Is Tulum Open for Travel Right Now? [Updated Jan. 2021]

posted by Shelley | last updated January 19, 2021

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Wondering Is Tulum open for travel?

You’re in luck, because it sure is… and this article will tell you everything you need to know about safe travel to Tulum during the pandemic. In fact, so many people wanted to know about Tulum travel during Covid, that I made a Tulum podcast for those who prefer their content in audio form! Check it out below ⬇️ or on Apple Podcasts.

Keep reading to find out how to travel to Tulum right now, how to visit Tulum on a budget and not break the bank on your trip (Hint: These under $99 Tulum Airbnb options will help), where to stay and eat, and the best things to do in Tulum — from cenotes tours to bars, and beach clubs to Tulum Ruins tours of the Mayan pyramids!

Tulum, Mexico Travel Disclaimer

For those in the U.S. dying to scratch their wanderlust itch, and just a handful of countries allowing you entry, Mexico is one of the best countries for travel right now. Legally, yes; Tulum is open to travelers. Ethically… well that’s a question for each individual person. Travel is a privilege, and for those traveling to Tulum, please do so respectfully, safely and responsibly, while following all Mexican laws.

With that out of the way, let’s examine explain how to travel to Tulum during the pandemic.

✈️ Traveling to Tulum? This is the podcast for you!


🇲🇽 #Mexico is one of the only countries open to U.S. travelers right now (w/o #travel restrictions). Been considering a trip to #Tulum? Here’s everything you need to know… 🏝☀️ #Travel #BucketList


Tulum Travel During Covid-19

5 Things You Need to Know

1. Do I need a negative Covid test to travel to Mexico?

No, you do not need to arrive in Mexico with a negative Covid test as of January 2021, though that could change at any moment.

2. Does Mexico make you quarantine when you travel?

No, there’s no quarantine period upon arrival as of January 2021, though that could change at any moment.

3. Temperature checks in Tulum, Mexico

Once you arrive, authorities in the airport will likely take your temperature and give you hand sanitizer. After leaving the airport, you’ll notice temperature checks at most (if not all) places, with the exception of simply laying on the beach. However, other than that, Tulum is open for travel with no restrictions for U.S. visitors.

4. What’s open in Tulum right now?

The majority of things are open in Tulum, including the Mayan ruins near Tulum — Chichen Itza, Coba Pyramids and Tulum Ruins. Most cenotes are open, but at limited capacity, so plan to visit your must see Tulum cenotes early in the day.

Tulum and Quintana Roo state actually began reopening back in June 2020, so at this time, Tulum is open for tourists and pretty much fully operational.

5. Do I need to wear a mask in Tulum?

In Mexico, masks are legally required in all public spaces, so make sure you keep yours on inside the airport after you exit the plane. Tulum and Quintana Roo state seem to not be enforcing masks outdoors, though technically, masks are required everywhere outdoors in Mexico. *Keep in mind legality and enforcement are two different things.

😷 Pro Tip: In the main areas, like Tulum Town (AKA Downtown Tulum), on Tulum Beach, and at outdoor restaurants and bars, many people go mask-free. This is technically illegal, so make sure you have a mask in your bag at all times, should you need to quickly put it on.

Is Tulum safe?

Short answer: Yes! Aside from hurricanes and petty crime, Tulum is a safe place to travel solo and with a group.

Longer answer: Safety is a tricky subject — not just in Tulum, but everywhere — and that’s because safety is a feeling, not a fact. However, as a general rule, Tulum and the Yucatan Peninsula are considered quite safe! You’ll want to, of course, follow the 10 General Travel Safety Tips below… you know, the same ones you would follow when traveling anywhere on Earth.

10 General Travel Safety Tips
  1. Don’t walk home alone at night if you can help it; take a taxi or ride your bike in Tulum.
  2. Always listen to your intuition because your intuition is always right.
  3. If you get a sketchy or uneasy feeling about a person or place, get away from that person or place immediately. If you feel you’re in danger, don’t worry about making a kind, nice, or politically correct exit from a creepy person or bad situation — Just get away ASAP.
  4. Don’t keep your phone, keys, wallet, passport, or anything valuable in your back pocket.
  5. Learn some basic Spanish. If you can’t learn it, save this infographic as an image on your phone so you have something to use even if you’re off-WiFi.
  6. Take all of your belongings into the bathroom with you, rather than asking a cafe/bar neighbor to watch your things.
  7. Speaking of bar neighbors, don’t take drinks from strangers and/or leave your drink unattended near one.
  8. Don’t wear flashy clothes, expensive jewelry, designer sunglasses, etc.
  9. Keep some cash in your pocket so you don’t have to pull your whole wallet out every time you need to pay.
  10. This should be a no brainer since you’re traveling during a pandemic, but get Travel Insurance!
Register for the STEP Program

Make sure you enroll in the FREE STEP Program before your trip. The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, or STEP, allows U.S. citizens traveling to Mexico to document your trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. In Tulum, that’s the Consular Agency in Playa del Carmen.

