Tulum has developed a reputation for itself as an expensive destination, thanks in part to the eye-watering cost of its hotels and all-inclusive resorts, and also its impressive, but costly, food scene. However, if you know where to look, you can still find activities that won’t empty your bank account. Here we’ll share with you the top 5 free and cheap things to do in Tulum.
Experience the fantastic beaches
Tulum is home to some of the best beaches in the Mexican Caribbean. Although many of these are filled with beach club loungers, Bali beds, and DJ booths, there are still parts of the beach you can experience for free.
One of the best public beaches is Playa Paraiso, which is close to the Tulum ruins. Although there is a popular beach club here now, there are also usually plenty of people enjoying the beach for free. So find an empty spot, roll out your towel, and spend an afternoon swimming in the turquoise ocean and enjoying the sun and sand that Tulum’s famous for.
Explore Tulum by bike
Tulum is infinitely bikeable, with wide sandy streets and no hills to contend with. It’s a free way to travel between Tulum Pueblo and Tulum Playa, and to explore up and down the long road behind the beach.
Many of Tulum’s hotels, resorts, and hostels offer guests free use of bikes as an incentive to stay with them. Check with your accommodation whether they have a free bike you can use, but if not, don’t worry. Tulum Pueblo has a few bike hire stores to use, and you shouldn’t have to pay much for a day’s rental.
It can be hot work cycling under the strong Mexican sun, but feeling the wind in your hair while taking in some of Tulum’s best sites is a great way to spend a day on vacation.
Indulge in delicious cheap eats
Tulum is famous for some of the Mexican Caribbean’s most expensive, upmarket restaurants. While it can be lovely to splash out, if you’re looking to keep things a bit more budget-friendly, Tulum has some great cheaper dining options.
- Burrito Amor
Burrito Amor in Tulum Pueblo is a classic in these parts and serves tasty burritos in its cute tropical-plant-filled garden.
- Juice Box
This is a great spot for brunch or lunch, serving up traditional chilaquiles, Buddha bowls, and freshly squeezed green juice.
- Restaurante Estrada
The downtown Tulum Restaurante Estrada serves up mouth-watering seafood dishes at reasonable prices.
Explore Tulum’s incredible cenotes
Staying in Tulum brings you close to an incredible range of cenotes, which are collapsed limestone sinkholes found only in this part of Mexico. Many are super easy to access and they make a unique, authentically-Yucatecan experience that you’ll remember long after you return home. Some nearby options are:
- Cenote Aktun Ha (Carwash Cenote)
Previously used as a carwash for local taxi drivers, the semi-open Cenote Aktun Ha is now a popular attraction around 5 miles from Tulum. 150 MXN entry (7.50 USD).
- Cenote Zacil-Ha
This cenote has a great range of facilities, including a restaurant and restrooms, as well as a zip line. Around 6 miles from Tulum on the road to Cobá. 70 MXN entry (3.50 USD).
- Casa Cenote
This cenote is almost entirely above ground and is relatively shallow, making it perfect for family visits and snorkelers. It’s located around 7 miles north of Tulum Pueblo. 150 MXN entry (7.50 USD).
Visit the Tulum Mayan Ruins
One of Tulum’s most popular historical attractions is the site of its Mayan ruins. But, unlike many other ruins in the Yucatan, these ones are reasonably priced, costing only around 80 MXN (4 USD) to enter.
Tulum was once home to around 1,500 inhabitants and was built as a fortress, with walls along three of its sides, and an open side facing the ocean. Although Tulum’s ruins are smaller than Chichen Itza and nearby Cobá, their cliffside location makes them one of the most stunning to visit. Tours are a useful way to find out more, but they are by no means a requirement – pull up an internet guide and you can do your own self-guided tour for free.
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