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15 Memorable Day Trips from Tulum

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So one of the hottest travel destinations in Mexico is on your radar this year? If that’s that case, I have a little something for you that will make your trip even more delightful, especially if you’re looking for the best day trips from Tulum to take during your stay. This post will get you covered!


Situated on the Caribbean coastline of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, Tulum is a town known for its white-sand beaches, well-preserved Mayan ruins, spectacular cenotes, and countless other attractions. You will find thousands of tourists from around the world swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, and enjoying the views from its ruins on the cliff during your visit. Another thing that is famous here is Tulum day trips and in this post, I will tell you all about it.

If you are wondering about safety in Tulum, you should know that It is a relatively safe destination, with its issues but overall safe for tourists, if you stay away from troubles.

The health-related situation put a temporary break in the town’s tourist activities for a while, but now it’s returning to normal, like the rest of Mexico. Tulum is in the orange zone, so it’s pretty safe to visit now—but make sure you practice all the safety measures like wearing a mask, social distancing, and sanitizing your hands regularly.

If you’re planning to visit this dreamy tourist destination of Mexico, having a few day trips would only make it more fun. So let’s dive into our list of the 15 memorable day trips from Tulum.

tulum beach at sunrise a palm leaning out - best time to visit Tulum

Amazing day trips from Tulum

Sian Ka’an Biosphere

Starting off with the closest and the most beautiful day trip from Tulum, the Sian Ka’an Biosphere is just around 20 minutes away from the town but offers a wonderful excursion from city life. The area is filled with natural beauty and stunning natural views.

In 1986, the area that is now known as Sian Ka’an was declared a Biosphere Reserve and UNESCO World Heritage Site a year later. Now, it’s one of the largest protected areas in Mexico, where you will see thousands of species of animals, plants, and birds.

Sian Ka an

I highly recommend this day trip from Tulum if you like being away from the crowds (which are quite commonplace in Tulum), enjoy nature, and would like to relax on powdery white sands under palm trees.

You can also take eco-tours, go on boat rides to see dolphins, turtles, and crocodiles swim alongside your boat, or just let the enchanting atmosphere fill you with serene joy. After all, there’s a reason why it’s known as “a place where heaven begins” by the locals. 😉


Explore the colonial Mexico in Valladolid

If you’re fancying the cultural and historical richness of Tulum, a delightful change in scenery is awaiting you. Valladolid is a town around 70 miles inland from Tulum, where you will find a colorful respite from the hustle and bustle of the big city.

The town is famous for its preservation of the Spanish colonial era’s mark on the region. It is small and colorful, with all the monuments built by the Spanish conquerors standing just as they were in 1543.

VALLADOLID MAIN ROAD

These include The Cathedral of San Gervacio, which was rebuilt in 1706 after its destruction the previous year and is a marvelous display of baroque architecture; and the 16th-century Convent of San Bernardino of Siena, with an ornate wooden altarpiece.

You will also find a lot of amazing cenotes here, each one worth a visit, especially Cenote Zaci which is within a walking distance of the main plaza.


Have fun in Playa del Carmen

Playa del Carmen is so famous that chances are, you may have doubted whether it was better to stay in Playa del Carmen or Tulum in the first place. Well, if you chose Tulum, you can still visit with a day trip from Tulum.

The chaotic and busy city is filled with all things Mexico, so you will find the best beaches of the Caribbean coastline here and the famous Quinta Avenida where you can stroll among fancy shops, Mexican souvenirs, bars, and restaurants for full day entertainment.

Playa del Carmen beach
Playa del Carmen Beach

Located just 40 miles from Tulum, a day trip to this coastal town will bring you to palm-lined beaches that are bound to mesmerize. Even though the town was originally a fishing village, you won’t have to worry about missing out on any of the luxurious stuff now that it’s turned into a cosmopolitan city.

Whether you’re looking for a perfect beach day or a shopping spree, a day trip to Playa del Carmen will do.


Cancun

If you have ever wondered whether to stay in Cancun or Tulum and opted for Tulum, you can always visit Cancun for one day.

