Mexico’s reputation as an ideal place to spend some time in the tropics has left its usual destinations jam-packed with tourists. Tulum definitely gets its fair share of attention, but it has yet to reach the level of places like Cancún. The two are located on the same peninsula, so it does turn into a battle between one or the other after all.
For anyone who’s struggling to decide between Cancún and Tulum, or any other Mexican hotspots, this list will give good reason to go with Tulum. From its gorgeous ecological sites and natural wonders to its tourism infrastructure, Tulum has tons to offer.
Now let’s take a look at 20 beautiful photos taken in Tulum (in case you're deciding where in Mexico to stay).
20 Cenote Dos Ojos hides a sparkling secret
Massive sinkholes that lead down into hollowed-out caves are known as cenotes, and Mexico has a ton of them. The most popular one in Tulum is Cenote Dos Ojos. Its shimmering, shallow waters attract a large number of tourists around midday. We’ll explore some less popular options further down.
19 Navigating the jungle by bike is practical and fun
Certain hotels include free bikes in the cost of lodging. Easing down the jungle roads on a bicycle helps guests immerse themselves in the relaxed beach atmosphere. It cuts down on transport costs too. If the distance proves to be too much, scooter rentals are an option.
18 The ancient Dance of the Flyers lives on in Tulum
Rope is the only thing that connects these four men to a wooden pole. They brace themselves at the top before leaping headfirst into the air. On the way down, they spin until they touch the ground. According to CNN, it’s a dance that honors gods indigenous to the region.
17 Public Paradise Beach sits just below the ruins
A day at the beach pairs well with a visit to the Tulum ruins since the two are right next to each other. After doing some exploration, visitors can rest their legs on the shore and enjoy a refreshing lunch. Any leftover energy can be spent in the Caribbean sea.
16 Huge markets are at least worth window-shopping
Brightly patterned shirts and blankets woven by loom line the shelves of this aisle in this Tulum market. Ceramics and delicate jewelry are other options present. This is a small selection of the wide array of souvenirs to be found on a day out on the town in Tulum.
15 Inexpensive accommodations maintain the tropical vibe
Booking a resort located right on the beach can get pricy, but seeking accommodations a little further in from shore is cheaper. These hotels keep the beach theme going with plenty of palm trees and thatch-roofed buildings. Top-rated TripAdvisor hotel Las Palmas Maya is the example shown above.
14 Luxury hotels are more like art museums
Azulik hotel is beautifully designed and super expensive despite not having the typical amenities like air conditioning, according to the Azulik site. Artfulness and the opportunity to resign from the busy world are its draws. Those reluctant to fork up the cash are welcome to tour some areas for free.
13 Cenote Calavera is a bit more low-key
Another popular cenote that’s less busy than Dos Ojos is Cenote Calavera. Water fills the entirety of the cavern here, so guests can jump directly down into the dark. According to Koox Diving, it's deep enough to go scuba diving to the bottom where you’ll find unique cave rock formations.
12 Floating down Muyil washes all the worries away
A strong river current takes visitors on a gentle journey downstream. Touring Tulum’s natural landscapes without moving a muscle gives visitors a chance to truly relax. In most areas of the river, the water is too shallow to scare off the worst of swimmers. Life vests make things safer still.
11 Tulum ruins cover the coastal cliffs
The Mayans built no other city this close to the coast, according to Tulum Ruins. Residential areas and temples are both present at the site. However, its central purpose was to serve as a seaport for trade. Now its ruins give a look into the life of an ancient civilization.
10 Zipline across the bright blue Caribbean
Snorkelers in Xel-Há’s inlet look up to find their fellow travelers zooming past across the open waters. While Tulum has other zip lining options, the unobstructed path of this one can be reassuring for newbies. Crystal clear water also provides a quick preview of life under the sea.
9 The lighthouse at Xel-Há is now a giant slide
Xel-Há’s website states that the four slides that curl around the lighthouse drop guests down from nearly 100 feet. They let out in a cenote filled with water from the Caribbean Sea. Ticket-holders are allowed to climb up for another go as many times as they like.
8 Spot dolphins at Sian Ka'an
Guided tours will point out the areas in Tulum where dolphins and whales are likely to appear. Even if the desired animal doesn’t appear on that day, Tulum is still situated near the Mesoamerican reef. There are hundreds of tropical fish and colorful corals for snorkelers to stumble upon.
7 Circle the tiny islands in the Sian Ka'an nature reserve
These are actually groups of mangrove trees that cling together in marshy areas like the Sian Ka’an reserve. After booking a tour, guests can set off in kayaks for an open area like this one. Yucatan Outdoors states that these trips include snorkeling sessions and a local lunch.
6 Guides steer bigger boats for wildlife tours
The mangroves in this reserve are beacons for freshwater wildlife like turtles and frogs. Fly fishing in saltwater lagoons will reveal more species of aquatic life. Visit Sian Ka'an also lists a sunset tour that takes guests birdwatching in a region where tropical herons and flamingos are found.
5 The crocodiles might be out if you're lucky
Or unlucky. That depends on what constitutes a relaxing day for you. Crocodiles are one of the wild animals found in the wetlands of the marshes of Tulum. There’s no need to get close since they aren’t made for petting, but observing from afar is thrilling enough.
4 Reach the Visitor Center for a view of the forest
A wooden spiral staircase leads the way up to the top of the visitors center where a small thatched roof keeps guests from the hot sun. From this point, the tropical forest of the reserve is visible. The view extends all the way out to the water.
3 Steps at the Coba Mayan Ruins test your endurance
The ruins shown above are one part of the large Coba ruins site. Visitors are welcome to interact with the ancient structure by climbing and sitting, unlike other, more popular Mayan sites. According to Past the Potholes, it’s a 45-minute drive from Tulum. Public transport makes it an hour.
2 Making it to the top gets you this view
We’re sorry to say that there isn’t a trophy waiting for those who finish the hike, but there is a clear shot of the untrodden forest that surrounds the ruins. Since exploring the thick forest alone is a risky endeavor, seeing it all from above is something special.
1 Cenote Manatee is big enough for a kayak
The entire surface of this cenote is exposed to the sunlight except for areas that fall under the shade of the mangrove trees. That makes it the exact opposite of the spooky Cenote Calavera. Guests can ease right off the edge into the water with kayaks, paddleboards, or snorkels.