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One Day in Tulum: A Step-by-Step Itinerary

One Day in Tulum: A Step-by-Step Itinerary

Planning one day in Tulum? Discover everything you need to include in a killer one day itinerary. 

Tulum is a magical place, so it’s no surprise that taking a day trip to the town from other vacation spots in Mexico is pretty common.

Whether you’re looking to explore fun outdoor activities or want to chill out and enjoy your trip at one of Tulum’s best beaches, there’s plenty to see and do.

But what should you definitely pack in if you have only one day in Tulum? Read on for tips and ideas for making the most of a short time in this Mexico vacation hot spot.

Handy Tips for Planning Your One Day in Tulum

Tulum Ruins

Making the most of your trip to Tulum requires planning and attention to pretty-much every small detail, especially if you only have one day. 

Lucky for you – we’ve already done the hard work, so you can decide where to go during your one day in Tulum. You’re welcome.

Top Tours for Your Tulum Itinerary

Tulum: Tulum Ruins and Jungle Adventure Park Combo Tour

House of Halach

Looking for the best way to see what the jungles of Tulum have to offer? 

The Tulum: Tulum Ruins and Jungle Adventure Park Combo Tour is our favorite idea for one day in Tulum if you want to see the tropical forests and jungles from high above the trees or from the gorgeous waters below.

If you fancy scheduling an afternoon with adventure around every turn, you can’t do any better than this tour. For $139 per person, you’ll get to spot ancient Mayan ruins and learn about them firsthand from trained guides. 

Better yet, once you finish your history lesson of a lifetime at Tulum Archeological Zone, you’ll then head to Parque Tankah. 

What better way to spend one day in Tulum than zip-lining, kayaking, and cliff-jumping in one of the most beautiful areas of the Yucatán Peninsula? We can’t think of many, and at just 7 hours long, you’ll have plenty of time to visit other locations during your one day in Tulum.

Riviera Maya: Turtles Snorkeling and Cenote Cave

Cenote Dos Ojos

Looking to spend your one day in Tulum in the water? We don’t blame you, and the Riviera Maya: Turtles Snorkeling and Cenote Cave is a great way to see the ocean and a cenote on your one day in Tulum.

The 7-hour trip takes you to Akumal Beach, where you’ll get up close and personal with wild sea turtles. 

There’s plenty of other wildlife in the serene Caribbean waters, too. Be sure to bring your suntan lotion and swimsuit because you’ll spend most of your one day in Tulum on the perfect beaches that make Akumal a must-visit location.

Bonus points? Lunch is covered, giving you less to worry about during your quick trip to the Yucatán Peninsula.  

When your adventure on the beach and cenote wraps up, you’ll head back to Tulum Town. You’ll  still have plenty of time to see the bustling downtown area, home to fantastic food, cocktails, and live music to wrap up your one day in Tulum in good fashion.

Riviera Maya: Cobá and Chichén Itzá Tour with Cenote & Lunch

Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico El Caracol

If you want to visit Tulum and Coba in one day, why not make it even more epic and tack on a couple of incredible stops on your journey?

The Riviera Maya: Cobá and Chichén Itzá Tour with Cenote & Lunch tour begins by picking you up in Tulum and taking you on the adventure of a lifetime. 

Why is this one of the most memorable journeys you can have while spending one day in Coba and Tulum? Because you’ll also visit other must-visit Mayan Ruins like Nohoch Mul and Chichén-Itzá.

But you’ll want to check out some of the most impressive archeological sites (and one of the Seven Wonders of the World) while you’re here. And the tour also drops you off at Cenote Saamal, where you can swim in one of the most famous cenotes in Mexico.

Be sure to take in the beauty and history of the area not only while you’re at each destination but on the drive too. 

At $61 per person (with a buffet-style lunch included), this is an incredible value and a great way to see the Yucatán Peninsula on your one day in Tulum. You’ll have to pay extra for life jacket rental (unless you’ve got your own) and admission to the archeological sites, but it’s still worth every penny. 

Quick Info for Your One Day in Tulum 

Nativus Tulum

You’ll want to know a few things when planning your Tulum itinerary, especially if you only have one day. First, consider some essential things to remember when visiting Tulum. 

  • Time Zone: Eastern Time Zone (GMT-5)
  • Currency: Mexican Pesos (MXN)
  • Plugs: Type A and Type B (127 V)
  • Nearest Airport: Cancun (CUN)
  • 5 Must-See Spots:
    • Tulum Archeological Zone
    • Cenote Calavera
    • Tulum Beach
    • Tulum Town
    • Coba
  • Top Tip: Do extensive research and plan your Tulum vacation well in advance. Since you only have one day in Tulum, you want to make sure you take care of every detail ahead of time for the smoothest trip possible.

Getting Around 

Tulum Honeymoon

If you only have one day in Tulum, you’ll want to rent a car so you can see as many places as possible. A rental car is especially important if you plan to do Chichén Itzá and Coba in one day while seeing Tulum, as both require a fair amount of driving time from Tulum.

However, you can book the Riviera Maya: Cobá and Chichén Itzá Tour with Cenote & Lunch. It’s an excellent way to see the surrounding areas, but keep in mind you won’t have much time to explore Tulum Town or Tulum Beach if you book this tour.

Want to learn more about how to get to Tulum? Read our handy guide that answers all your burning questions.

One Day in Tulum Itinerary 

Hit Up the Beach 

Tulum Beach

We’re always on board with exploring the beaches in and around Tulum. It would be rude not to, after all.