Cancun doesn’t just have the airport that you most likely landed on before making your way to Tulum, it’s way more than that—nightlife, parties, resorts, and traditional life of Mexico are all found here, besides the world-famous Cancun beaches.

Cancun beach

Not to worry, though; you still have a chance to take a day trip to Cancun and experience Mexico at its best. Cancun is filled with beaches, shopping centers, restaurants, beach clubs, and many things more. You won’t find anything else like Mercando 28, which is a flea market lined with shops selling souvenirs and goods, and food stalls offering local cuisine.

The Hotel Zone has all the exotic restaurants serving international and local cuisine, the most amazing bars, and a breathtaking beach.

Read also | How to get from Cancun to Tulum and vice-versa
15 Things to do in Cancun


Visit Isla Mujeres

The Island of Women (Isla Mujeres) is definitely worth visiting if you’re in Mexico. Luckily, it’s close enough to make for a wonderful day trip from Tulum. The place is a few miles off of Cancun’s bay and offers plenty of things to do without the noise of the big city.

Beautiful white sand beaches, quiet crystal clear turquoise waters, and the friendliest folks in the Mexican Caribbean are just a few of the reasons to visit.

Isla mujeres island air view

To get to Isla Mujeres from Tulum you will need to reach Cancun (2hr-drive) and then get the Isla Mujeres ferry. Or you can join a catamaran tour to Isla Mujeres. Both ways are doable and will make an amazing full-day trip from Tulum.


Dive or snorkel in Cozumel

Do you fancy ferry rides? If you answered with a yes, this day trip is worth your while. Although Cozumel is only 50 miles from Tulum, you will need to reach Playa del Carmen first and then get a ferry ride (20 minutes only) to the island.

Since it’s the largest island in the Mexican Caribbean, the majority of Cozumel is underdeveloped and still holds the natural charm of Mexican regions. It’s also why the place is rich in Mayan history and boasts one of the most tranquil beaches, besides amazing snorkeling and diving.

How to get to Cozumel - cozumel beach and see

In fact, the island is most famous for its scuba diving experience, which many tourists are attracted to every year. You can also visit the Punta Sur ecological park, try out authentic Mexican cuisine, and lounge at the beaches.

With so many activities both below and above the waters, your day trip to Cozumel will undoubtedly be one to remember.


Visit Coba ruins and cenotes

Coba is a wonderful place when it comes to exploring the Maya ruins, especially because of the fewer crowds and the opportunity to climb some of its structures. Since sites like Chichen Itza and Tulum ruins are way more popular, the majority of tourists make their way to those, while Coba more off-the-beaten-path.

You will fall in love with the pyramids in the middle of the jungle. The view from their top is absolutely stunning, which makes the whole jungle surrounding them look like a carpet of greenery. But the lower crowds, more intimate experience with the ruins, and the amazing view are just one part of your day trip.

coba ruins

Coba also has underground cave cenotes which are just as memorable an experience. All you need to do is take a drive of around 45 minutes to the place and pay 75 pesos as the entrance fees, and you will have access to all these!


Relax in the Yucatan beach town of El Cuyo

If you’re anything like me, you will fall in love with El Cuyo the moment you step into the town. It’s nothing like you would expect to find in Mexican tourism hotspots.

The small community of locals and expatriates is very intimate, where everybody knows each other and lives like a big community of expats and locals.

Unlike the more touristy cities, you won’t find a lot of fuss around the town. Most of the shops and restaurants close early in the evening, and an inexplicable solace radiates from its streets. So, if the place is on your Yucatan itinerary, it’s bound to surprise you with its slow mode of life.

EL cuyo Yucatan beach with pink sky

But regardless of the closed shops and slow Wi-Fi, you will find El Cuyo to be a dream day trip destination. It’s so quiet and peaceful that one forgets all the luxuries of big cities.

The peaceful seaside isn’t just perfect for a lazy afternoon at the beach, you will also find lots of kite surfing and paddleboarding to do here. What’s more, the hospitality of El Cuyo’s people is unparalleled. So what are you waiting for? Make sure to include this unique experience on your bucket list to make your day trip a memorable one.

Keep in mind that it will take 2 hours to get to el Cuyo from Tulum and you will need a car rental.