After you’ve registered, the U.S. Embassy or Consulate can contact you in the event of an emergency, including natural disasters, civil unrest, etc. STEP can also put you in touch with your family and friends back home, in the event of an emergency while abroad.

Tulum's famous Follow That Dream sign, located on the beach road outside of Lolita Lolita.
Tulum’s famous Follow That Dream sign, located on the Tulum beach road, outside of Lolita Lolita.

Mexico Travel Insurance

Want an added level of security and peace of mind during these strange travel times? Just as you insure your car, home and body, you can also insure your luggage, belongings and health while traveling. If Mexico and Tulum travel safety are on your mind, head to this page or get your free quote below from World Nomads, one of the biggest names in travel insurance.

Tulum Travel FAQ

Do I need a visa to visit Tulum, Mexico?

No, you don’t need a visa to travel to Mexico from the U.S. This is another reason why, in general, Mexico is one of the best travel destinations from the U.S.

When you arrive in Mexico and go through the Immigration line, you’ll receive a 180-day (6 month) FMM tourist visa. This is a small piece of paper that you need to hold on to so you can give it back to Immigration at the airport when you leave the country. 

There is no charge for the FMM, but if you lose yours, there is a charge of about $600 pesos ($30) to replace it. For this, you’ll need to get to the airport about an extra hour earlier than you’d normally have to in order to do the lost visa paperwork… the bottom line: Don’t lose your FMM!

Woman in a cenote in Tulum, Mexico
The water in the Tulum cenotes is about 75°F (24°C) all year long, and a refreshing escape from the heat.

What’s the best time of year to visit Tulum?

Weather-wise, fall/winter is the best time to visit Tulum. It is technically the busy season in Tulum, though because of Covid, you’ll be able to get some great deals on flights and accommodations, and stretch your dollar further (for now!).

Located in the tropics, the weather is hot year-round, however, there’s much less humidity during the fall/winter months of November-March. You’ll also have less (if any) rain, and Hurricane Season will be officially over!

Tulum Weather Averages

April86°73°Possibly rainy
October86°70°Possibly rainy
Source: Accuweather Tulum

What do I pack for Tulum?

Tulum Mexico, and the Yucatan Peninsula, have a tropical climate. As you can see by the average yearly Tulum weather chart above, this part of Mexico is hot (and humid 😥) for most of the year.

As far as what to include on your Tulum Mexico packing list, think flowy, tropical, breathable, cotton, and light-colored clothing; bonus points for anything that doesn’t show sweat! Besides all your summer-wear, you may use a light cardigan at night, and some comfy sweats to sleep in, but Tulum is really the place to break out your warm-weather wardrobe and bathing suits.

There’s no dress code in Tulum, so be as casual or as extra as you want.

FREE Printable Packing List for Mexico

Wondering exactly what to pack for Tulum? Head to this article all about packing for Mexico, and download your FREE printable packing list below. This multi-page Mexico packing checklist covers everything you’ll want to bring to Tulum for your beach vacation, and more importantly, what not to bring to Mexico.

Where is Tulum, Mexico located?

Tulum is in Quintana Roo state, located in the Yucatan Peninsula, in southeastern Mexico. Mexico is basically a “C” shape, and Tulum is located where the “C” ends, if you’re drawing out the letter.

It is about 75 miles south of Cancun, and 40 miles south of Playa del Carmen and Rivera Maya. Tulum is about 130 miles north of Bacalar Lagoon, the “Maldives of Mexico,” 65 miles from the pueblo magico (magic town) of Valladolid, and 160 miles from the beautiful Colonial city of Merida.

Tulum Map

That red dot is Tulum, located about 75 miles south of Cancun, and 40 miles south of Playa del Carmen.

What’s the closest airport to Tulum?

To travel to Tulum, Mexico, you will need to fly into Cancun International Airport (code: CUN). It is the really the only option for a Tulum airport, though it’s about 75-miles away. However, getting from Cancun to Tulum is easy and you have a few options by rental car, private or shared shuttle, and ADO bus.

💸 Pro Tip: Get cash at a Cancun Airport ATM! Cash is king in Mexico, and especially in Tulum. A lot of the more upscale places take credit cards, though smaller cafes, street food taco stands and taxis, do not. To be on the safe side, consider about $500 pesos ($25) for each day of your trip.

Cancun to Tulum

How do I get from Cancun to Tulum?

From the Cancun Airport, you can rent a car, hire a private or shared shuttle or take the ADO bus to Tulum. This drive is about 1.5-hours by shuttle or car, and you basically just take Highway 307/Carretera Cancun-Chetumal south, and it will bring you right to Tulum.

Cancun to Tulum Map

You’ll take this road, Highway 307/Carretera Cancun-Chetumal, from the Cancun Airport to Tulum.

Is there Uber in Cancun?

Wondering if you can take Uber from Cancun to Tulum? Unfortunately, no, at this time Uber is not legal anywhere in Quintana Roo state. This also means there’s no Uber in Tulum itself, though there are plenty of taxis. When taking a taxi in Mexico, you must negotiate and agree on the fare before entering the taxi.

