Tulum, Coba, and the Cenotes are some of the most captivating destinations in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, offering a perfect blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. These destinations are a paradise for those seeking adventure, relaxation, or a bit of both. From exploring ancient ruins to swimming in crystal-clear water, there’s something for everyone.
While the Chichen Itza ruins seemed like a popular tour, we decided to try a Tulum and Coba trip, and our experience was unmatched compared to everywhere we’ve visited.
In this blog post, we’ll look at some fun things you can do in Tulum, Coba, and the cenotes to make the most of your trip and create unforgettable memories. Whether you’re a solo traveler, a couple, or a family, these destinations offer a unique and unforgettable experience that you won’t want to miss
- Fun Things & Places To Visit Tulum, Coba & Cenotes
- 1. Visit The Coba Ruins
- 2. Head To The Cenote Tankach-Ha
- 3. The Tulum Ruins Is A Must-Visit
- 4. Go Snorkeling Or Swimming
- 5. Explore The Town By Bicycle
- 6. Attend Yoga Classes
- 7. Water Sports Is A Must-Try Event
- 8. Visit The Cenote Chaak Tun
- 9. Enjoy Mexican Cuisine
- 10. Collect Souvenirs
- Tips For Enjoying Your Stay In Tulum, Coba, Or The Cenotes
- 1. Book Through A Recommended Tour Operator
- 2. Book A Smaller Tour If Possible
- 3. Pack Medicine If You’re Prone To Travel Sickness
- 4. Pack Insect Repellant
- 5. Save Time For Souvenir Shopping In Tulum
- 6. Watch Out For Additional Fees And Regulations Around Photography
Fun Things & Places To Visit Tulum, Coba & Cenotes
Known for their pristine beaches, rich Mayan history, and breathtaking natural beauty, these locations offer visitors an array of fun things to do. Here are some top picks for fun activities in Tulum, Coba, and the Cenotes.
1. Visit The Coba Ruins
The first stop on our tour was a visit to the Coba Ruins. Coba is an ancient Mayan city set in the Quintana Roo state of Mexico, about 45 miles from Tulum. Coba spanned over 80 square kilometers and was once known to inhabit a population of 50,000 people.
Coba is an ancient Mayan city that is still being excavated. Visitors can explore the well-preserved ruins, including the massive Nohoch Mul pyramid, which stands over 138 feet tall.
Many of the ruins at Coba haven’t been unearthed yet, only a handful of the estimated 6,500 structures. However, there is still plenty to see and experience while walking around the site.
The highlight of this part of the tour was climbing the 120 steps of the Grand Pyramid, one of the few Mayan Ruins sites you can still climb. The view was worth the effort. You’ll see the lush green jungle surrounding the area from the top.
After the climb, we took a Tuk-Tuk-style ride back through the site, another fun way to experience the ruins.
2. Head To The Cenote Tankach-Ha
The second stop was a refreshing visit to the Cenote Tankach-Ha. The Cenote Tankach-Ha is a hidden gem in the heart of the Yucatan jungle, just a short drive from Coba. This cenote is known for its unique formations of stalactites and stalagmites, which have been formed over thousands of years.
Cenotes are naturally formed swimming holes caused by the collapse of porous limestone rock and are found all around the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico.
Cenote means “sacred well” and was the Mayans’ main water source. They are also a place where many sacred rituals are performed.
We were allowed to swim in the one we visited, which was a memorable experience! We descended a steep staircase into a huge underground area with a large pool of fresh water. Given no sunlight gets to the water, it was fairly cold. However, after swimming for a while, we warmed up. It was a great stop to break up a day of touring ruins in the heat!
3. The Tulum Ruins Is A Must-Visit
No trip to Tulum is complete without visiting the Tulum Ruins. This historic site is one of the most visited destinations in the region and offers visitors a glimpse into the ancient Mayan civilization.
