What to Discover: Tulum, Mexico

Tulum is ripe with discovery! Whether you're looking for calorie-burning adventure or a nap on the beach, it's all here for you. 


1. Ruins

There are three ruins to visit in this area: Tulum, Coba, and Muyil. The Tulum Ruins are more family friendly with easy access and you don’t need more than an afternoon to see it all. Read more about the Tulum Ruins here!

The Coba Ruins are about an hour’s drive west of Tulum and would require a day trip but the ruins are much more beautiful and you can still climb on them. You’ll also find a few cenotes in this area to add to you trip. Read more about the Coba Ruins here!

The Muyil Ruins are south of Tulum. They are much smaller than the other two but if you don’t like hoards of tourists around you then this is the one to choose. You can access the lagoons and Sian Ka’an from here as well. 


2. Cenotes

Ever wanted to swim in a giant sinkhole? Well, you’re in the right place. In the Yucatan Peninsula alone, there are 6000 different cenotes. These are natural sinkholes caused by the collapse of limestone, creating beautiful pools of clear water of all sizes and depths. 

You can choose well-maintained cenotes right off the road or unkempt ones in the middle of nowhere. For a definitive list, check out this blog!

3. Tulum Beach

Rated one of the top ten beaches in the world, Tulum Beach is paradise! With miles of pristine coastline, you will have no problem finding the perfect spot to lay your towel. On the north end of the beach you’ll find the Tulum Ruins and at the south end is the Sian Ka’an Natural Reserve.

Many vacationers will have a hotel right on the beach but if you’re staying in the town of Tulum, it’s just a short 20 minute bike ride away. If you arrive early enough to catch the sunrise, you’ll have the whole beach to yourself for a few hours. 


And if you stick around through the afternoon, vendors will walk the beach with delicious snacks to keep you going.

4. Tulum town

Visiting the “city centre” of Tulum gives you a gentle view into the local life in Mexico. It’s a laid back, bohemian town, home to 30000 wonderfully friendly residents. It also acts as a perfect hub for several of the adventures in this list. 

When you aren’t exploring the area, there are plenty of restaurants to enjoy. And some great drinks, too! 

If you’re having trouble deciding between staying by the beach or in town, there is more information here.

Tulum town: a great place to meet the locals! 

Tulum town: a great place to meet the locals! 

5. Akumal

There is a magical place between Playa Del Carmen and Tulum where sea turtles come to swim. The name Akumal actually translates to “Place of the Turtle” in the Mayan language because the beach is home to plethora of marine creatures — most notably sea turtles. While touching them is prohibited by law, you can get up close and personal swimming alongside them. 

Grab a snorkel and dive into the crystal clear Caribbean water to observe fish and coral. Read more here!

6. Sian Ka’an

Just south of Tulum, you’ll enter the Sian Ka’an Biosphere. In 1986, the jungle here was preserved as a World Heritage Site. This means that despite the extensive development that has happened along the coastline over the last decade or so, there is still untouched, pristine nature just a short drive away. There is plenty to see here: boat tours, wildlife, mangrove jungles, nature walkways and so much more! 

If you’re a nature lover, you can’t miss this! 

7. Lagoons

On the way to the biosphere, you’ll pass a group of large lagoons (or lagunas). But you wouldn’t know they’re there unless you’re seeing it from above. They’re well hidden amongst trees. 

The three notable ones are Laguna Kaan Luum, Laguna Napolitos, and the giant Laguna Chunyaxche. Rumour has it that Napolitos has recently been privatized and no longer allows access. The other two have very different experiences.

Laguna Kaan Luum is much smaller and has more of a relaxed atmosphere. Just 20 minutes drive from Tulum, locals will wade in the shallow waters here and relax for the day with friends and family. It’s a beautiful location, even on a gloomy day.


Laguna Chunyaxche is a large body of water with access only by boat. This one has more opportunities for adventure. I wrote more information about the lagoons here. 


There is so much to see and do around Tulum that (depending on the length of your trip), you may need to come back a second time to take it all in. Be careful not to over-plan your days or you risk disappointment if you don’t get to it all. 

Do your research and choose the adventures that most suit your travel style. If you plan it right, you can spice up this easy-going destination with a touch of adventure.