Cancun Car Rental

The easiest, most convenient way to travel from Cancun to Tulum? A rental car, of course.

Discover Cars is a great option, with several Cancun Airport rental car options. The Cancun Airport the best place to rent a car because all the big name companies have locations there — and you only want to use a reputable company! Scroll down for 12 Useful Mexico Driving Tips.

Is it safe to drive in the Yucatan?

Short answer: Yes!

Longer answer: As a general rule, the Yucatan Peninsula is considered safe, and the drive from Cancun to Tulum is also safe. However, there’s the obvious caveat to that…

Since you will be driving in another country, you should take the time to familiarize yourself with Mexico driving laws, or ask the agent at your car rental for advice. For your convenience, there are 12 practical Mexico driving tips below to help you with how to drive in Mexico.

🚗💨 12 Useful Mexico Driving Tips

1. Rent with a reputable company! As they say, “you get what you pay for.” For a reliable Cancun car rental company, go with Discover Cars.

2. Avoid driving at night. When you live in Mexico long enough, you start to realize many people simply avoid driving at night, if they can. If you do drive at night, stick to only main roads and highways.

3. Always use the couta, or toll, roads. Yes, they cost money, but they are much better maintained and generally considered safer. Pro tip: Bring cash for the tolls.

4. Download an offline map. Your signal will go in and out as you travel through rural areas of the Yucatan Peninsula, so download an offline map from Google or Maps.Me. You’ll also want to download some podcasts and music while you’re getting that map.

5. Speed limit signs are in kilometers per hour, not miles per hour. You don’t have to worry about conversion math here; just make sure the speed limit sign number matches your speedometer number.

6. Do not use your cell phone while you’re driving. Not only is this unsafe, it is also illegal. In fact, even having your phone in your hand is a ticket-able offense, so try not to even hold your phone while driving.

7. The rumors are true about the cops expecting bribes. If the cops pull you over, and they only will if you give them a reason to, they will expect a cash “payment” in exchange for not ticketing you.

8. Mexican roads are notorious for their abundant amount of topes (speed bumps). Make sure you keep your eyes on the road, as topes don’t always have signs alerting you to them.

9. Mexico’s gas stations are not self-serve. When you stop for gas, an attendant will pump it for you and take your payment. These people don’t actually work for the gas station, and live off tips. When they finish, it’s customary to tip them at least $10-20 pesos ($0.50-$1).

10. Mexico’s traffic lights go from green to yellow, to flashing yellow for a few seconds, to finally, a red light.

11. Make sure you purchase Mexican car insurance. You are generally not covered in any way through your U.S. company when you drive in any other country.

12. Most travel insurance policies cover driving. In case you’re wondering Should I get travel insurance for Mexico?… The answer is hell yes! There’s a whole page of this website dedicated to travel insurance, because it’s just that important — maybe even more so when traveling during the pandemic.

podcast cover-woman on a colorful street

Related podcast:

Ep. #08 | Alex’s 35 Tips for Traveling to Mexico

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Rated 5 Stars on Apple Podcasts! Dream To Destination is podcast about solo travel, Mexico travel, and solo travel in Mexico.

Bus from Cancun to Tulum

The largest bus company in Mexico is ADO, and you can take one straight from Cancun Airport to the main bus station in Downtown Tulum. Prices will vary, should generally be less than $300 pesos ($15) for a one-way ticket, which you may want to consider buying online here.

If you’re considering the bus, know that this is a luxury class bus with big reclining seats, AC, outlets to charge your phone and a bathroom — this is not a “chicken bus,” common throughout much of Latin America. Mexico’s buses are great, comfy and inexpensive, and in fact, if you’re traveling to Tulum on a budget, the bus is the cheapest way to get to from Cancun to Tulum.

Once you arrive in Downtown Tulum, walk outside and grab a taxi to your accommodation, or if it’s close by, you can walk. If you’re taking a taxi, note that you must negotiate the fare before entering the taxi. Keep in mind there’s no Uber in Tulum, but there are always taxis waiting outside of the bus station.

Now that you know know how to get to Tulum from Cancun Airport, let’s get to know the town’s main areas so you can decide where to stay in Tulum.

Where to Stay in Tulum

🌴🏠 Wondering where to stay in Tulum?

Head to these articles to discover best Tulum Airbnbs, for all budgets.

Tulum Neighborhoods: Downtown Tulum, Aldea Zama and Tulum Beach

Tulum is a small town, think five-miles from one end to the other. It is basically divided into Tulum Town (AKA Downtown Tulum), Aldea Zama and Tulum Beach. There’s only one road that goes through downtown, and one road, the Tulum Beach Road, that goes up and down the beach and through the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve.

