With stunning Mayan ruins, a paradisiac beach and an incredible selection of places to stay for all budget options, Tulum is the perfect place to end your Mexico road trip. While you can easily spend some days in Tulum without going much further than your hotel, if you have a few extra days available you should definitely take the opportunity to go on one or more day trips from Tulum.
From visiting archeological sites to cooling off in the chilled waters of a cenote; from island hopping to relaxing at a nearby beach, the range of places you can visit on day trips from Tulum is fantastic. I have selected a number of places that are perfect for a day trip. Some are very popular; whereas others are lesser known – but all are equally charming.
Ready to find out more? Continue reading!
16 Fabulous Day Trips From Tulum
Chichen Itza – the most popular day trip from Tulum
No trip to the Yucatan Peninsula would be complete without a trip to the UNESCO World Heritage Site and World Wonder that is Chichen Itza. This incredibly well-preserved ancient Mayan city was a major center for Mayan religion and economics, and it’s one of the most popular day trips from Tulum.
It’s just two hours’ drive from Tulum to reach Chichen Itza. Once you arrive, you’ll be able to spend the day basking in the history and the atmosphere of this magnificent city. At its center, the Temple of Kukulcan is the iconic stepped pyramid that many come to see, but there are also some mind-blowing stone carvings tucked away in some of the ruins’ other intricate structures.
HOW TO GET TO CHICHEN ITZA FROM TULUM: Chichen Itza is 153 km (95 miles) from Tulum. The easiest way to get to Chichen Itza from Tulum is by car. If you don’t have one, you can use the ADO bus – there is just one per day so make sure to book it in advance.
Alternatively, you can join an all-inclusive guided tour that also goes to Valladolid and some nearby cenotes. For more information, click here.
For more information about Chichen Itza, read this post.
Situated an hour and a half to the west of Tulum, Valladolid is something a little bit different for your Yucatan adventures. Rather than being a cenote or a Mayan ruin, Valladolid is a thriving city, overflowing with charm and history – yet this is one of the most overlooked day trips from Tulum.
The city is a vibrant place to spend the day, where you can wander along its colonial era streets, marveling at its elegant buildings and taking time to sample some of its best restaurants and cafes. This hidden gem sometimes gets overlooked in favor of a trip to Cancun or Playa del Carmen, but this authentic city with its colorful buildings and interesting sights is not to be missed.
HOW TO GET TO VALLADOLID FROM TULUM: Valladolid is just 102 km (67 miles) from Tulum. There are regular buses connecting the two cities. If you have a car, you can definitely combine a day trip from Tulum to Valladolid with a visit to Chichen Itza.
Otherwise, you may want to join a guided tour such as this one.
Check out my post The Best Things To Do In Valladolid.
Coba Mayan ruins
The Mayan Riviera is home to some incredible Mayan ruins, and many of them are easily explored on a day trip from Tulum. One of them is the ancient city of Coba.
Tucked away among lush tropical jungle, this once powerful kingdom is just a 45-minute journey by car from Tulum. Unlike Chichen Itza, Coba is much less touristed (or at least, it feels like that because it’s massive) and is a perfect adventure away from the beach clubs of Tulum.
The ruins themselves reveal how people once lived, and they are centered on the main pyramid – you can actually climb this one. Also to be found in this huge complex are ball courts, temples, pyramids, and residential complexes.
HOW TO GET TO COBA FROM TULUM: Coba is 47 km (29 miles) and around 45 from Tulum. Getting to Coba ruins is incredibly easy even if you don’t have a car – you can hop on an ADO bus, get a colectivo or simply hop on a taxi.
Alternatively, you can get to Coba on a guided tour such as this one.
Make sure to read my post A Complete Guide To Visiting Coba.
Just under an hour inland from Tulum, past Coba, Punta Laguna is a truly beautiful spot to visit. This sparkling turquoise lagoon is set within the middle of the jungle, in an area of low rainforest, and it’s an amazing place to swim.
It’s a protected area that has been dubbed Otoch Ma’ax Yetel Kooh – “the Home of the Spider Monkey and the Puma”. As well as cooling off in the gorgeous waters of the lagoon, you’ll be surrounded by nature, with a few hiking trails running through it all. You’ll also be able to meet the local Mayan people who still live in this area and who protect the natural habitat.
HOW TO GET TO PUNTA LAGUNA FROM TULUM: Punta Laguna is around 62 kilometers (38.5 miles) from Tulum.The easiest way to get to Punta Laguna is by car. Due to its location close to Coba, it makes sense to visit them on the same day.
If you don’t have a car, you can join a guided tour departing from Tulum that goes to both Coba and Punta Laguna. For more information, click here.
This is one of the easiest places to visit on day trips from Tulum. The small town of Muyil is situated around 20 minutes from Tulum. Complete with its very own archaeological zone, Muyil is also known as Chunyaxche and is one of the longest and earliest inhabited of all the ancient cities on Yucatan’s east coast.
