From sacred sinkholes to boho beach clubs, don't miss out on these 21 things to do, see, and eat while in Tulum.
There’s something magical about Tulum, one of Central America’s most sought-after beach destinations. Sure, it boasts the coveted title of being a Pueblo Magico (Magic Town) of Mexico; however, beyond the title and accolades, there lies auric energy that seemingly surrounds the region. Some believe it’s the after-effects of the asteroid that struck the earth 66 million years ago, in this very area, leading to the extinction of dinosaurs. Myth or magic? You be the judge.
However, one thing that is undeniable about this charming town is the richness of Mayan history, its resplendent beaches, lush jungles, and a food scene that will have you coming back to Tulum for seconds and thirds. Here are some of the best things to do in Tulum during your visit.
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Come for the Beach, Stay for the Food
Tulum is a place that epicurean dreams are made of. From street tacos to molecular gastronomy and everything in between, Tulum is a foodie destination that will surely satiate the tastes of all palates. Kick off your day with a delicious breakfast at Tamarindo’s, Del Cielo, or Raw Love; or if you want a side of breath-taking ocean views to go with your avocado toast, check out Real Coconut Kitchen. If you prefer something a little lighter, Los Bowls de Guadalupe serves up power-packed smoothies and smoothie bowls. For lunch, you can refuel after a morning of explorations at Mateo’s Mexican Grill, which claims to have the “best fish tacos on Earth” or if you’re in the mood for Tex Mex, Burrito Amor is your place. Try the sauces! All of them! You also can’t go wrong with the shrimp tacos or hummus at Loco Tulum.
Book a Beachfront Stay at NEST
From glamping in the jungle to crashing in a shipping container, you’ll find some pretty unique places to stay in Tulum. However, if you’re looking for a beach-chic boutique hotel with minimalistic vibes and maximum contemporary comfort, this is your place. Located on the beach road, NEST Tulum is comprised of 12 luxurious rooms with the beach as its backyard. Step out your door and feel your toes meld into the satiny sands. Spend sun-soaked days lounging under a cabana while being served refreshing mezcal margaritas, a cool respite from the heat.
Balance Your Blocked Chakras
Tulum is a city all about health and wellness. Whether you are firmly rooted in holistic healing or simply intrigued by its mysticism, you will be spoilt for choice for alternative therapies found in Tulum that bring balance and delight mentally, physically, and emotionally. Get your chakras balanced during a chakra harmonizing ceremony at NEST Tulum. Here, practitioners use energy healing modalities such as sound, color, and magnets to help release stagnant energy and to balance and align your chakras, all while the sounds of the ocean serve as a serene soundtrack for your session.
Experience an Ancient Temazcal Ceremony
Temazcal ceremonies have been around for thousands of years in Mexican and South American cultures. However, what was once a sacred ceremony and cleansing ritual that took place pre and post battles, has now gained popularity in the modern day due to its purported healing powers and benefits. So, what is it exactly? It is a purification ceremony that takes place in a sweat lodge, resembling an igloo-shaped hut. You will be guided, often by a shaman or temazcalero, on a spiritual journey that typically involves lots of steam and herbs, chanting, singing, and drumming. The healing properties and benefits are thought to cleanse the mind, body, and spirit of toxins and impurities.
Float Down Sian Ka'an
Sian Ka’an is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the largest protected area in the Mexican Caribbean. Sian Ka’an translates to “Origin of the Sky” or “Where the Heavens were Born,” and once you visit here, you’ll see why. This magical biosphere is 1.2 million acres of unspoiled nature where you can’t tell where the sky ends and the ocean begins. It contains mangroves and marshes and verdant tropical forests. The biosphere is home to hundreds of flora and fauna and is one of Mexico’s most magnificent natural wonders. Avoid the crowds and book an early-morning boat tour so that you’re able to take a gentle float along the river.
Delight in 20 Peso Tacos at Taquería Honorio
You can’t come to Mexico and skip out on street tacos. It’s almost a right of passage. When in Tulum, the best spot for delicious street tacos is Taquería Honorio. It’s a no-frills local eatery where the tacos will only set you back 20 pesos (approximately $1). The cochinita pibil and poc chuc tacos are must-tries, but you will also find vegetarian options on the menu. The lines are long, but worth the wait! Get there early though, because they often sell out of food by 1 p.m.
