fun things to do in Tulum

Scrambling up Mayan ruins, kayaking through mysterious mangroves, and swimming in cenotes – it’s just another day in Tulum paradise. Whether you’re a sun worshiper looking for that idyllic slice of sand or an adrenaline junkie after jungle adventures, Tulum is waiting to welcome you.

In the evenings, dance under the stars to the sweetest tunes at beach parties, or choose day hours instead to go snorkeling, dive with whale sharks or grab a board and hit the water surfing.

For the wild souls, you’ll appreciate the laid-back hippie vibes that this town exudes, evident in the artisanal goods to shop, magical cafes and boho-inspired stays. From the softest sands you ever did see to oceans so blue you’ll need to pinch yourself to believe it’s real; it’s a true utopia on the Caribbean coastline.

There are so many exciting things to do in Tulum that it can be tough whittling down your options. So, we’ve done the hard work for you with this carefully curated list. Which ones float your boat?

1 – Paddle through Sian Ka’an by kayak

kayaking in Tulum

Delve deep into this biodiverse World Heritage Site as you head off on an intrepid kayaking mission. You’ll be exploring the ancient trading routes as you paddle stealthily through the mangrove maze and across the tranquil lagoon.

The Sian Ka’an Reserve is home to everything from crocodiles and sea turtles to ospreys and iguanas, so keep your camera handy. No previous kayaking experience is required.

2 – Explore Tulum Archaeological Zone

Archeological Zone of Tulum, Mexico

Perched majestically above the Caribbean Sea, the Tulum Archaeological Zone should be at the top of your to-do list. This former Mayan commercial hub is beloved by visitors thanks to its photogenic credentials.

You can wander around the ancient walled fortress, admiring the pyramids and trying not to stumble over sunbathing iguanas! Take your swimming gear if you fancy a dip at the secret beach.

3 – Dive into jungle cenotes

Cenote Hubiku, Mexico

Hidden away in the tropical Yucatán forests are thousands of mysterious jungle pools. Dos Ojos, Sac Actun, and Gran Cenote are some of the easiest to visit.

These freshwater cenotes mark the entrance to a vast network of underground waterways – a world we know very little about. You can go scuba diving through the submerged caverns, marveling at rock formations and blind fish that live in the dark.

Truly feel like Tarzan — or Jane — at Cenote Calavera, with the way to enter via a rope ladder that you climb down or a simple rope swing. Or, you can just JUMP in!

Not as hidden underground as some of the others, the waters of Cenote Zacil-Ha are piercingly blue. Easy access and a small local restaurant/bar make this one family-friendly.

Around Cenote Santa Cruz Tulum, the aquatic sinkhole has been shaped into canals, and there are low entrance steps and jumping platforms.

4 – Swim and slide at Xel-Há Park

Xel-Ha Park, Cancun, Mexico

You’ll have a whale of a time at the all-inclusive Xel-Há Park, with enough lazy rivers, waterslides, and zip lines to keep everyone happy.

Swimmers and snorkelers will be in seventh heaven, exploring hidden coves and jungle cenotes that lead to the Mayan underworld. Find out what lives in the mangroves and soak up the 360˚ views from the 131-foot-high lighthouse.

5 – Work on your tan at the best beaches in Tulum

best beaches in Tulum

It may seem hard to pick just one of the best beaches in Tulum because they’re all so picturesque. Here are a few to suit every type of traveler.

Beginning with a bang; Playa Paraíso is popular and one of the most well-known. Great for families, or lovers, the beach has it all, like umbrella and sun lounger rentals, and there is a beach club to order food and drinks from. It’s truly paradise.

Below a cliff laden with ancient Mayan ruins is the exquisite Playa Ruinas. For travelers looking for a beach off the beaten path, this is the one!

Playa Las Palmas is a public beach with sand so powder white it doesn’t seem real. Pick this locale to escape the crowds, and bring everything you need for an ultimate beach day.

There’s uncrowded, and then there’s total seclusion. If the latter is what you’re after, couples, Soliman Bay is a true taste of the Caribbean and the deserted island setting is utterly romantic.

6 – Travel back in time at Chichén Itzá

Chichen Itza archaeological site, Mexico

Looking for your jungle temple fix? Then get yourself to Chichén Itzá for some serious pyramid bragging rights. This is one of the top archaeological sites in Mexico and the place to go for a dose of Mayan magic.

