Tulum Vacation Guide 2021

2021 Tulum Visitors Guide

Travel guide to Tulum, a mystical destination that will touch your soul, well-known for eco-chic vacations. Tulum, known as the best beach in Mexico, is located in the Riviera Maya 1 hour 30 minutes south of Cancun. There exist many activities to do in Tulum, and this is why Tulum is internationally famous for being one of the top destinations for vacations in the world.

Tulum Mayan Ruins

Staying somewhere on Tulum Beach Road puts you in close proximity to a number of exciting outdoor activities, especially if you are interested in Mayan culture, history, and magical activities that will connect you with your soul! A vacation at a magical hotel in Tulum in the gorgeous Riviera Maya is all about escaping the Hi-Tech “connected” world and getting back to nature. Enjoy a relaxing massage while watching the waves crashing offshore on the second largest barrier reef in the world; go snorkeling or diving in the warm turquoise sea, explore the jungle and the hidden beaches.

Tulum activities

Tulum features a European style atmosphere with different small shops, organic and magical restaurants as well as small bars designed on a calm road where you can also rent a bike. Tulum is a paradise for nature lovers, and for people who love carrying out ecological and spiritual activities. We recommend these activities, in order to spend an original vacation in Tulum:

  • Take a yoga class in the morning (we recommend Amansala Resort Tulum for this activity).
  • Visit Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve.
  • Visit a beach club like Papaya Playa Project to read a book and relax your mind while watching the birds flying on the blue turquoise of the Caribbean Sea.
  • Snorkel around one of the best beaches in Mexico.
  • Rent a bike and discover the small original shops, virgin beaches, and organic restaurants.

Tulum best beaches

All beaches in Tulum are “public”. There are no “private” beaches, although getting access to the beaches in most cases can only be achieved by walking through private land or beach clubs.

tulum beach
tulum beach

You will find a number of beach clubs in Tulum, operating along the beach road. Most of them feature changing rooms, bathrooms, lockers, beach gear for rent, beach chairs and restaurants/bars.

These are the best beach clubs in Tulum:

  • Amansala Hotel;
  • Ana y Jose Charming Hotel and Spa;
  • Mestizo Boutique Tulum;
  • Papaya Playa Project Tulum Cabañas, and
  • Retiro Maya Tulum.

The Tulum beach road takes you to the Sian Ka’an Biosphere and Punta Allen, where you will find some spectacular virgin beaches.

Tulum nude beaches

Some Tulum beach clubs accept topless and other nude sunbathing.

If you are interested in Tulum Nude Beaches, then you should consider staying at Cabanas Copal or the more upscale Cabanas Azulik. Both of these Tulum cabana hotels are located right on the beach in Tulum and nude sunbathing is accepted. Nude sunbathing on Tulum beaches is very discreet; people sunbathe nude and topless then tend to cover up when they walk back to their rooms.

Areas of Tulum

Downtown Area
it is set right beside the highway where you will find some inexpensive hotels, restaurants and local shops.

Hotel Area
it is located on secluded beaches and stretches of the jungle that leads towards the Sian Ka’an Biosphere. This is a new place in Tulum to discover, you will find many activities to do, small restaurants, bars and boutique eco cabanas.

Transportation to Tulum

There are four different transportation options from Cancun airport to Tulum, depending on your budget, preference and time needs. Transportation to Tulum from Cancun, Riviera Maya or Playa del Carmen is very easy. From Cancun airport, you will find four different ways of transportation to get to Tulum, depending on your budget, preference and time needs.

  • By bus: The ADO bus will drop you off in downtown Tulum in approximately two hours. Then, you can take a taxi to your hotel. The bus fare has the following costs: $17USD one way and $32USD roundtrip per person. A taxi to Tulum Hotel Area will cost you approximately $10USD one way. The frequency of buses to Tulum depends on your travel season (low, mid or high) and schedule.
  • Private transfer: This is the most convenient way to get to Tulum. Mayan Explore can arrange your private transfers upon making your hotel reservation with us.
  • By Taxi: This is the most expensive way to get to Tulum, which will cost you around $150USD one way.
  • Rent a car: Around $95USD per day (this is an approximate price for a mid-size car, including insurance).

We will be glad to arrange a transfer for you. We have evaluated several companies and have selected those with the best and punctual service.

