Tulum Ruins

7 Best Things to Do in Tulum Mexico in 2024

Written by Traivor Morrison
Published on
From ancient ruins to pristine beaches to thrilling adventures, Tulum, Mexico has something for everyone. As locals, we've had the opportunity to experience the very best this beach town has to offer and can't wait to share our list of the 7 best things to do in Tulum.

7. Tulum Archeological Site

No trip to Tulum is complete without a visit to Tulum Ruins. Grab a bike and immerse yourself in history while exploring the breathtaking clifftop ruins, a captivating glimpse into the Mayan civilization. Witness the iconic Castillo perched on the edge of the Caribbean Sea, offering stunning views. Bring sunscreen, water, and come early to avoid the heat and long lines.

Alternatively, book a private tour with an English-speaking guide who will pick you up from your hotel in an air-conditioned vehicle. Bottled water, snacks, and all fees and taxes are included with this private, half day, 5-star rated experience.
Cinco Beach Club

6. Paradise Beach (Playa Paraíso)

Relax in paradise on the best stretch of beach in Tulum at Cinco Beach Club. Located in the National Park just a short bike ride or drive from the archaeological site, Cinco offers a restaurant and beach club with a variety of seating options from poofs (bean bags), loungers, and day beds for two all with umbrellas. Definitely reserve ahead in high season from December to April.

Pro tip - Complimentary valet parking is available with minimum consumption until the lot is full. Paid parking is also available nearby. In addition, beach towels are available to rent for a nominal fee, so there's no need to bring your own.

Ven a la Luz by Daniel Popper

5. Ven a la Luz by Daniel Popper

Snap a pic with Tulum's iconic "Ven a la Luz" sculpture! This towering 33-foot artwork by Daniel Popper isn't just visually stunning, it's a symbol of connection with nature and self. Stand beneath the open arms of this giant wooden woman (though some say it's genderless!) and capture a photo that embodies the unique Tulum spirit. Located at the Ahau Tulum Sculpture Park, it's a must-see for an Instagram-worthy moment and a reminder to embrace the light during your Tulum adventure.

For a private photo tour experience, your professional photographer will contact you prior to your session with a variety of photogenic locations to choose from, helping you customize the perfect photos for you and your group. Sessions are available in the morning, at noon, or in the afternoon.
Cenote Dos Ojos

4. Cenote Dos Ojos

Skip touristy Gran Cenote and Cenote Calavera in town, and visit local favorite, Cenote Dos Ojos, just north of Tulum. "Dos Ojos" translates to "Two Eyes," referring to the cenote's two main openings. Descend into a magical underwater world of crystal-clear freshwater caverns, stalactites, and stalagmites. Explore hidden passages, observe unique aquatic life, and marvel at the breathtaking light shows as sunlight filters through the water.

For a once-in-a-lifetime chance to witness the beauty and mystery of the Mayan underworld, we highly recommend an early morning VIP Private Tour of Cenote Dos Ojos with everything included. Entrance fees, snorkel gear, lunch, and hotel pick-up and drop-off is provided. You can select any hotel in Tulum or Playa del Carmen or anywhere in between when booking. It's a private tour after all! Your private guide will contact you in advance of your tour to confirm all details.
Pro tip - Don't skip the wet suit when offered. While it's a little warm at first, you'll be happy with your decision by the end of the tour!

Veggie Tacos, Espadín

3. An Authentic Mexican Cooking Class

Journey to the heart of Tulum with an authentic Mexican cooking class in a local's house. This unique experience goes beyond delicious food. Learn to prepare traditional dishes alongside a welcoming host, using fresh, local ingredients and family recipes passed down through generations. But the fun doesn't stop there! Before you get cooking, tantalize your taste buds with a mezcal tasting, exploring this smoky spirit produced from agave plants. It's a chance to learn about Mayan cultural traditions and gain hands-on cooking skills, all in a warm and inviting atmosphere.
Pro tip - If you are staying in town at our favorite hotel Bardo, sister property Una Vida, or our Airbnb, Casa Cangrejo Tulum, the local's house is nearby in a safe and secure neighborhood called Riviera Tulum. For the exact address, follow this link for more information.

