10 Best Things to Do in Tulum

Tulum is far from just a sleepy fishing village. Tulum’s Yucatan Peninsula is a haven of thick jungle, Mayan ruins, and paradisiacal white sand beaches—essentially everything you want in a beautiful holiday to Mexico. There are so many things to do in Tulum, including that loveably cheesy photoshoot spot near the Tulum sign. You can visit ancient Mayan ruins like Chichen Itza, go cave diving in beautiful cenotes, or kick back at a beach club of your choice. Tulum adventures are everywhere.

1. Chichen Itza

Best Things to do in Tulum Chichen Itza Famous ruins and Mayan culture

Chichen Itza is a big deal; consider it a celebrity status attraction. It is easily one of the most popular things to do in Tulum, albeit accessible by day trip. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a world-famous site of ancient Mayan ruins. When planning a Tulum itinerary, skipping Chichen Itza would be a crime. The complex was once an ancient Mayan city full of Mayan ruins, including the stunning Step Temple of Kukulkan (the postcard picture of Chichen Itza). Many people mistakenly think that Chichen Itza is just a single temple. Still, the complex can take half a day to explore and fully appreciate.

This attraction is a 2-hour drive inland from Tulum. Be prepared to hire a car or book an experience, including public transportation. It is the furthest, if not the furthest, of all the day trips. However, it is definitely the most famous and, as one of the 7 New Wonders of the World, worth carving out time to visit.

2. Scuba Diving

Best Things to do in Tulum Scuba diving

Tulum might be small, but it is mighty in terms of diving opportunities. Get off Tulum Beach and experience scuba diving; you can’t visit Tulum without truly experiencing its underwater world, and a scuba dive experience is much more immersive than snorkeling. News flash: Scuba diving is incredible in Tulum. The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef is offshore of Tulum. The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef is the second largest coral reef in the world. It’s second only to the Barrier Reef in Australia. The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef is a breeding ground for a flurry of brightly colored tropical fish and larger animals like sharks, turtles, manta rays, and dolphins.

Best Things to do in Tulum Scuba Diving Cenote

You can book diving tours from Tulum town to see the coral reefs. Many of these trips include transportation to a dive center; otherwise, you can just grab a taxi. It is easy to squeeze into a short period if you already have your PADI qualification; if not, allocate a few days of your itinerary to getting the qualification first.

3. Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve

Best Things to do in Tulum Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve

Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve is a massive natural park of 5,280 km2. It is just south of Tulum, further down into the state of Quintana Roo. Despite being a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it attracts fewer tourists. It is somewhere to visit for a real jungle experience, out in the remotest areas of Tulum’s coastline. Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve is one of the best things to do in Tulum to get ‘off the beaten track’. And it offers a more intense jungle experience than short hikes to cenotes and Tulum ruins.

The best way to experience the reserve is on a guided tour. The park is so massive; you want some direction from a knowledgeable guide.

4. Playa del Carmen

Best things to do in Tulum Mexico Visit Playa Del Carmen

Playa del Carmen is known for its amazing beaches and resort city buzz. Only some people are cut out for days and days in a relatively sleepy town, so if you need a city fix, Playa del Carmen is where to take a day trip. Consider this one of the best things to do in Tulum to get away from the actual Tulam. We’d suggest walking Quinta Avenida – a promenade meets thoroughfare along the beachfront with restaurants and bars. You can enjoy significant museums and attractions like the 3D Museum of Wonders and Playacar Mayan Ruins.

Playa del Carmen is only a 50-minute drive north of Tulum. You can book a taxi or just organize a rental car or shuttle. By 2024, a train will connect the two major Yucatan destinations, so watch this space. Make sure to check out all the Best Things to do in Palya Del Carmen before you go.

5. Playa Paraiso

Best Things to do in Tulum Playa Paraiso

Playa Paraiso translates exactly to paradise Beach, and if that doesn’t sell you, we don’t know what will. The beach, as we can attest, does look like paradise. Picture those slanted palm trees just made for climbing, white sand, and lulling waves—it is one of the best beaches in Mexico. You can grab food and snap pictures by its huge multi-colored sign. Paradise Beach is the main Tulum Beach, and it’s easy to see why it made our list of the Best Beaches in Mexico.

Playa Paraiso is a 20-minute drive or an hour’s walk from the town center. If you choose to walk, you’ll pass through the Parque Nacional Tulum on foot. You could easily combine this with a visit to the Playa Ruinas, El Castillo, Casa de Cenote, and the beloved turtle beach, Playita Tortuga.

6. Hop Between Beach Clubs

Best Things to do in Tulum Tulum Pueblo

When it comes to beach clubs, head out of Tulum Pueblo instead of Tulum Beach. This neighborhood is packed with beach bars and clubs, and you can easily spend a day (or night) hopping between them before finally booking a taxi back to your hotel. This is the die-hard party strip, and you can expect extravagant cocktails and music at all hours. If you are a partier, beach club hopping is easily one of the most fun things to do in Tulum. A taxi ride will take as little as 10 minutes.

7. Chococacao Maya

Best Things to do in Tulum Mexico Chococacao Maya

Chocolate lovers, leave Tulum Pueblo and head through the surrounding jungle to visit Chococacao Maya. This attraction takes you on an immersive experience where you transform your own cacao beans into a delicious chocolate dish. The experience is led by a knowledgeable guide. The most valuable part of this is the cultural exchange and insight into the importance of cacao and chocolate in Mayan history that you’ll leave with.

Chococacao Maya is a 40-minute drive from Tulum. However, it is located right next to the Nohoch Mul Pyramid and multiple cenotes – so it is easy to combine.

8. Cenote Calavera

Best Things to do in Tulum Cenote Calavera

Cenote Calavera is a famous cenote that you’ve very likely seen before. The cenote sits in a massive sinkhole, with a wooden ladder teetering down the edge into the water. Of Tulum town’s nearby cenotes, Cenote Calavera is the one that is most covered by the rock above. It has a natural cavern feel, which is atmospheric and makes for a unique swimming spot. Cenote Calavera is also just a 10-minute drive from Tulum Pueblo Center, if you need any more persuasion.

9. Tulum Tower

Tulum Tower is like something out of War of the Worlds. The great spider-looking structure is more alien-looking than something a human has designed. For an entry ticket of around $40, you can scale the building to the top for a beautiful view over Tulum. If you visit Tulum and love scenic views, you know where to visit. Better yet, Tulum Tower is just a 10-minute drive or 40-minute walk from Tulum town center.

10. Take A Single-Day Road Trip Through Parque Nacional Tulum

Best Things to do in Tulum Parque Nacional Tulum

Parque Nacional Tulum is the best place for the underconfident driver to tackle a single-day road trip. You’ll be stopping and starting constantly with a full list of to-dos, many of which already feature in this guide. It neatly combines so many attractions into a single day, making it one of the best things to do in Tulum. There’s Playa Ruinas, the turtles at Playita Tortugas, and the infamous Tulum ruins. The total driving time will be less than an hour, but you’ll have so much to see that you can dedicate an entire day to the experience.

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