Don’t leave without visiting El Castillo and the Temple of the Warriors! If you want to explore without the crowds, plan on getting here early.

7 – Snorkel with tropical fish

snorkeling tour in Tulum

The tranquil Caribbean waters surrounding the Tulum peninsula are perfect for a spot of snorkeling. Pull on your mask and discover the magical marine kingdom that lies below the waves.

Sea turtles and colorful fish will be your constant companions as you float over the second largest coral reef in the world. For something a little different, head into the jungle and enjoy surreal snorkeling in a cenote.

8 – Scramble up temples at Coba

Coba temples, Mexico

Mayan Temples look the part from the ground, but if you want to climb one, come to Coba. The sides are steep, but the effort is worth it as you emerge at the top, feeling like a regular Indiana Jones.

Coba is more remote than Chichén Itzá which means it’s a lot quieter. This site is yet to be fully excavated so it has a delightfully wild vibe.

9 – Venture into Tankah Cenotes Park

Tankah Cenotes Park, Mexico

Are you up for a jungle adventure? Tankah Cenotes Park is your passport into the mystical world of these beautiful forest pools.

Connect with nature as you hike through virgin tropical forests and immerse yourself in culture at the Mayan village.

It gets hot here so cool off with a swim in some of the cenotes. There are diving platforms and zip lines for courageous souls.

10 – Visit Parque Nacional Tulum

Parque Nacional Tulum, Mexico

Tulum National Park was established back in 1981 as a protected natural zone. It seeks to preserve the Mayan ruins and the surrounding ecosystems along this stretch of the Caribbean coast.

The highlight of this mini park is the archaeological site, but you can explore the ancient Yucatán forest here too. Don’t leave without visiting the beach – it’s one of the best in the region.

11 – Harness the wind on a sailing adventure

sailing tour in Tulum

Enjoy life on the ocean wave as you sail around sparkling lagoons and slice through the sea on board a luxury yacht or catamaran.

Discover what lies beneath these tropical waters as you enjoy stops for swimming and snorkeling. Then dry out on deck with a tasty lunch and cool drinks. It’s one of the most relaxing things to do in Tulum.

12 – Drive an ATV through the jungle

ATV tour in Tulum

Bounce around on forest tracks and slide across muddy pools as you zoom through the jungle on an ATV tour. Keep the momentum going as you race along hidden trails in search of new adventures.

Seeing the Riviera Maya under your own steam is heaps of fun, and an excuse to let your hair down. Wash off the dust with a refreshing dip in a cenote.

13 – Swim around Laguna de Kaan Luum

Laguna de Kaan Luum, Riviera Maya

Get your cameras out for Laguna de Kaan Luum too… A serene lake outside of town where the water is so blue and transparent it looks like a swimming pool — and pretty much is!

Not only idyllic for frolicking in its extra calm, flat waters, inside Kaan Luum Lagoon (its English name) hammocks and swings have been set up right in the water. There’s also a wooden pier stretching out into the water.

Popular for swimming and snorkeling, there are outlined areas that are out of bounds in parts of the lagoon. The Kaan Luum Cenote in the middle of the lagoon, for example, is a no go zone.

14 – Give kitesurfing a whirl

kitesurfing in Tulum

Embrace the wind and skim across the top of the ocean as you have a blast during a kitesurfing session. Don’t worry if it’s your first time, you’ll enjoy a lesson with a professional instructor before tackling the water.

Then it’s time to show off your new moves, jumping between waves and flying through the air. You will be getting wet, but that’s all part of the fun.

15 – Relax on Akumal Beach

Akumal Beach, Mexico

Akumal is one of the jewels of Mexico’s Caribbean coastline, with some of the finest white sand on the peninsula. Named after the turtles that call these shores home, Akumal is a haven for snorkelers and divers.

You can swim over reefs in the picturesque bays and hang out at the beachside bars when you get thirsty. Popular but never crowded, Akumal might just become your new favorite haunt.

16 – Snorkel with whale sharks

swimming with whale sharks in Tulum

Ever wondered what it’s like to swim alongside the largest fish in the world? You can do that right here on the Riviera Maya. These gentle giants arrive to enjoy the warm Mexican waters between May and September.