Tulum is a historic Mayan City built in the late 13th century and contains interesting archaeological gems. Tulum is slightly different from other ruins in the area because of its proximity to the ocean. This makes for an incredible backdrop. Tulum was the only Mayan city built on the coast.
Tulum is only 100 miles from Playa Del Carmen, which makes for an easy day trip. The ruins are open daily from 8 am to 5 pm and cost 65 pesos (about $3.50 in US dollars). It should be relatively easy to visit if you need to arrange transportation.
Overall, we found the tour to be a good balance between archaeological sites and areas of natural beauty. We highly recommend a trip to check out these places if you visit the area.
4. Go Snorkeling Or Swimming
The crystal-clear waters of Tulum’s beaches provide an ideal opportunity for snorkeling. Visitors can spot colorful tropical fish, sea turtles, and even the occasional manatee while exploring the coral reefs surrounding the area.
Cenotes are natural sinkholes filled with crystal-clear water that offer a unique swimming experience. There are over 6,000 cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula, many easily accessible from Tulum and Coba.
Some of the most popular cenotes include Gran Cenote, Cenote Dos Ojos, and Cenote Ik Kil, each with unique beauty and character. Many snorkeling tours are available, including a visit to nearby cenotes, which offer a unique underwater cave experience.
5. Explore The Town By Bicycle
Exploring Tulum town by bicycle is a fun and unique way to experience the local culture and immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere.
Most Coba and Tulum town towns offer a vibrant and eclectic atmosphere, with various shops, restaurants, and cafes. One of the best ways to explore the town is by bicycle, allowing visitors to navigate the narrow streets and discover hidden gems easily.
Some popular stops include the Tulum Art Club, which features a collection of local art and handmade crafts, and the Tulum Food Tour, which offers visitors a chance to sample traditional Mexican cuisine from street vendors and local restaurants.
With miles of bike trails and various terrains to explore, cycling is an adventurous and eco-friendly way to see the sights of Tulum and Coba.
6. Attend Yoga Classes
Yoga is a great way to relieve stress after a long trip, and both Coba and Tulum are excellent places to start your journey.
Tulum is a hub for yoga enthusiasts worldwide, with various yoga studios and retreats throughout the area.
Many studios offer classes with a stunning backdrop of the jungle or the ocean, allowing visitors to connect with nature and find inner peace. Some popular yoga retreats also offer meditation classes, holistic healing therapies, and healthy plant-based meals, making it a perfect destination for unwinding and rejuvenating.
Whether you’re an experienced yogi or a beginner, practicing Yoga in the serene setting of Tulum or Coba is an unforgettable experience.
7. Water Sports Is A Must-Try Event
Tulum is an excellent destination for water sports! The turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea provide a stunning backdrop for various water activities.
Tulum’s coastline stretches for miles, with many beaches offering calm waters for swimming, snorkeling, and stand-up paddleboarding.
Due to the area’s steady trade winds, Kitesurfing, sailing, and windsurfing are popular activities in Tulum. Tulum’s location on the Yucatan Peninsula also provides easy access to the stunning cenotes and natural swimming holes with crystal-clear water, perfect for swimming and diving.
Tulum, Coba, the cenotes, and the surrounding areas are home to some of the most beautiful coral reefs in the world. You can snorkel or scuba dive in the clear blue waters of the Caribbean Sea and explore the colorful underwater world. The nearby lagoons, canals, and mangroves are also perfect for kayaking and paddleboarding.
8. Visit The Cenote Chaak Tun
Cenote Chaak Tun is a fun and beautiful place to visit in the Tulum area. This cenote is about 10 minutes from Paseo Del Parque and offers visitors a unique and thrilling experience.
Inside the cenote, you’ll be surrounded by crystal-clear water, stalactites, and stalagmites. The cenote is relatively small compared to other cenotes in the area, but it’s still a fascinating place to explore.
The water is cool and refreshing; you can swim, snorkel, and even try underwater photography.
