A Tulum Day Trip: Cenotes, Ruins, & More

The city of Tulum, on Mexico’s Yucatán peninsula is famous for its Mayan ruins, beaches, and cenotes. Unfortunately, Adam and I only had one day to spend here before heading onwards. Fortunately, we found it was very possible to squeeze everything we wanted to do into a single Tulum day trip.


Our Tulum Day Trip

Adam and I woke early to set off on our trip, then, in typical fashion, we got distracted by the hostel breakfast. By the time we’d left the hostel and rented bikes at a nearby bike shop, it was almost 11, and I was cursing how much of the day was gone already.


Thankfully, the four kilometre cycle to our first stop, the Gran Cenote, was flat and easy. We arrived in no time, and showed the entry tickets we had bought at our hostel.


Gran Cenote, Tulum day trip

The Gran Cenote


The Gran Cenote


A cenote is an underground sinkhole that results in a cave system (I had to look it up before I went there). There are many cenotes throughout the Yucatán, and they make for amazing places to snorkel or scuba dive. The Gran Cenote is one of the most accessible, being just a short cycle away from the city of Tulum.
Before we could get in the water, we had to take a shower. The shower was pretty cold, but it turns out it was just preparing us for what was to come- the water in the cenote was freezing!


But the low temperatures were worth it. The Gran Cenote is unbelievable; Deep and jagged caves filled with gorgeously blue water. We swam right through the cave system, underneath the stalactites (stalagmites? It’s been a while since school), spotting a few fish and even a turtle.


There were a few people scuba diving on the floor of the cenote beneath us. But I couldn’t imagine the view being much better from down there, as the water wasn’t very deep, and so clear you could see everything.


Gran Cenote, Tulum, Mexico, with woman snorkelling

Snorkelling in the freezing waters of the Gran Cenote



The Tulum Ruins & Beach


After drying off, we hopped back on our bikes. Still shivering, we cycled onwards to the Tulum ruins, one kilometre outside of the town.


The ruins weren’t what I was expecting. After the jungle ruins of Tikal and the deserted ruins of Copán, the ruins of Tulum seemed very tourist-oriented, with souvenir stalls and even a Starbucks at the entrance.


The Tulum ruins are what remains of a Pre-Colombian Mayan city. Paths lead through an assortment of temples and other structures, all of which are roped off. While some of the ruins were impressive, the whole thing seemed far too manicured for my taste. And the selfie-stick wielding crowds didn’t exactly make me feel like an adventurous explorer.


The ruins at Tulum

The ruins at Tulum


But, while the ruins themselves aren’t that impressive, their appeal lies in their location. The ruins are set on a cliff overlooking picturesque beaches dotted with palm trees.


We followed the path from the ruins to the beach. Though the cloudy, drizzly weather meant we contented ourselves with just strolling through the sand.


Beach by Tulum ruins, with walkway

The beach next to the ruins


Tulum Day Trip Costs


Here’s what we each paid throughout our Tulum day trip:


Renting a bike: MXN50 ($2.75)

Renting a snorkel: MXN75 ($4)

Entry to the Gran Cenote: MXN130 ($7) at our hostel (MXN150/ $8 on the door)

Entry to the Ruins: MXN65 ($3.50)


Total cost: MXN320 ($17.50)


Tulum ruins with grey clouds

The Tulum ruins


Tulum Day Trip Tips


The easiest way to get around to the Tulum sights is by bike. Plenty of shops offer bikes in good condition, complete with helmets and locks, for around MXN50 ($2.75) for the day.

Fins are not allowed when snorkelling in the Gran Cenote! We had rented our snorkel gear from our hostel, but were told off by the cenote staff when we put our fins on.


Start early! While we did manage to squeeze everything in, we did feel a little pushed for time.


Tulum (14 of 22)

Passing through a wall in the ruins


Looking for more ruins in Mexico? Then check out the iconic Chichen Itza. Or, if you’re looking for some more snorkelling adventures in the Yucatán, be sure to try an incredible whale shark snorkelling trip!

Got any more tips for a Tulum day trip? Share them in the comments!

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