Top 9 Tulum Tourist Activities

Home > Destinations > Mexico > Top 9 Tulum Tourist Activities

Top 9 Tulum Tourist Activities

It used to be that Tulum was mainly recognized as the gateway to its Mayan ruins. Nowadays, as much as you’ll want to spend time exploring that intriguing archaeological site – with its enviable oceanside location – there is so much more to see in Tulum. From the downtown area to the beach zone, to north and to the south, there are eco-adventure parks, sacred cenotes, sea turtle-filled lagoons, a world-renowned biosphere reserve and ample shopping and dining. Here’s where to start:
shutterstock 1166626240navsumo.com
Photo Credit : Shutterstock
1. Xel-Ha
We’ll start with the biggies, Xel-Ha and the Tulum ruins. Just 20 minutes north of Tulum, Xel-Ha checks all the boxes for a fantastic, eco-centric vacation day. One of the Grupo Xcaret family of parks, this jungle adventure- and attraction-filled paradise offers swimming and snorkeling in flooded caves and cenotes filled with tropical marine life, cliff jumping, Mayan ruins, bike riding, jungle hiking, ziplining, kite flying and more. There’s a 98-foot-tall waterslide, a kids’ area and a convenient buffet restaurant, too.
shutterstock 462726292navsumo.com
Photo Credit : Shutterstock
2. Tulum Ruins
You’re in Tulum, so even if you’re seeking alternate activities, you’re going to visit the ruins for one day, at least. With their superb coastal location, these are among the most picturesque of Mexico’s Mayan ruins. If you can arrive early, do so – you’ll beat the rush of tour buses that arrive throughout the day. Built and inhabited by the Maya around 1200 AD, the city was known as “Zama” (City of Dawn) for its eastern-facing position. During the 13th to 15th centuries, more than a thousand people resided here. Highlights include the most central structure, El Castillo, The Temple of the God of Wind, The Temple of the Frescoes and The Temple of the Descending God.
shutterstock 1748553290navsumo.com
Photo Credit : Shutterstock
3. Coba Ruins
Wanting to see Mayan ruins, but not keen on the crowds of Tulum? Consider Coba, 30 miles from Tulum and worth the distance for the more peaceful atmosphere. You’ll trade the oceanside setting of Tulum for a lush, jungle location, where you can still climb the tallest pyramid, Ixmoja. Seek out the two well-preserved ball courts, assumed to have been used for the traditional Mayan ballgame, ōllamaliztli, and take notice of the many stone stelae monuments – many of them depict females, hinting that there may have been a matriarchy in place at one point.
shutterstock 1789877909navsumo.com
Photo Credit : Shutterstock
4. Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve
At the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, you can cruise along the Boca Paila and Caapechen lagoons and through labyrinthian mangrove canals (built by native Mayan more than a thousand years ago) in search of crocodiles, tropical birds and exotic butterflies. You may even be lucky enough to spot a manatee! Take one of the many eco-tours offered throughout the reserve’s 1.2 million acres, which are UNESCO protected. Tours are available focusing on Mayan ruins, snorkeling, wildlife viewing, birdwatching, flyfishing and more.
shutterstock 1613263885navsumo.com
Photo Credit : Shutterstock
5. Grand Cenote
Along with its sister cenotes – Calavera and Carwash – Grand Cenote is one of the many sacred, natural sinkholes for which the Yucatan Peninsula is famous. Don’t miss the chance to descend into the underground swimming hole, with its delightfully sandy bottom and friendly fish swimming about. Easy to get to from Tulum, the cenote features a lush jungle garden, a wooden staircase and then several walking platforms that may be above or below the surface of the water of the cenote, depending on recent rainfall. Hang out and snorkel with the sea turtles and fish, and notice the mesmerizing stalagmites, stalactites and natural columns. Venture into the dark cave grottos and crevices. The colors around you go from blue to green to completely dark and back again. It’s easy to see why these cenotes were so spiritually significant to the ancient Maya people.
shutterstock 543856114navsumo.com
Photo Credit : Shutterstock
6. Akumal
If you love sea turtles, you’re in for a treat at Akumal, an easy day trip from Tulum. Here in the “Place of the Turtles,” you can don snorkeling gear and swim with the gentle giants. In fresh- and saltwater Yal-ku Lagoon, you can find loggerhead and green sea turtles, tropical fish, manta rays and more. Snorkeling trips into the bay are available or you may snorkel directly from the beach. Just remember, look, don’t touch the magnificent turtles.
266506464navsumo.com
Photo Credit : Booking.com
7. Pose with a Daniel Popper Sculpture
Art aficionado or not, you’ve likely heard of the internationally known, multidisciplinary artist Daniel Popper. Check out his iconic Ven a La Luz (Come into the Light) sculpture at the Ahau Tulum hotel. Constructed of wood, steel, rope and greenery, the sculpture bears a striking resemblance to the goddess Te Fiti in Disney’s Moana.
shutterstock 720647887navsumo.com
Photo Credit : Shutterstock
8. Shopping
Take a break from the beach and the archaeological wonders of Tulum and treat yourself to a few hours of boutique shopping. You’ll find a wide range of independently owned boutiques where you can buy home goods, Mexican handicrafts, jewelry and more. Start with the eco-friendly La Troupe, looking for items that incorporate the region’s stunning embroidery. Pick up a flowy beachy dress or cover-up at JOSA Tulum. Pick up colorful handbags and artisanal products at Naia and folk art and kitschy souvenirs at Mixik.
shutterstock 1631686768navsumo.com
Photo Credit : Shutterstock
9. Indulge in Ice Cream and Beer
OK, while not an “attraction,” per se, after all your swimming and sightseeing, you’ll deserve a treat. Check out the craft beer scene in Tulum at Hermana Republica, where eight different types of craft beer are paired with traditional Mexican food. A variety of other breweries have cropped up nearby and you’ll find Cerveza Pescadores, Cerveza Colima and Cerveza Munda Maya served at several Tulum restaurants, including Safari, Los Aguachiles and Mateos.
 
For those with a sweet tooth, the Tulum ice cream scene is on point. Be prepared to wait for the popular gelato flavors at Panna e Cioccolato. Opt for fresh, homemade ice cream at Helados Buena Estrella. Or, go for vegan soft-serve at Meows Cream Heladeria. Popsicles (paletas) made from natural ingredients are all the rage at La Reyna de Michoacan.

Get Our Best Stuff First.

Sign up for our newsletters.

Don’t Forget
Your U.S. Passport

and Travel Visas