CAR

Rent A Car in Mexico

Browse among international and local car rentals and find the best deal.


Chichen Itza

And of course, you cannot miss the jewel of the crown, the majestic Mayan Archeological site of Chichen-Itza.

The complex ruins of this ancient Mayan city, which were a major part of the Maya civilization back in 600 A.D., are just as magnificent as ever.

Kukulcan Temple is the center of attraction in Chichen Itza, but there are also many other remnants from the structures that once dominated this city. These include the Temple of the Warriors, the Wall of Skulls, and stone carvings on various structures.

chichen itza

Apart from the architectural marvels of Chichen Itza, you will also have lots of cenotes to check out nearby and experience their spiritual significance for the Maya people.

I especially recommend Xtoloc Cenote, also known as “The Sacred Cenote” among the locals. Just keep in mind that this is one of the most popular day trips from Tulum, so you’re likely to see lots of crowds.


Connect with the Mayan Culture in Felipe Carrillo Puerto

Felipe Carrillo Puerto is the perfect blend of a developed town with an authentic touch of local life. The place is named after the revolutionary Mexican journalist and politician of the same name, who is famous for his role in bringing together the Maya people and the Mexican government after the Caste War at the beginning of the 20th Century.

Despite the city’s rapid development due to the recently increased tourist activity, the place is ideal for a peaceful escape without missing out on the Caribbean charm of Mexico. Surrounded by mangroves, lagoons, and the Mayan jungle Felipe Carrillo Puerto is one of the most unique day trip locations from Tulum.

There are quite a few interesting things to do here especially if you want to connect with the authentic Mayan culture on a different level.


Swim with the sea turtles in Akumal

Akumal is a coastal town known for its beach by the same name. Expect white sand beaches, a coral reef, and warm, peaceful waters brimming with aquatic life.

Akumal is famous for its enjoyable beaches and a vast number of watersport activities like snorkeling, swimming, and diving. Most of the people visit it for the chance to swim with sea turtles which are absolutely free in their natural habitat but they enjoy swimming close to the shore oddly unafraid of humans.

Beach with sun shades and beach chairs

But your day trip to Akumal will encompass way more than the watersports and swimming with the sea turtles because Akumal packs a lot more than that.

There are tons of popular restaurants, each with a unique taste and flavor on its menu, plenty of caves and caverns to discover, and the famous Caleta Yalku where you can go snorkeling and experience nature in full bloom. A day trip to Akumal means seeing the best beaches, bars, restaurants, and wedding spots along with an abundance of nature. “The Place of Turtle” is just 17 miles from Tulum, so it’s a must-visit.

Read more about Akumal


Isla Contoy tour

If enchanting experiences like swimming with sea turtles are your thing, then Isla Contoy is something you will find to your liking. It’s the most unique and exclusive island you can visit for your day trip from Tulum. There is no way to reach this island on your own, so you will have to go there with the help of a tour boat company.

A small island in the northwest of the Yucatan Peninsula, Isla Contoy is home to more than 150 bird species and also shelters four of the endangered sea turtle species.

Contoy island overview

Due to this fact, the island has very strict rules and regulations in place to make sure the wildlife is preserved despite tourist activity.

One of these regulations is a maximum of 200 guests per day, so make sure you book your tour in advance in order to not miss out on this unique experience. Usually, boat tours, which depart from Cancun, include transportation from your hotel in Tulum.


Las Coloradas and Rio Lagartos

Located in the northern shores, just at the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula, Rio Lagartos is a peaceful fishing town where one of Mexico’s most unique attractions never fails to astonish visitors. A boat trip to Rio Lagartos is in fact a unique experience, that you should not miss.

And at only a 30-minute drive along the coast, there are the Insta-famous pink lakes that you can check out!

rio lagartos pink flamingos

While not many people include it on their day trip list, Rio Lagartos is definitely worth a visit if you’re in Tulum. With a population of fewer than 4,000 people, it’s a town where you will find the peace and quiet that makes you forget everything else.

