Tulum is such a beautiful part of Mexico and there is so much pleasure to be had in just relaxing by the pristine beaches, swimming in the warm ocean, eating incredible fresh food and ambling around.
However, there are 5 things that I think you really must do in Tulum, including a beautiful waterfall cenote and ancient ruins you can climb…
1. Wander the Beach Road
As I mentioned in my Where to Eat, Drink and Stay in Tulum blog post, the luxe hotels, boutique shops and healthy cafes along Tulum’s beach road are all beautiful, not to mention the incredible white beach itself.
If you find yourself at a loose end in Tulum then exploring this beach road is a lovely relaxed way to while away some time. The road stretches a long way, with various scatterings of shops and cafes at different points, so you could even hire one of the many bicycles to explore further.
My main TOP TIP is to make sure you don’t go in the midday sun. We found that it got ridiculously hot (where was the sea breeze?!) and as Tulum is so eco-friendly, there weren’t many places with aircon. Cue one very red, sweaty couple!
2. Coba Ruins
There are some amazing ruins in Mexico and even though the Tulum ruins are closer to Tulum town, if you can only visit one then I would highly recommend Coba.
The Coba Ruins are about a 40 minute drive away from Tulum and the drive is super easy and signposted the entire way. The reason I loved them so much is that they are the only ruins in the area that still allow you to climb and touch many of the ruins.
There is the famous Coba Pyramid which offers stunning views over the jungle from the top but be warned, it does get steep (it took me a good 15 minutes to get back down, shuffling on my hands and bum along with an old lady). I personally think it is well worth the effort but might be too much for anyone elderly/unfit/pregnant/scared of heights.
TOP TIP: Hire a bike from the many vendors on the site – most people do it, it is cheap and will save you so much time, meaning you can see more of the site than if you were to walk. It is also really fun!
3. Pablo Escabar’s Villa
Infamous drug baron Pablo Escabar owned many villas and in Tulum you can visit one! Casa Malca is now a luxe art hotel, complete with various modern art pieces and an amazing entrance of curtains made from old Mexican wedding dresses.
There is a turret that you can ascend for amazing views across the jungle, a cool bar and restaurant open to both the hotel guests and visitors, a beautiful beach and a cute beach swing for those Insta pics.
TOP TIP: Sadly we never got to do it but a friend highly recommended the 3-course breakfast here.
4. Watch the sunset at Coco Tulum and Mateo’s
Arguably one of the most Instagrammable spots in all of Tulum is Coco Tulum and their bloody gorgeous white swings facing the ocean. We saw one of the best sunsets ever from here.
Another fantastic place to watch the sunset is from the roof terrace of Mateo’s bar, a treehouse-style bar overlooking the jungle. It is cheap, no-frills and relaxed here (think plastic cups and plastic menus) but friendly service, hearty food and affordable.
5. Day Trip to Valladolid and Cenote Ik Kil
Mexico is famous for its cenotes – clear, freshwater sinkholes that come in all shapes and sizes across the Riviera Maya. My all-time favourite cenote was Ik Kil, a beautiful limewater sinkhole that has vines and a mini waterfall cascading into the centre of the cenote. I felt like I was in Fern Gully (classic 90s reference for you there).
Ik Kil was fairly deep so you do have to tread water and there are some small catfish in there (just in case you are a bit scared of fish, like me!) but it was so beautiful, refereshing and less touristy than many of the others we visited.
This is because we were closer to the town of Valladolid, more of a locals town but with scatterings of family-run shops and colourful streets to wander down. I recommend popping in for lunch after swimming in Ik Kil – we had a great lunch at El Meson del Marques where they made fresh guacamole at our table.
If you don’t want to venture over here, another popular cenote closer to Tulum is Gran Cenote where you can see plenty of little turtles! My TOP TIP is to get there early or hire a car and drive over at off-peak times, as it does get busy with families.
There we have it! Do let me know if there is anything else you think I have missed and if you want more info on our Mexico and Cuba honeymoon, you can read the posts below: