiful natural aquarium just outside Akumal

Yal-ku is a beautiful natural aquarium just outside Akumal, where you can snorkel. You can go here on your own or as part of a paid trip. If you’re driving yourself, there is free parking at Yal-ku, and there are also toilets, showers and lockers. Entrance costs around 280 pesos (300 CZK).

Where to eat vegetarians and vegans

Vegan food in Tulum
Vegan food in Tulum

Vegetarian food is more of a problem in Mexico than we expected, thankfully Tulum is an exception. You will find a variety of vegan and vegetarian places here, and some even with very nice prices.

Vegan ice cream

Where to go for fast internet in Tulum

In Mexico, wi-fi is sometimes a problem. The best way is to have a Mexican sim card and buy unlimited internet for two hours for 15 pesos. If you insist on sitting down somewhere for coffee and internet, try

Where to stay

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Cheap accommodation

Hostel Bambu Gran Palas

Hostel Bambu Grand

Hostel right in the hotel zone in Tulum, which has its own cenote and restaurant with affordable prices. That’s almost a miracle in a hotel zone.[/lgc_column] [lgc_column grid=”33″ tablet_grid=”50″ mobile_grid=”100″ last=”false”]

Medium expensive

Zamunda Garden View Apartments

Zamunda Garden View

Zamunda Garden View Apartments may not be right on the beach in the hotel zone, but you get a great apartment at a great price. Accommodation is located in the city center.[/lgc_column] [lgc_column grid=”33″ tablet_grid=”50″ mobile_grid=”100″ last=”true”]


Nomade tulum

Nomade Tulum

One of the most stylish hotels in all of Mexico.[/lgc_column]

How to get around Tulum

Tulum is a safe place, so you don’t have to be afraid to walk alone day or night. The most popular mode of transport is a bicycle, which you can get from 150 pesos (about 200 CZK) per day and a taxi. Please note that if you want to rent a car, parking in the hotel zone will cost 200 pesos (240 CZK) or more per day.

Tips and tricks for travelling in Mexico

What to pack

Take a look at our
travel packing guide
to help you prepare. Choose the right travel backpack, check out the travel gadgets and don’t forget anything important at home.

Where to get tickets

Search for cheap airline tickets at
, they’re our favourite portal. Be sure to read our instructions how to get cheap airline tickets.

Car rental

We commonly use a grader
to help us choose a car provider. In Playa del Carmen try writing to the web
, Sergio will take care of you.

Reservation of accommodation

is our most popular hotel search engine. We always compare hotels with local apartments and rooms on Airbnb (
725 CZK discount
). Read,
how we find cheap accommodation

Don’t forget about insurance

Travel insurance is an absolute must. For shorter journeys, choose AXA (
50% discount
) and for longer journeys the British insurer
True Traveller
. Take a look at
comparison of all insurance companies
and choose the one that suits you best.

Recommended Lonely Planet Yucatanguide

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