Get ready for the most adventurous things you can do in Tulum. We’ll do some whale shark swimming, ziplining, ATV riding, swimming with turtles, and authentic cooking in Tulum, followed by horseback riding and deep-sea fishing in Cozumel.
If you would like to keep it on the mellow side, I have mapped the Yucatán Peninsula in my other article—check my 2-week itinerary. However, we’re here for the adventure, are we not? Tulum and its surrounding area have a lot to offer to adventure enthusiasts so don’t be a lazy bum, rent a car and head out to explore the countryside!
Tulum, the in/famous town located in Yucatán peninsula. A place with the most stunning beaches I have ever seen as well as the place that earned such a bad reputation in the recent years—all thanks to the foreigners! You’ll meet all sorts of people you’ll desperately try to avoid at all costs during your whole visit, at least if you’re like me. As I’m not much into the influencer and spiritual guru shite I could do without the people who found their mecca in Tulum. I mean, after all, I don’t speak hippie!
Even though I started with a rant, I still think that Tulum is worth visiting, just make sure you have enough beer or margaritas while dealing with the people—believe me, it will help, just a little, but even that’s better than nothing.
I really liked the Tulum ruins
So why is Tulum worth visiting, you ask? Well, for one, the Tulum beaches are breathtaking, the white sand and palm trees create such an oasis that you will forget about what’s happening downtown. The Tulum Mayan ruins overlooking the Caribbean Sea are easily accessible, and I highly recommend visiting them, especially if you don’t have enough time to visit any other Yucatán sites or Aztec ruins. But most of all, Tulum offers so many adventures that you can choose from!
Tip: I include a luxury treetop hotel as one of the adventurous things to do in Tulum further down in my list (because no electricity and epic baths on the terrace=unforgettable). But if you like to sleep closer to the earth, here’s another Tulum hotel tip: Hotel Bardo (adults only).
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Swimming with these great creatures simply has to be experienced!
The Cancún Whale Shark Tours company is located in Cancún, so it’ a bit out of the way but this is the number 1 adventure experience near Tulum, so I’ll include it anyway. The pick-up is between 4:40 am and 7 am. Yeah, you read that right—AM. But hey, I'm all about those epic sunrises, and these guys promised me a whale of a time (pun intended).
While staff explain the plan and safety measures, you can munch on breakfast and sip your coffee that they prepare for you. They’ve got sandwiches, drinks, and more onboard. And don’t worry about comfort—their boats have shaded areas, comfy seats, and easy access to the water. They’ve got your back if you’re prone to seasickness. Pop a pill and join the party—ain’t nobody got time for nausea.
But enough of the introduction, I want to tell you everything about one of the best days of my life. Spoiler alert: it was surreal AF.
Next thing you know, we’re sailing off the shore. The journey to where the whale sharks hang out is like a bonus adventure in itself. Dolphins swimming with the boat, manta rays literally flying in the water, and we even got to see some sea turtles.
The underwater world in Cancun
And then comes the big moment—swimming with the whale sharks. You get not one but two rounds to swim with the majestic creatures. I know that you might think that spending just a couple minutes in the water with these gentle giants might not be enough, but trust me, this is an experience like no other (ok, cage shark diving in South Africa was pretty memorable, too)! If I wasn’t floating in the water, I would have definitely been swept off my feet!
Was I initially afraid? Hell yeah! Have you seen the size of those things?! They’re huge! But once you get closer to them, your curiosity takes over, and you just enjoy every single second of the time you get to spend with the sharks. Guys, no description will do this experience justice. This has to be experienced. 10 out of 10 adventure for real!
Prepare for a crazy and adventurous ride through this forest
Get ready for a full day of thrilling adventure with Alltournative’s Discover Native Park Tulum! Prepare for a crazy ride right away—our trek to the first amenities was an adventure in and of itself! We hopped onto a rugged off-road truck driven by our guide, who navigated us through the twisty, bumpy dirt road. It felt like a roller coaster through the forest!
