When planning a trip to Tulum (a Mexican beach paradise), keep in mind that there are numerous exciting attractions nearby. Be sure to explore beyond the local beaches and save an itinerary space for the fascinating ruins, underground rivers and natural aquariums in the area. Here is a guide to the best day trips you can take from Tulum.
1. Explore the ruins of Chichén Itzá
One of the new Seven Wonders of the World, this well-preserved Mayan city was once the center of economic and religious life in the region. With numerous temple structures, Mayan ball courts and El Castillo, a huge central pyramid, the complex takes at least a few hours to explore. We recommend that you visit during the spring or autumn equinoxes. During the afternoon, the northwest corner of the pyramid casts a series of shadows that create the appearance of a snake that descends the stairs, an image that some scholars associate with the feathered serpent god Kukulkan. If you cannot make those dates, the phenomenon is also visible in the “Sound and light shows”, the famous night tours in which colored lights are projected on the buildings.
2. Swim in the stunning Lagoon Kaan Luum
This amazing lagoon south of Tulum is the perfect place to swim. The beautiful destination has clear and calm waters and is often completely deserted. Arrive early in the morning if you really want to make sure you are the only person in paradise. The lagoon contains at least two different shades of blue because its center contains a cenote, or sink, that reaches a depth of about 260 feet (79 meters). You will not find food vendors or restaurants in the immediate area, so bring a picnic and eat at the tables next to the lagoon.
3. Spend the day at Xel-Há Park
Xel-Há, which takes its name from nearby Mayain ruins, is a water theme park and natural aquarium that offers an incredible variety of activities. Whether you’re looking to snorkel with tropical fish, swim in a cave, try zip-lining or take a trip downstream, Xel-Há is the place for you. A fantastic day trip for families, the park is also extremely beautiful and can be explored on foot, by bike or by mini train. Xel-Há also has an impressive range of services, including free Wi-Fi and four restaurants serving Mexican and international dishes.
4. Take a dip in the Gran Cenote
Tulum is famous for its cenotes, which were once worshiped as sacred by the ancient Maya. Formed when limestone erodes gradually over hundreds of years, these cenotes attract a diverse crowd of divers, swimmers and adventurers. Gran Cenote is an impressive example and takes only 15 minutes to reach by bicycle from the center of Tulum. Swimmers flock to the destination due to its sandy bottom and sun terraces, while serious divers are attracted to the site because it provides access to the world’s second largest cave system.
5. Zip-line through the jungle
Zip-lining has become a top activity in Mexico in recent years. Adventure and sports companies such as Aventura Mayas offer thrill-seeking travelers the chance to soar over the Mayan jungle. The company offers a variety of tours that last around six hours and include other activities such as snorkeling, rappelling on a rock, swimming with dolphins or exploring an underground river. The perfect way to get an adrenaline rush while enjoying the local wildlife.