Tulum has become one of the most popular tourist destination in the past years. With its white sandy beaches, lush jungles, cool blue cenotes and relaxed hippy-chic vibe, there is plenty of things to do.
Tulum is located approximately 2 hours from the Cancun airport and about an hour from Playa Del Carmen. It is relatively easy to get to from the airport and there are various modes of transportation you can use to get there. We were recently in Mexico for one of my best friends wedding and I could not give up the opportunity to visit Tulum. Bloggers paradise indeed.
Tulum has two main areas one would want to stay in: the town itself, and the beach road – a long, straight road with jungle on one side and the beach on the other. We ended up staying closer to the town and had to take a taxi to get to the beach strip.
I will have a separate blog post about where to stay, how to get there, where to eat etc. For this one, I wanted to highlight the top things to do while in Tulum.
1. Visit One of the many Cenotes
Cenotes are a deep, water-filled sinkhole in limestone that are created when the roof of an underground cavern collapses. Cenotes tend to have very clear, cool, fresh water. There are about 5,000 cenotes in and around the Tulum area however the best and most popular ones are the Gran Cenote and Dos Ojos.
When visiting the cenotes, below are the things I would recommend you should bring.
- Natural Sunscreen
- Cash for entrance. The fees are around 100-200 pesos per person depending on which Cenote you visit. Some cenotes will also offer lifejackets if you are not a good swimmer, but you will have to tip the person at the stand.
TIP: Go early in the morning if you want to get the best photos without the crowds.
2. Visit the Jungle Ruins at Coba
If you don’t want to go all the way to Chichen Itza, which can be quite the trip, you can visit the Coba ruins. Though they are slightly less popular than Chichen Itza, I think the Coba ruins make for a much more enjoyable day trip from Tulum.
It is about a 45 min walk through the jungle to get to the main pyramid but you can also bike through it. The bike rentals are 45 pesos / $2.40 for a bike rental.
Once you get to the main pyramid, you can also climb all the way to the top. The climb is pretty steep but very doable. The scariest part for me was coming back down. I would not recommend to climb it if you are not wear running shoes. If you are not, then you should go barefoot.
3. Rent a Daybed at a Beach Club
One of my favorite things I did in Tulum was renting a daybed on the beach.
You pretty much have it all day, right on the sand, drinks and food served right to you with the beautiful view of the water. What can be better than that? After all the sightseeing and walking, it was nice to just relax on the beach.
There are plenty of beach clubs in Tulum but the one we ended up going to was Ziggy’s Beach. For just $50, you can rent one of the daybeds which fits 2 people. Also, if you spend $50 at the restaurant, this counts towards the daybed price. We ended up having lunch at Ziggys and were all able to get daybeds.
Other beach clubs you can choose from are VILLA PESCADORES, BE TULUM,THE NEST and last but not the least, PAPAYA PLAYA PROJECT – one of the most popular and highly recommended. Papaya Playa also has full moon rave parties every Saturday night so if you are into that type of music, you should check it out at night too.
4. Sip on Mojitos at Bateys
Tulum’s nightlife is pretty fun and there are plenty of vibrant bars to go to. Although we were tired from hanging out in the sun day-drinking, we made it a point to check out the nightlife for atleast one night. We headed into town to check out some of the bars. One of my favorites was the Mojita bar, Batey. Here you’ll find live music in the evenings and crowds spilling into the streets with their fancy tropical drinks in their hands.
You can even watch the bartenders press the sugarcane for your mojito! Mojitos go for about 120 pesos ($6.30) and are 100% worth it. It is really hard to get a table to sit at, but who wants to sit while you are having fun?
5. Shop at the Boutique Stores
Fashionistas, bloggers and window shoppers, you will love the many boutique vendors that sell hippie-inspired wear in Tulum. No wonder why shopping is one of the most popular things to do in Tulum. If you do plan to shop, be prepared to pay for western prices.
There are several clusters of popular shops along Tulum’s south beach road, you can just walk or bike the road and stop along the way. Surprisingly for me, I did not end up being anything in Tulum. I guess I’ve gotten to the point where I have realized I can buy pretty much everything on the internet for 50% cheaper. Also, I’m over souvenirs.
6. Rent a Bike and Ride Along the Town
While there are no shortage of things to do, the annoying part about being in Tulum is trying to figure out how to get to places. We were lucky enough to have two Spanish-speaking friends amongst us so we were always able to communicate with the cab drivers. If you want to avoid having to take cabs, you can bike. This is a much more fun and affordable way to get around Tulum. Nearly every hotel in town will rent you bikes, and there are several bike paths in Tulum that make biking an easy way to get around. Bicycle rentals are around 100 pesos per day. Some hotels and air b n bs even offer free bikes.
7. Take a Photo at the TULUM Sign
Okay, I have to admit, this is the most touristy things you could possibly do! But look how cute this sign is? It was like begging us to take a photo with it.
This sign is located in the main square in the center of town. This is also the area where the mojito bar, Batey is located in. There are also several amazing local taco shops here that are just a must try compared to the fancy, overpriced food at the main beach strip.
8. Happy Hour Drinks at the ICE SCREAM BAR
While we were walking along the long strip of restaurants and bars looking for a bar that apparently had a cenote running through it, we stopped at the ICE SCREAM BAR. It is nothing fancy or anything. But when a bunch of people are screaming ICE SCREAM BAR! ICE SCREAM BAR, it is hard to not check it out. Well it was after dinner time and I was looking for some dessert. I couldn’t tell if they were trying to say they have ice cream? At least, that’s why I stopped! Turns out, they were saying “ I SCREAM” not ICE CREAM. Anyways, this turned out to be a fun and lively bar with great music and relatively affordable drinks. I did find out that they do serve ice cream as well but were all out for the night. My luck of course. Eat some local food
9. Eat Some Local Food
My absolute favorite part about travelling is eating local. Having recently moved from San Diego to Connecticut, I already started to miss the amazing Mexican food I was spoiled by in San Diego. So, I was super excited to be reunited with some great street tacos. TACOS TACOS TACOS. All kinds of tacos and everything was so yummy. We did get a little tired of Mexican food at one point and ended up going to some overpriced thai restaurant that was not worth it. But, that’s another blog for where to eat in Tulum.
Also another great thing that I must mentioned about Tulum is all the delicious fresh fruit, smoothie bowls, and the numerous vegan restaurants. Like I said before, bloggers paradise!
10. Check out the AZULIK hotel
If you’ve seen Tulum on Instagram, it is probably either of someone on these amazing hanging nets or someone with a matcha drink or a vegan smoothie bowl. Well, the AZULIK hotel definitely lived up to its hype. We went straight from the beach at around 5pm right when it was about to open. And boy was it already crowded. People were flocking in their pretty white linen Instagram worthy clothes while there was us, in our shorts and beach cover ups… smelling like sweat…
We didn’t get to watch much of the sunset because our group was huge and there wasn’t a good spot we could sit at without having to pay for a table. But we did get to all take some pictures on the famous “hanging nets”. Very cool architectures and a very cool concept. The drinks are overpriced, but worth the splurge for one drink if you are going to stop in. Also, it is pretty much a ghost town in there once it gets dark. If you do stay after the sunset, bring some bug spray because it’s dinner time for mosquitoes too!