The pink lake of Las Coloradas isn’t only famous for its brilliant color, it also has more than 400 species of birds that many bird-lovers come to see. The most popular among these are the flamingos that are very commonly seen during a visit to the town.


Visit the pristine beach of Xpu-ha

Located at only 30 minutes drive north of Tulum Xpu-ha beach is one of the most beautiful beaches of the Riviera Maya. Although quite popular among tourists and locals alike it didn’t lose its charm and beauty. Highly recommended to visit during the week instead of weekends to avoid the crowd.

Read also | Why you should visit Xpu-ha beach

xpuha beach

Vist some cenotes along the Riviera Maya

If you love nature you must save some time to visit a few of the cenotes near Tulum, especially the ones located on the Riviera Maya. Located at a short distance from one another, they are for the most cave cenotes and the most remarkable are:

They are all located close to the beaches of Akumal and Xpu-ha whose visits combined with the cenotes would make a great day trip from Tulum.


Tulum Travel Tips

Now that I have shared all the amazing available day trips from Tulum, let’s cover some useful practical tips.

When is the best time to visit Tulum?

There is not an easy answer to that. It all depends on what you are looking for. In fact, in Tulum, you will find a unique environment every phase of the year, so it’s mostly on your preference to decide the best time. I’ll give you a brief overview of the different seasons of the year, each one a good time to visit Tulum for a different reason.

January through March (High season)

The high season in Tulum starts from January and goes on until the end of March. During this time, the weather is at its absolute best, with ideal conditions for both land exploration and watersport activities. You can go exploring, visit all the popular spots in town, and try out as many beaches and watersports activities as you want.

However, this is also the time when a large majority of Tulum’s visitors choose to travel here. Most of the popular day trips will be crowded and it’s harder to find good deals during this time of the year. Prices are also  higher during peak season, so make sure you look up the best deals for yourself before your trip.

Tulum Beach

April through June:

This is the time when temperatures and humidity levels start to increase. But this is also the time when prices start dropping for a majority of tourism spots.

You will find a mixture of good deals and good weather on most days, but there are also chances of rain in the later half of this season.

By the time June is ending, Tulum sees the start of the hurricane season. Although there are no harmful storms during this season, with chances of one hitting Tulum being even lower, you will still encounter rainfalls that are intense and quick.

July through October

This is the season during which hurricane season peaks, so you will find the most amazing deals on hotels and beach clubs between July and October, with almost no crowds and a peaceful time.

But, since chances of storms and heavy rains are the highest during this time, it’s also quite tricky to plan your day ahead with such weather.

Make sure you weigh the pros (like unbelievable deals on pretty much everything) and cons (like a heavy cloudburst on the day you planned your day trip to Chichen Itza).

All in all, this is the best time to pick if you’re on a budget. The rains are intense but last only for a short time, which makes for wonderful day weather in spite of all.

Tulum archaeological site

November through December

The two months before peak season’s arrival are generally considered the ideal time to visit Tulum if you’re looking for the best of both worlds. Hurricane Season is over by the start of November, so you won’t have to worry about heavy rains spoiling any of your plans. But the prices still remain relatively lower, so you can still get your hands on the best deals.

I personally like these two months because the weather keeps on getting better, there are no crowds, and prices for hotels are still quite affordable. What’s more, events like The Day of the Dead and Riviera Maya Jazz Festival sweeten the deal even more.

Read more | The best time to visit Tulum


Is Tulum safe

Tulum is a very safe city when it comes to tourism. I personally find it to be one of the safest places to spend a vacation as compared to many other places in Mexico.

The crime rate is very low here, and even if a crime does take place, it’s mostly related to drugs. As long as you’re avoiding getting involved with drug dealers or other shady activities, you’ll be fine.

More than that, you have nothing to be worried about as long as you take the common-sense precautions which apply anywhere else in the world as well. They include not going to secluded areas alone, especially at night, not drinking more than you can handle, and being careful around strangers.

And always purchase a travel insurance.

Read more | Is Tulum safe?

TRAVEL MUST – Whatever is the way you love to travel, either by car, tour, bus, always make sure you get travel insurance. I can never stress enough what a lifesaver it can be in unexpected situations. Although I hope I never need it, it gives me peace of mind to know that whatever happens I am covered. I recommend either World Nomads or Safety Wing, depending on your needs. Make sure you read carefully what’s included before making the purchase.


