What is there to do in Tulum?
If you’ve heard of the Riviera Maya, chances are you’ve heard of Tulum and its famous archeological site. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Tulum is one of the most interesting places in the Mexican Caribbean, home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, mystical cenotes, and hotels that appear to have been created by the Earth itself.
Where exactly is Tulum?
Quintana Roo’s cities are some of the most popular tourist spots in the world. The biggest, like Cancun and Playa del Carmen, are known for attracting young folk from all over the world to their trendy places like bars and nightclubs. Smaller towns, like Akumal and Tulum, are more geared toward sightseeing and relaxing visits. As all these places are a few minutes from each other, rather than choosing one experience over the other, many mix them up.
To get to Tulum from Cancun and Playa del Carmen all you have to do is travel south following Highway 307, which links all these cities and towns together.
Lodgings at and around Tulum
Peculiar among the different hotel zones in the Riviera Maya, Tulum’s is a common tourist spot because of the varied and elaborate entrances to the different buildings which make it truly an artistic space. One of the most famous is the Ven a la luz—Come into the light—sculpture by South African artist Daniel Popper, which is also the entrance to the Ahau Tulum eco-hotel.
There are all kinds of lodgings in Tulum, from the relatively cheap—many of which are listed on Airbnb—to the secluded and exclusive. But price is not the only difference between them. There’s one for every kind of experience and taste.
Those in the town of Tulum are generally cheaper and are more centric, only a few minutes away from the most popular tourist spots, like ruins and cenotes. Within the town itself, there are other interesting places to visit and restaurants to eat at.
On the other hand, those along the coast are more expensive, secluded, and exclusive. Separated by a thick jungle from the rest of Tulum, they’re more fit for those looking for a relaxing time connecting with nature. This is the location of Tulum’s most famous hotels, like Diamante K or Nest Tulum, among many others.
Of course, Tulum is famous for its ruins. Overlooking the coast, their location is almost unique, a feature it shares with only a few others that, luckily, are also found around here.
Though visitors can come and see them by themselves, it is highly recommended to book a guided tour to learn a bit more about their importance in the local history and culture.
The beaches in Tulum
These ruins are famous for another thing: one of the most famous beaches in the whole of Tulum—and dare we say, the world is located here. And, best of all, with their entry ticket, visitors also get access to it, the perfect thing to do after a morning under the scorching sun.
Of course, it has the trademark Riviera Maya beach white sand and crystalline waters, but there’s something special about swimming with a historically and culturally significant place at your back. Turn around, and experience the most mystical views in the world.
But this is not the only beach here. The coast is long, and Paraiso is only a minute or two away to the south. Some say it’s one of the most beautiful beaches here, second only to Tulum; to others, it surpasses it. Take a walk on it and, without even noticing, you’ll cross over to other local beaches, like Pescadores or Las Palmas.
The Sian Ka’an Reserve
Just west of Tulum there’s Sian Ka’an, a massive Natural Reserve and Biosphere that houses many other spots in Tulum. Another set of Mayan Ruins—Muyil—are here, too, as well as the Chunyaxche Lagoon, with its impressive canals that connect it to the ocean, artificially made by the ancient Mayans themselves.
At the very tip of a thin peninsula off Sian Ka’an is Punta Allen. A secluded place that’ll make you feel like you’re visiting the edge of the world as you swim in its waters or tour them in a boat.
Kaan Luum Lagoon and many cenotes
The amazing Kaan Luum Lagoon is an oasis surrounded by jungle. The experience there is like that of a beach—white sand and clear, shallow water—except for one thing. A bit further in, the lagoon’s floor sinks to form a gigantic hole: an underwater cenote—one of the few in existence—, a preferred spot for divers.
Sac Actun, one of the biggest underground cave systems in the world, runs right under Tulum, making it home to a few of the most famous cenotes in the Riviera Maya. Caracol and Casa Tortuga are only a couple miles outside of town to the east; and, to the north, you’ll find the famous Calavera and Gran Cenotes.
These are just a few of the many things to see and do in Tulum. Once here, it’s not strange for visitors to keep finding more and more stuff to do. There’s so much, in fact, that it is impossible to fit it all in one single article.