Best Day Trips and Excursions from Tulum

Ria Lagartos

Discover the best excursions from Tulum with these cool day trips. From discovering Mayan temples to jungle adventures, these are the ones you shouldn’t miss. 

What comes to mind when you think of Tulum? Is it the many ancient Mayan Ruins or the beautiful blue water cenotes? There is plenty of beauty here to discover. 

While Tulum is incredible, it would be a shame for you not to explore the surrounding areas during your trip. Do so and you will be missing out on some of the best day trips from Tulum. Want to discover the spots you shouldn’t miss? Read on. 

Best Day Trips and Excursions from Tulum 

Sian Ka’an Nature Reserve

Sian Kaan Tulum

The Sian Ka’an Nature Reserve is a UNESCO Heritage Site and the most extensively protected area in the Mexican Caribbean. The biosphere reserve protects a vast biodiversity of birds, marine life, reefs, forests, and marshes.

You can turn this into a Tulum boat excursion by renting a kayak or boat. It’s an excellent way to see the ecosystem up close, from the greenery to the fish swimming below.

How to Plan an Excursion from Tulum to Sian Ka’an Nature Reserve:

Reaching Sian Ka’an Nature Reserve is relatively easy and follows the same route as the Muyil Ruins. You can take a car, bus, or taxi to the reserve.

Or take this Sian Ka’an, and Muyil ruins half-day trip from Tulum to combine two excursions in one. On this trip, you’ll be able to see the untouched jungle of the ancient Mayans while you float along the lagoon. After, enjoy an assortment of snacks at sunset – absolute bliss.

Muyil Ruins

Muyil Ruins Tulum

The Muyil Ruins are within the Sian Ka’an Reserve — offering two Tulum excursions in one. 

These Tulum ruins are among the eastern Quintana Roo region’s oldest and longest inhabited ruins. There are many buildings and structures to marvel at along the jungle trail, including a castle, a cave, and a temple.

How to Plan an Excursion from Tulum to Muyil:

The fastest way to make this journey is to rent a car or taxi and drive on Highway 307 for 30 minutes. The cheapest way to travel is by bus at Tulum’s city center’s ADO bus station. 

Tip: When buying your tickets, it will say Chunyaxché instead of Muyil. Although Muyil is more common, Chunyaxché is the local name.

Azulik Uh May

Azulik Uh May Tulum

In the heart of the Tulum jungle lies a quite peculiar handmade artisanal city that looks like it belongs on Mars. Azulik Uh May is best described as both a gallery and art installation.

The ‘smart city’ has an art museum, restaurant, healing sanctuaries, and villas. The museum, Sfer Ik, is otherworldly and fully immersive. That same theme continues to its fine dining restaurants, where food is art and experiments with flavors from the forest are common.

How to Plan an Excursion from Tulum to Azulik Uh May:

Azulik Uh May is in Francisco Uh May, about a half-hour drive from Tulum. It’s easiest to reach by car or taxi.

Azulik uh May is open daily from 10am to 5pm. Admission is $20 USD.

Coba

Coba Ruins

The ancient Mayan city of Coba is 30,6 miles (49,3 km) from Tulum. While not as popular as some ancient ruins in the area, it still sees many tourists.

The main attraction of the Coba ruins is the Nohoch Mul Pyramid, which, unlike other ancient ruins, you can climb to the top of. Coba also has three cenotes to explore. The young cenotes are all next to each other, either in or near the cave close by.

How to Plan an Excursion from Tulum to Coba:

Of course, a taxi is the fastest way to Coba, but it’s also the most expensive. One-way taxi rides are about $24 USD for 45 minutes. To save a few coins, consider taking the ADO bus, which will take you there within one hour but at a fraction of the cost. The first-class bus to Coba is only about $5 USD.

If you prefer taking a tour rather than going on your own, book this full-day Tulum and Coba archaeological tour. Explore the ancient Mayan archaeological sites before taking a dip in a natural sinkhole.

The ruins are open daily from 8 am to 5 pm with a $4 USD entrance fee.

Isla Holbox

Isla Holbox

The laid-back island of Holbox is 104 miles (168 km) from Tulum. This island has (almost) no cars or paved roads, and locals ride around in golf carts.

The island has a beautiful array of colorful buildings, but the most magnificent sight is at night. In the warmer months, between May and September, you can experience the bioluminescent lights on the island shore. 

Try during a moonless night for a better look at the glow-in-the-dark plankton.

How to Plan an Excursion from Tulum to Isla Holbox:

Because Isla Holbox is so far from Tulum, you’ll need to make multiple transfers. The fastest way to get there from Tulum would be by private charter. However, those can be pricey.

A cheaper (and slightly longer) option would be to drive to Holbox’s nearby town of Chiquila and then catch a 15-minute ferry from there.

Akumal

Akumal Sea Turtle

If you’ve ever wanted to swim with sea turtles, the best Tulum excursion you can make is to Akumal.

For a while, swimming with these wild loggerhead and green sea turtles was becoming a danger to the environment. Over tourism, and tourists not adhering to rules was creating damage, and many tours to the area stopped. 