Downtown is on the north side of town, beach is all the way south, and Aldea Zama is located between the two. Below is a map of Tulum so you can visualize the town layout. Then, keep scrolling to understand each Tulum neighborhood, and the pros and cons of staying in each one.

tulum map
Tulum’s three neighborhoods: Downtown Tulum (AKA Tulum Town), Aldea Zama and Tulum Beach.

Tulum Town/Downtown

  • Pros: The least expensive neighborhood
  • Cons: The least pretty neighborhood

The place to stay if you’re traveling to Tulum on a budget! Downtown is a fun place to stay with great, local cheap eats, cute shops and a unique charm all its own.

There are quite a few budget hotel and hostel options in Tulum Town, and some Airbnbs, though Aldea Zama has the best Airbnbs in Tulum.

It is, however, not the prettiest place to stay of Tulum’s three neighborhoods. That’s not to say it’s ugly, just that it’s not the Tulum you’ve seen on Insta.

Staying in and eating in Downtown Tulum is a great way to save money if you’re traveling to Tulum on a budget.

Tulum Hotels

Aldea Zama

As someone who’s spent quite a bit of time in Tulum, when friends, family and followers ask me where to stay in Tulum, I always suggest Aldea Zama. Here’s my reasoning for suggesting this as the best neighborhood in Tulum:

  1. Aldea Zama is centrally located between Downtown Tulum and Tulum Beach. You can easily access all parts of Tulum, and its nearby cenotes from here.
  2. Aldea Zama is the newest area of town, with the majority of homes and buildings at less than 5-years-old. Newer construction means you’ll have all the newest, modern amenities and conveniences in your Airbnb.
  3. As mentioned, Tulum as a whole doesn’t have great WiFi… and yes, this even applies to most of the fanciest 5 Star resort hotels on the beach. Since Aldea Zama is more residential, you’ll often get a better WiFi signal and a very nice place, for about 25% the cost of a Tulum beach resort.

📸 Pro tip: You can still go in the resorts and take your Instagram worthy Tulum photos — even if you’re not a guest of the resort.

bike rentals on the beach in Tulum
Biking is one of the most popular ways to get around in Tulum.

Best Airbnbs in Tulum

Tulum has gorgeous, affordable Airbnbs in Aldea Zama and Downtown Tulum. There are some beautiful Tulum beach house options you might want to consider if traveling with a group, but for Tulum solo travel and those wanting a unique experience, consider one of these Tulum glamping Airbnbs, many of which are located on the beach.

Some Airbnbs offer complimentary bike rentals, so be on the lookout for those — This post has several options of $99 and under Tulum Airbnbs, some of which include a free bike 🚴‍♀️. However, even if you can’t find a Tulum Airbnb that includes a bike, you can rent one in Downtown Tulum for about $200 pesos ($10) per day and save some money by not having to take taxis.

Papaya Playa Project bungalows on Tulum beach
The gorgeous Papaya Playa Project beach bungalows! | ☀️🏝Book your stay at Papaya Playa Project!

Tulum Beach

  • Pros: Gorgeous resorts; Staying right on the beach; Walkable location
  • Cons: Expensive; Electricity restrictions; WiFi isn’t great

Tulum Beach is the Tulum you’ve seen in photos, and where you’ll find all the beautiful beach resorts, large-scale art installations, high end restaurants, cool bars, and all the Instagram worthy places in Tulum. As you can imagine, these beach resorts don’t come cheap, but if you want to splurge or you’re traveling with a large group, Tulum Beach is the place. Check out this article on the best Tulum beach house Airbnbs.

The beach resorts and hotels are gorgeous, but there are a few cons to staying in them:

First, the WiFi on Tulum Beach is well… not great, even at the most luxurious of resorts; and second, Tulum’s beach hotels try to lower their carbon footprint by only offering AC in the rooms from sundown to sun-up. You’ll want to check individual resort policies, but most only allow guests to use electricity in the rooms from sundown to sun-up.

If you’re looking for a nice balance of comfort, luxury and savings, these Aldea Zama Tulum Airbnbs are better options… but if it’s your dream to stay in a Tulum beach resort — then just go for it!

Azulik Resort in Tulum is one of the most beautiful eco-hotels in the world.

Best Tulum Beach Hotels

Still considering a Tulum Beach hotel? It’s understandable… because as they say, “Location, location, location!” When it comes to Tulum, there simply is no better location than staying right on Tulum Beach. Below is a list of the best hotels in Tulum, located on the beach.

Azulik: As far as Tulum beach hotels go, Azulik Tulum is the one that started all the hype. This resort is the gold standard for Tulum’s boho chic vibes.

Casa Malca: Once owned by Pablo Escobar, this beachfront mansion-turned-resort is the brainchild of NYC art dealer, Lio Malca. As you’d imagine the whole place is basically a work of art. ☀️🏝Book your stay at Casa Malca!

Coco Tulum: While staying at a Tulum beach resort doesn’t come cheap, Coco Tulum is known as one of the nicest of the less-pricey beachside resorts. They also have their famous white swings, at one of the most instagrammable and best beach bars in Tulum. ☀️🏝Book your stay at Coco Tulum!