Cenote Chaak Tun is also a popular spot for guided tours. The guides will take you through the cenote and highlight features like fossils and rock formations.
Overall, Cenote Chaak Tun is a great place to visit if you’re interested in exploring the cenotes in the Tulum area. You can also check out other cool cenotes like the Cenote Suytun, Cenote Hubiku, Cenote X’batun, and the Cenote Xlacah.
9. Enjoy Mexican Cuisine
Mexican food in Tulum, Coba, and the cenotes is known for being delicious and diverse. The Yucatan Peninsula’s unique cuisine blends traditional Mayan flavors with Spanish and Caribbean influences.
Tulum is home to some of the best Mexican cuisine, and they are available in every form; from traditional street food to upscale restaurants, there’s something for every taste and budget. Be sure to try the local specialty, cochinita pibil, a slow-roasted pork dish cooked in a traditional underground oven.
In addition to traditional Mexican cuisine, visitors can find various international options, including sushi, Italian, and vegetarian restaurants. Overall, Tulum, Coba, and the cenotes offer a diverse and delicious culinary experience for visitors to enjoy.
10. Collect Souvenirs
Tulum, Coba, and the cenotes have a rich and unique culture and are also known for their artisanal crafts, including hand-woven textiles, colorful ceramics, and intricate jewelry.
Collecting souvenirs can be a fun way to spend time in Tulum, Coba, and the Cenotes since the town offers a variety of unique and interesting items to take home as souvenirs of your trip.
There are several markets and boutiques throughout Tulum where you can find these souvenirs, and browsing through them can be a great way to get a feel for the local culture and support the local economy. You may also find souvenirs you couldn’t find elsewhere, making them even more special.
Your souvenirs can serve as conversation starters and help you to share the stories or as a gift of your trip with loved ones who may not have been able to join you.
Tips For Enjoying Your Stay In Tulum, Coba, Or The Cenotes
If you’re planning a trip to Tulum, Coba, or the cenotes in Mexico, here are some tips to help you make the most of your stay:
1. Book Through A Recommended Tour Operator
We booked our tour online through Expedia. Kaminos Travel, a local operator, operated the virtual tour. However, Expedia vets local companies before recommending them, so we felt comfortable booking through a reputable provider.
2. Book A Smaller Tour If Possible
Our tour group had about 30 people, larger than we wanted. This made for a less personal experience and meant a longer overall tour time because the tour had to make numerous stops to pick up and drop off passengers.
You might pay a premium for a smaller tour, though we would recommend it, so you’re not wasting your vacation time. We shared our experience of a smaller tour in our Swimming with Whale Sharks video/post, another recommended activity in the area.
3. Pack Medicine If You’re Prone To Travel Sickness
The journey to Tulum from Riviera Maya is approximately one hour. However, our journey was closer to two hours since we picked people up. Pack some additional medicine and water if you’re prone to travel sickness.
4. Pack Insect Repellant
The Tulum ruins are next to the ocean and in an area that attracts a lot of mosquitos! We didn’t wear enough mosquito repellant and were attacked by mosquitos when we stepped off the bus.
I always recommend Ultrathon insect repellent, the most effective one we’ve found. Watch our video/post on avoiding mosquito bites while traveling for more information.
5. Save Time For Souvenir Shopping In Tulum
There are lots of souvenir shops in Tulum, and our tour allowed some time for shopping. We found the prices here reasonable and got all the souvenirs in one stop. Also, if using your credit card, remember to use a card with no foreign transaction fee and pay in local currency since you’ll get a better exchange rate this way.
6. Watch Out For Additional Fees And Regulations Around Photography
It’s worth noting that there are strict photography rules at the Coba and Tulum ruins. Drones are prohibited, and the site charges a standard daily fee for any video equipment, particularly GoPros.
While it’s pretty cheap (around $5), it adds time to the check-in process and is something to be aware of (even if you’re filming clips on your phone).
Have you explored the Tulum and Coba ruins? Share your experience in the comments section below.