Over the years, Akumal Bay has taken stricter steps in keeping sea turtles safe in their natural habitats. Some of these steps include limiting the number of people visiting the beach. So, it’s best to get there early by open time to avoid disappointment.

You are also not allowed to touch the turtles, and it is essential to respect the animals in their wild and natural habitat. 

How to Plan an Excursion from Tulum to Akumal:

A direct bus from Tulum to Akumal only takes 20 minutes. While bus prices are subject to change, they usually remain affordable.

This Marine Turtle Observation in Akumal is a great option to swim with sea turtles. Included in this five-hour tour is hotel pickup in Tulum as well as drinks and snacks.

The Akumal Bay is open almost every day from 9am to 5pm. It is closed on Mondays and between September and February.

Remember: You don’t need a tour to swim with sea turtles, but be mindful of their personal space and DO NOT touch them.

Cenote Trip

Cenote Dos Ojos

Out of the 6 000 cenotes on the Yucatan Peninsula, Tulum has some of the best cenotes. These natural sinkholes are fantastic diving and snorkeling spots with many marine species living in crystal clear waters. 

Some of the most popular cenotes in Tulum excursions are El Gran, Cenote Calavera, and Dos Ojos.

How to Plan an Excursion from Tulum to nearby cenotes:

It is possible to visit some cenotes by bus or colectivo. However, schedules for both are flexible.

Traveling by car or taxi, while more expensive, is more convenient in this instance. Not all, but some cenotes like El Gran Cenote, have entrance fees. It’s best to check or book ahead and have some cash on you.

Some tours like this snorkeling and underground cenote trip include hotel pick-up and drop-off in the price.

Bacalar

Bacalar is slightly off the tourist track, making it cheaper to travel through. It is great for tourists who want the traditional Mexican feel without excessive noise. 

While it doesn’t have a beach, it is still very popular for water sports. Expect to find many kayaking, fishing, and jet ski opportunities in the Bacalar lakes. Take a dip in Cenote Azul while you’re there.

How to Plan an Excursion from Tulum to Bacalar:

Once again, the ADO bus swoops in to give us the most cost-effective transport option. The bus ride is three hours long and costs about $16 USD.

Isla Mujeres

Isla Mujeres

Isla Mujeres is known for its laid-back island vibe and untouched beaches. The island is vibrant, with plenty of souvenir shops, restaurants, and museums. The most interesting of these is the underwater museum of art

Remember your snorkeling gear to get up close and personal with the sculptures, or if you’d prefer, you can see it from above in a glass-bottom boat.

How to Plan an Excursion from Tulum to Isla Mujeres

There is no direct transport route from Isla Mujeres to Tulum. Because it is an island, you’ll have to take a 30-minute ferry to get there.

By car, it is a two-and-a-half-hour drive away from Tulum before the ferry in Playa Tortugas. You can also catch a three-hour ADO bus from the city center. 

Snorkeling Around Tulum 

Cenote el pit

Tulum is a top-rated snorkeling destination in the Yucatan Region. While ocean life and its coral reefs are beautiful, you don’t have to stick to the deep ocean.

There are plenty of cenotes in and near Tulum. Their underwater caves are just waiting for you to explore them. There’s also the underwater museum in Isla Mujeres that is a beauty to see.

How to Plan a Snorkeling Excursion from Tulum

You don’t need a tour to go snorkeling in Tulum. If you forget your snorkeling gear, you can rent it. There are plenty of free places to dive into, with some top snorkeling places near Tulum being Akumal, Cozumel, and Sian Ka’an nature reserve.

Dive With Whale Sharks

Swimming with Whale Shark

Tulum’s waters are full of fish, coral reefs, and marine animals. But the whale sharks found in these waters are something special.

Whale shark season in Tulum is from May to September. During these months, thousands of these spotted fish move to Tulum to feed on plankton. This creates a beautiful sight for snorkelers. 

How to Plan an Excursion from Tulum to Swim with Whale Sharks

This Isla Mujeres whale shark encounter is a perfect tour for beginner divers who want a guide with them. You’ll have the chance to swim up close to some whale sharks in their natural habitats. 

While whale sharks are gentle giants, it’s best to book a tour with a reputable company for your chance to see them up close.

Ek Balam

Ek Balam

Ek Balam doesn’t have the same big crowds as Chichen Itza, which is why many tourists flock to it. It adds a newer perspective to the ancient Mayan Ruins everyone already knows.

The El Torre pyramid is about 100 ft (30 m) tall and completely climbable. There is also a cenote nearby called Cenote Xcan Ché with blue waters and a zip line.

How to Plan an Excursion from Tulum to Ek Balam:

The Ek Balam Ruins are just past Valladolid and a three-hour bus drive from Tulum. The cheapest way to get there is to take a bus from Valladolid and transfer to another one.

The entrance fee is $22 USD and is open from 8am to 5pm.

Jungle Adventure

Nativus Tulum

The Quintana Roo is full of tropical rain forests and jungles. You don’t have to travel far to find a jungle here. You’ll even come across some villas and accommodations in the heart of the jungle.

