Maybe you’ve seen the beautiful photos of Tulum, Mexico, and now you’re planning your next trip there. Great! All the Instagram photos look super exciting, and yet you’re not too sure what there is to do there. Fear not! That’s exactly why I created this blog post. I had the opportunity to spend 31 days in this beautiful place, and I want to tell you everything you have to know about what you can spend your time on, so that you have the experience of a lifetime. Most of these things are directly in the city, while some are within a short driving distance. So get your bikini ready for this tropical paradise, and let’s get into all the fun things you can do while there! This list is not ordered in any specific way, so make sure you read all the way through, so you can be ready for all of Tulum and the surrounding area’s intriguing secrets.
1. Scuba Dive
Tulum is a city right on the Mexican coast, so you already know you need to make the most out of its crystal clear water and sunny beaches. One exhilarating activity you can do is scuba diving. You have many options to do this. One of them is scuba diving off the coast into the ocean, and the one I personally went for is to enjoy this adventurous activity in one of the many cenotes around Tulum. In my case, we went to explore the underwater world of Casa Cenote, which is near the city ruins. We dove 18 feet deep, and it was an incredible experience I will never forget. As a first-time scuba diver, I didn’t have any experience going into it, and yet I managed to have a great time. We did a guided tour, and they gave us an intro course on how to scuba dive. The cenote wasn’t too deep, so we didn’t need any extra skills, but I definitely recommend getting certified before going into it.
You can check out options for certified scuba divers here:
One of the reasons Tulum has become such a popular destination in the last few years is all the places there which offer some incredible scenery for photos. You can definitely expect some incredible jungle, almost Bali-like vibes there. It offers a unique experience, and you can take some stunning photos. I’ve actually already written an article about the most Instagrammable places in Tulum, which you can check out here. If you want the full overview of what each spot is like, don’t forget to check it out, because I’ve laid out my experience with each place in detail there. With that said, here are some of my favorites:
Raw Love — This is a beautiful wooden statue, where the torso is open and filled with jungle vegetation. It’s a unique place, although it can get very crowded. Even so, I definitely recommend you visit.
Selina Restaurant Entrance — This place is stunning, and not as crowded as some of the more famous spots. It’s a wooden circular tunnel, which makes for some incredible shots.
Azulik — This restaurant will have you feeling like you’re in paradise, but it doesn’t come cheap. Even so, it’s a must-visit, and there are ways to have this experience without breaking the bank. Check out this blog post to find out how I did it!
3. Rent or purchase a bike to stroll around
Biking is a preferred method of transportation in beach areas, so it’s no surprise they’re popular here too. And for good reason — they’re fuss-free and fun! I definitely recommend buying one if you’re staying for a longer period of time, because it can be a real money-saver. Otherwise, renting one is also a great option for getting around. The landscape of the city is great for them as well, with lots of protected paths for people on bikes. There are some places where you have to get on the road, and I recommend being extra careful. Yet cruising around Tulum has been a definite highlight for me. I was biking between 5-10 miles every day, but it didn’t feel like a lot because of how stunning the surrounding area is. Not to mention the wonderful weather!
4. Visit Playa Paraíso
As you can tell by the name, this is a long stretch of coastline, where you can enjoy the beautiful sunlight, crystal clear water and have some fun, relaxed beach days. It’s stunning early in the morning for sunrise, in the midday for leisure, and in the evening for it’s lively beach clubs. There’s always something happening there, so don’t worry — you won’t get bored. I doubt you’ll have anything on your mind when you’re near the bright blue waters anyway. If you come here for a sunset — you’re in luck, you will get a stunning view of the sun’s reflection on the water. The evenings are overall a great time to visit — the bars have drink specials, there are parties everywhere, or you can just enjoy an evening swim. The colors are incredible when swimming at sunset, which is one of the coolest things you can do in my opinion. If you want to spice it up, you can also pick up boat cruises or go snorkeling. No matter your preferences — there’s something for you in Playa Paraiso, so don’t miss out on it if you’re in Tulum!
