The Best Day Trips From Tulum, Mexico

There's more to Tulum than beaches, but the beaches aren't too shabby either
There's more to Tulum than beaches, but the beaches aren't too shabby either | © Konstantin Kalishko / Alamy
Photo of Stephen Woodman
17 March 2021

When planning a trip to the Mexican beach paradise of Tulum, keep in mind that there are numerous exciting attractions nearby. Make sure to explore beyond the local beaches and save some itinerary space for the Mayan ruins, underground cenotes and natural aquariums in the area. Here’s a guide to the very best day trips to take from Tulum.

Explore the ruins of Chichén Itzá

Archaeological site
Map View
Kukulkan maya pyramid, Chichen Itza, Mexico
© Sébastien Lecocq / Alamy
One of the new Seven Wonders of the World, this well-preserved Mayan city was once the center of economic and religious life in the region. Boasting numerous temple structures, Mayan ball courts and El Castillo, a huge central pyramid, the complex takes a few hours to explore. We recommend you visit for the spring or autumn equinox. During the late afternoon, the northwest corner of the pyramid casts a series of shadows that creates the appearance of a snake descending down the staircase, an image which some scholars associate with the feathered-serpent god Kukulkan. If you can’t make those dates, the phenomenon is also visible at the regular Light and Sound Shows, famous night tours in which colored lights are projected onto the buildings.

Swim in the stunning Lagoon Kaan Luum

Natural Feature
Map View
The Kaan Luum lagoon is located in Tulum, Quintana Roo in Mexico.
© Mountaingoat_Tom / Alamy

This stunning lagoon just south of Tulum is the perfect place for a swim. The gorgeous destination boasts clear, calm waters and is often completely deserted. Arrive in the early morning if you want to be the only person in paradise. The lagoon contains at least two different shades of blue because its center contains a cenote, or sinkhole, reaching a depth of around 260ft (79m). You won’t find food vendors or restaurants in the immediate area, so bring a picnic and eat on the tables next to the lagoon.

Xel-Há Park

Amusement Park
Map View
Aquapark Xel-Ha, State of Quintana Roo, Peninsula Yucatan, Mexico
© Franz Marc Frei / Alamy

Taking its name from the nearby Mayan ruins, Xel-Há is an aquatic theme park and natural aquarium that offers an incredible range of activities. Whether you are looking to snorkel with tropical fish, swim in a cave, try zip lining or take a trip down the river, Xel-Há is the place for you. A fantastic day trip for families, the park is also extremely beautiful and can be explored on foot, bike or mini-train. Xel-Há also has an impressive range of amenities, including free wifi and four restaurants serving Mexican and international dishes.

Take a dip in the Gran Cenote

Natural Feature
Map View
Snorkeler swimming in crystal clear water of Grand Cenote, Cenotes, Tulum, Riviera Maya, Yucatan, Quintana Roo, Mexico, Caribbean
© Helmut Corneli / Alamy Stock Photo

The area surrounding Tulum is famed for its cenotes, which were once revered as sacred by the ancient Mayans. Formed when limestone is gradually eroded over hundreds of years, these cenotes attract a diverse crowd of divers, swimmers and adventurers. Gran Cenote is a particularly impressive example and takes only 15 minutes to reach by bike from central Tulum. Swimmers flock to the destination because of its sandy bottom and sunbathing decks, while serious divers are attracted to the site because it provides access to the world’s second-largest cave system.

Zip line through the jungle

Amusement Park
Map View
Zip-lining, Xplor,  Riviera Maya, Yucatan, Mexico.
© Charles O Cecil / Alamy

Zip lining has exploded in popularity in Mexico in recent years. Adventure and sports companies such as Aventura Mayas offer thrill-seeking travelers the chance to soar over the Mayan jungle. The company offers a range of tours that take around six hours and include other activities such as snorkeling, rappelling down a rock face, swimming with dolphins and exploring an underground river – the perfect way to get an adrenaline rush while also enjoying the local wildlife.

These recommendations were updated on March 17, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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