Tulum is where the jungle meets the sea and is full of adventures with various zip lines, cenotes, and lagoons.

How to Plan a Jungle Excursion from Tulum: 

Join the jungle paradise with this Jungle Maya Full-Day Tour. Rappel down to Yaxmuul Cenote in the jungle or zipline over the trees. After, participate in an ancient Mayan Ritual.

 Xel-Ha

 Xel-Ha

Xel-Ha is a water theme park that is great to cool off in the hot summer months. Xel-Ha means “where water is born,” – which fits since there are several underground rivers in the area.

There are many water and non-water activities here, including snorkeling with a few marine animals, zip lines, water tours, hidden caves, and more.

How to Plan an Excursion from Tulum to Xel-Ha

Xel-Ha Park is probably the closest location on this day trip list, being only a 20-minute drive away from Tulum. You can reach the park by car, taxi, bus, or shuttle.

Buy this Xel-Ha Park all-inclusive ticket to get a one-day pass and skip the ticket line. The ticket includes a buffet, drinks, and access to 20 attractions.

Valladolid

This hidden gem is still quite off the beaten path and doesn’t get as many crowds as Tulum and Cancun. Art and architecture are at the forefront of this cobbled street town, which is why so many tourists flock there.

You must visit historic churches, the Convent Of San Bernardo, and pastel buildings. After, enjoy some of their natural beauties like Cenote Zaci or the number of other cenotes nearby.

How to Plan an Excursion from Tulum to Valladolid

ADO bus operates daily and drives to Valladolid every four hours. The one-way ride takes just under two hours. A taxi ride takes just over an hour.

Playa del Carmen

Playa del Carmen

Playa del Carmen has some of the best views of the Yucatan Peninsula. It is known for its coastal resorts, palm beaches, and fantastic nightlife.

While there, enjoy natural beauties like swimming with whale sharks, turtles, and the Cavernsat Rio Secreto. You can also enjoy cultural beauties like the Frida Kahlo Museum or see the street art in the city center.

How to Plan an Excursion from Tulum to Playa del Carmen

The best way to get to Playa del Carmen from Tulum is by bus. It is low cost, and the ride only takes an hour. You can also take a minivan or collectivo to save a few dollars.

Boat Excursion

Laguna Muyil

Tulum is a coastal town surrounded by beaches, lakes, and bodies of water. It would only make sense to also go on a Tulum sailing excursion while here.

Rent a private yacht or sailboat and choose where you want to go yourself. You can also go on a sailboat tour and have someone else take the steering wheel. 

How to Plan Tulum Sailing Excursions:

This full-day boat tour of Isla Contoy and Isla Mujeres is an ideal boat excursion. You’ll enjoy some swimming and snorkeling in the Yucatan Peninsula waters.

Las Coloradas

Las Coloradas is a pink lake near Tulum. It is a must-see on your Tulum, Mexico excursions trip just to revel in its beauty with your own eyes.

Thanks5 pm8 am the algae and plankton living in the heavily salted lake, the river has a magenta pink hue. It is a close contender to Ria Lagartos Biosphere Reserve as the pinkest place in Mexico.

How to Plan an Excursion from Tulum to Las Coloradas

Las Coloradas is quite far from Tulum but can still be a day trip. It is a four-hour bus drive or a three-hour car drive. 

Ria Lagartos

Ria Lagartos

While Las Coloradas’ neighbor Ria Lagartos doesn’t have a pink lake. It is still close to winning the pinkest place in Mexico trophy. This town is full of pink flamingos.

This small town’s bio reserve has the biggest flock of flamingos in Mexico, with over 40 000 of them chilling about. There are also 395 other bird species and animals.

How to Plan an Excursion from Tulum to Rio Lagartos

Rio Lagartos is very close to Las Coloradas, and it’s best to visit both places on the same day. You can take a short 16-minute drive between the two towns.

Xcaret Park

Xcaret park

Xcaret Park near Playa del Carmen is another amusement park in the area. It is geared toward ecotourism and is more of a nature theme park.

The park has more than 50 natural and cultural attractions native to Mexico. These include attractions like a coral reef aquarium, Mayan ruins, and a Pavilion Butterfly park.

How to Plan an Excursion from Tulum to Xcaret Park

It’s pretty straightforward to get to Xcaret Park from Tulum. You drive on Highway 307 for 40 minutes, either by car, taxi, or bus.

Buy an Xcaret Plus admission ticket to skip the line. Included are lunch, parking, and many other attractions.

Practical Tips for Planning Your Tulum Excursions

  • The best time to visit Tulum and the surrounding attractions is November to April. There is a lower chance of rain and humidity during those few months. However, it is also the time you can expect most crowds.
  • The closest Tulum airport is Cancun. Travel time can range anywhere from one-and-a-half hours to two-and-a-half hours, depending on traffic.
  • Instead of buying your bus tickets at the ticket station, check online first for possible discounts.

Day Trips from Tulum: Map

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