Tulum is a great place that can very well serve as a base for different trips to near surroundings. So you don’t have to stay the whole day on a beach if you don’t feel like it. Caribbean sea – what a horror, right? Well, luckily, there is plenty of things to do around. Whether you prefer to explore some cenotes or just find some ancient places to explore. We spend 6 days in Tulum and make a lot of day trips from there. And I would certainly recommend it.
9 day trips from Tulum
Tulum is one of the most visited places in Yucatan. The place that used to be just a quiet town is now rushing with crowds. Perhaps not as many as Cancun, but still quite a bit. It is still a really good place to visit and I certainly recommend it. Also because there are so many day trips around that you can either spend the whole day there. Alternatively, you can also do half a day somewhere and then just chill on the beach.
Another reason why I would choose Tulum over some other places would be the fact that almost every bus would stop in Tulum. So it is also easy to get around whether you want to have a private tour or join someone. Or even if you just want to rent the car and do it yourself.
Good news, one of the wonders of the new world is just around the corner and you can see it for your self. Tulum is only an hour and a half away from the famous Chichen Itza. It might seem like a lot, but Mexico is a big country and it just takes time to get around. In Chichen Itza, you can see one of the biggest pyramids. It is also very well taken care of, so it is not just the ruins of the city.
Chichen Itza is a relatively big place and you would need at least two hours to get around. You can do it by your self and just buy tickets at the entrance. They would cost you 274 pesos (about 13 dollars). The area is pretty big, so make sure you have enough time for it. There are ropes everywhere around the buildings, so there isn’t any danger that someone would accidentally destroy it.
If you are planning to explore the Mayan ancient city, you can do it alone, however, there is a lot of people there. So you can do that but come as early in the morning as possible. From Tulum, some tours are going there, but make sure that they are not just commercially focused and that they would get you there right in the morning.
Another stunning pyramid that is great to visit. Coba is slightly different from Chichen Itza. The pyramid is much older and the area is hidden in the woods. All the buildings are quite far away from each other. You can rent a bike in a stand close to the entrance. And then freely go around the place.
This pyramid comes with a twist. Unlike some other places in Mexico, you can climb that pyramid. So when you are coming here, make sure that you have proper shoes to do that. The pyramid is very steep and generally, it is easier to get up there than going down. Most of the people would choose to visit cenotes Choo-Ha, which are nearby, and on the way back to Tulum.
From Tulum, it is about an hour’s drive to Coba. But that is if you have your vehicle or if you are on a private tour. There is also a bus from Tulum that goes to Coba at 7.20. The bus is from ADO, which is one of the biggest bus companies in Mexico and therefore they are very relatable. The entry fee in Coba costs 75 pesos and renting of bike costs 20 pesos per day.
There is a lot of cenotes around Mexico. Perhaps the most famous one is the Grand Cenote, which is also very close to Tulum. However, Grand Cenote is very often crowded. Besides another great cenote is nearby. Dos Ojos means two eyes. The reason for it is because there are two cenotes very close to each other and both of them are surrounded by a hole in the ground. So if you would fly over it, you would probably see something that might look like two eyes.
The great thing about this cenote is the fact, that you can not only swim here, but you can also get a snorkeling tour, where you would see something called bat cave. Very little light – a lot of bats. Alternatively, if you have a scuba diving license, you can also dive here.
The entrance fee to the cenote is relatively high, about 200 pesos, but the water is certainly worth it. You can get here either if you rent a car or there are taxi vans that can drop you here called Collectivos.
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This place is a biosphere reserve, only half an hour away from Tulum. There is a lot of things to do. In Sian Ka’an is around 379 species of birds. If you are a bird watcher on tropical holidays, this would be a place for you. But not only birds are living here. You can see here crocodiles, and dragonflies, different beetles and so on. There are also about 115 species of mammals, in case that insects and birds won’t interest you.
But, generally, Sian Ka’an is a really big area, where you can also bathe and snorkel on the reef. The reef itself can offer 84 different species and even if you snorkel, you can still see here different kinds of sharks but also a lot of colorful fishes playing around in the corals.
All the tours to this area are trying to be as sustainable as possible. This means, that the tours are not made out of a big group of people, rather smaller ones, so it is safe for everyone. You can visit this national reserve by yourself if you pay the entrance fee. You can pay 50 pesos for just a broad walk around or you can choose to go for a boat tour, which would cost 700 pesos per person.
One of the oldest colonial towns in Yucatan. Valladolid was founded in 1543 and it is one of the most visited towns in Yucatan. The clear reason for it would be the colonial architecture that is everywhere in the city. The center is a masterpiece and will bring you back in time. If you are coming here, I would recommend not just visiting the city center but also to go around and see how little streets were built and what is here left of them. This town is truly magical.
One of the greatest piece, that we found was the colonial church. It is the very first church in the city so it dates back to the 16th century. The entrance is free and besides, you can get there until tale evening, so even if you should just peak, it is still worth it.
Another attraction here would be the local museum of chocolate. Chocolate has a big tradition in Mexico and it is one of the best ones that you can taste. You will get to know everything about how it was discovered and how it was used.
