20 Tulum Excursions (Day Trips)

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Tulum is a coastal town in the Yucatan Peninsula on the Caribbean Sea that attracts visitors to its beautiful beaches, mysterious Mayan ruins, spa resorts and flavoursome local food. But what if you want to explore further?

Fortunately, there are many day trips from Tulum that will take you on an adventure to discover the unique natural beauty of Mexico, learn more about Mexico’s history or experience Mexican culture.

20 Day Trips From Tulum

Tulum Excursions For History Lovers

1- Muyil Ruins

day trips from tulum ruins by the sea
Most visitors to Tulum will plan to visit its ancient Mayan ruins but if you’re a lover of history, you may want to venture further and go on some day trips from Tulum to see other ruins.

The Muyil archaeological site contains the remains of an ancient Mayan city that was one of the oldest Mayan cities in Mexico.

Located south of Tulum, these ruins are within the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, deep in the jungle.

The main pyramid, the Castillo, is the tallest in the Riviera Maya.

As the ruins do not receive many visitors, enjoying the quiet jungle surroundings is a tranquil experience.

A trail behind the Castillo provides access to the Biosphere Reserve and there’s an observation tower where you can get a view above the treetops.

Muyil Ruins is about a 20-minute drive from Tulum at Reforma Agraria-Puerto Juárez km 25, 77710 Chunyaxché, Q.R., Mexico.

2- Coba Ruins

day trips from tulum coba pyramid
One of the day trips from Tulum to consider is a visit to the Coba Mayan pyramid.

The Mayan ruins of Coba lie within the lush, green jungle of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Coba is not as popular as the ruins at Chichen Itza, so visitors to this archaeological site will not have to fight a large crowd to see the pyramid.

You can rent bikes at the entrance to the site to get around Coba.

Coba is approximately a 45-minute drive from Tulum by car or taxi or local bus, which takes about an hour.

If you want to sit back and enjoy the scenery, join an organised tour that usually includes a visit to one of the cenotes nearby.

3- Chichen Itza

day trips from tulum kukulcan el castillo pyramid
The Mayan pyramid of Kukulcan El Castillo is one of the impressive sights you’ll see on a day trip from Tulum to Chichen-Itza.

Chichen Itza is the most famous Mayan archaeological site in Mexico, attracting millions of visitors each year who want to see the well-preserved pyramids.

The hub of the Mayan civilisation for over 1,000 years is a UNESCO World Heritage site with impressive temples, pyramids and courts.

If you’d rather not drive, book a tour that includes additional stops, such as swimming in the Ik Kil Cenote or visiting the Pueblo Magico Valladolid.

Because Chichen Itza is so popular, you should plan to arrive at the archaeological site early to queue up in line or skip the line and prebook your entry tickets online here.

Although Chichen Itza is about a 2.5-hour drive from Tulum, it’s an iconic attraction in Mexico and can still be visited from Tulum as a day trip comfortably.

Adventure Day Trips From Tulum

beach at tulum from above
Tulum is well-known for its beautiful beaches, such as this beach at the Tulum ruins but if you’re looking to explore further, there are several day trips from Tulum worth considering.

4- Selva Maya Eco Adventure Park

Selva Maya Eco Adventure Park is a zipline and cenote park north of Tulum and an excellent alternative to lounging on the beach all day.

If you’re looking for a jungle adventure, you can zipline through the treetops, rappel down over a cenote, climb up a cliff, snorkel through an underground river and swim in a cenote.

Tours into this jungle park include a lunch of Mayan tacos.

This highly-rated, family-friendly adventure can accommodate children aged five and above.

The park is a short drive from the hotels and resorts in Tulum.

Selva Maya Eco Adventure Park is at Carretera federal Cancun – Tulum km240, 77760 Tulum, Q.R., Mexico.

5- Xplor Park Zipline

Xplor Park is a zipline park north of Tulum near Playa del Carmen.

