Uncategorized

12 Day Trips from Tulum to Escape the Seaweed [2021]

If you’re visiting Mexico’s famous Riviera Maya, Tulum is one of the best places to base yourself because of all the options for day trips from Tulum.

To date, I’ve spent over a month in the Quintana Roo area of Mexico. The influencers aren’t lying: Tulum truly is the bohemian escape of your dreams. But I can also say from first-hand experience that there is a ton to do in this region beyond Tulum’s borders. We’re talking high-adrenaline adventure, wildlife experiences, ancient ruins, quaint colorful towns, and so much more. 

I know it’ll be hard to pry yourself away from your Tulum beach hotel (I mean, they’re some of the best beaches in the world), but taking yourself on a couple of day trips from Tulum will really make your trip to the Yucatan Peninsula unforgettable.

12 Best Tulum Day Trips and Excursions

Taylor stands in the jungle at the Tulum Ruins in Quintana Roo, Mexico
Me at the Tulum Runs — one of the best sites in Quintana Roo!

Disclosure: Travel Lemming is an independent reader-supported blog. You can support my work by purchasing through the affiliate links on this page, which may earn a commission for this site. Thank you!

Cozumel

street road or car track with promenade or waterfront near water, green palm trees sunny outdoor in summer Cozumel, Mexico on cloudy blue sky background. traveling and vacation

🌿 Seaweed Rating: Minimal Seaweed (main West-facing side is shielded from current)

Why Visit Cozumel: Cozumel, a relatively undeveloped island just off the coast of the mainland, is one of the most popular day trips from Tulum and is famed for its marine activities, cute downtown area, and secluded beaches. In particular, the island is known for the Punta Sur Eco Beach Park — a 247-acre area that consists of protected reefs, beaches, forests, and lagoons. The park is home to a variety of birds and animals, and there is even a tower from which to observe crocodiles. Just keep in mind that because the island is a stop on the cruise ship route, the island can get very busy with tourists. Check the cruise ship schedule, and try to visit in the off hours if possible.

If you’re up for an adventure, this Glass Bottom Boat & Snorkeling Tour is one of the most highly-rated tours of the island and will take you to three of the coral reefs.

How to get from Tulum to Cozumel: 

  • 🛥️ Ferry – To get to Cozumel, you’ll first have to get to Playa del Carmen, using any of the routes listed above. Then, hop on either the Winjet (budget, 40 minutes) or Ultramar (luxury, 20 minutes) ferries to take you to the island.

🚏 Distance: Cozumel is a 2.5-hour journey from Tulum and requires both land transportation and a ferry.

Laguna Kaan Luum

The Kaan Luum lagoon is located in Tulum, Quintana Roo in Mexico. People walk the boardwalk over the lagoon to the cenote.

🌿 Seaweed Rating: No Seaweed Involved

Why Visit the Laguna Kaan Luum: Just 9km down the road, Laguna Kaan Luum is a large 82-meter deep cenote (freshwater sinkhole) in the middle of a large lagoon, and is more or less off the beaten path as far as Mayan Riviera sites go. Together, the cenote and lagoon sparkle all shades of turquoise and blue, which makes for one of the most beautiful day trips from Tulum.

While here, I recommend going swimming (you can swim anywhere in the lagoon except for in the cenote, though diving is allowed), and walking along the boardwalk. Another popular activity at Laguna Kaan Luum is to take a mud bath — the mud comes from the cenote and is said to have healing benefits. It does smell quite bad though, so be warned.

How to get from Tulum to Laguna Kaan Luum: 

  • 🚗 Drive – Because Laguna Kaan Luum isn’t on the main tourist trail, driving will be your best bet. There is a large parking lot available.
  • 🚎 Colectivo – To take the Colectivo from Tulum to Kaan Luum, hop on the one going to Felipe Carrillo. Though this will take you past the main entrance, you will have to walk a bit. Note that it’s slightly harder to get a Colectivo back to Tulum as the rote isn’t as frequent.

🚏 Distance: Laguna Kaan Lum is 11km (7 miles) from Tulum; a 13-minute drive.

Playa Del Carmen

Sunbathers and palm trees dot the landscape in Playacar Beach, Playa del Camren
Playacar Beach is arguably the best beach in Playa del Carmen!

🌿 Seaweed Rating: Significant Seaweed Possibility 🙁

Why Visit Playa del Carmen: One of Quintana Roo’s largest cities, Playa del Carmen is the high-octane city escape to Tulum’s laid-back jungle vibe. Home to over 300,000 people and a substantial ex-pat community, Playa has all the conveniences of a big city, including tons of excursions and tours, and yet through it all maintains its chic beach feel.

On a day trip from Tulum, you’ll find strolling La Quinta Avenida (5th Avenue) to be the beating heart of the city with plenty of nightclubs, restaurants, shops, and tourist draws lining the street. From there, the beach is just a five-minute walk away and, while the beaches in Playa are not quite as spectacular as those in Tulum, you’ll find a ton of beachside restaurants, party spots, and relaxing loungers to check out. Our Playa del Carmen travel guide spills the tea on the best things to do, the best beaches, travel tips, and more!

How to get from Tulum to Playa del Carmen:

  • 🚍 Bus – The popular Mexican bus line ADO has a hassle-free route from downtown Playa del Carmen to both the Tulum Ruins and downtown. You can book your tickets via BusBud if you have a US Credit Card (which won’t work on ADO’s site).
  • 🚗 Drive – Driving in Mexico can seem daunting at first (the rules of the road aren’t strictly followed), but driving to Playa is a fairly straightforward route. I recommend that you rent a car directly through Discover Cars; a trusted website with tons of options.
  • 🚎 Colectivo – A shared minibus system used by locals, taking a colectivo is cheaper (and adventurous) than the other travel options.

🚏 Distance: Playa del Carmen is 70km (43 miles) from Tulum, about an hour’s drive.

Coba Ruins

People climb the main pyramid of ixmoja at Nohoch Mul at the Coba Ruins in Mexico

🌿 Seaweed Rating: No Seaweed Involved

Why Visit the Coba Ruins: One of the top archaeological day trips from Tulum, the ancient Mayan ruins at Coba are a must-visit for history buffs and jungle-lovers alike. Though along the same vein as the Tulum Ruins, the Coba Ruins are special when compared to Tulum or Chichen Itza in that they cover a much larger area, have very well-preserved structures, and are grander in architecture.

Unique to this destination, the Coba Ruins contain multiple ancient Mayan settlements connected by white roads that each lead to the main pyramid, Ixmoja of Nohoch Mul. Coba is located right in the middle of the jungle and is surrounded by lagoons and freshwater cenotes.

In fact, it’s estimated that the Coba Ruins contain 6,000 structures in total, although only a small portion of these have been excavated.

How to get from Tulum to the Coba Ruins:

  • 🚌 Tour – Tours are the most popular way to go for a reason. Viator offers lots of options from Tulum, including some that combine cenotes, 4WD adventures, or other excursions.
  • 🚍 Bus – There are plenty of ADO bus routes to the Coba Ruins every day. Get tickets on Bus Bud.
  • 🚗 Drive – Driving to Coba is an easy trip when you book your car through Discover Cars. Just watch for speed bumps along the way!

🚏 Distance: Coba is 50 km (31 miles) from Tulum; a 45-minute drive

👉 Always forget to pack something? My Mexico packing check list is the perfect comprehensive packing resource.

Akumal

Akumal bay - Caribbean white beach in Riviera Maya, coast of Yucatan and Quintana Roo, Mexico

🌿 Seaweed Rating: Seaweed Possible

Why Visit Akumal: Want to go snorkeling with sea turtles and stingrays? Then get yourself over to Akumal, an easy beach day trip from Tulum. Literally translated as “Place of the Turtles”, Akumal is well-known for its beautiful white-sand beaches, warm water, expansive coral reefs, and marine life experiences.

This section of the Riviera Maya features one of the largest barrier reefs in the world, and the diving and marine experiences here are truly world-class. Personally, I took a tour to the reef and was absolutely in love with the coral, sea turtles, and stingrays.

How to get from Tulum to Akumal:

  • 🚌 Tour – This Tulum Ruins and Akumal Bay tour will take you from the famous Mayan city to swimming with sea turtles in one adventure-packed day.
  • 🚎 Colectivo – For budget travelers, there is an Akumal colectivo that regularly runs from Tulum. Just make sure to alert the driver when you want to get off.
  • 🚗 Drive – Driving to Akumal makes for an easy, hassle-free road trip.

🚏 Distance: Akumal is 33 km (20 miles) from Tulum, about a 35-minute drive.

👉 Pro Tip: If you’ll be doing adventure activities like swimming with sea turtles, then I highly recommend getting some Mexico travel insurance protection. You never know when it could come in handy!

Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve

Aerial view of Sian Kaan Biosphere Reserve, Quintana Roo, Mexico with ocean, beach, and jungle

🌿 Seaweed Rating: Seaweed Possible

Why Visit the Sian Ka’an Biosphere: 11 kilometers down the road from Laguna Kann Luum is the Sian Ka’an Reserve — a UNESCO World Heritage Site and 1.3 million-acre natural reserve home to thousands of species of plants and animals. One of the best nature-based day trips from Tulum, the reserve features lagoons, marshes, Mayan-made canals, and great opportunities to see turtles, dolphins, and all kinds of fish. There are plenty of guided tours of the reserve, though you can easily visit independently and plan your own itinerary. Tubing through the canals, kayaking, and swimming are all great activities here.

How to get from Tulum to the Sian Ka’an Reserve:

  • 🚌 Tour – Unless you have a hardy 4WD vehicle, you’re best bet is to visit as part of a guided tour from Tulum. You can browse the most popular Sian Ka’an tours on Viator or Get Your Guide. There’s a lot to choose from!

🚏 Distance: Tulum to the reserve is roughly 12km (7.5 miles); a 10-minute drive. Once inside, though, you’ll need a high clearance vehicle.

Valladolid

Colorful buildings line the streets of Valladolid, Mexico
There are some seriously colorful streets in Valladolid!

🌿 Seaweed Rating: No Seaweed Involved

Why Visit Valladolid: A colorful inland city filled with incredible food, culture, and natural sites, taking a day trip from Tulum to Valladolid is perfect if you want to get a taste of local Yucatan life. While here, pay a visit to the Convent de San Bernardino, check out the Catedral de San Servacio, people-watch in Plaza Central, sample traditional Mayan food, and go shopping at Mercado Municipal. 

Another main feature of the town of Valladolid is the incredible cenotes nearby. Cenote Zaci is located right in the center of Valladolid and Cenote Dzitnup (Xkeken) has a great vibe, but Cenote Suytun (with its circular platform and ray of light) is probably the cenote that you’ve seen splashed all over the internet. In my opinion, any one of these three cenotes makes for a great stop.

How to get from Tulum to Valladolid:

  • 🚌 Tour – There are many Valladolid tours that take in the town, Chichen Itza, and often a cenote.
  • 🚍 Bus – Taking the ADO bus is made easy when you purchase your tickets in advance via BusBud. There are multiple routes every day, and the buses are clean and trustworthy.
  • 🚗 Drive – Taking yourself on a road trip in the Yucatan makes for a fun and interesting drive. For the best car rental deals, book through Discover Cars.

🚏 Distance: Tulum to Valladolid is 102km (64 miles); a 1.5-hour drive.

🛏️ Staying Overnight? Check out our guide to the best boutique hotels in Valladolid!

Chichen Itza

Taylor stands in front of the main pyramid of Chichen Itza on a day trip from nearby Valladolid, Mexico
Me at Chichen Itza!

🌿 Seaweed Rating: No Seaweed Involved

Why Visit Chichen Itza: A UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the new wonders of the world, Chichen Itza is the best day trips for Mayan Ruins in Mexico. What was once a large city and religious center, makes for one of the most history-packed day trips from Tulum.

Established in the 5th century BC, the site is most famous for its main pyramid, El Castillo (The Temple of the Kukulcan), The Temple of the Warriors, and the Temple of the Skulls, although this is just the tip of the iceberg for stuff to explore.

A great day trip from Tulum on its own, visiting the site can also be done tacked onto a trip to Valladolid, as the two destinations are only a 45-minute drive apart. While here, paying a visit to Cenote Ik Kil is also a must — not only is it a beautiful natural oasis, but it also holds Maya significance.

How to get from Tulum to Chichen Itza:

  • 🚌 Tour – I wrote up a whole separate post on the best Chichen Itza Tours from Tulum!
  • 🚗 Drive – After booking your rental through Discover Cars, you’ll want to take the CROO 109 highway to Chichen Itza.

🚏 Distance: Tulum to Chichen Itza is 149 km (93 miles); a 2-hour drive.

Bacalar

Laguna de Bacalar Lagoon pier in Mayan Mexico at Quintana roo

🌿 Seaweed Rating: No Seaweed Involved

Why Visit Bacalar: A town in the very south of the state of Quintana Roo, Bacalar is often described as what Tulum was before development and influencers took over. An oasis with cute lodges, a laid-back atmosphere, and homey restaurants, a day trip from Tulum to Bacalar is awesome if you want to truly relax and get away from it all.

Plus, the area is home to one of the most beautiful lakes in the Yucatan, Lake Bacalar. A narrow lake known as the Lagoon of Seven Colors, Lake Bacalar is famous for its turquoise and blue tones and is perfect for swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, and scuba diving.