After that, you start with a couple of normal, shorter zip lines, warming up for the big one. The big zip line was a game-changer, ending with a splash in a Nohoch Nah Chich cenote—a thrilling splashdown, to be precise. And then comes the best part—a National Geographic-recommended snorkeling in the cenote, with bats flitting around and the captivating cave formations adding to the cool factor.
Chilling in the Yaxmuul cenote
But wait, the excitement doesn’t stop there! Brace yourself to rappel down a 12-meter (40-foot) drop, descending right into the enchanting Yaxmuul cenote. On top of that, you get to experience an enchanting blessing ceremony in the jungle. I have to admit that the Mayan ceremony was a surprisingly great cultural touch, adding a unique dimension to our adventure.
This Tulum zipline is a one-of-a-kind package combining heart-pounding thrills, hearty laughs, unexpected surprises, cultural insights, natural beauty, and top-notch service. So, if you're up for an unforgettable experience that checks all the boxes, this is the place to be!
Get your ATV and ride to the Akumal Monkey Sanctuary!
Our adventure began with an ATV ride, first down a dirt road, then onto this wild terrain that’s like a roller coaster for quads. The ATVs go pretty fast, and our guide skillfully managed our varying riding levels, ensuring everyone is having a blast. The route is great, featuring straight paths, hilly stretches, and curvy sections. For the speed demons among us, the freedom to zoom added an extra layer of fun without being reined in. The trick is that your ATV abilities entirely determine your position in the pack, so if you are a racer, get in front and rev up the speedometer! It’s hella fun!
Zooming on the ATVs led us to cenote Nohoch Nah Chich, a refreshing way to cool off and get rid of the dirt from the ride. After a spin on the ATVs, we returned to the monkey sanctuary, where we learned more about the animals they rescue and how rehabilitation works. What’s great about this sanctuary is that people working there are passionate about their work, and it shows.
Tip: Bring your own bandana or buy it there to spare yourself a mouthful of trail dust.
Don’t forget to shower yourself in a mosquito repellent—the critters there are nothing short of aggressive. Nonetheless, every inch of the journey was a blast, and don't be surprised if you encounter pythons in an unexpected place—the bathrooms!
So, if you're seeking an unforgettable adventure that seamlessly weaves the thrill of ATVs, the tranquility of cenotes, and the educational richness of animal conservation, this experience comes highly recommended. Whether you're racing through the trails, diving into the cenote, or gaining insights into the sanctuary's noble mission, every moment of this Tulum ATV ride is nothing short of an adventure.
Spend your afternoon under the water with these cuties!
Had enough of the eclectic cast of characters you can encounter in Tulum? Ready for some different company? Spend the afternoon swimming with turtles instead! Akumal offers a perfect escape where you can experience the best snorkeling in Tulum and swim alongside green sea turtles. It's like stepping into a dream, and trust me, this will be the highlight of your Yucatán journey.
And here's the best part—you don't need to be a seasoned snorkeler to enjoy this. The bay is sheltered by a reef, keeping the waters calm and welcoming even for beginners. You'll find parking lots conveniently situated, leading you to the beach through the Akumal Dive Shop.
Tip: Arrive early to soak up this incredible experience without the tourist crowd. You can use my Yucatan itinerary to help you plan the logistics.
I was absolutely thrilled with this place! Our underwater adventure was truly remarkable. We encountered plenty of turtles and an array of vibrant fish, corals, and other marine creatures. The icing on the cake is that the reef is incredibly close to the dive shop, so you're in the water in no time after departing the boat.
Remember, it's vital to respect wildlife and avoid touching them, but here's the exciting part—the turtles seemed relaxed and at ease, allowing us to enjoy their company from a reasonable distance. And if you listen closely, you can even hear the turtles nibbling on the seagrass. One would be surprised at what amazes you once you put your head in the water.
The team at the dive shop was incredibly friendly and went above and beyond to address all my inquiries.
Bonus tip: Parking right in front of the shop is FREE. Don't be swayed by those outside (who aren't affiliated with ADS) suggesting otherwise to lure you into their paid lots. Just stick to those front spots, and you're all set.
