Best Things to Do in Tulum: Attractions & Bohemian Vibes

Beneath the filters and flair, Tulum Mexico has a trove of flashy beach bars, pristine white sand beaches, cenotes, and ancient Mayan ruins. The UNESCO World Heritage Site sets the stage, while natural sinkholes paint a canvas on the landscape. The scuba diving is decent near Tulum too as is the wildlife in places like Punta Laguna Nature Reserve.

Tulum Ruins

When visiting Tulum and Riviera Maya, it’s a given that the Tulum ruins will be a focal point. And it’s no tourist trap—these ancient Mayan ruins from between the 6th and 15th centuries were once a sacred ground, revering the Descending God and serving as a pivotal trade hub for the Mayas.

Don’t expect the grandiosity of Chichen Itza; what makes these ruins special is their perch overlooking the azure Caribbean Sea. And remember, this archaeological marvel is snugly housed in the Tulum National Park—a rare conserved space in the tourist-thronged stretch between Cancun and Tulum.

While roaming this archaeological site, keep an eye on the robust walls and watchtowers, bearing silent witness to ages gone by. The Castillo stands majestically against the sea backdrop, which, besides being an architectural marvel, aided ancient mariners to sidestep the expansive coral reef. The Temple of the Frescoes: a visual treat with its plethora of paintings, engravings, and sculptures. Several other structures like the Temple of the Descending GodHouse of the Columns, and House of the Cenote, each have their own tale.

Once you’ve had your fill of history, descend to the beach of the ruins. It’s a unique spot to laze by the Caribbean Sea and gaze up at the ancient ruins from a refreshing angle—yes, that’s part of your entrance ticket!

A few practicalities: The site’s doors swing open from 8:00 to 17:00, with the last call at 16:00. To waltz in, part with 90 pesos (and yes, they prefer cash). For the locals, there are discounts and free days, so do check ahead. While guides offer their expertise, the bilingual signs will suffice for many.

Navigating to the ruins from Tulum Pueblo? It’s a quick 10-minute jaunt by car or hop on a collectivo near the 7-Eleven on Carretera Federal 307. If you’re setting out from Playa del Carmen, the ADO bus is your chariot (choose the “Tulum archeological zone” as your stop). From the bus stop to the ruins’ entrance, brace yourself for a short trek (700m), or save some energy and opt for the quaint train (for a small fee).


These natural freshwater pools might seem like regular swimming holes to the uninitiated. Still, to the Mayas, they held profound significance, serving as portals bridging the realms of the living and the underworld. The Yucatan Peninsula is teeming with these, each with its unique charm and character. While many are family-friendly and suitable for even the tentative swimmers, a select few beckons only the seasoned divers.

Two that undoubtedly top popularity charts are the Gran Cenote and Cenote Dos Ojos. But if you’re seeking serenity away from the tourist buzz, perhaps Cenote Cristal, Nicte-Ha and Calavera might be up your alley. There, you can savor nature in its rawest form.


Some of the most mesmerizing coastlines dot the Yucatan Peninsula. Picture this: soft, sun-kissed sands underfoot, tranquil and crystal-clear waters, and an ambiance that screams ‘paradise’.

Caleta Tankah

If you’re in Tulum and haven’t heard whispers about sargassum, consider yourself fortunate. But fear not, Tankah Beach guarantees an uninterrupted experience since this nuisance seaweed doesn’t dare encroach here. This quaint Tulum beach club, tucked away from the usual tourist trails, comes complete with dining options, loungers, umbrellas, and hammocks. Best part? A serene cove facing the Caribbean Sea awaits. And if that’s not enough, a mere 164 ft from the beach, a cenote set amidst the jungle promises crystalline waters and an unmatched tranquility.

Tankah sits a mere 10 minutes (or 6 km) from central Tulum. Upon arrival, prepare for a short 0.3-mile walk. Entrance is priced at 300$MXN and encompasses the perks of sun loungers and umbrellas. What’s more, you’re not obligated to make any purchases, and parking is on the house.

Playa Ruinas

Fair warning, early birds definitely catch the worm here—or in this case, a peaceful beach experience. As an immensely popular spot, crowds can get dense rather quickly at the Tulum Ruins Beach. But what’s the fuss about? It’s not just a beautiful beach but an opportunity to seamlessly blend historical exploration with laid-back relaxation. And yes, you’ll encounter iguanas, but fear not—they’re docile, though it’s wise to keep a respectful distance. If you’re itching for a unique perspective, consider a boat ride departing from the beach. Not only will it afford a new angle of the ruins, but the reef beckons snorkelers with its vibrant marine life.

Playa Paraiso

Barely a kilometer from the ruins and nestled within the Tulum National Park is the aptly named Paradise Beach. Whether you’re keen on snorkeling or capturing the perfect snapshot with Tulum’s iconic leaning palm tree, this spot doesn’t disappoint.

Playa Las Palmas

Adjacent to Playa Paraiso, Las Palmas Beach charms visitors with its easy accessibility from downtown Tulum. It’s a haven for adrenaline junkies, offering prime conditions for kitesurfing and windsurfing. But even if extreme water sports aren’t your thing, the spread of cafes, restaurants, and hotels ensures everyone finds their groove when they visit Tulum. Be ready to part with 250 pesos for parking, though.

Playa Xcacel

This pristine white-sand at at Xcacel Beach isn’t just your everyday coastal hangout. Once, it was a vast protected natural reserve, a tapestry of palms and mangroves. Between May and October, the sands here come alive, bearing witness to sea turtles as they choose this spot to nest. And if you’re around between September and late November, partake in the wondrous act of releasing baby turtles into the vast blue. And hey, for the aqua adventurers, there’s a coral reef merely 50m off the beach and a shipwreck lying a bit to the south. A real treat, if you ask me!

Entrance charges stand as follows: foreigners at 105 pesos, nationals at 51 pesos, and the Quintana Rooenses get a sweeter deal at 35 pesos. A head’s up though – it’s quite the natural spot, meaning you won’t find commercial services like eateries or bars. And plan your day, because by 5:30 pm, it’s lights out.

Want directions? From Tulum, a bus ride of about 20 minutes along Highway 307 should get you there. The colectivo option is pretty nifty too. Just hop on one from the 7-Eleven on 307 and it’ll cost you a mere 30 pesos. But, and this is crucial, let your driver know beforehand to drop you off at Xcacel—specifically, the beach access side.


Let’s talk about sustainable exploration. Biking in Tulum isn’t just eco-friendly; it’s downright convenient. Granted, the sun can be a bit of a scorcher, especially in the summer months. So, slap on that sunscreen and arm yourself with hydration. Many hotels here are bike-friendly, offering guests their own set of wheels. But if that doesn’t apply to you, fret not. Tulum town is dotted with bike rental outlets, and a regular bike typically costs around 250MXN for a day. If you’re feeling a tad futuristic, electric bikes are up for grabs at 550MXN.

Keen on some popular routes? A bike lane stretching a bit over 3 km takes you right to the end of Avenida Coba. From there, pedal your way to Gran Cenote and keep moving along the same path (that’d be Highway 109 to Coba) to reach cenotes like Zacil-Ha and Carwash. And guess what? Both the ruins of Tulum and Playa Paraiso are a breezy 15-minute bike ride from the heart of the city.

Feeling ambitious? From Tulum, Muyil ruins are about 1h15 away. The Coba ruins would be a 2h30 ride, and the ever-popular Cenote Dos Ojos sits about 1h10 out.