Nightclubs in Tulum

In Tulum, there are no nightclubs like in Cancun and Playa del Carmen. However, some hotels and restaurants hold parties at night, where you will see all the international local young people hang out. You will love this style of party, a different way to have fun with a big international family: Mexicans, Americans, Italians, French, Argentines, and many others.

The best place for hanging out on a Saturday night is the Papaya Playa Project, which is the epicenter for DJs and performing artists.

Restaurants in Tulum

The restaurants in Tulum are well-known for their original concept. Each restaurant has something magical that you will be pleased to discover. Each restaurant has a different concept, but all of them have something in common:  organic food.

Tulum weather

The weather in Tulum is always good for a beach vacation. However, we highly recommend the period between Christmas and Easter, especially if you are coming from a cold climate since temperatures will fluctuate between 23 and 30 degrees. Please bring biodegradable sunscreen, and your swimsuit; that’s all you really need.

“Tulum… A mystical destination that will touch your soul.”

Top Activities in Tulum

Original top activities to do in Tulum such as beach clubs, restaurants, archaeological and ecological tours, and more. Tulum is an ecological destination in the Riviera Maya where you can carry out different activities depending on your desires. Tulum is an exciting and chic destination located just 50 minutes south of Playa del Carmen. You can choose among many different and original romantic, ecological and archaeological activities. For a full list of activities to do in Tulum, please click here.

Stay at one of the various Eco-Friendly hotels and resorts, most of which are located just a few steps from the Caribbean Sea. Alas, many travelers usually visit the Pyramids of Tulum and return to their hotels in the Riviera Maya, Playa del Carmen or Cancun. However, there exist many things to do here, such as some unforgettable sustainable and romantic activities. “Tulum was considered in 2012 the Third Best Beach in the world and the Best Beach in Mexico.”

Explore the Mayan Ruins of Tulum
The most important archaeological tour and activity in the area. Tulum was discovered in 1518 and was a major trading point within the Mayan world. Today you can walk around these ancient ruins and marvel at the magnificent views of the Caribbean Sea. Open every day from 8am – 5pm. The entrance fee is 57 Mexican pesos per person. Sunday free for Mexicans and Residents. Despite the touristy vibes, our guide was a passionate story teller who shared both factual and spiritual tales of the Mayans who once lived there. The incredible part about the ancient city of Tulum is it’s proximity to one of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean. It’s almost like being able to see the Western Wall in Jerusalem and then take a few steps for a quick dip in the Dead Sea.

mayan ruins tulum

There’s so many beautiful, secluded, and off the beaten path areas to Tulum outside of the Mayan Ruins which I hope to explore fully another day. But until then, I will hold onto the most beautiful visions of this ancient city along with a new fascination for the mysterious culture of the Mayans.

Take a day trip to the Sian Ka’an Eco Reserve
For people who would like an ecological unforgettable activity, Sian Ka´an Biosphere is located very close to Tulum and well worth a visit. Sian Ka´an is a Biosphere Reserve and is home to thousands of species of flora and fauna, deserted beaches and lush jungles. This is possibly the most astonishing area in the whole of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Take a refreshing dip in the Gran Cenote
Snorkel in the 6,500-year-old Gran Cenote and cool off from the Caribbean heat. The Gran Cenote is located on the Tulum – Coba highway.

Swim with turtles at Akumal
At the half moon bay of Akumal, you will have the chance to see an abundance of marine life, schools of fish, barracudas, rays, lobsters and of course sea turtles in their own natural environment.

Visit the tallest Mayan pyramid in Mexico
An amazing archaeological activity that we recommend in Tulum is visiting the ancient city of Coba. Coba is fast becoming one of the most visited places in the Mexican Caribbean. The Ruins of Coba are just 40 minutes away from downtown Tulum. Make your way to Nohoch Mul and marvel at the stunning views of the Mayan jungle. Open every day from 8am – 5pm. Sunday free for Mexicans and Residents.

Kick back and relax in a Beach Club
One of the most important activities to do in Tulum is to visit many of the beach clubs. However, we recommend the trendy Papaya Playa Project open from 9am until 8:00pm and the chic Ana y Jose Beach club open from 9am – 6pm.

Tulum Pyramids

The Ruins of Tulum are one of the top-visited Mayan archaeological sites, located on the Caribbean coast overlooking the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea. Tulum is a Mayan city, located along the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula in the State of Quintana Roo, 80 miles south of Cancun. The Ruins of Tulum, which name is derived from the Mayan word for wall, served to defend the city against invaders from both land and sea.