This zipline adventure has 2.2 miles (3.5 km) of ziplines that wind through the jungle canopy with cameras throughout the course to capture guests zipping through the trees.

In addition to ziplining, you can ride in an amphibious vehicle, paddle an underground raft and swim through an underground river while observing stalactites and stalagmites.

This family-friendly adventure is suitable for ages five and above.

Xplor Park Zipline is at Carretera Chetumal, Puerto Juarez Km 282, 77710 Playa del Carmen, Q.R., Mexico.

6- Go Diving Or Snorkelling In Cozumel

Cozumel is a Caribbean island across the water from Riviera Maya.

Getting to Cozumel is part of the adventure, as you’ll have to catch the ferry from Playa del Carmen.

On the island, several tour companies run snorkelling and diving expeditions.

There are excellent and affordable snorkelling sites off Cozumel’s west coast beaches.

Playa Palancar, Chankanaab Park, Villablanca Reef, Punta Sur Eco Beach Park, Dzul Ha and Playa Corona offer excellent, easy-to-access reefs perfect for snorkelling from shore.

Many beaches have an access fee because they are managed by a resort, beach club, or government agency.

Also, be aware that wearing sunscreen is not permitted as sunscreen can damage the fragile coral reef.

7- Isla Mujeres for Whale Sharks

day trips from tulum mexico picture shows a whale shark during a scuba dive
Snorkelling with whale sharks is one of the exciting activities to do on a day trip from Tulum.

Isla Mujeres is across the water from Cancun and offers a fantastic opportunity to swim with whale sharks from June to September.

Whale sharks migrate to the area annually to feed on plankton and spawn.

You can book a tour to spend some time swimming and snorkelling with these enormous gentle giants.

Make sure your tour boat operator is certified by the Mexican government.

If you’re staying in Tulum, rent a car, hire a taxi, or take a bus to get to Cancun. Once in Cancun, take the ferry to Isla Mujeres.

8- Xcaret Park

day trips from cancun to tulum people snorkelling in the lagoon
Snorkeling at XCaret park is one of the fun activities on a day trip from Tulum. XCaret is an ecotourism park on the Mayan Riviera

Also to the north of Tulum near Playa del Carmen, Xcaret Park is an ecological park with a water park, amusement park, theme park and archaeological site.

This park also houses a coral reef aquarium, sea turtle centre, butterfly garden and aviary.

One of the best activities at this park is the Xcaret Mexico Espectacular, which showcases Mexico’s history and culture through dance and traditional costumes.

In addition to the show, you may enjoy watching the Papantla Flyers ceremony, an equestrian show, pre-Hispanic dances in a Mayan village or an ancient Mayan ball game.

Xcaret Park is at Carretera Chetúmal Puerto Juárez Kilómetro 282, Solidaridad, 77710 Playa del Carmen, Q.R., Mexico.

Tulum Excursions For Nature Lovers

9- Isla Contoy

best day trips from tulum palm trees, sand and blue sea
A day trip from Tulum to Isla Contoy is perfect for nature lovers.

Isla Contoy is an island north of Isla Mujeres and a highly regulated national park that is a sanctuary for more than 150 tropical birds.

It’s also a nesting site for several endangered turtle species, including the loggerhead and leatherback turtles.

Visitors to the island must book a boat tour with a certified guide.

Only 200 visitors a day are allowed on the island, and sunscreen, bug repellent and cigarettes are prohibited to preserve the island and the coral reef surrounding it.

The beautiful white sand beaches and blue Caribbean waters make this a peaceful paradise for a day trip from Tulum.

10- Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve

best day trips to tulum from cancun Varanus monitor lizard side view with blurred ocean in the background
Nature lovers will be pleased to encounter wildlife, such as this Varanus monitor lizard, on one of the day trips from Tulum.

Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve is a UNESCO World Heritage Site south of Tulum.