Diving with whale sharks is a humbling experience, and seeing them glide past just meters away is a moment that will stay with you forever.

17 – Surf along tropical shores

surfing in Tulum

Riding the waves along the Caribbean coast is one of the most thrilling things to do in Tulum. You’ll start with a quick lesson on the beach to learn the key moves, and discover how to read the ocean.

Next up is the real deal as you plunge into the warm sea and put your new skills to the test. It’s heaps of fun for beginners and pros alike.

18 – Encounter dolphins up close and personal

dolphin encounter in Tulum

Dolphins are the most lovable sea creatures and getting to know them in a controlled environment is the experience of a lifetime. You can enjoy several interactive programs at Dolphin Discovery, and observe your new friends at close quarters.

They’ll be jumping, dancing, and even shaking your hand as they perform their best tricks. The icing on the cake is a thrilling dorsal tow.

19 – Go on a stand-up paddleboarding adventure

stand-up paddleboarding in Tulum

Dip your paddle into the turquoise waters and relish the silence as you glide along the peaceful lagoon. It doesn’t take long to pick up the basic paddleboarding principles, so you’ll be off exploring in no time.

Keep your eyes peeled for tropical fish darting beneath your board, and float along hidden creeks in search of native wildlife.

20 – Snap pics at the best photo spots in Tulum

street art in Tulum
The beautiful towering wooden sculpture called “Ven a La Luz” welcomes guests onto the beach at Ahau Tulum in Mexico.

It’s time to step up your Insta game and snap pictures at some of the best photo spots in Tulum.

Starting in Zona Hotelera (Tulum’s Hotel Zone and home to fancy hotels and resorts for tourists), hunt down the Ven a La Luz (“Raw Love”) sculpture. Created entirely from wood, it stands 30 meters tall and is nicknamed “the woman.”

One you may have seen on travel pages; the “Follow That Dream” sign is located near the Lolita Lolita store, or the colorful city Tulum sign (Letras de Tulum) is also iconic.

Other hot spots include the Giant Hand (at Hun Tulum Hotel), the Wedding Dress Curtain at Pablo Escobar’s former villa, Casa Malca and the ‘I Love Tulum So Matcha’ sign at Matcha Mama.

21 – Take a tasty food tour

food tour in Tulum

Of all the things to do in Tulum, this is the most delicious! You can learn a lot about a place through its food, and Mexican cuisine is a huge part of Tulum’s culture.

Join a food walking tour, stopping to savor unique local flavors along the way. Tuck into street stall tacos, drink fruit juice in the market, and devour some of the best tamales in town.

22 – Discover a secret oasis at Bacalar Lagoon

Bacalar Lagoon, Mexico

The colors of this inland freshwater lagoon have to be seen to be believed. Radiant blues and greens vie for your attention in the dancing sunlight, while soft white sand charms your toes.

Bacalar Lagoon has a laid-back vibe, thanks to being well off the beaten tourist trail. You can laze in hammocks, go kayaking, or sail along the waterway – the choice is yours.

23 – Explore Cenotes Casa Tortuga Tulum

Cenotes Casa Tortuga Tulum, Mexico

If time is of the essence but exploring Tulum’s cenotes is high on your bucket list, visit four cenotes in one go at Cenotes Casa Tortuga Tulum. Go exploring, swimming, and snorkeling at Cenote Wisho, Cenote Bell, Cenote Zapotes, and Cenote Jaguar.

Arriving at the protected park, purchasing an entrance ticket automatically gains you access to a free tour of the four cenotes inside, as well as a life jacket to use. You don’t have to follow the tour group, but it’s recommended for navigating your way through the cenotes so you don’t get lost.

Shrouded in jungle and native fauna, during tours learn about the sacred sites and the surrounding area, and their importance to Mayan culture.

Find easy access into the cenotes or wooden stairways leading you to cenotes further underground. Pose next to cute sculptures around the park and there is a bar here too.

24 – Pedal along tropical trails on a bike tour

bike tour in Tulum

Get on your bike and explore the quiet roads and forest trails around Tulum. You’ll cycle through rural villages giving you the chance to learn more about local Mayan culture and traditions.

Back in the lush jungle, there are secret caves and freshwater cenotes to be discovered. Enjoy a cooling swim in one of the pools as a reward for all your hard work.