Tulum was one of the last cities inhabited and built by the Mayans. The height of its development was between the 13th and 15th centuries. Nowadays, this remarkable area continues to be revered, not only for its history but also for its extraordinary beauty and hospitality. Although the ruins are structurally less impressive than Chichen Itza or Uxmal and a lot less extensive, Tulum is one of the most picturesque Mayan sites, hovering from 39 feet tall cliffs over the turquoise Caribbean Sea. Because of this, the archaeological site of Tulum was voted as the #18 Best Destination in the Caribbean and Mexico.

  1. Visit the beautiful sandy beach beneath El Castillo to enjoy the glimmering Caribbean Sea.
  2. We recommend you visit the archaeological site early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid crowds.
  3. South of the archaeological site, you will find a gorgeous white sandy beach with many small bars, beach and spa hotels, beachfront cabins and restaurants. Great day on the beach in Tulum! Check out all our fantastic beach and spa hotels in Cancun, Riviera Maya and Playa del Carmen.

The archaeological site of Tulum is about a 1-hour drive south of Playa del Carmen. These Mayan ruins are some of the best-preserved in the Yucatan and have the most beautiful broad white beaches, considered the finest in the Riviera Maya. Check out our archaeological tours from Cancun, Riviera Maya, and Playa del Carmen.

Activities to do in Tulum Pyramids

There exist three major structures of interest: El CastilloThe Temple of the Frescoes and the Temple of the Descending God.

  • El Castillo is the tower that dominates the area and is perched on the cliff. Its columns decorated with plumed serpents are an indication of Toltec influence. Beneath El Castillo is a small but perfect beach, where the Mayans would land their canoes.
  • The Temple of the Frescoes has a portrayal of a man on a horse, which indicates that these drawings were still being worked on after the Spanish invasion. The horse was introduced by the Spanish and was worshiped by Mayans as a godly creature.
  • The Temple of the Descending God has a stucco relief of an upside-down winged God that also has bee-like features, signifying the importance of honey to the Mayans.

Top Bars and Nightclubs in Tulum

Top nightclubs and bars in Tulum that we recommend in the hotel area and downtown. In Tulum you will find different types of bars and nightclubs: from salsa dance to electronic music, hosting the most important international DJ’s. Also, you will find many bars and clubs on the beach where tourists gather around. At the bars in Tulum town, you will see young local people who gather to party. These places are not as noisy as other areas in Playa del Carmen or Cancun. In fact, the atmosphere in Tulum bars and clubs is very casual, you can go wearing shorts and flip-flops without problems.

MEZZANINE TULUM

Friday night beach fiesta at Mezzanine”

Every Friday night the beach and terraces at Mezzanine are filled with cool and trendy people dancing under the moon and stars. In recent years, Mezzanine has become a famous bar and nightclub among some of the best DJs in the world, bringing their Ibiza tunes to the stunning beaches of Tulum.

  • Type of Music: House Music/Electronic.
  • Opening & Closing times: 9pm – 2.30am (Thursday: Havana Nights Beach Party 8-11pm).
  • Phone Number: (+52) 984 131 1596
  • Address: Hotel Area, Carretera Tulum, Boca Paila Km 1.5, Tulum.

PAPAYA PLAYA PROJECT

Saturday Nights and Full Moon Beach Parties at PPP!”

The Papaya Playa Project Bar and Beach Club in Tulum is famous for many reasons. However, it is mostly famous for its Saturday night beach parties where people from all over the world come to party on the beaches of Tulum, and for their Full Moon Parties which attract international DJs who spin house and electronic music all night long!

  • Type of Music: House Music/Electronic.
  • Opening & Closing times: 8pm – 2am (Full moon parties until 6am); Tuesday – Sunday DJ sets 12pm – 6pm).
  • Phone Number: (+52) 984 116 3774
  • Address: Hotel Area, Carretera Tulum, Boca Paila Km 4.5, Tulum.

CURANDERO TULUM 

Sunday Electric acoustic sessions at Curandero”

There is nothing more satisfying than having an ice cold beer in a bar in Tulum after a day at the beach, and there is no better place than Curandero! This bar is very popular with tourists and locals, offering weekly promotions, live music and DJ beats all week long. This is one of the hot spots in Tulum that you cannot miss!

