Looking for the best national parks in Tulum? Get ready to immerse yourself in nature – this guide contains the ones you need to visit.
Tulum is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Mexico, but where can you see this beauty in its true glory? Your best bet is heading to one of Tulum’s national parks where you can take a dip in gorgeous cenotes and spot endangered species.
Cenotes are sacred and magical according to Mayan culture, and that’s why there are plenty of national parks protecting them. That, and to protect the abundance of endangered wildlife that calls Tulum their home.
At Tulum’s national parks you’ll find everything from Mayan ruins and pyramids to clear water cenotes and exotic wildlife.
Ready to dive in?
Best National Parks in and Around Tulum
Parque Nacional Tulum
The Tulum National Park is a national treasure for good reason – its delicately preserved archaeological compound and ruins of Tulum.
It is an eco-archeological site situated on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula with stunning cenotes and views of Yucatan’s most dramatic coastline. It was one of the last Mayan cities to fall to the Spanish and the cenotes you can visit today were a great water source and place of ritual for the Mayans.
Whilst at the park you’ll notice the preservation of vegetation including chit trees, coconut palms and creeping plants. The park is probably most famous for the white sea turtles, loggerhead turtles and leatherbacks who all lay their eggs here once a year.
It’s best to arrive early at this park to avoid the crowds if you can for an uninterrupted dip in Tulum’s crystal clear waters.
What better way to explore the rainforest than on a zip-line? You’ll find Aktun Chen nestled in a scenic tropical rainforest to the northeast of Quintana Roo. It’s just a short drive from Tulum– we promise it’s well worth a visit.
Fly through the treetops at Aktun Chen, with 10 zip lines zigzagging across the park and spot the park’s flora and fauna from above– it’s an experience you won’t forget.
Try snorkeling in the idyllic underwater caves with crystal clear waters. These springs are full of peace and energy and illuminated by underwater lamps so you don’t need to worry about plunging into darkness.
The underwater caves’ natural formations, stalactites and columns took millions of years to form– ready to dive in?
It’s all about nature preservation at Aktun Chen, and so you’ll see a large number of endangered animals including the white-tailed deer and spider monkey.
Cenote Nohoch Nah Chich
If you’re into diving, then Cenote Nohoch Nah Chich is a must-visit.
Dive into the Yucatan’s longest subterranean cave system and explore Nohoch Nah Chich’s stalactites and stalagmites up close. Learn about the formation and history of the underwater caves at this national park in Tulum.
The cenote can be visited solo or on a day tour from Cancun or Playa Del Carmen. Non-divers can also enjoy this national park too, grab some snorkels and get ready to swim in this outstanding cave– it’s the experience of a lifetime.
Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve
Natural beauty spot, Sian Ka’an, is home to thousands of species of flora and fauna – in fact, it’s so impressive that the region became a designated Biosphere Reserve and UNESCO Heritage Site.
This national park in Tulum is the most beautiful part of the Yucatan Peninsula. So gorgeous that Sian Ka’an means gateway to heaven, and that it is.
Sian Ka’an is one of the most ecologically diverse places in the world and a tour here grants you access to coastal wetlands and shimmering lagoons. Get up close and personal with the park’s wildlife including exotic butterflies, migratory birds and native orchids. Lucky travelers might spot manatees swimming to the surface for air.
Float along the mangrove channel in a shaded boat and enjoy endless wetland views and tropical birds at Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve.
Casa Tortuga Tulum
Ready to swim in jade green waters with countless fish? Casa Tortuga Tulum is a glorious nature park with four magical cenotes just waiting for you to explore.
Discover the mysteries of the ancient caves and the beauty of the Mayan jungle at Casa Tortuga. Listen to the hum of insects and reconnect with nature. The cenotes range from one to eight meters deep and are a jade green color but surprisingly crystal clear at the same time. This is great for spotting the magnificent fish swimming around you, so close you’ll be able to see the fish’s gills moving.
Join a tour to explore Casa Tortuga’s cenotes and have the guides explain to you the correct way to enter the sacred Mayan cenotes.
Just a short walk from Tulum town center is the gorgeous Tankah Park. It’s located on the Sac Aktun underground river system, which is the largest in the world.
Its beauty is unmatched, and you’ll be greeted with a beautiful lagoon that you can swim in. As well as the lagoon, there’s the Naval cenote, which can be crossed via a zip line. Hop on board a canoe to explore the Naval Cenote in closer detail, or just if you’re afraid of heights and want to skip the zip line altogether.
The semi-open cenote Cueva is the most fun of all with a zip line jump that splashes you straight into the water. There’s also a diving board to test your tricks if you’re feeling gutsy.
The blue cenote has pristine clear waters and is perfect for a more relaxing dip, while the park has all the essentials from buffet food, bottled water, guides and transportation.
The Coba Archaeological Site
Less than an hour’s drive from Tulum town center, The Coba Archaeological Site is one of the biggest of its kind, just falling short of Chichen Itza.
Inside Coba Park is an ancient pyramid and some of the best Mayan ruins in Tulum. If you’re hoping to beat the crowds then head to Coba Park, it’s not as well known amongst tourists as some of the other spots in this guide.
You won’t be disappointed once you’ve climbed the pyramid and spotted the magnificent views from the top– it’s a completely unique view of Mexico.
Pack plenty of sun cream for your hike to the top and lots of water– the climb isn’t for the faint-hearted. Luckily there are lots of trees surrounding the site to shelter in after your climb.
The best part is that the park’s entrance fee is less than the price of a beer.
Labnaha Cenotes & Eco Park
Labnaha Cenotes Eco Park– also known as the Magic Mayan World– is located just a 10-minute drive from Tulum town center. Experience the subterranean world’s lively jungle, it’s easy to see why this area is known as sacred and magical in Mayan culture.
The best way to experience the park is by ziplining into sacred lakes and snorkeling in Labnaha Cenotes. The park only operates in small group tours, as there’s a big emphasis on avoiding mass tourism to protect the ecosystem– we love this about Labnaha Cenotes & Eco Park.
The three cenotes at the park are all connected by eco paths lined with local flora and fauna, and the helpful guides explain the wildlife names and their importance as you explore.
As well as providing all the equipment you’ll need for the day, the park has some tasty Mayan lunch options to choose from and cold water is on hand all day long.
Canamayte Cenotes Eco Park
Located in Riviera Maya, Canamayte Cenotes Eco Park is on the smaller side compared to other parks. The beauty of the two cenotes more than makes up for its size and it’s definitely still well worth a visit.
It’s not far from Tulum town center and not as well known as other parks so if you’re looking to beat the crowds then head here. Cenote Mariposa is a semi-cave with glistening emerald waters inviting you in for a swim.
Cenote Chen Ha is a little different, it’s a cave, but a very well-lit one, so completely safe to enter. Chen Ha’s stalactites are a work of art and shimmer against the light.
Canamayte Cenotes Eco Park’s restaurant has raving reviews with a selection of lunch options to suit everyone’s taste.
Tips for Visiting the Best National Parks in Tulum
- Your visit to any national park should leave no trace, which means definitely no trash left behind – it should look as if no human has ever been there.
- Arrive early before the crowds and tours if traveling solo, some of these parks can get pretty busy.
- If you’re going solo, make sure you know exactly where you’re going and, in case you get lost, you’ll want to have a fully charged phone.
- Some tour tickets include transport, but you’ll want to check if yours does. If not, there are plenty of taxis that will take you there and back to Tulum’s national parks.