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Courtesy of Matteo Colombo/Getty Images

Best Things To Do in Tulum

You can't visit Tulum without checking out the Mayan ruins, but take a morning tour to free up your afternoon for sunbathing and swimming in the bright blue water of Playa Paraíso. Also, try snorkeling at one of the several cenotes (or subterranean swimming holes), or take a canal trip through the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve.

How we rank Things to Do

Updated January 8, 2019

  • #1
    Playa Paraiso
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    #1 in Tulum
    Beaches, Free
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Beaches, Free
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Just south of the Tulum ruins, the wide Playa Paraíso makes a relaxing end to a day exploring the area. With the recent arrival of the Playa Paraíso Beach Club, this stretch of sand has grown extremely popular with Playa del Carmen and Cancún daytrippers, as well as Tulum vacationers. But what it doesn't boast in seclusion it makes up for in activity – you'll find plenty of opportunities for snorkeling and scuba diving, plus a few hammocks, lounge chairs and umbrellas to choose from (if you get to the ruins early, you'll arrive at the beach in time to secure one), and a few beach bars should you want refreshment.

    ...Read More »
  • #2
    El Gran Cenote
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    #2 in Tulum
    Natural Wonders, Swimming/Pools
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Natural Wonders, Swimming/Pools
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Considered sacred waters by the Mayans, the expansive El Gran Cenote is an underground cavern that is ideal for swimming and diving. Here you can swim, snorkel and dive amid some pretty cool geological features, including stalagmites and stalactites, while bats and birds flutter overhead.

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  • #3
    Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve
    View all Photos
    #3 in Tulum
    Natural Wonders, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Natural Wonders, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    The Yucatán contains an abundance of eco-parks and natural reserves, but few compare to the breadth and natural wonder of Sian Ka'an. Just south of Tulum, the reserve contains more than 1.3 million acres of estuaries, reefs, cenotes and wetlands. Within the park, you can take tours of the local wildlife, take part in a diving or snorkeling tour or simply just walk around the beautiful and expansive park.

    ...Read More »
  • #4
    Tulum Ruins
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    #4 in Tulum
    Sightseeing
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Sightseeing
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    The source of Tulum's popularity (and probably the reason you'll visit the area) are the Tulum ruins, one of the most popular Mayan archaeological sites along the Riviera Maya. Sitting on a patch of rocky coastline just south of Tulum's downtown, the ruins showcase several templos (temples) and castillos (castles) from the once-thriving pre-Colombian Mayans. 

    ...Read More »
  • #5
    Punta Laguna Nature Reserve
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    #5 in Tulum
    Natural Wonders, Parks and Gardens, Sightseeing, Tours
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Natural Wonders, Parks and Gardens, Sightseeing, Tours
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Less than 40 miles north of Tulum, Punta Laguna Nature Reserve offers one of the most unique sightseeing attractions in all of the Yucatán: spider monkeys. The creatures are a top draw for the reserve, which also showcases jaguars, pumas, howler monkeys and dozens of bird species.

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  • #6
    Muyil Archaeological Site
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    #6 in Tulum
    Sightseeing
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Sightseeing
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Located on the northern edge of the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve (just off Highway 307), the Muyil archaeological site offers a quiet respite from the super popular, but slightly overrated, Tulum Ruins (which are located near the downtown area). The verdant site is home to a variety of ancient structures (it's believed to have been established as early as 300 B.C.), the most prominent among them being El Castillo, an impressive 55-foot pyramid and one of the tallest buildings in the Yucatán. Another must-see is the observation deck, which offers a bird's-eye view of the lagoon. If you continue along the path past the observation deck, you'll reach the lagoon, where boat tours are offered. Among the lush jungle setting, you'll find a variety of smaller pyramids, paths and ceremonial structures.

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  • #7
    Cobá Ruins
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    #7 in Tulum
    Sightseeing
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Sightseeing
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    If you're on a Mayan ruins kick, you should also check out the small site at Cobá, about 30 miles north of Tulum. Cobá doesn't feature the restored, pristine sites of Tulum, nor does it sit atop an awe-inspiring coastal setting, but it still offers history buffs a glimpse of some authentic Mayan ruins. In fact, some argue these ruins are more authentic than those in Tulum because Cobá's have never been extensively refurbished or restored, simply cleared away for the enjoyment of the public. What's more, according to recent visitors, it sees far fewer crowds than the more famous ruins.

    ...Read More »
  • Delphinus Xel-ha
    View all Photos
    Sightseeing, Swimming/Pools, Zoos and Aquariums
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Sightseeing, Swimming/Pools, Zoos and Aquariums
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Read More »

  • Aktun-Chen Park
    View all Photos
    Recreation, Sightseeing, Swimming/Pools
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Recreation, Sightseeing, Swimming/Pools
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Read More »

  • Cenotes Dos Ojos
    View all Photos
    Natural Wonders, Swimming/Pools
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Natural Wonders, Swimming/Pools
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Read More »

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