Many of us love Tulum mainly for the beautiful white sand beaches lined with towering palm trees and washed by the warm waters of the Caribbean sea. However, Tulum is much more than that, and I hope this list of the best day trips from Tulum will convince you to go out and explore more.
Overpriced and sometimes even overrated, Tulum still remains one of the favorite beach destinations in Mexico for many. But although it will be hard to leave the pristine beach and turquoise water, there are so many things to visit around Tulum that you should really use some time to explore.
First time in Tulum? Here my Tulum travel tips in a nutshell
✅ Best things to do in Tulum
- Take a stroll on the Tulum beach
- Visit the archeological site
- Spend a relaxing morning in a Cenote
- Splurge in one of the top luxury beach hotels
- Enjoy top dining options
✅ Tulum Travel Tips
- November to April is the best time of the year to visit Tulum because it’s less humid and lower chance of rains, while September and October are the rainiest months. However I wouldn’t really bother. You never know with weather.
- Most of the hotels and restaurants do not accept credit cards.
- If you travel from December through April it’s better to book way in advance if you want to find availability.
- Tulum it’s a great destination for family and couples or solo travelers. There’s everything for every taste and budget.
- Surfers and kitesurfers in Tulum find their paradise.
- A great vegan and healthy living community set the trend for amazing vegan restaurants and yoga studios.
There are so many things to do in Tulum that it can be overwhelming.
In Tulum, you could stay a month or a lifetime without getting bored. And although you may just want to just bask in the sun by one of the quaint Tulum Beach Clubs and enjoy the sea, I would suggest you take some time to explore the spectacular surroundings as well.
Tulum beach is arguably one of the best beaches in the Riviera Maya
With this list of great day trips from Tulum that you can include in your Tulum itinerary, I hope to make it easier for you to chose which one suits best the kind of vacation you want to do.
Tulum is known most of all for the ultra-photogenic archaeological site and for the bohemian life offered by the high-end eco-chic hotels and the phenomenal restaurants for every budget and diet, to try out.
Here below check out the top Tulum excursions that you can do in a day or half a day.
The best Tulum day trips
Explore the Tulum ancient mayan ruins
Tulum ruins are some of the most beautiful Mayan Archeological sites to photograph because it’s the only one that is right by the sea. You reach the site just before entering the town, where you cannot miss the entrance on the left-hand side of the road.
However you also have access from the Hotel Zone, if you leave the car by the side of the road and walk to the entrance; either way, you would need to do some walking. If you are going to visit during your stay in the hotel zone, this last option is the most convenient.
Payment is required at the ticket office right before the site, just 65 MXN (about 4 USD). The site is open from 8 am to 4 pm; however, it is possible to have access before or after those times by paying 220 pesos, about 15 USD per person.
Bear in mind that for early access (6 to 8 am) it is necessary to book in advance, and there is a minimum requirement of 5 people. I believe it is totally worth it if you are a photographer or if you simply wish to enjoy the place without a whole crowd invading your pictures and your view.
Practical information on how to visit the Mayan ruins
Always take a bottle of water and sunscreen with you; sometimes mosquito repellent is advisable if you are sensitive to the annoying little creatures.
I have to say that you will read this phrase very often, in almost all of my articles, since it is a ‘must’ in these high temperatures and humid regions in order to stay well-hydrated with water, natural juices, and fruit. Also, eat light, to keep you going for the day and able to tolerate the heat.
Cover your head and USE your sunscreen and mosquito repellent (when it is not prohibited for ecological reasons), with natural ingredients if possible, like citronella essential oil or similar products.
Apart from that, you will love the Tulum site, even more so if you hire a guide who will explain a little about the history and the relationship between the Mayan settlements.
I find it all very interesting and never get tired of exploring and listening to stories that sometimes seem like fairy tales, so far away from our reality and seemingly unlikely.
I must say that many of these stories are hypotheses and approximate versions as there is little which has actually been proven to constitute the definitive truth. However, you can get a general idea of the historical context.
Explore Coba Mayan archaeological site
Coba is a small town situated 30 km north of Tulum. It’s really laid back and authentic. The ancient ruins are right there in front of the lagoon. You cannot miss them.
While you are there, right after the site visit, I suggest you should cool out in the Coba cenotes located just at a 10-minute drive. A refreshing beauty. It’s highly recommended to rent a car so you can explore freely and at your pace.
Find the best car rental deals and explore around freely, at your own pace. My favorite way to enjoy a destination!
