Some agencies offer jungle and ocean adventures, including zip lines, rappeling, snorkeling in tropical reefs and underground rivers, as well as visits to the archeogical site of Tulum.
- Great guided snorkel tours from the public beach near the ruins, cost around 200 pesos each. Lasted about two hours, a terrific deal.
- You can also take your own self guided tour of the reefs right off the beach from the Hotel Zone. Tulum sits on the second largest barrier reef in the world. Be sure to take a tour yourself, or a guided tour of this fantastic reef system. You will be sure to see over 30 species of fish and some spectacular Coral as well.
- Hidden Worlds Cenotes Park. Offering unique jungle adventures to suit everyone, Hidden Worlds is situated on the most extensive system of underwater caves and caverns on Earth. The park is home to some of the most incredible cenotes on the Yucatan Peninsula, as featured in the critically acclaimed 2001 IMAX movie Journey Into Amazing Caves and the 2007 BBC Planet Earth series.
- Scuba diving off the coast or in one of the many cenotes. Ask for info from your place of accommodation.
- Kitesurf the beaches of Tulum in Playa Paraiso , certified instructors from Extreme Control, all levels, full facilities and rentals.
- Xel Ha National Park, Tulum, Mexico. Official visitor site with information about Xel-ha Tours, Dolphin Swim, Cenotes, Travel and more.
Cenotes – In much of the Yucatan, rainwater collects in a system of underground caves and tunnels. Where these tunnels reach the surface is known as a cenote (pronounced seh-NOH-teh). Cenotes usually allow swimming and diving, and rent related equipment. They are fresh water and are often quite cold.
- Casa Cenote, in TanKah III Bay is a magic spot. Here the Cenote goes underground some 100 yards before the beach, only to emerge as an ‘underwater’ water spring about 20 yards of the beach, right in the ocean. Must see. Tanka III Bay is just over 7 kilometers (5 miles) north of the intersection to the ruins. Take a cab. Great places to eat and stay or scuba too.
- El Gran Cenote. Admission: 80 pesos.
Three Tulums – What most folks really need to know, and only manage to figure out once there, is the fact that there are really three different areas all referred to as TULUM only minutes away from each other, not close enough though to walk to and from.
Tulum Pueblo sits split by highway 307 running South-North. “El Pueblo”, as referred to by locals, is home to most workers of the tourist industry and where many of the stores, supermarkets, two bus stations, inns, hostels and small hotels are found. This section of town has a definite feel of existing mostly to cater to the Tulum ruins. Tulum pueblo is indeed a destination for shopping, great restaurants, a modest night life, studying the language at Instituto Chac-Mool Spanish School, booking tours, banking, shopping for food, local vegetables, fruits, cafes, and local flavor. Do not miss it.
Tulum Playa nests along the coastline that leads into the Sian Ka’an Biosphere [Ecological Reserve], the Caribbean white sandy beaches to the east, an impressive mangrove & wetland reserve to the south. Tulum Playa embraces many of the fancier, ecological, boutique and spa hotels, and it has a decent to excellent selection of restaurants and night spots. There are also a number of affordable beach front cabana-type lodging locations. Walk the beach and simply step in and inquire about accommodations and rates. You will be surprised and delighted.
If you are staying on the beach and trying to save money, it is wise to stock up on food and drinks in the pueblo. There are not too many restaurant options on the beach, and the ones that are operational are comparatively quite expensive.
Taxis have a near monopoly on transport to and from the playa. Buses come from time to time, but hitchhiking can also get you where you need to go.
Tulum Ruinas is the archaeological site where the Maya ruins of Tulum stand. It is conformed by a-mile-long road leading into the ruins from highway 307. The road is flanked by several restaurants, a commercial area geared to one-day visitors, a huge parking lot, a small bus station that operates part-time and a handful of middle range hotels.
Archaeology – Tulum is mostly known for its ruins, which strike an impressive image next to the sea, but were constructed during a time period of Maya culture that was waning. The site is notable for a small cenote, beautiful beach below the ruin laden cliffs and some well preserved stellae in only one of its structures. After visiting other ruins in the area such as Chichen Itza, Tulum’s main claim is the sea-side setting. It is best visited on a clear, bright day or at sunrise. Bring your swim suit.
A standard to telephoto zoom lens does well if you must photograph during times of peak tourism. This strategy will keep people out of your shots of the ruins. Tripods are allowed only with a permit that is exclusively available in Mexico City for a $500 fee. A monopod may be a possibility.
The Kingdom of the Maya • Locations & Activities