Heading to Tulum? Amazing, there is no shortage of gorgeous views, fun activities, and delicious food that awaits you. Tulum is one of those places that just begs you to visit with it’s silky sand beaches, boho-chic vibes, and crystal clear centoes.
Here’s a quick list of some spots to visit, and two amazing *affordable* stays I highly recommend booking!
Swim in Cenotes :
One of the best things to do while visiting Tulum, is to jump into a cenote. Bonus these two are biking distance from Tulum Town!
A Cenote is essentially a sinkhole that you can swim in. There are over 6,000 in the Yucatán Peninsula, of Mexico and I had the pleasure of swimming in two.
Referred to as skull cenote or skull cave, because its shape takes the form of a skull face- two small holes for the eyes and one large hole for the mouth. You can enter through all three.
I rode a bike from my stay in Tulum town, it was about a 1.5-mile ride, and took 20 minutes. Take Av Coba all the way there, you will see a sign on your right that says “cenote”. It is on the highway, so be cautious of cars zooming by. I was alone and felt totally safe doing this, if you don’t take a taxi.
This is one of the busier cenotes in Tulum, because it’s so close to town and quite unique. Calavera is deep and dark inside, you must be able to swim or at least tread water, as there are no areas where you can reach the bottom.
The surrounding property is beautiful, you can lay out and catch some rays after taking a dip. They also have a crepe snack bar set up. It was 250 pesos to enter.
This was another popular cenote to visit, because of its location being so close to town. I biked to Grand Cenote after Cenote Calavera, it was just over a mile further down the road. This cenote was quite a bit bigger and busier than the other.
This beauty consisted of a few caves, caverns, and open-air cenotes connected by wooden boardwalks and surrounded by lush greens. Make sure to rent snorkel gear, to catch a glimpse of what’s happening below the surface.
It was 180 pesos to get in, and an additional 80 peso to rent snorkel gear. They will hold your ID as collateral for your rentals.
Here are some things you should know before heading to a cenote:
- You will pay a fee to enter, most are cash only.
- There may be an additional fee for certain cameras.
- They get busy quick, get there as early as you can!
- Don’t spray bug spray, apply sunscreen or body lotion before, it will harm the wildlife.
- Rinse off before you enter, there are showers on site.
- You may bring your own, or rent snorkel gear and life jackets.
The Tulum Archaeological Zone is home to one of the most beautiful ancient Mayan cities in Mexico, thanks to its location overlooking the vast and vivid Caribbean Sea.
They say this ancient site was home to priests and nobility, while peasants were kept outside. The tallest pyramid was used as a watch tower, to see invaders coming by boat.
Enjoy the warm air, palm trees, and informative plaques while roaming the grounds. Visit Tulum Ruins Beach, along the coastline. Just climb down the stairs- open depending on tides.
The best time of day to visit the Tulum ruins is early in the morning, before the loads of buses and tours arrive. You can buy your ticket there as I did, or buy a cut the line pass if you don’t plan on going first thing.
There were many places to sign up for tours, if you want to learn a little more. They also offer boat tours that will take you out in front of the ruins to snorkel, and catch a different view, without the crowds.
Cost is 7 pesos to enter. Plan on spending a few hours here. If you are hungry afterwards there are plenty of restaurants, shops and vendors to enjoy.
Rent a bike:
This city was not meant for the amount of cars, and people it attracts every year, hence the traffic. Thankfully, it’s a very bike friendly place.
Biking around town also give you the flexibility to go at your own pace, stopping to shop or explore when you please.
Pedaling around Tulum is a great way to explore the city, while saving a buck. Most bike rentals in Tulum range from 100-200 pesos a day!
There is a bike friendly lane that goes from Tulum Town to Hotel Zone, it takes about 20 minutes. If you are wanting to head all the way down hotel zone (to the instagramable spots, it’s quite a bit further).
Beware of the potholes, pedestrians, and taxis while biking!
Where to stay:
There is two different area to consider when booking your stay in Tulum. Tulum Town, and Tulum beach, or the Hotel Zone.
When you think of visit Tulum, you probably think of the beachfront bungalow overlooking the turquoise waters, being served fruit platters, and champagne. Well, it’s definitely an option, but all that comes with a pretty steep price tag. Some of the popular beach front rentals go for $1,000+ US dollars per night.
Then there’s Tulum Town, a trendy little growing city with everything at your door step. It’s a lot more affordable to stay in town. But don’t worry it’s still close enough to the beach, that if you choose to stay here, you’ll get your beach fix!
I split my time in Tulum between Town and Hotel Zone. In town I had a cute apartment, with the most welcoming host. I loved having all the shops and restaurants within a short walk of my Airbnb.
Then there was nothing better than waking up beachfront in a beautiful bungalow (that didn’t break the bank). This hotel was magical with an incredible restaurant on site, and an open air shower that’s sure to wash and remaining worry away.
Split your time however you please, I’m just here to share the insight!
From the boho-chic restaurant’s, to the food trucks.. Tulum has some of the most delicious bites and beverages.
- El Pescador -Amazing atmosphere, food, and drinks.
- La Coqueta – Best tacos ever!
- Mariachi Loco – Cute space, friendly staff, yummy food, good for groups.
- Prieto – Acai, smoothies, and brunch.
- La Tulumeña -Hotel restaurant, garden seating, tasty treats.
- Raw Love – Vegan cafe with the best açaí bowls.
- La Malinche – Art and food
- Ziggy’s – Beach club and restaurant.
- Casa Maria – If you stay at the beachfront bungalow, this restaurant is on site and AMAZING!
Just over two hours from Tulum lives one of newest named seven wonders of the world, Chichen Itzá. The Mayan city dates back to as easy as 550AD, and once operated as the ceremonial center of the ancient civilization.
While El Castillo (also known as the Temple of Kukulcan) gets most of the attention, some travelers are surprised to find the site has much more to offer. Sprawling temples adorned with intricate stone carvings, and forests leading to crumbling ruins. This site has acres and acres of land to be explored.
There are a few ways to go about visit Chichén Itzá from Tulum. You can join a tour (let them deal with all the tickets and logistics), public transit, or you can rent a car.
I ended up booking this tour last minute, and it was the best decision. Alejandra picked us up early, and got us in before the crowds arrived, she fed us delicious authentic food from local friends, and even stopped a cenote on the way home! Alejandra was highly educated, and very personable, I couldn’t recommend a better tour guide! Click here to book this tour, or check them out at @kaeruprivatetours on instagram.
If you are currently in Tulum, or planning a trip there, I hope this post gives you some insight on sights you can’t miss! Feel free to reach out on instagram @brittanymassey or email me email@example.com with any questions.
If Tulum is your dream paradise, but you don’t yet have a passport check out my Puerto Rico blog post! A paradise within the US that has beautiful beaches, culture, and amazing hikes!