Enjoy the off the beaten path site of Punta Laguna
Among the best places to see in the Yucatán Peninsula that is off the beaten path, is Punta Laguna.
It’s a natural reserve by a lagoon where knowledgeable guides will walk you around the jungle and show you the natural resources of the place an encounter with the spider monkeys won’t be missed and if you are lucky you might get the chance to see the howler monkey too.
A tour of the lagoon and rappelling down a cenote are other activities you can do there.
The best option for you to get there is by renting a car, although you can also request a private tour either to a taxi driver or any local agency.
Read my guide to Punta Laguna
Spend a day swimming with turtles in Akumal beach
A busy but still lovely beach where you can swim with friendly sea turtles just a few arm-strokes from the shore. Certainly, an experience that I wouldn’t miss. Read about Akumal beach on my complete guide to Akumal and Swimming with the Turtle.
Kaan Luum lagoon
An oasis of peace at just 10 km north of downtown Tulum, this beautiful calming mirror of water is waiting for you. You can check out my guide to Kaan Luum to know more about it, and also check out a few cenotes on the way to the lagoon.
Visit the lesser known Mayan site of Muyil
Muyil is a small town just 20 minutes’ driving from Tulum (250 MXN, 15 USD, by taxi) where you can explore a couple of interesting sites which I really recommend. First of all the Archaeological Site is one of a kind, small enough not to get tired, big enough to be able to enjoy and get a taste of the Mayan culture.
The setting is spectacular, just beside the main road but right into the deep jungle, ironically.
The same atmosphere. Really recommended. Read my complete guide to the Muyil archeological site and the lazy river.
Visit Sian Ka’an
Right after a jump into history with a visit to the Archeological site, you deserve a little relaxation and a refreshing deep into the Lagoon of the Biosphere of Sian ka’an and let your body float on a transparent river in between the Sian ka-an Lagoon. If you want to choose among all the Tulum tours, I would suggest you pick a tour to the Sian Ka’an reserve. It’s an experience that I would really suggest you should have.
Sian Ka’an reserve – declared UNESCO world heritage site in 1987, the biosphere reserve is one of the largest and diverse ecosystems in Mexico. It’s definitely one tour that you wouldn’t want to miss.
Visit a cenote
There are so many cenotes around Tulum that they deserve complete attention, so I have created a list of the best cenotes to see near Tulum, how to get there, how much they cost, and much more tips. Although the most popular and the closest one is the Gran Cenote, I find it very crowded all the time. Instead, my favorite ones are Cenote Azul, Cenote Cristalino, and Cenote Taak-bi-ha.
I hope this has offered you useful tips for your next trip. And if you wish to know more, check back later on because I will add more activities and places right here! Enjoy!
Spend a day in Playa del Carmen
Located in the heart of the Riviera Maya, in Quintana Roo state, Playa del Carmen, is a vibrant city, very much loved by digital nomads, expatriates, and tourists alike.
Although it faced a huge expansion in the past 20 years, its center didn’t lose its charm. Everything revolves around the Quinta Avenida, the main road that crosses the city from north to south at only one block from the beach.
You can spend a day between basking in the sun, and shopping away, in the trendy stores along the popular avenue.
You will also enjoy the variety of bars and restaurants of all sorts and the joyful vocational ambiance.
It really makes for a full-day trip from Tulum.
Visit Chichén itzá
Although one of the most crowded Mayan Sites, it’s still worth a visit if you have never been there. In fact, Chichen Itza is the most popular archeological site in the Yucatan Peninsula.
I suggest you should rent a car and go on your own, so you can get there early, by 8 am, and avoid the crowds.
After visiting Chichen- Itza you can check out some of the beautiful cenotes in the surrounding and make a stop in Valladolid, a beautiful colonial town at only 1 hour and a half drive from Tulum.
If you prefer to go on a guided tour, you can check out one of the options below. Tours are lead by professional tour guides, very knowledgeable about the Mayan culture and history.
Take a catamaran tour to Isla Mujeres
The beautiful pristine island of Isla Mujeres is located at only 30 minutes ferry ride from Cancun. What people love the most about it are the beautiful beaches and the turquoise waters, but also driving around the island by golf cart, which is the best way to explore around.
There are different ways to get to Isla Mujeres. But if you are coming from Tulum I would suggest a catamaran day trip which is fun and will take you to see all the highlights of the island, including snorkeling by the coral reefs just off the coast, but also leave you some time to explore on your own.
There are many different boat tours to choose from. You can check out some of them here below.