How to get from Tulum to Bacalar:

  • 🚌 Tour – There is a great full-day Bacalar sailing tour from Tulum that includes lunch, entry fees, and hotel pickup and dropoff.
  • 🚍 Bus – There is a direct ADO Bus which will take you from Tulum to Bacalar. Buy tickets through Bus Bud.

🚏 Distance: Tulum to Bacalar is 215 km (133 miles); a 2.5-hour drive. 

Cenotes

An underwater shot of Taylor and three scuba divers at Jardin del Eden cenote in Quintana Roo, Mexico
Don’t forget to bring an underwater camera for extra cenote fun!

🌿 Seaweed Rating: No Seaweed Involved

Why Visit Cenotes: I’ve mentioned cenotes a few times in this article, but did you know that the Yucatan Peninsula has over 6000 of them? It’s true, and for that, they make for some of the most diverse day trips from Tulum! Limestone sinkholes, cenotes in Mexico were formed by the breakdown of the freshwater-filled cave system that runs throughout the peninsula. There are three types of cenotes — open (which are natural, open-roofed pools), cave (covered with a land entrance), and underground (completely covered that can be reached by scuba divers). 

For us humans, they are natural oases that are perfect for swimming, scuba diving, spelunking, and snorkeling. Here are a few of the best cenote day trips from Tulum:

  • Gran Cenote – At 140 square meters, Gran Cenote features a large cave, a cavern, and well-developed facilities. You can expect bathrooms, change rooms, equipment rentals, and lockers. Tulum to Gran Cenote is 5 km (3 miles); an 8-minute drive.
  • Cenote Dos Ojos – One of the most famously beautiful cenotes in Mexico, Cenote Dos Ojos (Two Eyes Cenote) is great for diving and has snacks and bathrooms on site. Tulum to Cenote Dos Ojos is 22 km (13.5 miles); a 28-minute drive.
  • Jardin del Eden – The least-visited cenote on this list, Jardin del Eden is great if you want a more relaxed, quiet cenote experience. An open cenote with clear, refreshing water, Jardin del Eden offers diving, snorkeling, swimming, and cliff jumping. Tulum to Jardin del Eden is 40km (25 miles); a 35-minute drive.

Rio Secreto Cave Tour

The Rio Secreto caves in Quintana ROo feature Stalactites and Stalagmites
Travel Lemming’s founder Nate in the Rio Secreto caves

🌿 Seaweed Rating: No Seaweed Involved

Why Take a Rio Secreto Cave Tour: Can’t get enough of the Mexican cave systems? Then take a Rio Secreto cave tour! One of the best day trips to get underground and see the cave systems, taking a Rio Secreto tour (which translates to Secret River) will have you squeezing along rock walls, exploring secret passageways, wading through water, and learning all about how the indigenous people of the area used the caves. Note that Rio Secreto requires you to buy a ticket for access.

How to get from Tulum to Rio Secreto:

  • 🚌 Tour – This private tour includes stops at both the Tulum Ruins and Rio Secreto, lasts roughly 5 hours, and includes lunch, equipment, and transportation.
  • 🚍 Bus – The Mexican bus company Autobuses Mayab has a bus that goes between Tulum and Rio Secreto / Xcaret Park (see below) multiple times a day.
  • 🚗 Drive – Driving is easy between Tulum and Rio Secreto. There is ample parking available.

🚏 Distance: Tulum to Rio Secreto is 60km (37 miles); a 45-minute drive.

Xcaret Park

Mayan fire ball game performance in Xcaret park of Yucatan, Mexico
(photo: Patryk_Kosmider / Depositphotos)

🌿 Seaweed Rating: No Seaweed Involved

Why Visit Xcaret Park: Part theme park and part resort, Xcaret Park is located right next door to Rio Secreto and is a developed area along the coast and makes for one of the easiest day trips from Tulum. A day trip great for both families and adventurers, Xcaret features a Butterfly Pavillion, performances, a Coral Reef Aquarium, international restaurants, ruins, and a river that is great for floating along on hot days. 

👉 🎟️ View Prices for Xcaret Theme Park Tickets Here.

How to get from Tulum to Xcaret Park:

  • 🚗 Drive – There is plenty of free parking at Xcaret Park (rent through Discover Cars).

🚏 Distance: Tulum to Xcaret is 58 km (36 miles); a 45-minute drive.

***

I hope you enjoyed my list of the 12 best day trips from Tulum, Mexico!

Venturing out of Tulum is the best way to get a well-rounded view of this part of Mexico, and any one of these Tulum day trips will be sure to give you great memories.

For more Mexico travel tips, visit:

Have fun in Mexico!

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

close