25 – Discover art at the unusual SFER IK Museion

SFER IK Museion, Tulum
credit to SFER IK Museion

Calling all creatives and aspiring artists, this is the place to come for a serious dose of inspiration. SFER IK Museion is an interdisciplinary space at Azulik showcasing exhibitions from some of the finest creators in the world.

There are artisanal arts and crafts workshops to try, and you can wander around the unconventional architecture gallery which is whimsy in its truest form!

26 – Discover the Muyil ruins

Mayan pyramid in Muyil, Mexico

Also known as Chunyaxché, the archaeological site of Muyil is the real deal when it comes to temples. The stone pyramids blend in with nature, and you’ll even find some that have been taken over by tree roots.

There are trails to explore, and the chances are you’ll have them to yourself. The complex sits beside the Sian Ka’an lagoon and there’s an observation tower offering superb views.

27 – Dine at the best restaurants in town after long beach days

restaurant in Tulum

Once you’re done exploring ancient ruins or have worked up an appetite from snorkeling and swimming all day, hit up Tulum’s best restaurants.

Happiness and color are the themes at La Coqueta, a much-loved Tulum restaurant specializing in iconic Mexican dishes. Try the Mayan-style fish tacos and toasted octopus, then wash it all down with a margarita or two.

RosaNegra has a glamorous yet rustic feel, and the gourmet food matches the ambiance, with Wagyu beef steaks, giant tiger shrimp, and wild scallops all making an appearance.

The food at Burrito Amor has a conscience. If clean eating and authentic ingredients get your taste buds tingling, you’ll love its healthy dishes, vegan and paleo options.

Hearty portions, the freshest catch and great service are some of the reasons why locals and tourists love seafood restaurant, El Camello Jr. Nothing overly fancy just darn good food!

28 – Whiz through the trees on a zip line

ziplining in Tulum

There’s nothing so freeing as flying through the forest canopy. Luckily, there are several zip lines not far from town, making this one of the easiest yet most adrenaline-inducing things to do in Tulum.

Do you dare to strap into a harness and swing off through the trees like a modern-day Tarzan? On some routes, you can slide over cenotes, and enjoy a dip afterward.

29 – Explore Xcaret Park

Xcaret Park, Cancun, Mexico

The opportunities for fun in the sun are endless at the family-friendly Xcaret Park. There are over 50 natural attractions to discover, so you might need a couple of days here!

Immerse yourself in culture at the folk museums and visit the aquarium for an introduction to Mexico’s marine life. Then marvel at ancient Mayan ruins poking through the forest and head underground to swim in a secret river.

30 – Chill out at the best beach clubs

Playa Paraiso Beach Club, Tulum

A visit to Tulum wouldn’t be complete without a day relaxing at a beach club — enjoy drinks with your feet in the sand and private amenities.

Playa Paraiso Beach Club is one of the hottest postcodes in Mexico when it comes to a beachside setting, with fruity cocktails and bowls of fresh ceviche on hand to keep your energy levels topped up. Get there early to bag your spot.

La Zebra boasts one of the best sea views in town and is a favorite with locals and visitors alike. If you want to take a culinary journey through Mexico, this is a great place to start.

Grab a sunbed under one of the tall palm trees at Ziggy’s Beach Club whether it’s morning, lunch or dinner time. Serving meals for every hour, there are weekly events here, like tequila tasting Tuesdays or live music on Wednesdays.

Incorporating natural aesthetics and elements into its design and philosophy, Mia Tulum is a  trendy spot. Choose beach cabanas, loungers or a proper dining table in the sand, and the menu options pop with color.

31 – Taste the local craft from Cerveza Tulum

Cerveza Tulum, Mexico
credit to Cerveza Tulum

Have you ever drunk a beer that’s been manufactured using seawater? Grab drinks at Cerveza Tulum and taste for yourself when ordering one of their local crafts!

With a keen emphasis on protecting our oceans, this local brewery is all about sustainability — their logo is of the sea turtle after all!

A restaurant has been built inside the brewery where you’re invited to taste their local brews.

But, forget about the usual bar foods. At this brewery, it’s a whole sensory extravaganza and they have also put an emphasis on the plates of food coming out of the kitchen, paying close attention to presentation and flair.

