Welcome to my ultimate travel guide and tips for visiting Tulum!
This beautiful and vibrant destination has become increasingly popular in recent years for its stunning beaches, crystal-clear waters, ancient ruins, and laid-back vibe.
Tulum’s unique blend of Mayan culture, Caribbean flair, and bohemian style offers a unique travel experience that will captivate and inspire any traveler.
I will share all the essential information to plan your perfect trip to Tulum in 2023, including the best time to visit, the top things to see and do, where to stay, and much more.
So, whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveler, get ready to fall in love with Tulum!
Getting to Tulum, Mexico
To get to Tulum, you can fly into Cancun International Airport, located about 80 miles north of Tulum.
You can take a bus, hire a taxi, or rent a car from there. The drive from Cancun to Tulum takes approximately 1.5 to 2 hours, depending on traffic.
Alternatively, you can fly into Cozumel International Airport, take a ferry to Playa del Carmen, and then take a bus or taxi to Tulum, which takes approximately 2.5 to 3 hours.
If you are already in Mexico, you can take a bus or drive to Tulum from other nearby cities such as Cancun, Playa del Carmen, or Merida.
Where to stay in Tulum
Tulum and the Riviera Maya have accommodations of all categories, with comfortable and economical options in small hotels and inns.
Very close to the archaeological site is the Mango Tulum Hotel, a place of great privacy and tranquility, with exquisite attention from its staff.
Playa Paraiso has splendid cabana accommodations, such as Villa Pescadores Tulum, La Vita e Bella, and Cabañas Zazilkin.
Top 10 things to do in Tulum, Mexico
1. Visit the Tulum Archaeological Zone
This archaeological site in front of the sea is one of the most appreciated in the country because of the beautiful contrast between the ruins and the magnificent Caribbean.
The fundamental structure of the complex is El Castillo, a galactic observatory and a beacon that helped Mayan guides stay away from the Great Reef found a couple of meters from the coast.
Other important constructions of the Tulum Archaeological Zone are The Palace, the Temple of the Descending God, and the Temple of the Frescoes.
The first was a private structure of the political and strict tip-top of the walled city of Tulum.
While the second was supposed as a result of a figure on the entryway that appears to drop from the sky.
In the Temple of the Frescoes, some paintings of fabulous beings suppose that the Mayan artists had a great imagination or did the works under the effects of some hallucinogen.
2. Tour the Tulum National Park
The archaeological site of Tulum is located within this national park, which also includes a long strip of beaches, forests, wildlife reserves, and many other attractions.
Tulum National Park has an augmentation of 660 hectares and covers the seaside zone, seaward and inland, between the metropolitan capital of Tulum and Casa Cenote.
Notwithstanding lovely seashores, the recreation area has a few conditions of extraordinary excellence and significance for biodiversities, like mangroves, cenotes, and tropical timberlands.
You may want to read: Tulum’s Top 6 Beach Restaurants for Every Meal of the Day
The park is home to several endangered species of fauna, such as loggerheads and white turtles, which lay their eggs on the beaches of the protected area.
3. Take a tour of the best Cenotes
The district of Tulum and its encompassing regions are spotted with cenotes.
The amazing sea-going bodies are shaped by the shallow limestone mantle’s slow disintegration because of the waters’ impact.
The Maya were convinced that the cenotes were the entry to the hidden world or universe of the dead.
Yet past the folklore, these karst bodies are overflowing with life, as many vacationers who jump and swim in them can confirm.
Cenote Dos Ojos is so-called because of its two cavities that look like the eyes of a colossal stony monster.
It is integrated into a system of more than 58 km long underwater caves, a paradise for scuba diving.
Cenote Calavera lives up to its name with a haunting atmosphere and is 3.5 km from Tulum. Read more about it below.
Also near the municipal capital of Tulum are the Aktun and Casa Cenotes, which are among the most frequented for diving.
The Gran Cenote is another of these bodies that must be included in the list, mainly because of the clarity of its water, which allows observing the stalactites and stalagmites inside.
4. Explore the famous Cenote Calavera in Tulum
Diving enthusiasts frequently use this cenote to obtain their accreditations in cave diving, located 3 km from Tulum and 4 km from the archaeological site on the road to Cobá.
It is semi-open, and the descent is through wooden ladders placed inside the water or jumping directly.
The water is refreshing and inhabited by several fish species.
It is open every day between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. and has life jackets and snorkel equipment for rent.
It receives its name because a figure is formed at the bottom of the rocky ceiling, similar to a skull, with holes resembling the empty sockets and the mouth.
In the deep-diving area are visible layers of haloclines, interesting phenomena in which freshwater floats over saltwater because it is less dense.
Through the water, it is possible to admire stalagmites and stalactites.
5. Spend a lovely day at Playa Paraíso
Smooth white sand, warm, clear water of incomparable blue tones, radiant sunshine, and the tastiest cocktails await you at Playa Paraiso.
This natural jewel of the Riviera Maya is about 6 km from the town of Tulum.
It has all the services and entertainment to spend a splendid day sunbathing, resting, swimming, reading, or sharing with friends while sipping margaritas, ice-cold beers, and piña coladas.
In the vicinity of Playa Paraíso, there are hotels with pleasantly rustic atmospheres but with all the comfort and the best attention.
6. Enjoy the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve
This protected natural area has an area of 526,000 hectares and is shared by the Quintana Roo municipalities of Tulum and Felipe Carrillo Puerto.
The reserve is located 48 km from the municipal capital of Tulum.