Be Tulum: If you’re looking for the perfect combo of luxury and privacy, Be Tulum is the place. Here, you’ll find exclusive suites nestled between the jungle and the sea, which each have their own private pool. ☀️🏝Book your stay at Be Tulum!

Papaya Playa Project: This resort combines all things Tulum in one place for its guests. At Papaya Playa Project you can take yoga class in the morning, lay in a hammock on the beach all day, take a disco nap in your oceanfront bungalow, and hear a famous DJ spin live music at night. ☀️🏝Book your stay at Papaya Playa Project!

La Zebra: This beautiful hotel is part of the Colibri Boutique Hotels group, and they allow guests to enjoy the facilities at all of their properties. If you opt for a room at La Zebra, you can also enjoy Hotel Mi Amor, El Pez Tulum and Mezzanine Hotel. ☀️🏝Book your stay at La Zebra!

Things to Do In Tulum

Tulum Beach Clubs

No visit to Tulum is complete without checking out some of the amazing beach clubs. They are all unique and stand out in their own ways, but among the best beach clubs in Tulum are Casa Malca, Coco Tulum, Nomade, La Zebra and El Pez Tulum.

Tulum beach clubs usually cost about $500-1,000 pesos ($25-50) to enter because they have a food/beverage “minimum spend,” so you’re essentially just pre-paying your tab — and you’re allowed to use the resort facilities — so think of the entrance cost as a down payment on food and drinks.

Tulum has some epic beach clubs, like this one at Casa Malca. | ☀️🏝 Book your stay at Casa Malca!

Mayan Ruins Near Tulum

Tulum is an amazing mix of posh hotels, instagrammable art along the beach, boho chic beach clubs with oceanfront swings, gorgeous cenotes, amazing restaurants and cafes, fun bars, historic Mayan ruins, and more. In fact, some of the best ruins in Mexico are located in and around Tulum, and in the Yucatan.

In total, there are about 100 public Mayan archeological sites throughout the Yucatan Peninsula. While most people don’t make it to all of them, there are some noteworthy Tulum pyramids you can get to in two hours or less. Keep scrolling to see the four most visited Mayan sites near Tulum.

Tulum Ruins: If you head to the Tulum Beach Road, and turn left, you’ll end up at the Archeological Zone of Tulum-Mayan Port City Ruins, AKA the Tulum Ruins. This smaller site is very conveniently located, and most Tulum travelers plan for a visit these beautiful ruins overlooking the Caribbean Sea.

Chichen Itza: Does Chichen Itza need an introduction? As one of the Seven Wonders of the World, seeing Chichen Itza is high atop many travel bucket lists. Located about two hours from Tulum, you can drive there with your rental car, take the ADO bus from Downtown Tulum, or opt for an Airbnb Experience group tour. Pro tip: You can not climb the pyramids at Chichen Itza.

Coba: Coba is unique in that it’s more of a whole Mayan city, versus a Mayan pyramid site. It is located deep in the jungle, about an hour from Tulum. If you’re having to choose Chichen Itza vs Coba, many opt for Coba to avoid the crowds at Chichen Itza and because you can climb Coba’s pyramids. Pro tip: When visiting Coba, don’t forget your eco-friendly bug spray 🦟

Ek Balam: Those headed to the pueblo magico (magic town) of Valladolid, known as one of the most beautiful Colonial cities in all of Mexico, might want to add Ek Balam to the itinerary. This site has a unique look, unlike all the others on this list, and as it’s slightly off the beaten path, you might have the whole place to yourself.

Mayan ruins of Tulum Ruins on the beach
The Templo del Viento (Wind Temple) at Tulum Ruins, overlooking the Caribbean Sea.

Mayan Ruins Tours

The easiest way to see all of Tulum’s Maya sites and pyramids? On an Airbnb Experience tour, of course.

Wondering, What is an Airbnb Experience? You’re not alone! While most people have heard of Airbnb for home/apartment rentals, Airbnb Experiences are newer and lesser-known — but just as awesome. In fact, for solo travelers, Airbnb Experiences provide an easy way to meet other travelers!

Basically, these are small group tours led by Tulum locals, which you can instantly book online right now, so you won’t have to spend your precious travel time finding a tour company! Like with an Airbnb stay, the guide gets rated at the end, which motivates them to do a great job.

Instagrammable Tulum Places to See

Raw Love Tulum: Perhaps the most famous of Tulum’s large art pieces, the giant “Ven a La Luz” (Come to the Light) sculpture by South African artist Daniel Popper, might as well be a postcard. Walk through this giant, wooden man sculpture to enter the Ahau Tulum Resort and Raw Love Cafe. ☀️🏝Book your stay at Ahau Tulum!

Follow That Dream Sign: Located on Tulum’s Beach Road in front of the Lolita Lolita shop and across the street from Kaya Tulum, this instafamous street sign is one of the most popular photo spots in Tulum.

Azulik Hotel: There’s so many instaworthy spots in Azulik — starting with the hotel’s shop right when you walk inside, and continuing all the way through to the nest tables at Kin Toh Restaurant.