A cenote is a natural sinkhole that forms when limestone bedrock collapses and exposes groundwater, that creates a perfect place to refresh due to its cold water and, most of the time, a very picturesque site. Keep reading to find out about the best cenotes in Tulum I visited.
Near Tulum, Mexico, is a system of two interconnected cenotes known as Cenote Dos Ojos—The Bat Cave and the Barbie Line are the names of the two cenotes. The name of the Bat Cave is self-explanatory while Barbie Line is called this way because there is a literal headless Barbie doll that a plastic crocodile is eating. Out of place? Probably. Does it say something about Mexican humor? Definitely!
Cenote Do Ojos
Dos Ojos is one of the most popular cenotes for scuba diving and snorkeling close to Tulum. If you want to cool down, this is the place to be. The water is very refreshing and crystal clear. I do recommend getting there early in the morning to avoid crowds.
If you’re planning on snorkeling, bring your gear if you’ve got it. For one, it is more sanitary, and it lets you do your thing without waiting around. Oh, and don't scrimp on anything, when you're swimming around the enormous second eye, make sure you see it all.
Tip: You’re not allowed to enter any cenote with sunscreen and mosquito repellent on, so make sure to literally run from your car and take a dip in the cenote as soon as you can to avoid being eaten alive.
This cenote is a real hidden gem, it’s not well-known among tourists yet and it doesn’t have a website. Most probably, you’ll be alone here, which adds to the magical atmosphere of this place on top of the amazing structures you can see while swimming around.
Tip: Bring a waterproof flashlight, and you'll uncover a whole new world underwater.
This is an underground cave with a cenote so there isn’t any daylight, however, the owners did such a great job lighting it up. Once you enter the cave, it is unbelievably silent in comparison to the other cenotes around Tulum. Getting into the water might be a little tricky if you‘re not used to walking on rough terrain. There are millions of tiny sharp rocks, so it feels like walking on a broken glass. But hey, it’s like visiting an underground castle with a massage. So just relax, swim around, and watch the beauty that surrounds you. Hands down, my favorite cenote in the whole Tulum area!
Camping and comfort usually don't go together... not true at Uman Glamping! You'll even get your very own cenote!
Do you remember when I was talking about the hippie stuff I’m not into at all? Hold on to your hats because I'm going off the deep end this time. I'm going to suggest you camp. Yes. I said it.
But stick with me—even though it's a tent, it has somewhat of a roof and there's a real, comfortable bed, and your own luxurious bathroom that is completely outdoor were it not for the walls made of sticks. And that's not all! You'll be glamping right at a private cenote, which you can appreciate from the many wooden decks and hammocks. It's your own piece of little Tulum paradise... and it'll make your Instagram as proud as a peacock!
Uman Glamping will also feed you well, but only for breakfast. That said, since you have a long list of adventurous things to do in Tulum to get through, it's not like you'll have time to spend more than breakfast at your accommodation.
If you're anti-hippie like me, just ignore the Buddha statues and incense, but you can't deny that Uman will allow you to engage in nature in ways that a regular old brick-and-mortar hotel won't. So release your inner wild child and "rough it" for a night or two! Though, I can't help but think the price is a little steep for a tent! And unless they upgrade their cooling system, don't stay at Uman if you're going in the really hot months.
Take a cooking class in riverakitchentulum.com
Anybody hungry? I for sure am! Tonight, we’re cooking a delicious dinner with the help of a very chatty and friendly cook, Lily. This is no ordinary cooking class. This one adds a lot of cultural flavor into the meal. You’ll hear plenty of legends from the area as well as the insight into how people ate in the ancient times.
You’ll be cooking outside, so it’ll likely be pretty hot already, but it is when they start with the Mezcal tasting when the things got really hot and sweaty! Make sure you eat a lot, otherwise, you will end up in your hotel room all day tomorrow.
Tip: What is mezcal? Why isn’t it tequila? >> More about Mexican foods and drinks
Learning how to cook dishes according to Lily’s family recipes was fun. She is a great host and will try to make you feel like home. Her Spanglish added to the entertainment of the afternoon, and if you know a little bit of Spanish, you can for sure try communicating with her, as she is very patient.