Outside the brewery is one of the popular signs that tourists love taking photos in front of. Done up in oceanic blues and greens, it reads ‘Tulum.’

In the evening, watch the contemporary circus show.

32 – Play a round at the Riviera Maya Golf Club

golfing in Tulum

Have you ever played golf in a jungle?

The immaculate course here has been cleverly integrated into the Mayan forest, and the waterways are real-life cenotes!

Just 15 miles outside Tulum, the Riviera Maya Golf Club is one of the top sporting venues in Mexico. Come here to practice your swing in a rugged setting and enjoy the magnificent views.

33 – Rappel into a cenote

abseiling in Tulum

Be like the explorers of old as you discover the jungles of Yucatán like never before. You’ll be descending cliff faces into hidden caverns, getting up close with the forest foliage, and discovering places few visitors ever see.

Don’t look down as you lower yourself through the canopy using ropes, taking rappelling to a whole new level. The views and the buzz are out of this world.

34 – Go on a bohemian shopping spree

shopping in Tulum

The sleepy boho town of Tulum is a shopper’s dream, with enough independent boutiques and hippie clothing stores to enchant even the freest of spirits.

Inspired by the tropical seas and rustling palm trees, the designers here have infused the very heart of Tulum into their unique creations. Shop for flowing kaftans at Caravana, Mayan-themed jewelry at Caló, and vintage scarves at Josa.

35 – Enjoy a bird’s-eye view from the Tulum Tower

Tulum Tower
credit to Tulum Tower

Challenge the way you see the world with a visit to the Tulum Tower.

Ascend this space-age structure for unsurpassed views of the archaeological ruins and the Mayan Riviera.

Sitting in a seat 35 meters up in the air is certainly one of the more unusual things to do in Tulum. Enjoy the view and get those cameras clicking.

36 – Become entranced at Mystika Immersive

Mystika Immersive, Tulum
credit to Mystika Immersive

Combining technology and Mayan culture, Mystika Immersive is unlike any of the other things to do in Tulum and will mesmerize both young and old.

This sensory experience uses the magic and mystique of life and showcases Mayan culture, ‘Mexico’s most impressive nature sanctuaries,’ and the ‘spiritual power of horses’ through its immersive digital displays.

There are four halls to wander through. They’re titled ‘Sanctuary,’ ‘Maya,’ ‘Ascension’ and ‘Espíritu (Spirit).’ The floor-to-ceiling projections are captivating.

37 – Sip cocktails and craft beers at sunset hour from the best bars

cocktails in Tulum

Tulum is full of charm and naturally, there are some super cool bars around, whether it’s day drinking or evening festivities that you’re in the mood for.

The expertly mixed mojitos at this chilled drinking hole draw thirsty visitors from far and wide. Stick with the old faithful, or be adventurous and try local specialties. Drinks at the Batey Mojito & Guarapo Bar are served from a repurposed VW Beetle.

How epic does a Japanese Mexican fusion sound? See for yourself at NANA Rooftop Bar; specializing in artisanal cocktails —plenty of which are made from mezcal from different surrounding regions.

If you’re hunting down an epic place for sundowners, head straight up to the Ciel Rose Sunset Bar and watch as the sun bursts into shades of pink. Not overly crowded, this romantic spot is great for couples.

38 – Sail into the sunset

sunset sailing tour in Tulum

Head into the balmy evening on board a yacht for one of nature’s most mesmerizing shows. The lush Caribbean coast looks sublime from the water, but the best is yet to come.

Drop anchor in a tranquil lagoon and relax on deck with drinks and a light dinner. Then watch in awe as the sun sinks into the ocean, followed by a celestial sky of stars twinkling above.

39 – Dine and dance at Casa Jaguar

Casa Jaguar, Tulum

Tulum dreams are made of these, and this bar, live music venue and restaurant are what you imagine when conjuring up jungle-esque scenes of the laid-back town.

Opening evenings only, Casa Jaguar is set in the jungle, and it’s always a vibe. Expect craft cocktails, scrumptious plates of tapas-style food, and DJs playing sweet tunes.

Arrive on Thursdays for their famous Jungle Parties or Tuesday night is all about celebrating ‘love through music.’ The ambiance here is everything, and its rustic, wild yet hip setup has been curated beautifully.