The reserve is home to thousands of plant and animal species, including jaguars, pumas, ocelots, tapirs, spider monkeys, howlers monkeys, and more than 300 species of birds.

The coastal wetlands and lagoons within the reserve are popular places for birdwatchers.

This complex system of freshwater and saltwater created a biologically diverse ecosystem that the Mexican government protects.

Ecotourism is highly regulated and visitors to the reserve can take a boat tour through the ancient canals, snorkel along the shoreline on the Mesoamerican Reef and flyfish the saltwater lagoons.

Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve is at Felipe Carrillo Puerto, Quintana Roo, Mexico.

11- Go On A Cenote Tour

tulum day trips from cancun Turquoise water and limestone cave sinkhole
One of the best day trips from Tulum is to pay a visit to some cenotes. Pictured here is the amazing turquoise water and limestone cave sinkhole cenote at Santuario de Los Guerreros in Puerto Aventuras, Quintana Roo.

The Yucatan Peninsula has thousands of unique geological features called cenotes, water-filled holes or caves.

The oldest cenotes are open to the air and the newest cenotes are completely enclosed underground.

Cenotes were of great importance to the pre-Hispanic people that lived in this region, and the Mayans considered these places to be the entrance to the underworld.

Many cenotes still contain artifacts that illustrate the importance of these locations to the Mayan culture.

Several tour companies offer a wide variety of cenote tours throughout the region that will take you swimming, snorkelling, or diving in different cenotes with unique features.

12- Kaan Lagoon

Located just south of Tulum, Laguna Kaan is a freshwater lagoon with clear, calm, blue water.

This lake is surrounded by the jungle and has smaller crowds than the beaches.

Because its waters are calm, it’s a great place to relax and is family-friendly, however, a cenote in the middle of the lake has a strong current so it’s best to stay around the edges.

Visitors are not permitted to wear sunscreen or insect repellent in the water and must shower before entering.

Kaan Lagoon is at 77760 Tulum, Q.R., Mexico.

13- Ria Lagartos Biosphere Reserve

tulum day trips group of flamingoes with long necks and beautiful plumage
Nature lovers will love taking a day trip from Tulum to see the flamingoes.

Ria Lagartos Biosphere Reserve is home to important wetlands that support the diverse assemblage of plant and animal species.

This diverse ecosystem consists of mangroves, coastal lagoons, estuaries, marshland and savannah.

These areas provide essential nesting habitats for hundreds of species of birds.

In addition, Ria Lagartos is an important stop on the migration route for many bird species, such as the black-necked stilt.

The most iconic species of bird found at this reserve are the flamingoes, and their bright pink feathers attract visitors each year.

Ria Lagartos Biosphere Reserve is a three-hour drive from Tulum at C. 10 #142, 97720 Río Lagartos, Yuc., Mexico.

14- Bacalar Lagoon

day trips from tulum lake bacalar mexico thatched gazebo on the water
One of the day trips from Tulum to consider is a visit to Lake Bacalar.

Bacalar Lagoon is a long, skinny freshwater lake with stunning blue water that has earned the nickname ‘Laguna de Los Sietes Colores’ (Lake of the Seven Colors).

You can enjoy swimming, kayaking and snorkelling in the lake.

A few publicly-accessible cenotes lie adjacent to or in a part of the lake.

As with all natural waters in Mexico, sunscreen and bug repellent are not permitted, and visitors must shower before entering.

In addition to the beautiful waters of this lake, Bacalar Lagoon is also home to ancient stromatolites, which are protected and one of the few places in the world where they can still be found.

Bacalar Lagoon is two hours south of Tulum.

15- Akumal

day trips from tulum Sea turtles the water in the reserve until they are released into the open sea
One of the day trips from Tulum for nature lovers involves visiting a sea turtle reserve.

The proximity of Akumal makes this an easy place to visit for the day trip from Tulum.

A popular activity in Akumal is snorkelling with sea turtles in the sheltered Akumal Bay.