Casa Malca Couch Swing: Once owned by Pablo Escobar, this hotel is tropical sexy all the way. Don’t miss the hanging couch, black and white Keith Haring bar and Moroccan-style chandelier room. ☀️🏝Book your stay at Casa Malca!

Matcha Mama: Home to the famous I Love Tulum So Matcha sign on a surfboard, hit up this popular spot on Tulum Beach for both photos and a refreshing matcha smoothie.

Coco Tulum Beach Swings: There’s so many beach clubs with swings to check out in Tulum, but none more famous than the boho chic white swings at Coco Tulum. ☀️🏝Book your stay at Coco Tulum!

📸 #Tulum #Mexico is a photographer’s paradise! Here’s a list of it’s most insta-famous things to do and see… 🏝☀️ #TravelPhotos #TravelPhotography #Mexico

Best Cenotes in Tulum

What is a cenote?

To make a long story short, cenotes (pronounced sen-no-tay) are basically underwater sinkholes containing crystal-clear, freshwater.

They are only found in a few places on Earth, with the largest concentration located in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, where there are about 6,000 cenotes.

We can see and swim in them because the limestone once covering the water has collapsed and/or eroded throughout Earth’s existence. ⁠

Woman floating in a cenote in Tulum

Best Tulum Cenotes

Tulum has so many cenotes to see within just minutes of downtown. The six on this list are located just off Highway 109, all within 25 minutes or less of Downtown Tulum and Aldea Zama. You could ride your bike, hire a taxi or drive your rental car, but don’t attempt to walk to these Tulum cenotes.

🐠 Pro Tip: If this will be your first visit to a cenote, check out this Cenote FAQ to ensure you’re a responsible visitor.

Gran Cenote: Gran Cenote and Cenote Calavera are the two most instagrammable cenotes in Tulum. Gran Cenote, meaning “big cenote,” is a larger site with several cenotes that meander along the jungle floor, connected to one another by wooden walkways.

Cenote Calavera: Cenote Calavera has three holes you can jump in to access the water below. This cool natural phenomenon is super popular, so try and arrive early to beat the crowds.

Cenote Tankah/Cenote Car Wash: These two are right next to one another, and make a great combo trip. Cenote Tankah is well known as the only Tulum cenote that has a zipline, perfect for adventure-seekers! Cenote Car Wash has a much more chill, lagoon vibe.

Cenote Zacil-Ha: This is an open, swimming pool-style cenote. Cenote Zacil-Ha has plenty of nice onsite amenities like covered/shaded areas, bathrooms and snacks for sale.

Cenote Santa Cruz Tulum: This one is just stunning, and also very conducive to hosting visitors with onsite bathrooms, shaded palapas, grassy areas to relax in, and more.

Tulum Cenote Tours

The best way to see some of Tulum’s off the beaten path cenotes? On an Airbnb Experience tour, of course. Since these tours are led by Tulum locals, they know better than the internet to guide you to the all the coolest cenotes — the ones that won’t show up in Google searches.

For those looking for the most instgrammable cenotes in Tulum, know that for the most part, they are all gorgeous with the same crystal-clear water. The one thing that might make one more photogenic than another is getting those coveted shots without people in them! For this reason, you’ll want to venture to the hidden gem cenotes.

Cenote Azul in Tulum
Cenote Azul, located north of Tulum and closer to Playa del Carmen, is also worth checking out in your rental car.

Best Restaurants in Tulum

Tulum has a nice mix of casual-fine dining, and authentic Mexican food street eats. This list will help you make sure you experience both while traveling to Tulum, because while fancy food is great and all… Did you even really travel to Mexico if you didn’t eat street tacos!? (Hint: No!)

While tacos and Mexico go together like milk and cookies, tacos aren’t actually a Yucatan food. While in Tulum, make sure you sample some traditional Yucatcan cuisine, like cochinita pibil (slow cooked pork), ceviche (citrus marinated seafood), and lechon (pork with crispy skin).

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Fine & Finer Dining: $$$-$$$$

Arca Tulum: Looking for a chef-driven restaurant? Look no further than Arca, led by Mexican/American Chef Jose Luis Hinostroza. He once worked at what is considered the best restaurant in the world, Noma, in Copenhagen. In 2015, Hinostroza brought his skill to Tulum, and opened this foodie favorite.

Hartwood: The “wood” in Hartwood is no lie. This place is all about wood-grilled everything. Opened in 2009 by wife/husband duo, Mya Henry and Eric Werner, Hartwood’s menu changes daily, as the focus is on freshness and seasonality in this solar-powered eco-kitchen.

Casa Jaguar: This quintessential boho chic Tulum spot is rustic elegance all the way. Enjoy fresh ceviche and grilled items, and then wash them down with Casa Jaguar’s innovative cocktails.