Get Grounded While Floating With SUP Yoga
From beachside sessions to open-air rooftop studios, you will find yoga classes on offer around every corner in Tulum. But, have you ever tried the downward-facing dog position while floating on a board in the middle of a body of water? No? Well in Tulum, you can add a little pizzazz to your sun salutations and vinyasa flow during a standup paddleboard (SUP) yoga session. This challenging yet calming practice allows you to be able to experience the beauty of nature all while finding balance and peace of the mind, body, and spirit.
Rent a Bicycle
One of the best and most affordable ways to get around Tulum is by bicycle. Many hotels and rental properties offer free usage or charge a nominal fee. You can also find tons of rental shops around town with rental rates that range from 100-500 pesos per day (approximately $5-$25USD). Not only is it more affordable than hailing a taxi, but it’s also fun to feel the breeze on your skin as you’re pedaling your way around town.
Explore the Mysteries of Mexico's Cenotes
While in Tulum, you must invariably explore and experience the mysticism and beauty of cenotes. These archeological sites are fresh-water-filled sinkholes that developed due to collapsed limestone. There are over 6,000 cenotes in the Yucatán Peninsula that range from underground caves, to expansive lake-like lagoons, all beckoning to be explored. One of the most popular cenotes in Tulum is Gran Cenote, which is just a short 15-minute drive from Tulum. This open-air cenote boasts crystal-clear waters and is surrounded by caves and caverns perfect for diving and snorkeling. Cenote Choo-Ha is one of three cenotes located near the ancient Mayan ruins at Coba. This cenote is a smaller, underground cenote filled with stalactites and stalagmites. Cenote Dos Ojos (Two Eyes) is about 30 minutes northeast of Tulum and is also great for diving. If you don’t want to travel too far, you will find Yaxchen, a large lake-like cenote right on the beach road. Rent a car and explore them at your own leisure, or hire a tour guide or taxi to transport you to and fro.
Enjoy a Quiet Getaway From the Crowds at Laguna Kaan Luum
Laguna Kaan Luum is a quiet getaway from the crowds and is possibly one of Tulum’s best-kept secrets. If you’re looking for an alternative or an addition to visiting cenotes, add Laguna Kaan Luum to the list. The lagoon is actually a large cenote itself but with far fewer crowds and crystal clear waters that transform into a beautiful deep blue color as the depth of the water changes. Plunge from the pier into the waist-deep waters, or hang out in the hammocks and swings just taking it all in.
Hang Out on the Beach, But in Style
Naturally, one of the best things to do in Tulum is hang out on the beach. You can certainly spend languid days at Playa Paraíso, one of Tulum’s popular public beaches, but why not kick the experience up a notch and enjoy those blissful beaches from the chic comforts of a beach club? Tulum’s sandy shores are lined with gorgeous beach clubs where you can rent a daybed or cabana for the day and vibe out with delicious food and drinks in an idyllic setting. Some beach clubs have free entrance while others may have an entrance fee and/or a minimum spend ranging anywhere from $10 USD to $160 USD. The higher price points typically give you access to pools, spa areas, restaurants, and other facilities. Some of the most popular beach clubs are Papaya Playa Project, Ziggy’s Beach Club, Nomade Tulum, NEST Tulum, Coco Tulum, and Selina Beach Club, to name a few.
Breakaway From the Beach and Go Into Downtown
Tulum is not all jungle and beach. It’s actually divided into two areas considered playa (beach) and pueblo (town). Break away from the beach and spend some time in town where you’ll find a bustling area that gives you the local flavor of Tulum, still with some of those beach road boho vibes woven in between. Pop into the local shops, dine at some of the local eateries, and save a few coins in the process, as prices in town are often far less than those on the beach road.
Dine at One of the Only Woman-Owned Restaurants in Tulum
WILD Tulum is not just another restaurant in the jungle; it is one of the only woman-owned restaurants in Tulum. Dim mood lighting complemented by lush vegetation and heady scents of copal, WILD Tulum creates a serene and seductive atmosphere perfect for a romantic evening or a night out with friends. Order a la carte or experience the robustness of the menu with a nine-course tasting menu with culinary creations inspired by cuisines around the world. Be sure to try WILD’s signature experimental cocktails, like the Hayaté and No Mames!