40 – Enjoy live music or a show at Casa de la Cultura de Tulum

Casa de la Cultura de Tulum, Mexico

Home to the State Classical Dance Company, State Folk Dance Company and the Youth Symphony Orchestra Of Quintana Roo, Casa de la Cultura de Tulum is a major community cultural center.

Home to live music events, shows, art exhibitions and theater, learn something new during a visit here in person.

There are also dance classes to partake in, as well as other traditional workshops, and special, traditional festivals are often held here too.

How to get to Tulum?

There is no airport in this easy-breezy town, but the nearest one is Cancun International Airport — a 1.5-hour drive away.

After long travel time in the sky, have your transport plans sorted with pre-organized airport transfers. As you touch down and are then ready to leave the airport, exit and your private driver awaits you ready to transport you directly to your accommodation in Tulum.

Travel in comfort in your air-conditioned vehicle and transfers are available back to the airport when your vacation is up.

Where to stay in Tulum?

Azulik villas, Tulum

Ensure your Tulum escape is as dreamy as ever and stay at some of the best hotels, villas and resorts.

One of the most sought-after things to do in Tulum is a stay at the quirky Azulik Villas. This is a place where you can reconnect with nature in a magical coastal setting. The villas themselves are works of art, crafted from sustainable local materials with dreamy beach-chic interiors. Some have a private plunge pool overlooking the ocean, while hammocks and swings come as standard.

Just meters from the ocean, Posada Margherita is one of Tulum’s finest boutique hotels and restaurants. This peaceful sanctuary is your chance to escape from the bustle, where good food and welcoming Italian-inspired hospitality rule.

If there is one option you should book, it’s at the adults-only Hotel Bardo, and the suite with a private pool is simply dreamy. With a distinctive Bohemian flair and an all-white oceanic palette, Una Vida is as aesthetically-pleasing as ever.

Tucked away in the treetops with its own private beach area, outdoor swimming pool, and garden, the Orchid House Tulum boutique hotel is an amazing honeymoon option. The contemporary and sleek units at the Copal Tulum Hotel either feature a private patio, balcony, kitchenette or living room (or all) with room, studio and apartment options to choose from.

The type of stay you see on the cover of travel mags; all of the beachfront cabins, bungalows and villas at Papaya Playa Project will take your breath away. Queue the phenomenal service…

A mix between jungle and island paradise, the thatched roofs of all the rooms at La Valise Tulum add the finishing touches to this already beautiful-designed and well-thought-out beachfront stay.

Where to go next?

Take advantage of the landscapes and adventures in this part of the world and consider exploring the surrounding areas, and there are many other things to do in Riviera Maya.

Ideal for a day-trip option as well, Playa del Carmen is just under a one-hour drive from Tulum. It’s considered slightly fancier than laid-back Tulum with a distinctive resort-town feel. Restaurants and the things to do in Playa del Carmen cater to suit its travelers.

The tropical island of Cozumel lies just off the coast of Playa del Carmen. Renowned for its coral reefs and white beaches, this largely undeveloped oasis is a world away from the bustling mainland. Diving and snorkeling here is superb, while the lush interior entices adventurers looking to explore jungles and ruins.

To reach Tulum you will have to arrive at Cancun International, and so it’s worth it to spend one or two days in Cancún either before or afterward. Renowned for its nightlife, entertainment and beautiful beaches, it’s one of the most popular destinations. Drive just under two hours via car to reach the center of Cancun from Tulum.

Final thoughts

Ready, set and chilllll — that’s what Tulum is truly all about, and travelers always leave feeling rejuvenated by the Mothers of the Ocean and Nature.

What are some of your favorite things to do in Tulum or secret cenotes to explore? Let us know in the comments, we love hearing from our readers.

As always, happy and safe travels.

Heather is a freelance travel copywriter and blogger based in the beautiful English Lake District. She has worked in the travel industry for over 20 years, having enjoyed roles in marketing, sales, content and even as a tour rep abroad. Her writing has appeared in several international publications, and she has partnered with tour operators and hospitality providers across the world to promote their services. Heather can often be found on safari in Kenya, haggling in the Moroccan souks or living the high life in Scottish castles. Back at home, she spends her time camping in the Cumbrian fells and playing the double bass.