Travel Guide to Tulum, Mexico

Travel Guide to Tulum, Mexico

Tulum is an ancient Mayan city formerly known as Zama, or "City of Dawn." This tropical haven is situated along Mexico's Riviera Maya, roughly two hours south of Cancun. Tulum is a popular scuba diving destination with numerous cenotes and caves to explore and stunning sandy beaches. 

We can divide Tulum into three distinct regions.

Tulum City (aka El Centro or Tulum Pueblo): The town center has many grocery stores, eateries, and other shops. 

Tulum Beach (Tulum Hotel Zone): The beach is just a 10-minute drive from Tulum Town. Avoid walking to the beach as it would take an hour to cover the same distance on foot. Use a bicycle or a taxi to explore the stunning beaches and beautiful resorts along with several tourist shops. 

Tulum Ruins: Around 30 public Mayan ruins sites are present in the Yucatan Peninsula, with numerous situated within a few hours of Tulum and one on the popular Tulum Beach. 

Travel Guide to Tulum, Mexico

Here is a rundown of some of the most happening things you can do in Tulum and the best places to explore. 


You will need help staying away from Tulum's fabulous Boho boutiques. Some of these shops, dotted along the beach and around the town, manufacture their clothes locally or feature renowned artisans from Mexico. Shop a wide range of authentic goods throughout the town from boutiques, malls, and bazaars. Some famous boutiques include: 

Mr. Blackbird: Launched in 20212, Mr. Blackbird is one of the first boutiques on Tulum Beach! You can find handmade goods and items from local artisans. 

Kaahal Home: This boutique offers home goods to art, and clothing. 

Bonfilia: The swimwear brand designs and manufactures its clothes in Playa Del Carmen/Tulum.

Explore the Cenotes

Cenotes are a must-see while visiting Tulum, Mexico. Natural limestone sinkholes, called cenotes, provide access to Mexico's mystic and beautiful underground river system. Here you can go swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving. 

There are numerous stunning underground caverns and caves to explore in the Riviera Maya, home to the world's largest underground cave network connecting tens of thousands of cenotes. You must explore famous cenotes Gran Cenote, Casa Cenote, and Dos Ojos Cenote. 

Witness the Ruins

Coba, located about 45 minutes from Tulum, boasts tall pyramids overlooking the wild jungle. These Mayan ruins, which date to the Middle and Late Classic periods, were once home to about 50,000 people. 

The most popular Coba sites include Coba Stelae, Nohoch Mul Pyramid, Conjunto de Pinturas, Coba Group, Sacbe, and Macanxoc Group. 

Indulge in the Beaches

Tulum is world-famous for its white sand beaches and turquoise water. If you are touring Mexico, remember to take advantage of the Tulum sun and the beautiful, picturesque beaches. 

There are three different beaches, but they all blend. These include: 

  • Playa Paraiso (Paradise Beach)
  • Playa Ruinas (near the Tulum ruins)
  • Las Palmas beach (at the southern end)

Playa Paraiso is open to the public, which means you can visit this natural wonder for free. However, if you are okay with spending a little cash, you can enjoy drinks and food at the El Paraiso and Villa Pescadores beach clubs. 

Enjoy the Unique Dining Experience 

Tulum is also a foodie destination. While there are numerous opportunities for fine dining, remember to try out delicious tacos, but little shops in the area. Notable mentions include El Carboncito, Taqueria Honorio, and Antojitos la Chiapaneca. 

Popular restaurants include Hartwood, one of Tulum's best restaurants. Here you can enjoy delectable fire-cooked meals made from local ingredients. ARCA is another famous bar and restaurant located in the tropical jungle of Tulum, where you can enjoy contemporary Mexican cuisine. 

Visit the Sian Kaán Biosphere

When you are visiting Tulum, visiting Sian Ka'an is a must. The biosphere is one of the less popular UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Sian Ka'an is a breathtakingly beautiful natural area home to thousands of different plants and animals. Situated on the east coast of the Yucatán peninsula, the area became a Biosphere Reserve in 1986 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site a year later. 

Sian Kaán offers a habitat for a rich flora and a fauna comprising 300+ species of birds. In addition, there are mangroves, tropical forests, marshes, and an extensive marine section. 

Travel Around Tulum

When you are touring around Tulum, don’t forget to visit the following:

Laguna(Lake) Bacalar: The gorgeous clear lake is about 200 km south of Tulum.

Akumal: The 'place of the turtles' lies between Playa del Carmen and Tulum. Here you can swim with the wild turtles! The beach is gorgeous, and tourists worldwide flock here to experience Akumal's rich marine life and soothing warm water. 

Cozumel: While Cozumel is mostly underdeveloped, it is worth a day trip. The island is off the Yucatan peninsula, and you can reach there from Playa del Carmen via a ferry. Cozumel offers a unique charm that blends the Mexican culture with a Caribbean flavor.

Cancun: Cancun is another well-known vacation destination for tourists who love its stunning turquoise oceans, pristine white-sand beaches, and beautiful coral reefs. Cancun is heaven for people who enjoy the outdoors and water sports. Dive, snorkel, or explore the beach paragliding or jet skiing.

Chichén Itzá: Chichén Itzá is a popular tourist site in Mexico and the Yucatan Peninsula. These Mayan ruins can be highly crowded because it is among the new seven wonders of the world. The ancient pyramid, El Castillo, is the tallest structure in Chichen Itza, at 98 feet. 

Valladolid: The colorful and charming small city is home to nearly 48,000 people. The historic Iglesias and colorful houses offer a glimpse of authentic Mexican life. Valladolid is almost an hour away from Tulum and provides excellent opportunities to explore the best hotels, restaurants, and cenotes of Tulum. 

Final Thoughts

The best thing about Tulum is that ancient and contemporary eras coexist. Whenever you plan a trip to Tulum, Mexico, get ready to experience the well-preserved Mayan ruins, yoga retreats, boutique shops, restaurants, and stunning beaches. Come here to rejuvenate your mind, body, and spirit.