Things to do in Tulum
No doubt Tulum is one of the most attractive tourist destinations in the Mexican Caribbean. Located on the Yucatan Peninsula, the tiny city of Tulum is full of charm and charisma and every tourist that has ever been there has fallen in love with it.
If you have never been to Tulum, we invite you to keep reading to know what to expect once you reach this beautiful place. Remember, in order to visit Tulum and the other cities of Mexican the State of Quintana Roo, you will be asked to pay the state tourism tax – Visitax.
The beaches of Tulum
The Mexican Caribbean is famous for its splendid beaches and Tulum is one of the places where you can feel the silk-like sand, the light-blue water, and the rich nature surrounding all the place. You can choose between Tulum’s virgin beaches, those overlooking archaeological sites, exclusive clubs’ beaches and of course the public ones:
Located in the Archaeological Zone of Tulum, this tiny beach offers a unique atmosphere due to the Mayan ruins overlooking it and the sea. A wooden staircase leads from the ruins to the sand. During the short path you can meet various small creatures, including many curious iguanas.
Undoubtedly, the name is after its fine white sand and vibrant turquoise colors of the water. This public beach is located outside the archaeological zone of Tulum and that can be accessed by foot, bicycle and also by car.
A family-friendly beach with its shallow waters, Paraiso offers many water sports opportunities as well. Among them, diving and snorkeling. Paraiso Beach is also where catamarans are setting sails for the coral reefs exploration.
Our third recommendation can be none other than Akumal beach! It’s a wonderful place, with the vibrant blue of the sky and the turquoise of the sea melting in the horizon. This beach is one of the most visited by families and yet the beach feels like calm and relaxing.
Located 30 minutes from downtown Tulum by car, Akumal Beach is the easiest place to explore and interact with the underwater creatures. In Mayan language, the name means “turtle beach”. As you may guess, this is where turtles can be observed in their natural habitat.
The charm of Tulum comes not only from its beaches and sea attractions. The cenotes – these beautiful geological structures are what makes people visit this part of Mexico.
The cenotes are unique geological structures formed after the collapse of a limestone surface above an underwater reservoir. The result is a beautiful lake with calm water surrounded by plants and rocks. During the Mayan Empire the cenotes were source of fresh water. Today, they welcome tourists who enjoy swimming, diving, canoeing, as well as caves explorers.
Dos Ojos Cenote
Located 22 km north of Tulum the Dos Ojos cenote (the Two eyed cenote) is one of the most popular cenotes most probably because actually they are two cenotes linked via an underwater tunnel. The cave, part of which Dos Ojos is, is 82 km large. Most of its part is under water where divers often look for fossils.
Sac Actun Cenote
This is the second largest underwater cave and cenote complex on Earth. Sac Actun’s spectacular formations of stalactites and stalagmites attract visitors who enjoy diving and snorkeling.
Although the cenotes are extremely popular among Tulum’s visitors, we recommend you, especially if you are traveling for the fist time, to join to a guided tour to make sure you won’t miss a detail.
Another popular cenote is the Gran Cenote. Surrounded by the most native nature characterizing the region, it is the ideal place to escape the daily fuss.
It’s a half-open cenote. One part is under the sun’s rays while the rest hides into a cave. Gran cenote offers various activities: from relaxing breaks surrounded by nature or to snorkeling or enjoying the marine fauna.
The Archeological Zone
The archeological Zone is where the ancient Tiemplo Dios Descendente is.
The Wall of Tulum
Passing through the Wall of Tulum is how the Mayan have entered the city center and the temple. The walls are surrounding the north, south and west sides. The East side is the sea. There are two watchtowers and five entrances.
Surrounded by a second inner wall is the Castle, a must-see for lovers of Mayan archaeology because of its large size and extraordinary façade. The complex has been rebuilt and enlarged with new temples and other purposes buildings being added during the different Maya eras. The most recent ones are two temples located next to the central staircase.
Over the years, the Castle, in addition to functioning as a strategic surveillance site, was used as a lighthouse to prevent Mayan sailors from crashing into the coral reef.
Templo del Dios Descendente
The temple is a square-shaped monument with a single room looking West. The origin of the Descending aka Diving God is not entirely known. Some say, this is the Mayan God of the Bees. His sculptures represent a figure holding different things in one or in his both hands, standing upside down. Sculptures of the Descending God is found on four different locations but all of them are located on the Yucatán Peninsula.
House of Columns
Once the residence of the Mayan leaders, this building served as a palace. What is left of it are walls and columns upon which one can easily get perspective of the large rooms once this splendid place had had. The largest room’s ceiling had been supported by 6 columns. In the center of this room are the ruins of an unknown sanctuary.
Top Tulum Hotels
- Hotel Ma’xanab Tulum: If you prefer luxury stays, this is the place to stay. The 5-star hotel is located very close to Tulum’s main tourist attractions and yet is offers calm and relaxing atmosphere.
- The Beach Hotel Tulum: Now, if you are looking to isolate yourself from the world, your best option in Tulum can’t be other than The Beach Hotel Tulum. Please note that it is adults-only accommodation. The hotel is organized in bungalows. This was, the guests can better feel the beach and the sea, and in the same time feel separate from the other guests.
- Hotel Muaré: another adults-only hotel. Located 6 km from the Archaeological Zone of Tulum, this hotel feels like built in a rainforest. To the relaxing atmosphere the hotel adds excellent Mexican cuisine.
Best restaurants in Tulum:
- BAL NAK’: Located at Av. Boca Paila km 7.5, Tulum, you can taste true Mexican flavors together with contemporary gastronomy.
- HARTWOOD: With focus on fish, this restaurant offers first-class dishes. It is on Carretera Tulum-Boca Paila km 7, Tulum.
- Safari: This is one of Tulum’s gastronomic recommendations. The restaurant offers traditional Mexican recipes in tacos and antojitos. The mix of street food techniques with traditional dishes make Safari one of tourists favorite place to eat. You can find it on the Itzamna Manzana 26 street, Lote 13, Tulum.
Before leaving for Tulum, though, do not forget to pay the Visitax tourist tax.