You may want to read: Punta Allen, Mexico: A Perfect Destination for Your 2023 Adventure
It is worth admiring for its archeological ruins, petenes, sandy beaches, cenotes, mangroves, and other environments where more than 19 Mayan communities live in perfect harmony with their natural surroundings.
Particularly attractive are the petenes, conglomerates of trees up to 32 meters high that rise among the wetlands and constitute almost unique ecosystems globally.
UNESCO declared the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve a World Heritage Site in 1987.
7. Visit the Archaeological Zone of Coba
46 km from the municipal capital of Tulum, nestled in the jungle of Quintana Roo, is this archaeological site where the Nohoch Mul Pyramid stands out.
The Pyramid of Nohoch Mul has 120 steps, and from the summit, there are spectacular views of the immense green carpet of the jungle, adorned by the blue lagoons.
Some architectural details of Cobá suggest that it maintained close relations with other pre-Columbian towns in the central region of Mexico, particularly with Teotihuacan.
8. Dive into the Great Mayan Reef
This immense coral reef of nearly 1,000 km covers the coasts of Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras.
Because of its dimensions and rich marine biodiversity, the Great Mayan Reef, or Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, is one of the world’s sanctuaries for scuba diving.
Through the clear and warm waters and among more than 67 types of stony corals that form the reef, divers can admire barracudas, sea turtles, manta rays, moray eels, and a great variety of species.
In Tulum, the operator Dive Shop Tulum takes you to dive the Gran Arrecife and the cenotes.
If you want to get started in this fun sport, you can take a course with them, as they are members of the Professional Association of Diving Instructors.
9. Enjoy Tulum’s festivities
The carnival has become a lovely celebration in the Riviera Maya, with Cozumel, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum standing out.
In March, the Alborada Maya is a festival with religious, musical, cultural, and sporting events whose purpose is to thank God for the good harvests.
The “Talking Cross” celebration happens in Tulum during July, blending agnostic and Christian practices.
This celebration recognizes the disclosure of a mahogany cross in a cenote in the Quintana Roo people group of Chan Santa Cruz.
A trendy event among ecologists is the Sea Turtle Festival, with the participation of the environmentalist communities of Cancun and the Riviera Maya.
On Xcacel beach, 15 km from Tulum, an emotional ceremony is organized to release hundreds of sea turtles.
10. Discover Akumal Beach
Not long before this coastal strip of Quintana Roo, located 27 km north of Tulum, overtook Cancun in the competition to select the site for constructing a large, high-standard resort.
Ultimately, Cancun won, and Akumal beach was left with its wild and untouched beauty, now its main attraction.
Akumal’s coastline comprises coves and caverns where the corals have a particular morphology, creating beautiful environments for diving and snorkeling.
The Akumal region is likewise speckled with cenotes like Azul and Eden.
You may want to read: 11 Best Akumal Hotels for Your Next Beach Vacation in 2023
At the same time, archeological vacationers can appreciate a Mayan place of worship in the inlet of Xaac.
Visit Playa del Carmen, near Tulum
Playa del Carmen is only 63 km from Tulum. It is the central city of the Riviera Maya and is comparable to Cancun in terms of the quality of its tourist infrastructure.
Near the city are formidable water parks, beaches, cenotes, and other places of interest, which comprise a complete package of attractions.
Playa del Carmen’s Quinta Avenida (fifth avenue) provides a delightfully urban ambiance facing the Caribbean Sea.
There are boutiques, galleries, brand-name stores, restaurants, and other cosmopolitan establishments.
Relax with yoga and temazcal sessions
Tulum is a favorite destination for yogis from Mexico and other countries for its environmental quality and stunning beauty.
The combination of yoga, temazcal, and walks through the beautiful and luminous Riviera Maya will leave your body and spirit in a state of wellness as you have never experienced.
Yogadicha Studio offers group and private yoga sessions and temazcal ceremonies, including retreats, and is staffed by highly trained professionals.
Tulum gastronomy: Where to eat?
Tulum is an ideal place to taste the best fish, seafood, and mollusks in the Caribbean Sea.
Likewise, you can find all the types of fast food you want, such as pizzas, chicken, hamburgers, tacos, and other local goodies.
You don’t necessarily have to go to expensive restaurants to eat tasty food in Tulum. For example, Taqueria Honorio is known for its delicious pork tacos.
La Barracuda seafood restaurant has the best seafood at excellent prices.
If you are in the mood for a tasty pizza, I recommend you go to Pizzeria Manglar, while the best tacos al pastor can be found at Antojitos La Chiapaneca.
Don’t forget to have some fun at night!
In Tulum and its surroundings, you will find bars and clubs with excellent atmospheres to enjoy a noisy night of drinks with friends or a more intimate evening with your partner.
On Calle Centauro Sur, El Batey Mojito & Guarapo Bar offers various drinks at reasonable prices, with a musical ambiance enlivened by a small jazz band.
At km 1.5 of the Tulum-Boca Paila road, the Mezzanine Bar faces the sea and serves the best craft beers and micheladas in the area.
While Drink House Tulum has become famous for its Passion Ginger cocktail.
Tulum Mexico Travel Guide: Conclusion
In conclusion, Tulum is a stunning destination that should be on every traveler’s bucket list.
With its pristine beaches, ancient ruins, vibrant culture, and delicious cuisine, Tulum offers a unique and unforgettable experience.
To make the most of your trip, be sure to plan ahead and research the best time to visit, where to stay, and what activities to do.
Whether you’re looking for adventure, relaxation, or both, Tulum has something for everyone. I hope you enjoy your trip. Vamonos!