  • Type of Music: House Music/Electronic
  • Opening & Closing times: Tuesday to Sunday 6pm – 2am (Sunday nights are the best nights).
  • Phone Number: (+52) 984 871 2414
  • Address:  Downtown Area, Tulum Avenue and Beta, Tulum.

PEPENERO

“Best cocktails and Live Music in Town – not to be missed!”

Pepenero is famed for its laid back casual style and serving some of the best cocktails in town! Pepenero is a bar that people go to for a few quiet drinks before heading to one of the beach parties at Papaya Playa Project, Mezzanine or Moloko. If you are a fan of Mezcal, be sure to try it here, it’s one of the best in the area!

  • Type of Music: Local Music, Lounge.
  • Opening & Closing times: Monday to Saturday 8pm – 2am.
  • Phone Number: (+52) 998 287 3690
  • Address:  Downtown Area, Tulum Avenue between Jupiter and Acuario, Tulum.

Top Restaurants in Tulum

Top restaurants in Tulum, including Mexican and international specialties. Recommendations from locals and tourists. Tulum is a magical beachside town that offers it all for eating. You can decide to have lunch at an inexpensive restaurant situated along the highway or enjoy a sea view restaurant within the hotel area.

EL TABANO

“Mexican food with a French twist, funky decor”

El Tabano is one of the best-known restaurants in Tulum, boasting its cozy atmosphere, homemade cooking, and lush jungle views. This fairly new restaurant is very popular with tourists and locals alike. Do not miss their famous Stuffed Jalapeño Peppers – just delicious!

  • Type of food: International Cuisine, Mexican, Seafood, Vegetarian.
  • Opening times: Every day 9am -10pm.
  • Price per person:  30 – 50 USD.
  • Phone Number: (+52) 984 134 8725
  • Address: Carretera Tulum, Boca Paila Km7, Tulum.

CASA BANANA

“Super Chic restaurant offering perfect Argentine Steak”

This Argentine style restaurant is located in the “La Nueva Vida de Ramiro” Eco-Friendly hotel, just a few steps away from the Caribbean Sea. This upscale restaurant is the perfect location for a romantic dinner. The homemade chorizo is a must, smoky and full of flavor.

  • Type of food: Seafood & Steakhouse.
  • Opening times: Every day 7.30am -9.30pm.
  • Price per person: 50 – 70 USD.
  • Phone Number: (+52) 984 806 2871
  • Address: Carretera Tulum, Boca Paila Km 8.5, Tulum.

HARTWOOD TULUM

“Tasty Modern Mexican”

This über chic restaurant is located on the jungle side of Tulum at Km 7.6. This open-air restaurant uses no electrical appliances so everything is handmade! This eco-friendly restaurant serves local farm products cooked on the grill or in the wood-burning oven.

  • Type of food: Caribbean, Mexican.
  • Opening times: Wednesday – Sunday  6pm -10pm.
  • Price Per Person: 30 – 50 USD (cash only).
  • Address: Carretera Tulum, Boca Paila Km 7.6, Tulum.

MEZZANINE RESTAURANT 

“Thai Restaurant with a hip Martine Lounge”

This minimalistic-elegant restaurant is located on one of the best beaches in the world, with postcard views to die for! Celebrity head chef, Dim Geefay serves traditional Thai food that will leave your taste buds dancing. Do not miss out on trying the house favorite Pad Thai.

  • Type of food: Thai, Mexican.
  • Opening times: Everyday  8am – 10pm.
  • Price per person: 20 – 40 USD.  
  • Phone Number: (+52) 984 131 1596
  • Address: Carretera Tulum, Boca Paila Km 1.5, Tulum.

PURO CORAZON

“Intimate and bohemian”

Puro Corazon or “Pure Heart” has a very welcoming and warm ambiance. Serving gourmet Mexican dishes, using the finest fresh ingredients. Puro Corazon is the perfect choice for a great dining experience in Tulum. Try the delicious “Tikin-Xic Fish” – a Mayan delicacy of fish fillet wrapped in banana leaves and served with a famous Tikin-Xic hot sauce.

  • Type of food: Traditional and Modern Mexican.
  • Opening times: Tuesday – Sunday 11am -11pm.
  • Price per person: 15 – 30 USD. 
  • Phone Number: (+52) 984 137 6442
  • Address: Carretera Tulum, Boca Paila Km 5.5, Tulum.