Muyil is ideal to explore in a combination day trip to Sian Ka’an, since it’s located within the boundaries of the reserve. Once you’re there you can explore the ruins, of course, but one of the best things about this ancient Mayan site is that there’s also canals here, too. Carved out centuries ago, these historic waterways were once used for trading, but today can be swum in or explored by kayak.
HOW TO GET TO MUYIL FROM TULUM: Muyil is just 23 km (14.5 miles) from Tulum. The best way to get there is by car.
Alternatively, you can join a guided tour that also goes to Sian Ka’an Reserve. You can book it here.
Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve
Nature lovers take note – just twenty minutes’ drive from Tulum is this stunning spot of natural beauty, away from the crowds and tourist sights common along the Maya Riviera. Easily one of the best day trips from Tulum, Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve is home to thousands of species of flora and fauna, and it’s actually a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its importance.
There are many different ecosystems across 1.3-million-acre Sian Ka’an (meaning “Origin of the Sky”), from mangroves and marshes, to tropical forests and even portions of gleaming barrier reef. The reserve has such an incredible amount of diversity and walking through the pristine landscape – or kayaking around – will give you an insight into its sheer beauty.
HOW TO GET TO SIAN KA’AN RESERVE FROM TULUM: The best way to get from Tulum to Sian Ka’an Reserve is by car. If you don’t have one, you are better off joining a guided tour. In fact, having a guide will help you make the most of all the flora and fauna in this magnificent place.
For information on guided tours click here.
Around two hours from Tulum, Punta Allen isn’t exactly close by, but a visit to this stunning coastal area is well worth your time. Also situated within the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, this fishing village is the largest settlement within the reserve, but it’s still only home to around 500 people.
Taking a trip here is bound to be one of the most amazing adventures you can embark on from Tulum. The town itself is a relaxing spot where you can pick up some food from vendors or the market, and then head to the beach to enjoy the sparkling waters and white sand of the coast here.
HOW TO GET TO PUNTA ALLEN FROM TULUM: Punta Allen is actually only 55 km (34 miles) from Tulum, but getting there requires is a bit of a trip because of the road conditions. You will need a good 4×4 vehicle and around 2 hours.
For something a little more relaxing, you one of the nicest day trips from Tulum is to Cozumel. This island is a Caribbean paradise just off the coast of the Maya Riviera, and since it’s easy to reach from Tulum, it makes for place to visit for a day.
Not only that, but if you’ve got some spare time in your itinerary, you could easily spend a night or two here simply relaxing on the sandy shores.
HOW TO GET TO COZUMEL FROM TULUM: To get there, first take the bus (or drive) to Playa del Carmen, then hop on the ferry from Punta Venado. Upon arrival, stake out your patch of sand and enjoy, or join a guided tour around the island.
Translating to “Black Hole,” Holbox island is a laid-back world of wonder – it’s 42 kilometers (roughly 27 miles) long and 1.5 kilometers (about 1 mile) wide and is separated from the mainland by a shallow lagoon. No cars are allowed on the island (to protect the environment), making for a slower pace of life. This is a truly picturesque paradise island, so make sure to carve out some time in your schedule to pay a visit.
As well as spotting rich bird life that lives in the lagoon, a visit to Isla Holbox means kiteboarding, seeing bioluminescence (at night, if you’re lucky), and swimming with whale sharks off the coast here. Spending the day here may charm you enough to want to spend the night, or maybe a week or two. It’s a beautiful island.
HOW TO GET TO HOLBOX FROM TULUM: Holbox is around 3 hours from Tulum. While getting there is a bit of a longer trip compared to other day trips from Tulum, if you make it there you will be definitely wowed. To get there, drive, take a shuttle (such as this one) or take the ADO bus to Chiquila (it’s a 2.5 hours drive) and hop on the 30 minutes ferry from there.
If you prefer a more comfortable option, you can join a guided tour such as this one.
Cenotes are a big attraction in the area surrounding Tulum. These are natural swimming holes caused by collapsed limestone that exposes underground reservoirs and rivers. Once revered by the ancient Mayan population as places connected to the underworld, today cenotes provide a refreshing spot for locals and tourists to take a swim in a natural setting.
There are numerous cenotes that are easy to reach from Tulum. One of the most popular is Gran Cenote, just 5 kilometers (little over 3 miles) from Tulum town center. Cenote Dos Ojos, named for its two circular pools, is also a good choice (22 kilometers – 13.6 miles – north of Tulum). Either make for enchanting places to swim – there’s plenty more to choose from!
For a guided tour that follows the Ruta de Cenotes, click here.
For a diving experience in Cenotes Dos Ojos and other cenotes in Tulum, click here.
Check out my post The Best Cenotes Near Tulum.
Laguna Kaan Luum
For a truly stunning slice of natural beauty, make your way to Lagoon Kaan Luum. This otherworldly lake is unlike any other you may have seen before. While most of it is shallow and gleaming light turquoise, at its center is a cenote that creates a disc of deep, dark aquamarine.