All the ingredients we used are as colorful as Lily´s house, and the bonus is that most of them came from her garden.
Once the dinner is ready, you’ll move into the dining area inside, and oh my God! It has AC! So, crack a cold one and dig into the dinner you just made. You deserve it!
Cozumel Island is easy to get to from Tulum and missing it would be a big shame! Especially since Cozumel Island has one of the best beaches in Yucatán and offers quite a lot of adventurous activities. The first one on our list is horseback riding. So, saddle up and prepare for a leisurely journey along the trails of the Cozumel Ghost Town on the backs of well-trained horses guided by local guides. These paths lead to the very first settlement inhabited by Mayan descendants in the 1800s!
As we were cruising through downtown, heading to the Ghost Town for some horseback riding, Marcos—an absolute character—told us all about Cozumel’s tales. The only downside is that the so-called "ghost town" isn’t as spooky as it sounds. In fact, it’s got a lively vibe, with a few residents keeping it cozy as vacation homes. Who would’ve thought, right?
Now, hold onto your sombreros—the tequila tasting was a treat! Learning about the golden elixir while sipping away was like taking a shot of Cozumel’s spirit.
Arriba, abajo, al centro y para el dentro!
Now, I won’t sugarcoat it—there’s a small hiccup. At every stop, someone seemed to pop up like a whack-a-mole, asking us to buy something. This is very common throughout Mexico but it still gets very annoying. I wish they had made a repellent strong enough to keep the vendors away.
So hey, if you’re up for a wild ride filled with stories, laughter, and a dash of tequila, buckle up and hit the road. Trust me, it’s a Cozumel experience you will remember! Just wear long pants if you want to be able to walk tomorrow, if you know what I mean.
If not for anything else but the laughs, it’s awesome to have a tour guide who loves what he does, and boy, did he have some stories up his sleeve.
Logistics: To get to Cozumel Island from Tulum, drive to downtown Playa del Carmen, the drive takes about an hour. If you’re planning on using a regular passenger ferry, I recommend using Ultramar Ferry service as these guys have high-speed ferries that can take you to Cozumel in about 20 minutes, rather than the usual 45 minutes. If you’re looking for a car ferry, drive to a small town called Calica where you can board your car as well. Transcaribe Ferry is your go-to.
You won’t be bored in Cozumel
I’m no fisherman but this trip was again a blast! The guides who are taking care of us are all characters. One funnier than the other while also being very professional when it came to fishing. They have more experience than a fish has scales, and they know how to keep the good times rolling.
These guys have different kind of boats and yachts that range in size. The yachts look great and can fit more people if you’re coming with a group of friends. One of them is called Winning Ticket, and the other one, my favorite, is called Poverty Sucks. Kudos to Cozumel Charters!
It might’ve been beginner’s luck or Poseidon was on our side that day, but we caught a monster barracuda within the first hour of our boat ride. By the end of the day, we caught two more barracudas that we left for the guys to take care of as nobody can eat that much fish in a couple days!
They made sure we always had something to drink, from soda to cold beers, they cut up fresh fruit throughout the ride, make guacamole and a drop-dead delicious ceviche from the very fish we caught. Seriously, I didn’t expect this kind of service.
Get a tour with www.furycozumel.com
Choosing the catamaran tour in Cozumel is for sure a great way to spend your afternoon. You get to go El Cielo—a starfish sanctuary that can be reached only by a boat, and it lives up to its name translated to English: Heaven. The water is turquoise blue, and you can see stingrays, puffer fish, and so many more colorful fish. It’s a perfect place for snorkeling.
The only downside of this tour is that you don’t get to choose your co-travelers, so there might be some awkward moments. And sure, there are a lot of flailing limbs, and occasionally someone gets kicked in the face.
Luckily, the crew is saving it with the drinks and hamburgers for lunch (you heard that right, hamburgers, are we still in Mexico?). The lunch is served on a private Fury beach, where you get to relax before the party that gets going on the way back to Cozumel Island. On the way back, it's all about good vibes, endless tunes, and an epic sunset.
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