Because sea turtles are protected, everyone wanting to see these incredible creatures is required to book a certified guide for this activity.

In addition to snorkelling with turtles, you can snorkel with the colourful fish found in the calm waters of the Yal Ku Lagoon, located just north of the bay.

Also check out the Akumal Monkey Sanctuary, a small sanctuary and rescue for local and exotic wildlife where people can see and interact with monkeys, macaws and snakes by participating in an educational experience.

Akumal is just north of Tulum, along the coast.

Cultural Tulum Excursions

16- Valladolid Pueblo Magico

city day trips from tulum Valladolid city centre
Another of the day trips from Tulum to choose is a visit to Valladolid.

To the west of Tulum lies the Pueblo Magico Valladolid.

This small town has preserved its Spanish colonial heritage with colourful buildings and old monuments built by the Spanish colonialists when they first settled in this area during the 16th century.

The Convent de San Bernardino and the San Gervasio Cathedral are two landmarks built by the Spanish.

In addition to the architecture, a few cenotes are located within the town that are open to the public.

Many restaurants in this town serve traditional Mayan foods, and you can find artisanal crafts at the local mercado.

17- Sfer Ik Museion

The Sfer Ik Museion is an art museum that blends nature with sculpture.

The museum’s curator wanted to create a quiet place where visitors can sit and reflect and meditate in spaces within the museum.

Cushions are scattered around the museum to encourage visitors to sit and contemplate the exhibits.

Visitors are encouraged to remove their shoes and walk around the exhibits barefoot to feel the curvature of the floors and connect to the surrounding art with all of their senses.

The museum is within the Azulik Eco Hotel in Francisco Uh May, approximately a 30-minute drive from Tulum.

18- Rio Secreto

Rio Secreto means ‘secret river’ and is called Rio Secreto because it was not discovered until 2004 by a local landowner.

Rio Secreto is an underground river system that winds through an extensive cave system.

Visitors can float through the small portion of the river and see the spectacular cave formations.

This river was once important to the ancient Mayan people, and evidence of their presence within the cave system has been found in the form of artifacts and cave drawings.

Rio Secreto is located north of Tulum in Playa del Carmen.

19- Explore Playa del Carmen

day trips to tulum from playa del carmen red boats moored at the beach
Day trips from Tulum to Playa del Carmen are popular, for those who love a party.

Playa del Carmen is a coastal town to the north of Tulum in the Riviera Maya region.

Because it is larger than Tulum, more activities are available for visitors who are looking for activities beyond the beach.

There are challenging and picturesque golf courses, such as the Iberostar Golf Club Playa Paraiso and the Hard Rock Golf Club.

Cooking classes, food tours and a Tequila Academy are also available.

After sundown, the bars and nightclubs keep the party going all night.

20- Mahahual

day trips from tulum costa maya
A pair of cruise ships are docked at the port in Costa Maya, Mexico in the Caribbean on a beautiful sunny day.

Mahahual is a small fishing village close to the cruise ship docking point at Costa Maya.

This village is a 2.5-hour drive south of Tulum and contains some of the most transparent turquoise waters on the coast.

The largest coral atoll in Mexico, the Banco Chinchorro Biosphere Reserve, is located just offshore of Mahahual.

This coral atoll supports an abundance of more than 2,500 species of marine plants and animals.

In addition, you can dive with manatees and crocodiles in these waters or explore the dozens of shipwrecked English and Spanish galleons that date back to the 16th and 17th centuries.

Playa Mahahual is a fun place for people to swim, snorkel, fish, kite surf, or relax in the sun. 

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Angie Grier is a spicy señora living in central Mexico with a penchant for freelance writing. Having spent most of her adult life writing first as a scientist and then as a teacher, she now contributes articles on a wide variety of topics for a number of print and online media sources. When she’s not shopping in Tonalá or eating chilaquiles, she writes a travel blog detailing her life and adventures in Mexico at www.onaroadleadingsomewhere.com.