Valladolid is 100 km away from Tulum, which means that the easiest way there is to drive. If you don’t have a car, there is still a bus that is coming there. With the bus, it will take an hour and a half. Depending on the bus company, the prices for bus tickets are usually around 10 dollars on average.
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One of the oldest ruins on the Yucatan peninsula in general. Muyil dates back to 350 BC and it was also one of the places, there Mayans live the longest. It is presumed, that they left the ruins around the year 1200 AD. You can find here all kinds of Mayan buildings, such as an observatory, or even a pyramid. The local pyramid looks very different from the other ones and in fact, it is smaller than both Coba and Chichen Itza.
These ruins are not directly on a shore, there is a hierarchy of canals, that are going there from the sea to the ancient city. This Mayan city used to be one of the stops on the trade road to the Caribbean sea.
Muyil is only 15km away from Tulum. Which kind of proves how close to each other were the Mayan towns. But for you, it also means that it is a place that is very easy to get to. You can just hop on the local bus or Collectivo and get there in half an hour or less. The entrance fee is 45 pesos and it is the same direction as Sian Ka’an so you can visit both places in one trip.
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Akumal is a resort between Playa del Carmen and Tulum. So what can you see here? Is there a beautiful beach? Yes. Are there cenotes around? You betcha. Is there another lagoon around. Sure! But there is also something else that can bring your attention. And that would be local monkey sanctuary.
Akumal sanctuary focuses on saving local wildlife, both the one that is native to Yucatan, but also the one that was brought here. The sanctuary is very ethical, the animals here have a lot of space to move around and play. They are being treated according to their conditions with proper care.
It is an ideal place to visit if you have children with you. But grownups can find here a lot of fun as well. Except for visiting money, there is also cenotes and beach nearby. So the whole day in Akumal can be very relaxing and full of fun. Akumal is just half an hour from Tulum and you can get there by bus or taxi vans.
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Bacalar is one of the longest and perhaps biggest lakes in Yucatan. You can find it in the south of Tulum, only 2 hours drive away. The lake consist of gorgeous blue water, you can also swim here with turtles or just enjoy nature around. There is also a Mayan museum. To be honest, it is not as good as if you would visit any of the pyramids, but there is a good explanation of everything and it is just one of the things that you can do. The vegetation around is very rich. The great thing about this place is the fact, that there aren’t too many people here, which means, that you can enjoy the lagoon without any distractions. However, it is very difficult to visit this place just by public transport. So you will either need a tour or drive there by yourself.
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This island is mainly visited by people from Playa del Carmen. But from Tulum, you can get here too within an hour. Cozumel offers amazing beaches, where you can snorkel. There is also the possibility of diving and exploring the famous Palancar reef and its vegetation. During the year, you meet here even some bull sharks.
Perhaps the most famous thing to visit here would be the Chankanaab adventure park. Which is open every day from 8 am until 4 pm. You would need at least 3 hours in this park. And what can you do here? Well, does swimming with dolphins sounds good enough? If it does, I have good news for you. You can swim here with dolphins, enjoy the local white sand beach, or explore local crocodile exhibitions. The park is mostly for kids, but if you enjoy the beach and just want to see something different than it is in Tulum, you would be in the right place. The entry fee is 21 dollars and you should probably come in the morning, where there aren’t too many people.
Best time to do day trips from Tulum
Tulum is tropical all year around. However, there is a rainy season from May to October. September is usually bringing the most rain to the Yucatan peninsula. The main season is from January to late March when the temperature is quite high. You can expect mild wind and sunshine every day.
Where to stay in Tulum
Tulum has three main neighborhoods. The center of the town, which would be the cheapest, places around the public beach and private beach. The private beach is the most expensive part of Tulum.
We stayed in a place called hotel Crucero. It is supposed to be one of the oldest places in the town. It is very close to the Tulum ruins and the public beach as well. At the same time, it is within walking distance to the city center. The hotel is right on the main road to Tulum so it is very easy to catch here any taxi or Collectivos.
Should you get a guide?
That is always the question. I would say that if you don’t know much about Mayans and their civilization, it would be good to get a guide for at least one of their pyramids. Perhaps the Chichen Itza. Mainly because it is the new world wonder and it would be good to have someone who can explain to you everything around it.
The guided tours can also get you through the gates much faster, than if you are just in line for tickets. They usually have some valuable information about what to buy and what to leave out. But as I mentioned earlier, it is good to have a guide for maybe one of the pyramids, because the rest of them is very similar or almost the same.
You also don’t need any guide for cenotes unless you want to snorkel. Some cenotes have areas, where you can go only with a guide because it is dangerous to do it without.
But other than that it is not necessary to have a guide or tour of a lot of people.
What to pack for day trips from Tulum
If you are going to the Coba ruins, you should consider getting very good sport sandals. You will need to climb the pyramid with them and the stones there are quite slippery.
For pyramids, in general, it is a good idea to have a hat and a lot of water with you. Some of the areas are very sunny and it can get very hot and uncomfortable there.
Cenotes are a great way to run from the beaches and yet swim. Most of the cenotes have a place where you can change clothes, so you should bring both swimwear and some extra clothes. Cenotes also have a lot of mosquitos around, so don’t forget a bug spray and swim glasses. Some of them have rather sharp stones, so it would be a good idea to bring water shoes with you. Just so you wouldn’t get cut.
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