Gitano: Sure, the food at Gitano, which means “gypsy” in Spanish, is delicious, creative and fresh — but this restaurant is all about seeing people and being seen. Those in the know head to Gitano to eat one small tapas plate, and then indulge in their yummy mezcal cocktails in a beautiful beachy-garden setting.

Pro tip: You’ll want to make a reservation to eat at all of these places.

Matcha Mama is one of the most photographed cafes in Tulum, Mexico
Matcha Mama is one of the most photographed and best cafes in Tulum.

Cheap Eats on Tulum Beach: $-$$

Match Mama: Among the most instgrammable places in Tulum, Matcha Mama also serves up smoothies, acai bowls and healthy fare, in addition to their famous and photogenic swings. Head here to take a photo next to their famous I Love Tulum So Matcha surfboard sign.

The Real Coconut: Commonly known as one of the best vegan restaurants in Tulum, it’s also located right on the beach and has some amazing views of the Caribbean Sea.

Clan-Destino: Known for having the best burgers in Tulum, Clan-Destino restaurant also has a cenote you can jump in after eating.

Taqueria La Eufemia: The best restaurant for Tulum Beach tacos, and a fun, festive atmosphere.

I Scream Bar: I Scream is as much a feast for the eyes, as a feast for the stomach. Enjoy tacos and vegan ice cream by day, and one of the best Tulum bars by night.

Cheap Eats in Downtown Tulum: $-$$

Taqueria Honorio: Where the locals go to eat the best tacos in Tulum. This is a no-frills restaurant, and it’s all about the food. Try the cochinita pibil and lechon, and wash it all down with an agua fresca (fruit water), just like the locals do.

El Camelo Jr.: Known for their fresh seafood plates and ceviches, El Camelo Jr. is a popular Tulum institution.

Antojitos La Chiapaneca: While not authentic to the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico and tacos al pastor are synonymous. Try this Mexican food staple at Antojitos La Chiapaneca, a late night favorite in Downtown.

Burrito Amor: The place for the best burritos in Tulum, with meat, seafood and vegan options.

Batey bar in downtown Tulum
The VW Bug parked outside of Batey bar in Downtown Tulum, known for having the best mojitos in Tulum. | Photo by Rob Cartledge

Best Bars in Tulum

Batey: The best bar in Downtown Tulum. Really, there aren’t all that many great bars in Downtown Tulum, but Batey’s would still be the coolest even if there were. Head to Batey at night to hear live music and sip on one of their famous mojitos.

Gitano: As far a the best cocktail bars in Tulum goes, there’s really only one place to indulge, and that’s Gitano. Now, said cocktails don’t come cheap, but it’s worth it to even have just one so you can see this gorgeous restaurant/bar. 

Ziggy Beach Club: One of the best low key beach bars, Ziggy’s is a locals favorite with a great Happy Hour. Chill out on one of their beachfront hammocks and sip on a tropical adult beverage. 

I Scream Bar: In a town full of instagrammable places and visual eye candy, I Scream Bar gives everywhere else a run for their money. This place is super fun, super cool to look at, and also, they serve tacos, so win-win-win.

Mateo’s Mexican Grill: Mateo’s is one of the best places to watch the sunset in Tulum! Head up to the top floor deck and enjoy some Happy Hour 2-4-1 drinks as you watch the sun set into the Tulum jungle. 

🥂 Pro tip: Check out all the best Tulum Happy Hours, which typically take place from 4pm-6pm, and offer some great drink deals.

Final Thoughts: Tulum Travel in Covid

Writing about travel during a global pandemic is a grey area, to say the least. However, the fact remains that Tulum is legally open for travel — whether I wrote this article or not. In fact, Mexico never fully “closed,” and Tulum has been welcoming tourists since June 2020.

You might be wondering why it has been open for so long, when most places were still closed. Great question; and the answer is of course, tourism dollars. Quintana Roo state, home to Tulum, Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Bacalar, etc., is nearly a 100% tourism-based economy, and the Mexican powers-that-be decided not to cut off their main economic artery.

Now, I’m in no way saying you should/should not travel to Tulum during Covid — that is a moral question for yourself. What I will say is that you legally can take a Tulum trip, and I’d imagine Tulum’s small business owners and locals would love to accept tourism dollars from responsible, safe travelers.

For those in the U.S. planning to travel during Covid, and just a handful of countries allowing you unrestricted entry, Mexico is very attractive for travel right now. However, do keep in mind that travel is a privilege, and for those traveling to Tulum, do so safely, responsibly and respectfully, while adhering to all of Mexico’s laws.

Have any tips for a traveling to Tulum?

Please join the conversation in the comments down below and share your knowledge!

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👋 I’m Shelley, a former Miami travel magazine editor who ditched the office for the world! I started this blog & podcast to help women like you cross Solo travel & Mexico travel off your bucket list…


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I’d L❤️VE to hear your thoughts…


  1. Karen

    I was fortunate to visit the Yucatan and Tulum in Feb. before the whole lockdown started. Loved it. This is a very complete and informative post. I also like that you presented some of the ethical dilemmas as well as updates on COVID 19. Great post.

