Top 6 Things You Must Do in Tulum

  • Boats on the sand at Playa Paraiso

  • Sunset over the beach at Playa Paraiso

  • Old Ruined structure in Tulum

  • Decorative street with skull paintings in Tulum

In the past few years, Tulum has taken over social media as one of the most desired destinations in Mexico.  Located less than two hours south of spring-break-capital Cancun, Tulum is very más tranquilo than its northern neighbor and boasts endless bohemian beauty.

Carved out of the Mayan jungle and built up for tourism just a little more than 50 years ago, Tulum has blossomed into a tourist town with relaxing beach getaway vibes. While tourism is relatively new to Tulum, the rich Mayan history has lasted centuries and is woven into the town’s culture.

Just in case warm turquoise water, white sandy beaches, and mouth-watering Mexican food aren’t enough: This list will convince you to go to Tulum. Keep reading for a countdown of the top six things you must do while in Tulum.

#6: Rent a Bike
Tulum is less than 5 miles wide, yet hosts more than two million tourists per year. That means a lot of people are looking for a taxi at the exact same time. Consider renting a bike instead. Bike rentals are $8 USD per day, while taxis average $8 USD per trip. Free and easy parking everywhere is your added bonus! If you’re looking for a reputable rental, give I Love My Bike company a try. They’re near the intersection of Avenida Tulum and Satelite Sur.

Tulum has great bike lanes that are safe and separate from the main driving street. Even while safe, be sure to pay close attention while navigating the calles and avenidas – and always look both ways!

#5: Eat Local
The food culture in Tulum is infused with strong Mayan, Caribbean, and traditional Mexican influence featuring fresh and local ingredients. There are hundreds of local restaurants in the tiny town. As a general rule, local spots in the pueblo, or downtown area, are less expensive and slightly more authentic than what you will find in the beach hotel zone.

Here’s a tip, anytime a pueblo local restaurant has a line or a full house, it’s something you shouldn’t skip! That’s what happened when my best friend and I stumbled upon Huerto del Eden Taqueria. The beautiful Garden of Eden mural caught our attention, and the smells were amazing. We tried panuchos, which are thin corn tortilla stuffed with refried black beans and topped with meat, chopped cabbage, and salsas. These were so good we came back a second time during our trip.

We stumbled upon another hidden gem, El Capitan when we were riding our bikes and got caught in a rain shower.  As it turns out, the restaurant is known for its fresh seafood and gigantic servings of ceviche. We enjoyed the mixed seafood ceviche, which ended up being a full meal for the two of us! The tangy marinade compliments the shrimp, scallops, fish, and squid so well and the cheap beers are perfectly refreshing to wash it all down.

If you’re seeking an upscale dining experience while in Tulum, Gitano should be at the top of your list. The picadillo style lettuce wraps were full of flavor and were a large portion considering it was on the appetizer list. My best friend and I shared the pork belly entrée, it was slowly roasted to perfection and served alongside an arugula salad, zucchini, and roasted cabbage. Gitano is a prettier penny than the local restaurants, but the service, ambiance, and farm-to-table entrees make it worth every dime.

Other honorable mentions to try: Tulum Art Club, Casa Jaguar, and Hartwood as some of the must-try restaurants.

#4: Explore a Cenote
When limestone bedrock collapses, sinkholes are formed and expose caves filled with groundwater, otherwise known as cenotes. Pronounced ‘say-no-tays’, these underwater caves are filled with crystal clear water that is great for an afternoon swim or scuba diving. The most popular locations are Gran Cenote and Dos Ojos as these are typically included in local tour excursions.

For a cenote experience off the beaten path, consider going to Cenote Calavera, which means skull. When you arrive at the cenote, you’ll understand the name as there are three dive holes that resemble a skull from inside the cenote. Expect to pay 100 pesos to swim and 200 pesos to scuba dive. Oh, and watch out for bats!

#3: Play at the Playa
Playa Paraiso is the well-known public beach in Tulum with powder white sand and warm Caribbean waters. Since Tulum faces east over the ocean, there are breathtaking sunrises over the ocean. Bring all of your beach essentials and relax for the day. There are plenty of water excursion companies for activities and endless beachside restaurants when you need a snack.

#2: Visit the Ruins
No Tulum guide would be complete without the Tulum Mayan Ruins! Featuring some of the best-preserved ruins in Mexico, the Tulum Ruins are the town’s most well-known attraction. As a thirteenth century seaport, the site was home to Mayans trading imported goods. The most prominent structure on site is the Castillo and it is surrounded by smaller temples honoring varied deities. A full day pass to the ruins is only 40 pesos max, so don’t get persuaded into that $25 USD tour!

Added bonus to renting a bike: Cars are not allowed on the .5 mile walkway to the ruins, but bikes are. Easily navigate to the ruins on a bike and park your ride immediately in front of the entrance.

#1: Fiesta like there’s no Manana
Yes, Tulum is known as a relaxing beach getaway destination, but do not miss out on the nightlife. Calle Centauro Sur is a street in the pueblo filled with fun bars and nightclubs. Batey, Pasito Tun Tun, and El Milagrito are all great party spots in downtown. The hotel zone also features some fun spots like Gitano and I Scream Bar. If you happen to be in town during a full moon weekend, make sure to check out the Full Moon Party at Papaya Playa Project.

That’s it for this Tulum to-do list! Tulum is a beautiful city bustling with charm and is a great destination for a full week or just for a long weekend. Let us know via Twitter @HiltonSuggests if you try any of these on your next trip, and share your own ideas with us at Hilton Suggests!

Brown haired woman posing for photo

This post was written by Hilton Suggests Team Member, Arielle A. Are you interested in traveling to Tulum? Let us know if we can help you with any other recommendations. Tweet us for more great local travel tips!

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