Keep Mexican Pesos at hand

This is one of the minute details many people fail to consider, but a lot of the places don’t accept cards. This is even more true if you’re taking a day trip to one of the developing tourist destinations of Mexico.

So it’s always a good idea to have some cash handy to make paying for stuff easier wherever you go. Although US dollars are widely accepted throughout Mexico, I recommend getting some of your money converted to pesos.

The local currency is way more useful and works everywhere, so keeping some of it in cash doesn’t hurt.


How many days do I need to visit Tulum

The required time to visit Tulum mostly depends on your itinerary, but 5-7 days should suffice if you want to cover the beach strip, discover the town, visit Sian Ka’an, and make some day trips to one of the places I mentioned above.

But it’s never a bad idea to make your stay longer because Tulum has enough to offer that you will be covered for a whole month’s stay without running out of new things to do.

Read more | The perfect Tulum Itinerary

cenote corazon tulum - a girl sitting on a platform by the edge. - Cancun Cenotes

How to get to Tulum?

Making your way to this picturesque tourist destination of Mexico is fairly straightforward. There are no direct flights to Tulum, but once you land at the Cancun airport, all you need to do is take a cab directly to your lodgings in Tulum.

You can also take an ADO or some other bus service to get to Playa del Carmen and get a Colectivo for Tulum from there.

You can also book a shuttle transfer either private or shared which is the best option overall, to make your journey to Tulum hassle-free.

If you have landed in Cozumel instead, taking a cab to the ferry terminal and getting on the Playa del Carmen ferry is the best way to get to Tulum. You can take a cab or Colectivo to Tulum from Playa del Carmen without any difficulty.

Read more | How to get from Cancun to Tulum


Unmissable things to do in Tulum

  • Visiting the beach: I am sure you have seen the beautiful postcard-worthy pictures of Tulum beach. Well, it is real! Tulum beach is probably the main reason why the majority of visitors choose Tulum as their favorite Mexican destination. And that is why your trip to Tulum won’t be complete without visiting the picturesque beach with its floury-white sand beaches and turquoise waters. If you didn’t choose a hotel on the beach, you can spend the day in one of the fancy beach club in Tulum for maximum enjoyment and comfort.
  • Seeing the archaeological site: Right beside the town of Tulum, the archaeological site is the most spectacular spot and worth a visit if you’re there. Even though the ruins are worth seeing on their own, the view from the cliff they’re located on is breathtaking and makes it even more worth visiting. You can get a good look at the above-mentioned turquoise waters of the Caribbean, which makes for a refreshing scenery.
  • Exploring Sian Ka’an: Even though I have already mentioned Sian Ka’an earlier, the importance of visiting this biosphere reserve cannot be overstated. It’s thriving with nature and has many species of fauna and flora alike. If you’re in Tulum, visiting Sian Ka’an is something you don’t want to miss out on. The enchanting experience will give you unforgettable memories to bring back with you.
Sian Ka an
  • Walking around Downtown: Although Down Tulum doesn’t have the historical feel that many other Pueblos Magicos have, it still has its charm, thanks to the variety of restaurants, bars, nice shops art galleries and a general hippy ambiance that will make you fall in love.
  • Trip to the cenotes: There are dozens of cenotes in and around Tulum, each one worth a visit. Just like the beaches, visiting some of the cenotes is an essential part of a trip to Tulum. I highly recommend including at least one or two of the cenotes on your itinerary, you won’t regret it.

Rent a car

I assume you have a boatload of Tulum activities on your list that you want to try on your Tulum trip, especially a lot of day trips from Tulum, so it’s important to decide on a mode of transport to get around quickly and easily during your stay. My advice, in this case, is to rent a car. It’s pretty safe to rent a car in Riviera Maya and makes going places a comfortable and enjoyable experience.

You can book one online, but I recommend going to a renting company personally to avoid any last-minute additional charges that unsuspecting tourists sometimes face. Renting a car in Riviera Maya is fairly easy, but driving it around requires gaining some insight into the local practices there, so do read a few tips before you hit the road.


