Known for its spectacular beaches, bohemian vibes, and ancient Mayan ruins, Tulum has become one of the hottest destinations in Mexico. Located along the Caribbean coastline in the Riviera Maya region, this laidback town offers a perfect mix of relaxation, adventure, culture and nightlife.

In this Tulum travel guide, you’ll find everything you need to plan an amazing trip. We’ll go over the best times to visit, top things to do from exploring jungle cenotes to lounging at trendy beach clubs, where to stay for every budget, and tips for getting around.

You’ll discover Tulum’s world-famous white sand beaches like Paraiso and Gran Cenote, the cliffside Mayan ruins of Tulum National Park, and the “pueblo” town center with its mix of locals, expats, and travelers. We’ll also cover side trips to nature reserves, cenotes, and nearby destinations like Playa del Carmen.

From jungle escapes to yoga retreats to beachfront dining and nightlife, Tulum offers something for every type of traveler. With this guide, you’ll be ready to plan the perfect tropical vacation at one of the Yucatan’s most magical locales. Get ready to experience Tulum’s laidback charm and natural beauty! Let’s dive into everything you need to know.

Popular Tulum Destinations

Tulum Ruins

Step back in time with a visit to the Tulum Ruins, where ancient Mayan temples overlook the turquoise Caribbean Sea. Perfect for history buffs and nature lovers alike, this archaeological site offers a unique blend of culture and scenic beauty. Don’t miss the chance to snap a photo with El Castillo, the iconic pyramid, set against the backdrop of the ocean.

Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve

Imagine exploring a UNESCO World Heritage site that’s home to thousands of species of flora and fauna. Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve offers eco-tours that let you wander through mangroves, float down natural lazy rivers, and spot exotic wildlife. It’s an eco-traveler’s paradise.

Cenote Dos Ojos

Dive into the ethereal world of Cenote Dos Ojos, a natural sinkhole known for its stunningly clear waters. Ideal for snorkeling and diving, this cenote is a labyrinth of underwater caves and tunnels that beckon explorers. If you’re a water enthusiast, this is a can’t-miss destination.

Playa Paraiso

Experience the epitome of beach bliss at Playa Paraiso, one of Tulum’s most renowned beaches. With its powdery white sand and azure waters, this is the perfect spot to soak up the sun, take a dip, or just unwind with a cocktail in hand.

Gran Cenote

Another must-visit waterhole, Gran Cenote offers a unique blend of open water and cave diving. Its crystal-clear waters are perfect for snorkeling and observing the underwater flora and fauna. Get ready to be amazed by the natural beauty both above and below the surface.

Coba Ruins

Venture a bit outside of Tulum to explore Coba Ruins, an ancient Mayan city shrouded in jungle foliage. Unlike the coastal Tulum Ruins, Coba offers a unique view into the Mayans’ inland civilization. The highlight? You can actually climb the Nohoch Mul pyramid for a panoramic view of the surrounding jungle.

Tulum Beach

Spend a day at Tulum Beach, the hub of relaxation and socializing. From beach clubs and bars to tranquil spots for sunbathing, this beach has it all. You might even catch a yoga class or a live music performance.

El Castillo

No visit to the Tulum Ruins is complete without a stop at El Castillo. This towering pyramid is one of the most photographed spots in Tulum, and for good reason. Its elevated position offers incredible views of the coastline below.

Laguna Kaan Luum

Get away from the crowds at Laguna Kaan Luum, a tranquil lagoon that’s a hidden gem among Tulum’s more famous attractions. The lagoon is ideal for a peaceful swim or paddleboard session, and the mud is said to have therapeutic properties.

How to get to Tulum

Tulum, a town on the Caribbean coastline of Mexico’s Yuma Peninsula, is a popular tourist destination known for its well-preserved ruins of an ancient Mayan port city. Getting there depends on your starting location. If you’re traveling internationally, the closest airport to Tulum is Cancun International Airport. From there, you can either rent a car and drive to Tulum, which takes about two hours, or you can take a bus or taxi. The ADO bus company operates regular services between Cancun and Tulum, with the journey typically taking around 2.5 hours. Alternatively, several tour companies offer shuttle services from the airport directly to Tulum.

If you’re already in Mexico, particularly in the Yucatan Peninsula, you can reach Tulum by bus from other cities such as Playa del Carmen and Merida. The journey from Playa del Carmen takes around one hour by bus, while the trip from Merida is longer at about four hours. Another way to reach Tulum is by colectivo, or shared taxi, which is a popular mode of transportation in this region. Lastly, if you’re up for an adventure, you can also take a ferry from Cozumel to Playa del Carmen and then a bus to Tulum. Regardless of the method of transportation you choose, the trip to Tulum is definitely worth it as you’ll be rewarded with stunning beaches, fascinating ruins, and a vibrant local culture.

Tulum on a Map

How to get Around Tulum

Tulum is a relatively small town, so getting around isn’t too difficult. The town center, where most restaurants, bars, and shops are located, is easily walkable. Bicycles are also a popular mode of transportation in Tulum, with numerous rental shops available. They can be a fun and affordable way to explore the town and its surrounding areas. If you’re planning to visit the beach or the Tulum ruins, however, you might want to consider taking a taxi or renting a car as these spots can be a bit far from the town center. Public transportation, in the form of collectivos (mini vans), is also available and can be a cheap way to travel between Tulum and nearby destinations like Playa del Carmen or the Coba ruins.

When to go to Tulum

The best time to visit Tulum largely depends on what you’re looking for in a vacation. If you’re hoping for the best weather, consider going between October and December. It’s after the peak of the extremely hot summer, but before the hotel rates skyrocket for the winter holidays. However, if you’re looking to save some money, consider going between May and June. Although it’s the start of the rainy season, the showers are typically short and the hotel rates are at their lowest. It’s also important to note that Tulum can get quite crowded during the major holidays, so if you prefer a less crowded vacation, it may be best to avoid these times. Regardless of when you go, Tulum’s beautiful beaches, ancient ruins, and unique culture make it a great vacation destination.

Stay Safe While Visiting Tulum

While visiting Tulum, it’s essential to prioritize your safety to ensure a pleasant and memorable experience. Pay attention to local safety advisories and guidelines, particularly in the current context of the global pandemic. It’s recommended to always carry hand sanitizers, masks, and maintain social distancing when in public spaces. Moreover, be cautious about food and water consumption; opt for bottled water and eat at reputable establishments to avoid any food-borne illnesses. Also, it’s a good idea to carry a basic first aid kit for any minor injuries or illnesses. If you’re planning to explore the local marine life through snorkeling or diving, ensure that your equipment is in good condition and that you’re accompanied by a trained professional. Avoid isolated areas and don’t venture out alone at night to prevent any potential safety risks. Remember, being aware of your surroundings and staying vigilant is the best way to enjoy your Tulum trip safely.

Tulum Travel Tips

When planning your trip to Tulum, it’s important to remember that this destination is popular for its eco-friendly accommodations, so expect to encounter rustic and sustainable amenities rather than luxury hotels. Try to travel in the off-peak season (April to June and September to November) for fewer crowds and cheaper prices. While in Tulum, it’s important to respect the natural environment by not touching the coral when snorkeling or diving, not disturbing wildlife, and not littering. Don’t forget to pack biodegradable sunscreen and insect repellent, as regular ones can harm the local ecosystem. Lastly, keep in mind that Tulum is a cash-based economy, so it’s wise to bring enough cash for your trip, though ATMs are available if needed.

Explore Tulum

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