Whether you want to stroll the miles of shoreline and hotels that make up Tulum Beach or drive to a nearby snorkeling or diving hot spot, Tulum is full of beach hotels, restaurants, and places to have fun in the sun.

So where are the best beaches when you only have one day in Tulum? We’ll show you. 

Tulum Beach


Tulum Beach isn’t a small, deserted patch of white sand and sparkling blue waters. Instead, it’s a 6-mile stretch of hotels, clubs, restaurants, and areas to swim, snorkel, or lay out in the sun.

You’ll be close to Tulum Archeological Zone and have some fantastic dining options, making this area a wonderful place to spend one day in Tulum. 

Many of the best all-inclusive hotels and boutique resorts are near Tulum Beach, so it’s an excellent option for spending some time around the water if you only have one day in Tulum and want to fit in numerous activities.

Akumal Beach

Sunscape Akumal Beach Resort & Spa

Though it’s a ½ hour’s drive from Tulum, we think it’s worth every minute of the detour to travel to Akumal’s pristine white sand beaches. 

Akumal Beach is a fantastic beach to visit on your one day in Tulum because you’ll likely see incredible marine life, including turtles, rays, and maybe even some sharks. 

Secret Beach

Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve

If you decide to visit Sian Ka’an Biosphere on your one day in Tulum, you’ll want to check out one of our top beach ideas for any Tulum itinerary. 

You’ll find Secret Beach in the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it’s well worth adventuring to if you’re in the area. It can be tough to locate, and you’ll want a bicycle or your best jogging shoes, as it’s a trek from the parking area. 

Want to tour the Sian Ka’an Biosphere while you’re here? The Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve Full-Day Discovery Tour is an excellent way to see more of the park if you want to experience the glistening blue waters teeming with marine life that make the beaches some of the best in Mexico. 

Visit an Archeological Site

Tulum Ruins

Traveling to Tulum without seeing Mayan ruins is criminal, and you can easily access several archeological sites from most hotels in the area. 

So if you have one day in Tulum, which archeological site(s) should you check out? Let’s look at some of our favorites. 

Tulum Archeological Zone

Tulum Ruins

Not only is Tulum Archeological Zone near Downtown Tulum and the Hotel Zone, but it’s also an incredibly picturesque historical site that features a vast complex of archeological attractions sitting high above the Caribbean Sea. 

It’s a wonderful way to spend a couple of hours when you have one day in Tulum, and you can even walk down to a beach below to get a little bit of beach bumming in.

Muyil Ruins

Muyil Ruins

Another ancient attraction that’s a perfect addition to your brief Tulum itinerary is the Muyil Ruins.

What makes this a top choice for checking the archeological ruins box on your one day in Tulum? Not only will you see Mayan temples that rank up with some of the best in the country, but there’s also a large collection of stone tablets featuring ancient hieroglyphics, making it a great location for a diverse history lesson in Mexico.

Coba and Chichén-Itzá

Coba Ruins

If you want to drive further out to see archeological ruins on your one day in Tulum, we suggest heading out to either Coba or Chichén-Itzá.

Better yet, if you’d like to visit Chichén-Itzá and Tulum in one day, why not add one of our favorite tours and schedule the Riviera Maya: Cobá and Chichén Itzá Tour with Cenote & Lunch

Want nothing more than to see the most impressive pyramids in Mexico? This is a fine choice that includes other unique sites on your one day in Tulum.

Explore a Cenote

Labnaha Cenotes & Eco Park

One of our favorite reasons to spend one day in Tulum is to visit a cenote – or several. 

Whether you want to snorkel, scuba dive, swim, or just take some incredible photos, cenotes are a wonderful way to spend one day in Tulum. 

Which should you fit into your Tulum itinerary if you have limited time? Here are a few of the best cenotes in Tulum.

Gran Cenote

Gran Cenote Tulum

As the name suggests, Gran Cenote is really big. It’s also home to one of the largest underground cave systems in the world. 

Gran Cenote is also an excellent scuba diving spot, and you’ll want to make time for one day in Tulum to explore the tunnels and caves underwater.

Not keen on diving deep below the earth? Snorkeling is excellent here, too, and this tour is a great way to spend a few hours here getting to know the beautiful landmark a little closer to the surface.

Cenote Calavera

Cenote Calavera

One of the closest cenotes to downtown Tulum, Cenote Calavera, is an excellent option if you want to see a cenote quickly on your one day in Tulum. 

The cenote’s skull shape is the main draw, which can make for some truly great photos.

Cenote and Cenote Escondido

Cenote Escondido, Tulum, Mexico

Planning a Tulum itinerary for one day can be tricky, so fitting in as much as possible in a short period is crucial. 

How about visiting two of our favorite cenotes right next to each other? Snorkel and cliff jump at Cenote Cristal, then make your way to Cenote Escondido, where you’ll find some of the best scuba diving in Tulum. 

Go to Tulum Town

Kaan Tulum

Finally, if you have one day in Tulum, you’ll want to head downtown and explore the cafes, restaurants, and shops that make this a must-visit on your Tulum itinerary. 

Stop by Mystika Immersive and Tulum Tower nearby, and eat some street tacos for a local experience.

Want to skip the line? One of our favorite ideas is to book Mystika Immersive and the Tulum Archeological Zone tickets together and speed up entry to both. 

When your day is winding down, stop by a rooftop bar for a Mezcalito or two and see why many people visit Tulum for its bustling nightlife.

One Day in Tulum: Map