Where to stay in Tulum

Tulum Hotels

There are an infinite amount of hotels in Tulum to chose from and for any budget. I will write a full post about it but in this section I just want to share my top favorites.

Delek tulum suite
Photo © Delek Tulum

Delek Tulum

Located in one of the best places to lodge, Delek Tulum is a beachfront hotel known for its stunning views of the sea, comfortably luxurious lodgings, and an excellent staff that is dedicated to providing the best services to its guests. Delek Tulum is situated in the Hotel Zone of Tulum, but it’s still one of the most reasonable hotels when it comes to pricing and service.

The cabanas in Delek are built with preserving the environment in mind, so you will find a very authentic vibe during your stay here. The interiors reflect harmony between comfort and nature, while the restaurant of Delek offers delicious authentic foods in a very atmospheric setting.

Nomade Tulum

Another gem of Tulum’s Zona Hotelera, this hotel is one of the best places to make your stay if you’re in town. Surrounded by tropical jungle on a Tulum beach along the Caribbean Sea, this chic resort is where you will find a truly enchanting stay. The permanent outdoor tents of Nomade Tulum feature outdoor showers, while the rooms have all the luxuries of modern lodging.

You can also book Nomade Tulum’s suites, which feature private terraces, and villas that have their own private gardens and some even have pools. The restaurant at Nomade Tulum focuses on healthy, vegetarian cuisine, so you can replenish both your mind and body during your stay in this lovely hotel. But if you feel like trying out delicious seafood, the beachfront eatery of Nomade Tulum won’t disappoint.

Cinco Tulum

Cinco Tulum is an unique Glamping option and beach club in Tulum that mixes a genuine Tulum ambiance with the natural beauty of the area, making it the ideal hotel for those who want to be closer to nature. Cinco’s comfy tents are highly recommended, even if you plan to stay only for a day or two. The ambiance here at night is simply magical.

Cinco Tulum
Photo © Cinco Tulum

The most unique thing about Cinco Tulum is its perfect location near the beach, the atmospheric design that gives you a feeling of being at home, and all of it being topped off with the dedication of Cinco’s staff.


Tulum Airbnb

Rooftop Suite w/ Private Pool | View of Mayan Ruins | Bike to Beach | Free Bikes

Jungle views apartment

It’s a stylish penthouse with a modern look throughout. The hotel’s rooftop offers breathtaking views of Tulum National Park and the world-famous Mayan Ruins.

A gym, plunge pool, outdoor cinema, yoga area, café and bar, and free bike access are available for the guest to use. It’s also an extremely secure area, with 24-hour security and a guarded entry that only registered guests are allowed to pass through.

Read more on VRBO


Beach Front King Size Cabaña Arena (no kitchen)

The King Size Beachfront Room Cabana Arena is directly on the beach and provides a magnificent stay on the sugary-white beaches, and is surrounded by palms.

There are both cabanas and modern accommodations available. Located right at the beach, this Cabana is fairly close to the Maya Ruins and National Park as well.

Beach front Cabana

This place’s beach access is particularly popular with visitors. Each room is air-conditioned and equipped with a personal safe. It goes without saying that the cabana has all of the amenities necessary to make your stay enjoyable. Although it is a family-friendly establishment, pets are not permitted on the premises. If you’re bringing a pet, consider one of the other options on this list.

Read more on VRBO


Kasa Kai

Kasa Kai means “fish house,” which evoque its closeness to the beach. In fact, it is located in the Aldea Zama a residential high-end area nestled in a tropical jungle, not so far from the beach, and yet close to town.

Kasa Kayi apartmen bedroom

The spacious unit features two bedrooms, each with a pair of beds. You can use the in-room laundry service in both rooms, and a private balcony. It also has an infinity pool on the rooftop that is available for the guests to use. It was only recently constructed, so all of the handcrafted hardwood furniture is still new and exotic-looking.

Read more on VRBO


I hope this post was helpful not only to learn about all the amazing day trips from Tulum but it also gave you a nice overview of what Tulum can offer. If you have any questions please ask away.

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