Get Those Insta-worthy Shots
From the lush jungle vibes to the pristine beaches, turquoise waters, and stunning nature-inspired architecture, Tulum is full of Instagram-worthy photo ops. Make your way down the beach road and you’ll be sure to stumble upon some of the most Instagrammable spots in Tulum where you can recreate your own version of all those epic Tulum photos you have saved in your phone. Start towards the beginning of the hotel zone on the beach road at Mia Restaurant & Beach Club for a snapshot in front of its remarkable, wooden-fanned entrance. Make your way down a little further to Ahau Tulum for an iconic shot in front of the Ven a la Luz (Come into the Light) art installation. Down the road, you will stumble upon Matcha Mama and their Insta-famous swings. Don’t blink or you may miss this small roadside hut. Just a little bit further down the road, you will be reminded to Follow That Dream with the sign just in front of Lolita Lolita Boutique Tulum.
Visit the Tulum Ruins
Poised on the craggy cliffs overlooking the Caribbean, a trip to the Tulum Ruins is a must. This ruin is one of the very few walled cities built by the Maya and the only Maya settlement located on the beach. The ruins are one of the most popular sites in Tulum, so get there early to avoid the crowds. Be sure to bring your bathing suits, so after a day of exploration you can dive into the refreshing waters of the Caribbean and take in the ruin views from the sea.
Another incredible ruin to visit while in Tulum are the Cobá ruins. Until recently, you were still able to climb to the top of the ruins; however, due to COVID-19, this has been suspended.
Try Your Hand at Kitesurfing
For the adrenaline junkies and water sport enthusiasts, catch a breeze and surf the seas on a kitesurfing adventure. Given its winds, weather, and water temperatures, Tulum is a paradise for kitesurfing. While basking on the beaches of Tulum, you’ll see dozens of colorful kites breezing through the skies with surfers suspended in the air above the water. For the adventurous souls who dare to try, you’ll find plenty of places and kitesurfing schools in Tulum that offer lessons.
Boutique Hop & Shop
Whether you’re perusing through Centro or strolling down the beach road, one thing you’ll notice about Tulum is that artisanal shops and boutiques are bountiful in this town. You will find everything from Mexican handcrafts to luxury home goods and beach-chic apparel that makes you want to toss everything in your luggage and revamp your entire wardrobe. Hop and shop your way around town, picking up one-of-a-kind pieces that will forever remind you of the magical moments you spent in Tulum.
Indulge in Fine-dining in the Jungle
Delight in the culinary creations of world-renowned chefs in the most magical, nature-inspired settings. Tulum is chock full of restaurants nestled in the heart of the jungle with intimate surroundings and the elements of nature serving as architectural fixtures. Get a taste of traditional Mexican cuisines with a modern twist at NÜ restaurant, often heralded as one of the top restaurants in Quintana Roo. Experience “the old Tulum vibes” at the contemporary, farm-to-table restaurant Kitchen Table. Share small plates with big flavors at Arca Tulum, where open-fire cooking is the staple at this inventive restaurant.
Dine In a Treehouse Restaurant
Take in 360-degree vistas while floating above the treetops of the Mayan jungle in a romantic nest. Kin Toh, the most popular of Azulik’s three restaurants, serves up avant-garde Mayan-Mexican cuisine that is a feast for the senses, but it is the views from one of their private nests that is the chef’s kiss to the entire experience. Tseen Ja is another restaurant on the Azulik property that features those iconic nests and hammocks that you see on Instagram. While there, also be sure to check out the revolving exhibitions at Azulik’s contemporary art museum.
Bare It All at a Clothing-optional Resort
Mexico has become a hotspot for naturists who desire to shed the clothes and enjoy a blissful nak-ation in paradise. If you’re an open-minded traveler looking for a unique experience and you dare to bare, Intima is a clothing-optional resort in Tulum where you can go au naturale in a judgment-free atmosphere. Book a stay at this discreet resort or purchase a day pass for around $30 USD and spend a day in the buff being clothes and carefree.
Party the Night Away
Tulum may be all zen and paradisiacal beaches in the day, but by sun fall, there’s a vibrant nightlife scene that transforms the city into an eclectic mix of music and good times. If you’re into trendy bars with quirky themes, Batey Mojito & Guarapo Bar is the perfect place to chill out while sipping their infamous mojitos and vibing out to the sounds of everything from electronic, to jazz and mariachi. On Fridays, head to Gitano and dance the night away in the jungle to the sounds of a live DJ. Papaya Playa Project is famed for its monthly full moon parties, but they are also big on the scene on Saturdays. Get those hips swaying on Sundays at salsa night at La Zebra Hotel.
There is so much to see, do, and experience in Tulum. Whether you are seeking to simply relax or chase the thrill of adventure there’s something for every type of traveler.