90 minutes south of Cancun, you’ll find 1,000-year-old Mayan ruins alongside oceanfront hot yoga studios and freshly caught seafood offerings.
This seaside paradise is known as Tulum, a Mexican municipality located on the Caribbean coastline of the Yucatán Peninsula and one of the best-preserved historical sites in the world. A place of formidable spectacle between the 13th and 15th centuries, Tulum served as a major port city and was one of the last places built and occupied by the Maya prior to Spanish occupation.
Today, Tulum continues this culturally bountiful legacy in its own manner, now serving as a rich historical site and one of the most popular tourist destinations in Mexico.
Between its mouthwatering culinary options, breathtaking historical sites, stunning cerulean waters, and immersive local attractions, filling an itinerary with things to do while in Tulum proves not to be the most difficult part of mapping out one’s visit; it’s settling on just a few things to do that’s the real challenge!
Never fear, as we’ve taken on the challenge for you. Keep reading below for a quick and easy guide outlining where to go, sleep, eat, and stay in Tulum. Trust us on these picks— you’ll be snorkeling and munching on ceviche in no time.
Where to Stay
Finding a comfortable and accommodating place to lay your head at the end of the day that doesn’t completely break the bank always seems like the biggest chore when planning a vacation. Skip the cramped feeling of a hotel and go in together with friends and family on a place like Hacienda Paraiso— the six-bedroom, a beachfront oasis that’s ready to be your palm frond-framed slice of heaven during your stay in Tulum.
Literally translated to Paradise Ranch, this rental features a private pool, WiFi, Apple TV, abundant cooking amenities, and plenty of room to house 16 people comfortably.
Anyone looking to really treat themselves can easily add on other services to their retreats, such as spa services, a personal chef, delivered groceries, or recreational equipment rental, but we promise that you’ll find it cushy without a butler.
Where to Eat
When it comes to food, Tulum has no shortage of authentic favorites and mouthwatering fusion options. Pair those offerings with freshly caught seafood catches and other locally sourced ingredients and, well, what you have is a watering mouth, a rumbling stomach, and a whole lot of places and dishes you’ll want to cross off your Tulum bucket list:
Hartwood – Though the idea of everything being cooked over an open fire may sound a little rustic, Hartwood is easily one of the most popular (and often hard to reserve!) options for fine dining in Tulum.
Bask in the alfresco, campfire-like setting of Hartwood’s open-air eatery while munching on grilled papaya, succulent octopus, or their famous honey-roasted ribs. Keep in mind when dining that almost every place in Tulum is cash-only, Hartwood included.
El Camello Jr. – All frills and fanciness aside, El Camello Jr. is the perfect place to grab a simple and generous platter of fried seafood at a great price. Lines can be long here, but you’re welcome to sip on a beer while you wait.
Posada Margarita – While eating your weight’s worth in ceviche is a given when visiting Mexico, locals and tourists alike agree that Posada Margarita might just be some of the best Italian food you ever try.
Dive into a plate of Caprese salad, twirl your fork through a stack of Pomodoro, and sip on a mezcal cocktail while dining at this tranquil, cabana-style restaurant.
Where to Visit
There’s something for both the adventure seeker and the laid back leisure-lover when it comes to exploring Tulum. We suggest being both.
Tulum ruins – No trip to Tulum is truly fulfilled without taking an excursion to this cliff-side archaeological site, so pack your sneakers and your sunscreen and get ready to take in some historical architecture.
Muyil archaeological site – If you enjoyed the Tulum ruins or historical architecture in general, there’s more where that came from! Away from the crowds of the Tulum ruins, the Muyil ruins offer views of stunning pyramids and ceremonial structures, all in a lush lagoon setting. There’s also an observation deck as well as boat tours through the lagoon.
El Gran Cenote – Considered sacred waters by the Mayans, El Gran Cenote is an underwater cavern perfect for those who are just looking to take a refreshing dip as well as those looking to go diving or snorkel.
Laguna de Kaan Luum – Once you’ve had a dip in the crystal-clear, cerulean waters found in Tulum’s cenotes and beaches, try relaxing with a lagoon mud bath! This magical lagoon hosts an underground spring as its center, which grants the water an array of beautiful colors. Legend has it, that the clay covering the floor of this hidden treasure contains healing properties.