Going to Tulum and wondering what are the best things to do? You’re in the right place!
Table of Contents
Quick Rundown on Tulum
Tulum is the fastest-growing and hottest travel destination in Mexico. It’s about 90 minutes south of Cancun, and a completely different experience from its larger counterpart.
It’s more authentic, more natural, not as overbuilt (yet), and has a lot to offer tourists and travelers whatever their travel tastes may be. It’s also closer to some of the best ruin sites on the Yucatan Peninsula.
Tulum is not nearly as big and built up as Cancun, but there’s beauty and elegance in its understatedness. It’s also one of, if not the most Instagrammable places out there. There are great photo ops around seemingly every corner.
Things To Do In Tulum
But, there’s more to do in Tulum than make your Instagram followers jealous.
Tulum has a little of everything: beautiful scenery, beaches, good food, art, and just about anything else your heart may desire. Let’s get into it.
The Mayan ruins in Tulum contain some of the most picturesque views in the area. The ruins sit on the top of a cliff overlooking the ocean, providing some of the most beautiful and unique views among all the Mayan ruin sites.
Don’t forget to take some sunscreen because there isn’t much shade and the sun is strong there. The ruins are accessible by taxi or walking if you don’t mind a bit of a long walk.
Walk the Beach
Speaking of long walks, Tulum Beach is a beautiful stretch of coastline with plenty of stops for refreshments and nourishment. The scenery is great, and the water is perfect all year round (unless it’s hurricane season, of course).
Go for a swim, get in some body surfing, and talk to the other stunningly attractive people who frequent the Tulum Beach scene. Don’t forget to stop for pictures. As I mentioned before, photo ops are plentiful.
Get a Cabana At a Beach Club
Taboo Tulum is probably the most famous and noteworthy of the beach clubs, but there are plenty to choose from. Ziggy’s, La Zebra, and The Mulberry Project also qualify as lovely places to stop for a drink or a bite to eat during your beach visit.
The prices for food and drinks are steep to be sure, but don’t let the minimum spending requirement scare you out of getting a cabana or day bed. At those prices, the minimum is quite easy to reach.
The food is high quality and delicious. Enjoying this cuisine and a few cocktails beachside is part of the Tulum experience.
Enjoy the Nightlife
Tulum is famous for its party scene. Many of the beach clubs offering cabanas during the day turn into vibrant nightclub scenes when the sun goes down. The music gets louder, the drinks get stronger, and the inhibitions set with the sun.
If wild nightlife is your thing, you’ll have an unforgettable time in Tulum. By the beach, you’ll hear a lot of top 40, house music, and EDM, even some live music covers. If you venture into town though you’ll be able to find some bars where people are dancing to more authentic Latin music.
This unique spot along Tulum Beach is billed as a creative exhibition. I couldn’t have put it better myself, as I’ve never seen anything quite like it.
First off, it’s difficult to find, even with Google Maps. I walked past its entrance once in either direction before finally discovering it.
Once inside, you’ll be briefed on the rules, no shoes, no professional camera equipment, and no noise. Pay the surprisingly high 200 pesos fee (about $10), keep your voice down, and enjoy the artistic offerings of Sfer Ik.
Visual and architectural artists transform the spherical interior of Sfer Ik into something that makes it feel like an exterior. Its uniqueness beckons visitors inside to marvel at the creativity.
The ruins at Coba are about an hour away from Tulum and are worth the trip out. Chichen Itza is certainly a sight to behold, but if you want something less touristy, more natural, and less restored, the ruins at Coba are for you!
Once you enter the grounds, you’ll have a few options for exploring the premises. You can walk, of course, but the pathways are sprawling and it can wear on you especially if it’s hot.
You can also rent a bicycle for a few dollars to ride around and see the ruins at your own pace. Or, the option I recommend is to take their offered transportation, which is something like a rickshaw.
You sit in the back and get rolled around by a driver who is pedaling. The cost is $5 and is worth every penny. Since you’re not driving, you can take in the scenery. You’ve also got a photographer along for the ride. The drivers are used to it and are happy to take your picture. Don’t get stingy at the end of the ride, throw them a little extra. It makes a difference.
Ven a la Luz
One of Tulum’s most recognizable landmarks is the Ven a la Luz sculpture, brought into existence by Daniel Potter. The sculpture used to sit on the beachfront entrance of the Ahau Tulum resort.
Now, it’s the centerpiece of a sculpture garden right outside the resort. It costs a few dollars to get in, and the line can get long, but it’s worth it if you want to take your picture with a great piece of art and part of Tulum’s allure.
Admire the Art Displays
One of the great things about Tulum is the art scene. Not only are there some great galleries to stop in, but there are also a lot of street artists too. Some of them are peddling similar products, but once in a while, something will catch your eye that you may want to roll up and take home with you.
It’s also easy to catch temporary exhibitions and pop-up art shows in Tulum. Art With Me, for example, is a yearly art and culture spectacle that is in Tulum every spring and provides immersive art displays and fun activities.
If you’re in Tulum during Art With Me, it’s a can’t-miss!
Try Local Taco Joints
If you love tacos (and who doesn’t?!) then this will be the icing on your Tulum cake. Tulum has the best taco offerings anywhere outside of Mexico City. You’ll find some delicious but pricey ones at the restaurants and beach clubs along the shore, sure.
For the real authentic Mexican taco experience though, head into the town of Tulum and try some of the local taco joints. On the corner of the main highway and Calle Geminis Sur, you’ll find a selection of food trucks offering tacos and other local delights like fresh churros.
This is about as authentic of a Mexican food experience as one can have. The food is delicious and the prices are low. You can get three tacos al pastor for 30 pesos (about $1.50). Money well spent!
Is Tulum Pricey?
If you’re thinking about a trip to the Yucatan Peninsula and deciding between cities, you’ve probably wondered if Tulum is overly expensive. While it can be, don’t let that stop you from choosing it as your destination.
If you stay in town, close to the southwest end, and eat around town as much as possible, you can save a lot of money. Lodging, food, and drinks along Tulum Beach is pricey, so if you’re looking to save a few bucks, utilize the nearby Tulum pueblo. It’s much more affordable.
Tulum or Cancun?
If you’re trying to decide between Tulum and Cancun, here are a few things to consider. Cancun is bigger and far more accessible due to the airport being right there, and Tulum being over an hour away.
If you’re looking for a more authentic Mexican vacation though, Tulum will be the way to go. Cancun may have some of the prettiest beaches in the world, but its large resorts and busy streets give it the feel of just another city.
The landscape in Tulum is far more indicative of a tropical destination that many desire. The buildings are smaller and more in tune with the nature around it.
When deciding between Tulum and Cancun, it will depend on what kind of vacation you’re looking for. If you’re looking for an all-inclusive vacation catered totally towards tourists and convenience, Cancun may be for you.
If you’re looking for a more unique and authentic experience, check out Tulum. You won’t regret it.
Summing Up Things To Do In Tulum
Tulum has a lot to offer. Whatever your tastes are, you’ll be able to find things to do in Tulum that will leave you with the sweet taste of a great vacation. Whichever of our things to do you decide to partake in, take pictures, soak it up, and create memories.
That’s what traveling is all about after all, right? Have fun out there!