Tulum, Mexico is one of the world’s top beach destinations.
If it’s not already on your list of things to do in Mexico, it should be (it’s #1 on ours…)
Well, in this post I’ll give you 10 quick but inspiring reasons to visit Tulum, Mexico.
But, first, I suggest quickly watching this one minute video with aerial footage of Tulum’s beaches from above. Afterwards, we’ll see if you can even make it through this full list before booking tickets to Tulum ; )
Oh, and if you like that video, you might also like these 15 aerial photos of the beaches in Tulum!
Anyway, without further ado, here are 10 magical reasons to travel to Tulum ASAP:
What, did you expect something else as the top reason to visit Tulum?
Tulum is first and foremost a beach destination — and for good reason! The beaches of Tulum are some of the best in the world. And though Tulum has seen its fair share of development over the past decade, Tulum’s beaches have so far managed to escape the worst side effects of mass tourism.
If it’s even possible for a beach to be both wild and manicured at the same time, it happens in Tulum. The beaches are at once natural, with the jungle in places practically spilling into the sea, and yet still almost artificially perfect, with white sand that seems almost too good to be real.
Tulum is located on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, which is blessed with hundreds of “cenotes.”
What’s a cenote you ask?
Well, it’s essentially a swimming hole fed by underground rivers. There are dozens of incredible cenotes to choose from within driving distance of Tulum (some of the best ones in my opinion are north towards Valladolid). Some are above-ground while others are underwater, and each cenote is unique. And, on a hot day, taking a swim in the cool waters of a cenote is the perfect refresher.
But swimming isn’t the only thing you can do in a cenote: they also make for one of the most unique diving experiences in the world. You’ll be in divers’ paradise descending into and incredible underground world.
Along with the influx of sunseekers in Tulum has come the development of an incredible array of food options. The locals have long been known for their culinary talent, and lately they’ve been joined by a number of foreign chefs and restaurateurs.
From high end beach side dining, to vegan and vegetarian fare, to Bali-style smoothie bars, to affordable traditional Mexican cantinas, there is a gastronomical option for everyone in Tulum.
Oh, and if you’re visiting during May, be sure to check out the Tulum Food, Spirits, and Wine Festival, when chefs and mixologists from all over the world descend on Tulum!
Just outside Tulum lies the Kaan Luum lagoon, which is remarkable because in the center lies an incredibly deep cenote.
The cenote is rumored to extend as far as 80 meters (262 feet) deep!
The sediment from the cenote is believed by some locals to have healing properties, and visitors flock to the lagoon to create their own mud baths. But, even if putting mud on your face isn’t your thing, you’ll still love enjoying the unique color of the water here (not to mention the cool temperature of the water, which makes for a nice beach break).
Tulum is just 90 minutes by car south of the Cancun airport, one of the busiest airports in the regions with connections all over the world!
That means it’s easy enough to get to Tulum affordably, but it’s still a bit away from the crowds of Tulum.
Tulum offers access to a number of prominent Mayan ruin sites in the Yucatan peninsula. First, the northern edge of the Tulum beach is adorned by Mayan ruins that overlook the beach from a spectacular perch on a cliff!
Second, the much larger ruins at Coba are a mere hour or so north of Tulum. You’ll have to hike or bike through some jungle to access these ruins, but that just makes the experience all the more fun.
Lastly, a few hours drive from Tulum will take you to Chichen Itza – stunning Mayan ruins that have been named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World!
Tulum contains the enchanting Si’an Kaan biosphere, a protected area where hundreds of species of animals and plants flourish in one of the most ecologically diverse areas on the planet.
In the gigantic park (it’s about twice the size of Rhode Island!), you can find everything from one of the world’s largest barrier reefs to big cats like pumas, ocelots, and even jaguars.
And if that doesn’t excite you, how about the fact that there are over 300 species of mosquitoes to be found?
Kidding, kidding, kidding. I mean, not about number of mosquitoes – that’s 100% true – but about the whole “being excited thing.” : )
If you somehow want to get away from the sun in Tulum, you can explore some stunning underground caves.
Among the best are the caves located next to Cenote Caracol, where stalagmites hang down over shallow and still pools of water that create some trippy reflections. Just look and the above photo and see if you can tell the difference between up and down!
Or you can visit an enormous nature reserve, Rio Secreto, which is filled with five huge stunning caves – and you can even go swimming in an underground river!
For all the reasons listed above, tourists are starting to flock to Tulum in droves. Once a sleepy beach town, Tulum has recently exploded as a tourist destination, especially among the luxury tourist set.
On the one hand, too much tourism can bring problems with it. But, on the other hand, Tulum isn’t overrun with vacationers just yet, and it still retains its core charm as a dusty beach town. You won’t find any high-rise condominiums here.
It may not stay like that forever, though, so that’s why you should plan to travel to Tulum sooner rather than later!
Along with the recent tourism development has come a corresponding rise in prices. If you want to drop $500 USD a night on a fancy beach resort next to the Carribean, you can easily get that experience in Tulum.
But, with that said, it’s still very possible to visit Tulum on a budget. There are dozens of quality hostels on offer – including an all-inclusive hostel (yes, really). And the northern beach in Tulum offers plenty of public space on a gorgeous strip of sand, meaning you don’t have to stay in an expensive resort to experience the best of Tulum.
Although there are a lot of accommodation options in Tulum, it’s hard to find a quality yet affordable place right on the beach. Your best bet in that department is El Paraiso Hotel. It’s located right on the Playa Paraiso, just a 15 minute or so walk from the Tulum ruins. The rooms at El Paraiso are comfortable, each with their own patio just steps from the beach, but they won’t set your wallet back too far.
Then check out my guide to the incredible beaches of Tulum.
It has loads of specific details to help you plan your beach vacation to Tulum, including how to choose the best beaches, where to stay, and more. And if you still have questions about visiting Tulum, just ask me in the comments!
And before you go to Mexico, be sure to check out these 17 Insanely Useful Travel Tips for Mexico!
Lastly, if you’re booking your next trip to Mexico, be sure to check out my article on whether you should buy travel insurance for Mexico. And if you’re going north towards Merida, check out my guide to Beaches of Celestun, Mexico.
Nate Hake has traveled to 65+ countries across six continents around the world and blogs about his travels at TravelLemming.com. He is from Denver, Colorado, recently concluded a six month stint living in Mexico, and is now currently traveling in Thailand.