Sian Ka'an Float

2. Muyil River Float in Sian Ka'an

Dive into paradise with the Muyil River float in Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve, a must-do near Tulum, Mexico. Imagine gently drifting through a maze of mangroves, surrounded by lush rainforest and exotic birdsong. This unique float lets you cool off in refreshing crystal-clear waters, spot diverse wildlife, and even dip into a natural freshwater spring. It's a perfect blend of relaxation, adventure, and nature immersion, all within a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Muyil River float is also our favorite adventure activity in Tulum. Join a small group tour to Muyil to explore the ruins before a thrilling trek on boardwalks through the mangroves to your panga boat. Hotel pick-up and drop-off is included by air-conditioned mini-van as is a picnic lunch with seasonal fruits, snacks, and bottled water.
Pro tip - Apply eco-friendly sunscreen in advance, as the guides are not supposed to allow it once on the boat. Also, bring a quick dry towel like this one for added comfort. We always throw one or two in our day bag when traveling.

Day Trip to Chichén Itzá

1. Chichén Itzá

Venture deeper into the jungle and discover Chichén Itzá, one of the Seven New Wonders of the World. The highlight of any trip to the Yucatan peninsula, Chichén Itzá means mouth of the water hole or cenote of the Itzá tribe.

Built for prayer and worship, the main temple represents the Mayan calendar and is the star attraction. With 91 steps on each of the four sides plus the very top, the number of steps adds up to the 365, which is the number of days in the year.

Incredibly, twice a year on the equinox of March 21, the time to plant, and September 22, the time to harvest, the shadow of the serpent or snake can be seen on the temple. The snake was important to the Mayans as it represents life and fertility.

For the best experience, rent a car and go early or join an awesome small group tour for this unforgettable experience when in Tulum. Hotel pick-up and drop-off is included as are all entrance fees, lunch in colonial Valladolid, drinks and snacks at a cenote, and an English-speaking guide. Many tours to Chichén Itzá require you to purchase tickets on your own on arrival, which eats up a lot of precious time, so we always recommend tours with tickets included whenever possible!
Private Plunge Pool at The Beach Tulum

For the best hotels, restaurants, gay bars and beach clubs, and insider tips, read our our complete LGBTQ+ travel guide to Tulum.

Travel Resources

Hospiten Hospital - Andy Waiting To Be Checked Out By The Doc
Hospiten Riviera Maya Emergency Room

Travel Insurance – Don’t forget to add global travel medical insurance that covers you while traveling outside of your home country. We recommend and use Safety Wing. They offer plans for travelers, digital nomads and expats. If you're already abroad, no worries. Safety Wing makes it easy to purchase insurance even if you are already abroad.

Most health coverage in the U.S. for example does not cover you in Mexico, thus it’s extremely important to protect yourself from out-of-pocket costs due to a medical emergency. We learned this the hard way which you can watch on YouTube: Our First Trip to the Emergency Room in Mexico. To learn more about Safety Wing, check rates and availability.
Hotel DiscountsBook with Hotels.com to save 10% or more on over 100,000 hotels with Member Prices. We regularly find better prices as a member and love the free room upgrades when available.
Travel Experiences – Discover authentic, unforgettable experiences and explore the world with Viator, a TripAdvisor company. We consistently use Viator in our travels, and they offer excellent customer service when needed.
Pro tip – When we visit a new destination, we like to see what tours are available from local providers. We suggest you sort or filter the results by rating versus recommended for you to find the best tours in the area.

Car Rental – Should your travel plans call for hiring a car, we use rentalcars.com to search the best prices among the major car rental companies. With flexible rentals, no hidden fees, and price match guarantee, we feel confident booking with them. Just make sure to book with your Chase Sapphire Reserve for extra protection like primary car rental insurance.
Virtual Private Network (VPN) – Enjoy unrestricted access worldwide, enhanced privacy, and complete security while on the go. More specifically, ExpressVPN hides your IP address and encrypts your network data so no one can see what you’re doing. One click, and you’re protected. In addition, ExpressVPN defeats content restrictions and censorship to deliver unlimited access to video, music, social media, and more, from anywhere in the world. For CNET's Best Overall VPN and our favorite for travel, we strongly recommend you add ExpressVPN to all of your devices.

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Hi! We're Two Gay Expats

Hi gorgeous, and welcome to our LGBTQ+ travel blog! We're Andy and Trai, a gay couple traveling the world with PRIDE 🌈  …and our rescue dog, Pattie!

After meeting in San Francisco in 2018 and later moving to Chicago, we decided to quit our jobs in 2021, sell everything, and become Two Gay Expats. For over two years, we explored the best of gay Mexico while waiting for our house, Casa Cangrejo, to be completed in Tulum. We got married at The Beach Tulum in 2020 and became Mexican permanent residents in 2022.

Today, we continue to travel around Mexico and the world to show you our favorite places. If you'd like to follow our adventures, subscribe on YouTube and join us on Instagram.

🖤 Andy + Trai