    • Shelley

      Thank you for saying that… I know travel right now is such a grey area. I hope I navigated the minefield well🤞

    • Shanelle

      I really want to go to Tulum!! This is such a thorough guide. Definitely saving this for when I eventually make it out there

  2. amy

    I have always wanted to go to Tulum! My home country is on lockdown right now but I will definitely go to Mexico when it’s lifted.

  3. patti

    Wow, your post has so much good information. I haven’t visited Tulum in over 15 years! I’ll bet it has changed so much.

  4. Taylor

    Helpful content! Your drone footage is amazing. I have many friends flying out to Tulum as one of the few places Americans can travel to this winter, for better or worse.

    • Shelley

      Hi Taylor: You are so right…. “for better or worse” is the correct phrase. I am trying to tread lightly, because it’s no secret that Mexico travel right now can have negative outcomes, but I hope anyone traveling will do so in an ethical way, and follow all laws.

  5. Cristina

    This blog is absolutely amazing! There is so much helpful information 🙂 I would love to visit Mexico, I’m craving beach and tacos.

  6. Krista

    Love how thorough you are in this post about visiting Tulum. Lots of great information for people who are wanting to travel there!

  7. Catherine

    It’s so interesting how Tulum is blowing up with visitors right now. I can’t blame anyone… I’d love to lie on a beach or explore the surrounding cenotes, too! This is such a thorough post on how to visit Tulum during the pandemic.

    • Shelley

      Hey Catherine: Yeah, I think everyone’s headed down to Tulum to get their Vitamin D. Winter is technically “season” for Tulum, and the weather’s perfect right now. I just hope everyone travels responsibly🤞🤞🤞

  8. Elizabeth Hilton

    I visited Tulum 14 years ago. I think it is time for a return trip. This post is very helpful since it seems that a lot has changed in the past 14 years!

    • Shelley

      Elizabeth: I first visited 2 years ago, and it’s almost a different world… I can only imagine from 14 years ago!

  9. Portia Jones

    Your posts are always so incredibly detailed and informative. When I plan my first ever trip to Mexico I will be reading every single thing you’ve written to plan it! xx

  10. Emma

    I would love to visit Tulum, it looks like an incredible place. While I’m not ready to travel yet, mostly because although I would be able to leave Canada it would be difficult getting back in without quarantining, if this goes on much longer I might have to think about doing something. Great advice and tips on Tulum and how it is right now. I’m always interested with how other places are dealing with the current situation

  11. Emma

    I would love to visit Tulum, it looks like an incredible place. While I’m not ready to travel yet, mostly because although I would be able to leave Canada it would be difficult getting back in without quarantining, if this goes on much longer I might have to think about doing something. Great advice and tips on Tulum and how it is right now. I’m always interested with how other places are dealing with the current situation

  12. Ildiko

    Beautiful, thorough, and informative post. Also, perfect timing because my husband and I were recently discussing a possible trip to Tulum during the winter. I think I would want to stay on the beach , since I see beach so rarely living in Kentucky. Also the cenotes were very interesting. I did not know about them. They look beautiful. Definitely will visit a few. Of course need to go to Chitchen Iza too. Thanks for all the great tips!!

  13. Patti

    I’ve never been to Tulum except via a Cruise decades ago. I’ve been itching to travel and thought maybe Mexico would be good for Winter but my hubby is still anxious about flying during covid. So now we wait some more…..

  14. Nathalie Bolet

    A place in paradise. Adding this to my list. It looks fantastic and so beautiful. Thank you for sharing all the updates regarding the current situation

  15. Charlotte

    Love your blog Shelley! I can’t wait for travel restrictions to ease so I can visit Mexico again soon! Looking forward to more posts from you.

  16. Hannah Dawn

    Great post, thanks for so much detail! I visited Tulum years ago briefly but I missed so many of the places you recommended – you’ve inspired me to plan a new trip soon 🙂

    • Shelley

      Hi Hannah: I was there about 1.5 months… and still didn’t make it everywhere I wanted to!

  17. Sarah

    It’s good to know that there are still places open for travel! Although I think it’ll be a while before I can make it there from the UK…
    Tulum looks absolutely incredible though, and I really hope I can visit in the not-too-distant future! Thanks for such a detailed and informative post, it’s great inspiration 🙂

  18. Sharyn

    Tulum looks beautiful and good to know you can still visit during covid. Unfortunately the borders for Australia are closed so I will have to wait to get there. Thanks for a great post I’m saving for a later date.

  19. Kat

    This post has so much helpful information! I am DYING to get to Cenote Azul, it looks so beautiful and cant believe it’s so close to Downtown Tulum! Thank you for sharing!!!

    • Shelley

      Hi Kat: Thanks for writing! Surprisingly enough, many of the best cenotes are within 1 mile of Tulum Town/Downtown Tulum.

  20. Planet Hopper Girl

    Vow that is a perfect guide to Tulum. I would love to visit one day. I have not yet been anywhere in south or central america, all are on my list.


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