From relaxing on the pristine beaches of Tulum, Mexico to active adventures through majestic Mayan Ruins and gorgeous cenotes, this is your guide to the best things to do in Tulum!
Now, I’ve been to numerous beach destinations throughout Mexico, but I must admit that Tulum is my absolute favorite. It’s a breathtaking travel destination that has it all. The beaches in Tulum are filled with white sands, dancing palm trees and an inviting ocean full of the most beautiful blues, greens and everything in between. And best of all, the beaches are not as over populated with tourists as you would find in Cancun and Playa Del Carmen. Rich in history, there are plenty of astounding Mayan ruins to hike and even bike, and an endless amount of cenotes to take a dip in and explore their underground caves (and even cliff dive).
When I travel, I love combining both adventure and relaxation into my travel itinerary (and music). I enjoy both luxurious dinners and the simplicity and robust flavors of the local street food. Sometimes my fiancé and I stay in posh all-inclusive resorts, sometimes we rent homes, and sometimes we pitch a tent and camp! Variety is the spice of life, and we love to experience it all.
For our recent vacation in Tulum, we decided to do an all-inclusive resort. We didn’t want anything massive, we wanted that intimate feel of being on a deserted island, while still having all the amenities of a resort. After searching the internet for the best deal for what we were looking for, we decided to go with the Grand Oasis Tulum. We received an excellent deal of about $1300 each via CheapCaribbean.com which included the following: round-trip flight from Los Angeles, Oasis Sian Ka’an Club Ocean Front Suite (with a huge jacuzzi tub), a rental car, meals, beverages/cocktails, and a most beautiful private beach. It was truly the best selection! Read on for photos and recommendations of the best things to do in Tulum!
The view from our suite which was directly on the sand… Each suite came with its own set of lounge chairs that were reserved just for you. No need to wake in the early morning to battle the rest of the hotel guests for a beach chair!
Our first night at the Grand Oasis Tulum was all about relaxation. We definitely took advantage of that massive hot tub in our room and popped open some bubbly for our soak. One thing to note, the water pressure from the tub’s faucet was very slow, and the hot water was practically non existent, but we really wanted to soak in the tub, so we helped the hot water flow by filling our wine buckets with hot water from the bathroom sink. It was very tedious and took a while, but we got the job done.
You must visit the Aktun Chen cenote! After sunbathing and swimming (and a couple margaritas and pina coladas) on the beach at the Grand Oasis Tulum, we took a short taxi ride to Aktun Chen for a swim and snorkel through this stunning underground river and cave system. Adult tickets were $33 each.
Just floating around and taking it all in …
We swam with sea turtles at Akumal Beach! It was a quick drive from our hotel and the water was so pleasing! It was the perfect temperature and color. Instead of paying for a guide to take us out to swim with turtles, we packed our own snorkel gear and decided to swim out and look for turtles. We swam pretty far our and saw at least four turtles. They were so cute and big! After our fun with turtles, we just lounged in the calm waters.
After some nice hot showers, we guzzied up for dinner and drinks at one of the restaurants offered at the Grand Oasis Tulum. We met some really great people in the lobby bar and also had some great conversations with the bartender who was real sweet. Since it was my birthday, the Grand Oasis Tulum had created a very special off-menu dinner for us. It was the best meal we had there all week!
The beauty of the Tulum Ruins is remarkable. While nursing a bit of Montezuma’s Revenge (don’t drink the water, don’t even brush your teeth with faucet water), we toughed up and headed to the Tulum Ruins. After hiking and exploring, I could not wait to take a swim in that gorgeous private beach I’ve only seen in travel photos. To my total dismay, the beach was not open to the public. Apparently the current was far too strong and not safe for swimming. I wanted to cry. I guess I’ll just have to come back!
So many iguanas everywhere!
Gorgeous, just gorgeous, and incredible energy …
After hiking all over the Tulum ruins, we hopped in out little rental car and headed to Casa Cenote. Our rental car found its twin! Also want to note that the Oasis Grand Tulum has rental cars on site. That’s where we got ours as part of our package.
But before taking a swim in Case Cenote, we grabbed some lunch in the town of Tulum. The pollo asado (charr grilled chicken) here was amazing! And only like $7 total for a meal for two!
Case Cenote is like a giant lazy river. This is the entrance point. Once in, we swam to the left against the current to snorkel and explore the aquatic underworld. I believe the entrance fee here was only $4. We swam and snorkeled to the end of the lazy river, and when we popped up from under water we were unpleasantly greeted by a floating yoga group. The instructor was not happy. Perhaps she forgot that this is a public cenote where people are swimming facedown and unaware of where the lazy river ends. Regardless, we had a blast! Highly recommended. Just watch out of the uptight yoga instructor.
After our underwater explorations at Case cenote, we relaxed on the beach across the way. We also grabbed a snack and some beers at nearby boutique hotel, and of course, relaxed.
The following day we took a $6 collectivo (public shuttle bus) up to Playa Del Carmen. We enjoyed some overpriced beers and guacamole and chips on an outdoor bar overlooking a very crowded beach full of tourists and locals. The beach here is also beautiful, but not quite as intimate as our little slice of paradise back at the Grand Oasis Tulum. We then hopped on a $15 ferry ride ($30 round trip) to Cozumel where we enjoyed an afternoon at Sanchos Beach Club. For $55 each you get all you can eat drinks and food, use of their pool and private beach. If I were to do this again, I would make sure to leave very early in the morning to get your money’s worth (or not go at all). We arrived around 3pm and weren’t aware that the resort closed at 5pm. It was a major bummer as we felt rushed and a bit ignored by the servers who seemed to only cater to cruisers (people on cruises).
Bike riding through Coba! For our final day in Tulum we explored the Mayan Ruins of Coba. I highly recommend renting a bicycle on site for like $5. It was so much fun exploring this way!
It’s quite the climb to the top, but well worth the mesmerizing view!
After our Coba explorations we craved some water explorations. On our way back to the Grand Oasis Tulum we made a stop at Car Wash cenote. It was small watering whole with not a whole lot of excitement going on, but if you are a diver, this place has a very deep underworld. We snorkeled a bit and went as far down as our lungs would allow us. It looked pretty awesome down there.
Our final cenote of our trip was Cenote Azul. This place was only $4 and one of our favorites. The water was crystal clear and absolutely refreshing. It was the perfect way to hydrate the skin from the hot Yucatan sun. The snorkeling was great and so was the cliff diving. And there were plenty of places to just lay out and soak the sun.
As our vacation in Tulum came to a close, I was so sad to leave this marvelous paradise. We spent a total of five fun-filled nights in Tulum and it’s surrounding towns. I can not wait to come back and enjoy this gorgeous travel destination some more.
I hope our trip itinerary to Tulum was helpful to those that love the best of both worlds (relaxation and adventure). Have you traveled to Tulum? Do you have Tulum tips and travel advice to share with us? Please leave a comment below and let us know what are your favorite things to do in Tulum!