Tulum is a wondrously unique destination. Known as one of Mexico’s top beach towns, it touts Mayan ruins, caves, and caverns perfect for diving. On top of that, it has a host of activities and lodgings for every budget. With this in mind, exploring Tulum and its surrounding areas can be highly rewarding if you know where to go. Take a break from the scenic beaches with some of these standout experiences.
1. Catch A Glimpse of The Past at the Tulum Ruins
What the Tulum Ruins lack in scale, they make up for in location. These Mayan ruins reside along a craggy coastline sprawling over a sparkling beach. To say nothing of the almost picture-perfect green and turquoise waters. They offer a crisp way to soak in some of Mexico’s historic culture without straying too far from the town or beach strip. Aim to visit around early morning to avoid the crowds.
2. Appreciate the Nature of the Region at Dos Ojos Cenote
Dos Ojos Cenote is a system of flooded caves north of Tulum. It’s entrance occupied by delicate butterflies. From there a path leads to crystalline waters. It is fair to say, the cenote boasts an abundant assortment of flora and fauna. Also, you can take branching paths from within and wander through to various areas of waters available to swim in. So, create your own unforgettable experience amongst the lights and colors displayed on the rock formations.
3. Explore the Preserved Colonial City of Valladolid
Jump into a full-day adventure in the depths of the rich Yucatan Peninsula! About an hour and a half away from Tulum is the beautifully preserved colonial city of Valladolid. Yucatán’s third-largest city is famous for its quiet streets and eye-catching pastel walls. And, there’s plenty to do here; from shopping at the local market to swimming in a hidden cenote right in the middle of the city. If you’re a foodie, you should try your hand at a cooking class to learn the secrets of traditional Mexican and Yucatec cooking.
4. Dance Like Nobody's Watching on Salsa Sunday
Salsa dancing is a festive Sunday tradition in Tulum. What’s more, there are free salsa dance lessons are available every Sunday at 6:30pm at beachside Hotel La Zebra. After this, give your new salsa skills a go with live salsa music from 8:00-11:00pm. Have fun and dance the night away with (new) friends and family.
5. Take an Expedition in Reserva de la Biosfera Sian Ka’an
Animal-lovers rejoice! Sian Ka’an, or Where the Sky is Born, is a nature reserve home to a various exotic animals. Including, monkeys, crocodiles, tapirs, turtles, and a whole slew of other animal and plant life. There are no hiking trails through the heart of the reserve, so it’s best explored with a professional guide. As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the reserve has carried out more than 200 conservation projects and is a great chance to experience sustainable tourism in Mexico.
6. Take a Taco Workshop with a Local Chef and Taco Expert
Learn to make every day Taco Tuesday with an engaging, hands-on taco workshop hosted by a local chef and expert. Be exposed to the importance of tacos in Mexican cuisine and truly understand why it’s classified as an UNESCO heritage site. Learn about a variety of traditional meats and their marinations, along with traditional vegetables and salsas to accompany the tacos. This interactive experience is great for meat-lovers and vegetarians alike, so reserve one of the dinners on your trip for tastes out of this world.
7. Relax at the Picturesque Tankah Beach
Tankah is a picturesque stretch of beach that is host to top-end accommodations. All these enjoy views of both the crystal-clear sea and a virgin mangrove forest. The park of Tankah combines the perfection of nature and the mysticism of the ancient Mayans. Here you can zipline down above a beautiful cenote, go for a swim, or hop into a kayak for a quick row through the Cenote of Tankah. In short, there’s plenty to do at this miniature oasis.
8. Learn the Art of Traditional Mexican Cooking
Leave Mexico with a new appreciation for the food and culture around you. Learn about México’s essential ingredients and flavors, how to buy and preserve dry chiles, and all about the tortilla process. Work hand-in-hand with a Mexican local as you prepare and cook an authentic and traditional Mexican menu. That way, you’ll make memories and take home recipes that will last a lifetime.
9. Experience the Mind-Bending IK Lab
Located at the Azulik resort, the IK lab is a contemporary art gallery like no other. Here, guests enter barefoot to interact directly with floors of polished concrete and bejuco (vine-like wood) as living organisms. The exhibition space was created so viewers could experience art alongside Tulum’s natural elements. All this under geometrically patterned wood domes. Immerse yourself in the dreamlike intimacy that this gallery has to offer.
10. Take a Dive in the Gran Cenote
If you’re experiencing a particularly hot day in Tulum, then head about 4km west for a quick dive. You can snorkel among small fish and see underwater formations in the caverns. Just remember to bring your own scuba gear! Either way, taking a quick dip in the refreshing waters of the cenote is always a nice break from the beating Mexican sun. Highly recommended!