5. Visit some iconic cenotes
If you’re wondering what a cenote is — it’s basically a sinkhole in the ground, where you can enjoy some really beautiful sights. The cenotes in Tulum are truly something you can’t miss out on, because there are very few places in the world where you can have a similar experience. When the light hits the water on a sunny day, you have stunning light beams hitting the water. This makes not only for an amazing snorkeling experience, but you can take some mesmerizing photos as well. I won’t go into too much detail about which ones I liked the most, but you can check out my blog post on the ten I visited while there, and what my opinion was of each one. This can give you a good guideline on which ones are worth your time and which — not so much.
6. Road trip to Punta Allen
This place is a short 2-hour drive away from Tulum, and getting there is an adventure on its own. But once you arrive, you’re met with some stunning views, a secluded tropical beach just for you and many experiences you can make use of. You can opt for a tour of the nearby areas, but make sure you don’t go with the first option, because that’s the more premium price. Once you go further down the beach strip, you’re going to find more affordable experiences. We went for a private boat tour for 1500 pesos, and we got to see some of the surrounding areas, which were very beautiful. If you have the time and a vehicle, don’t miss out on this, it’s a very different experience than the one you’ll have in other parts of Tulum.
7. Visit the Coba Ruins
This short 40 minutes drive from Tulum will pay off with some incredible pieces of history. This area overall is pretty famous, so expect to see a bit more tourists. It’s a very interesting place to explore, there is a lot to see, and it’s very exciting to be there. It’s such a big compound that you can easily spend hours walking around, or you can also use a bike. I recommend you make time for this, because you will really enjoy it.
8. Visit Chichen Itza
Only a two and a half hour drive away, you can find this world renowned monument waiting for you. One of the seven wonders of the modern world, Chichen Itza is a must-see for anyone visiting Tulum. There’s no need for me to tell you just how impressive it is to see in real life, knowing just how ancient these structures are. If you’re trying to decide between the Coba Ruins and Chichen Itza, I would definitely recommend going the extra mile to visit the second location, because I found it fascinating. You can actually clap in front of it, and you’ll be able to hear it echo, which I found amazing. Overall, don’t miss out on this place if you’re anywhere in the area, it’s more than worth it.
9. Catch the sunrise at Mirador del Caribe
No matter how much you don’t feel like getting out of bed, I’m telling you — it’s worth it for this. This peninsula area is the best spot for watching the sunrise, and I’m certain you’ll enjoy it as well. It’s super beautiful, and you will probably have the whole place for yourself. Just make sure you’re driving safely on the road, because the last 5 minutes of the drive for me were right along the main road.
10. Visit all the delicious Taco Spots
This list just wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t add a point for the tasty local cuisine. The tacos there are truly phenomenal, and very affordable — of course, depending on where you go. I recommend going to El Centro for a better price. There is a big difference in cost, so if you’re staying in the downtown beach area, I would recommend checking out some of the more local spots for a more super tasty authentic deal. If you want to know more about where we went and what I liked and didn’t like about some of the places there, check out my blog post, where I tell you all about the best taco spots in Tulum. That said, my three top recommendations for you are :
Taqueria Honorio - This is my number one favorite place in all of Tulum. The tacos cost about 18 pesos, which isn’t even a full dollar. Pick up the cochinita pibil type, because it will blow your mind
Antojitos La Chiapaneca - This was one of the first taco spots I ever tried in the city, and it quickly became one of my favorites. Each taco comes around 10 pesos, and so far it has been the cheapest place I’ve been able to find in the city.
El Pescador - This is a more upbeat place, with more of a fancy vibe, but at the same time it’s not too expensive.
I hope I gave you enough ideas for your upcoming Tulum trip! These are just some of the things I did while there, and I had such an incredible time. It’s not an exhaustive list by any means, since this is such an incredible city offering so many experiences. Even after 31 days, I still feel like I didn’t see everything there is to see, so that tells you just how vast it is! Even so, I’m confident that you will enjoy the recommendations I gave you, and will make your trip that much more fun. I wish you happy travels!
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