Its location very close to Tulum makes Laguna Kaan Luum a perfect day trip. The shallow waters make it great for families – don’t worry, the deepest part (i.e. the cenote) is not actually open for swimming. It’s a protected spot so make sure to care for the environment by not wearing sunscreen or leaving any litter behind.
HOW TO GET TO LAGUNA KAAN LUUM FROM TULUM: Laguna Kaan Luum is 5 kilometers (just over 3 miles) south of Tulum, off Highway 307. If you don’t have your own car, you can easily get there by taxi.
Bacalar is a small town around two and a half hours’ drive from Tulum. More than being a town, however, this destination – close to the border of Belize – is situated on the sparkling shoreline of the Bacalar Lagoon. Also known as the “Lagoon of Seven Colors,” thanks to its graduating bands of blues and turquoise, it’s edged by soft white sand and makes for a fantastic place to chill for the day. You can kayak, SUP, snorkel and even sail in the lagoon.
For information about sailing trips in Bacalar, click here.
In the town itself are a few interesting spots to hit up. For example, the 18th-century Fuerte de San Felipe is a former fort that now plays host to a fascinating museum all about pirates in the Caribbean. There’s also the colonial San Joaquin Parish Church to stop by and the nearby Cenote Azul to cool off in.
HOW TO GET TO BACALAR FROM TULUM: Bacalar is 215 km (134 miles) south of Tulum and the best way to get there is by car: head out nice and early. There are regular ADO buses that go there – just make sure to take the first one as it is quite a long drive.
Rio Lagartos and Las Coloradas
The Mayan Riviera is not short of natural beauty, and Rio Lagartos and Las Coloradas really proves this. Both are around three hours by car from Tulum, but it’s an amazing place to visit for a very pink-hued day trip.
It’s at the sleepy fishing village of Rio Lagartos that you’ll get to glimpse hundreds upon hundreds of pink flamingos, making for an awesome photo opportunity at this protected biosphere. Nearby Las Coloradas is home to a lagoon that has been colored pink by the salt from nearby salt mines making for yet another amazing spectacle to marvel at.
This day trip from Tulum is perfect for photographers and nature lovers alike – just make sure you leave early!
HOW TO GET TO RIO LAGARTOS AND LAS COLORADAS FROM TULUM: It’s around 205 km (127 miles) from Tulum to Rio Lagartos. The only way to get there if you want to do it as a day trip is by car.
Otherwise, your best option will be to join a guided tour such as this one.
Akumal is a coastal resort within easy reach of Tulum (just 25 minutes by car). Not only does it have white sand beaches and a colorful coral reef, but it is also home to its very own population of sea turtles. Meaning “Place of the Turtle,” Akumal is the place to go to swim in warm waters alongside these majestic marine creatures as they feed in the sea.
You don’t need to be a qualified diver to see them – simply donning a snorkel and diving under the waves, not far from the shore, means you’ll be able to spot the sea turtles for yourself. However, keep in mind that for the safety of turtles you are now required to join a guided snorkeling tour once there. You’ll be able to find one once you get to the beach.
HOW TO GET TO AKUMAL FROM TULUM: It’s very easy! Just get a colectivo – there are many parked at the intersection of Avenida Satellite Norte.
Read my post The Best Beaches In Mexico.
Adventure enthusiasts will definitely enjoy a day trip to Xplor Park – this is an amazing place to get your adrenaline pumping as you explore the wilds of nature. Located just over 56 kilometers (30 miles) from Tulum, this adventure park is set within a natural environment, with caves and jungle, waterfalls, and cenotes to explore and marvel at.
Not only that, this is where you can try out a spot of ziplining swinging through the jungle (there are seven in total), amphibious vehicles that whisk you around, underground rivers to swim in and cavernous adventures to be had. It’s all very well run and super organized, and it’s fun for different age groups, too.
HOW TO GET TO XPLOR FROM TULUM: The easiest way to get to Xplor is by car. If you don’t want to drive yourself, just hop on a colectivo headed to Playa del Carmen and asked to be dropped off there.
For all-inclusive tickets to Xplor, click here.
Playa del Carmen
Just under an hour’s drive from Tulum, Playa del Carmen is a playground for vacationers and backpackers alike. This trendy town on the Maya Riviera boasts sandy beaches and palm-lined avenues, making for an exciting place to spend a day trip from Tulum.
When you’re not laying out on the white sand, sipping a delicious margarita, or snorkeling on a coral reef (just offshore is a part of the huge Mesoamerican Barrier Reef), you can spend time in the bohemian Playa del Carmen wandering its pedestrian-friendly streets, browsing the boutiques, or indulging in its bars and restaurants.
HOW TO GET TO PLAYA DEL CARMEN FROM TULUM: There are plenty of ADO buses and colectivos that depart from Tulum headed to Playa del Carmen, so you won’t have troubles getting there!
For more things to do in Playa del Carmen, read this post.