Hello Yucatán: 12 epic day trips from Tulum, México.

Chichén Itzá México

Viva México 🇲🇽  I can’t describe how magical my travel experience has been in México! I travelled across the Yucatán peninsula covering the most scenic spots including jungle life, pink lakes, I snorkeled in the Caribbean ocean with multi-colored fish, felt the white sand under my feet, visited ancient Mayan ruins, and tasted handmade tacos and so much more. You can reach all those spots within day trips from Tulum. Sounds great, babe, I know it truly is.

Especially, Tulum was an outstanding place to visit and to stay. If you want to know more about the most epic accommodations in Tulum with the ultimate boho chic, read my blog post here.

To be honest, Tulum is just not the real authentic México. Apart from it’s incredible atmosphere, Tulum still is a great place to start exploring the Yucatán peninsula on day trips. So, when driving outside of Tulum, México looks really different, more wild, more beautiful, and has even more Caribbean vibes and impressions to offer. This is when you go on day trips from Tulum and experience the marvellous sights México can really offer you. Continue reading to find out what to do and where to go on your day trips that you are not going to forget, girl.

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Note: COVID-19 pandemic might affect the activities described below. They might get cancelled or do not take place at your time of visit. Please check the providers’ pages carefully and regularly as things might change on short notice. Check out the government’s website from your home country for the latest immigration updates that apply to you when visiting México.

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Go snorkelling at Mesoamerican Barrier Reef

Did you know that the Mexican reef is the second largest coral reef in the world right after the Great Barrier Reef in Australia? I didn’t and could just not believe what a wonderful gem would await me on Yucatán’s east coast along Riviera Maya. Shortly after the Tulum Ruins (north of Tulum) you find incredible beaches where you can start your snorkeling day right off the shore. The water is not very deep and you will spot bright colored fish, rays, and if you are lucky, wild turtles. Especially when snorkeling on the beach in Tankah Bay close to Casa Cenote you will have the chance to spot Panchito, the crocodile that calls the cenote and the surroundings his home.

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Explore the world wonder Chichén Itzá

As one of the seven world wonders, Chichén Itzá is per se worth a visit. About 2 hours away from Tulum center by car, the famous Mayan ruins make an incredible day trip from Tulum. Chichén Itzá consists of many incredible ancient ruins that are spread over the entire area. The famous Kukulcán pyramid might steal the other ruins their show, but the heck yes, it’s totally impressive! Babe, please keep ignoring the many vendors close to the ruins that will inform you so many many times about their goods. Chichén Itzá overall is a blast! If you want to dig deeper into history, guides will be happy to provide a guided tour for you.

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Swim with turtles in Akumal

Along the east coast of Yucatán peninsula you will find turtles swimming in the ocean and coming ashore to lay eggs. For example Green Turtles and Hawksbill Turtles might cross your snorkel experience. Especially Playa Akumal (25 minutes from Tulum center) is known as the turtles’ favorite area. And this is known by tourists as a great spot to watch them. With fees to access the beach and dedicated swimming areas the wildlife gets monetized. I personally did not went as I am not a huge fan of disturbing will life. However, I stay positive that the expenses for this event will help the turtles and help to reduce the mass tourism in this area.

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Loose yourself in Valladolid

A short drive of about 1.5 hours will lead you to colorful city of Valladolid. When heading to Chichén Itzá, Valladolid is just on your way. Valladolid is a former colonial city and spreads its colonial charm everywhere around the center of the city at Parque Principal Francisco Cantón Rosado. Besides, you can indulge the amazing architecture of church Iglesia de San Servacio and visit the main market Mercado Municipal. Valladolid is the gateway to many beautiful cenotes, e.g. Cenote Suytun and Cenote Ik Kil.

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Take a dip in Mexican cenotes

Cenotes are a true pleasure and are always a surprise. Cenotes are natural pools and often very deep limestone sinkholes filled with water. Some have steps, some platforms, some are deep enough to go diving, some are occupied by fishes and turtles or a crocodile, some have stalactites, and some are connected to the ocean. Girl, here is my list of most favorite ones easily reachable from Tulum:

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Visit flamingos at Río Lagartos

Starting a road trip in Tulum center that will bring you through the jungle, along meadows, and picturesque little villages. After a 2.45 hours drive you will approach Río Lagartos. It is a small fishing village right in front of an impressive lagoon. Let’s say Río Lagartos is surrounded by lagoons and home to incredible bird life and especially to our pink friends, the flamingos. All along the shore you will find fishing boats and tourist guides ready for accompanying you on your boat tour across the lagoons.

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Discover pink lakes in Las Coloradas

Only a 30 minutes drive from Río Lagartos you will spot the pink lakes at Playa Las Coloradas. The commercial salt production uses red-colored algae, plankton, and shrimp thriving in the water. Those chemical reactions will let the water appear in bright pink colors. It’s the same that flamingos love to eat and where they get their beautiful color from. You will get assigned a guide at the entrance that will accompany you along the lakes, share interesting insights, and can shoot the most magical pictures from you and the pink lakes. Make sure you head to the lakes on a sunny day as only sunlight will awaken the beautiful pink colors.

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Visit Cobá ruins in the jungle

Ever wanted to visit the jungle, love? Then the Cobá archaeological site is perfect for you! Located hidden in the jungle and connected via walks through the jungle, the ruins are easily reached in 45 minutes from Tulum center. Cobá ruins are not that crowded as famous Chichén Itzá and come with their own history and charm. Since not long ago you have been able to climb the stairs and enjoy a breathtaking view over the archaeological site and the jungle, it is now prohibited. Today the trail through the jungle is about 4 kilometers long, you can either walk on the trails between the different ruins or rent a bike.

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Experience the Sian Ka’an biosphere reserve

Starting right south of Tulum beach, the Sian Ka’an biosphere reserve is welcoming its visitors. The reserve was declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO and today is home to an incredible amount of species. The natural beauty of the area is just breathtaking! No wonder it remains the largest protected site in the Mexican Caribbean region. Have a look at their official page for more information and tours. Please keep in mind that the road through the reserve is unpaved and you’ll need a good 4×4 to pass the many potholes on the way.

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Float in lagoon Chunyaxché

About 20 minutes away from Tulum center and directly on main road 307, Muyil archaeological site waits for you. Starting there, you can visit ancient Mayan ruins. And in front of the ruins you will spot Laguna de Muyil. Small boats bring you across the lagoon to another lagoon, the Laguna Chunyaxché. Previously used as a way to transport goods in ancient Mayan times, you can float by yourself through the lagoon. The flow of water carries your body automatically, just relax, lean back, and enjoy the view.

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Walk alone on the beach in El Cuyo

Beaches get more and more crowded, as Tulum and the east coast of Yucatán peninsula are no longer a hidden gem. If you are like me and searching for those incredible hidden spots, the small village of El Cuyo and its beach Playa El Cuyo are just perfect for you! You can walk for miles without seeing anybody, jungle to the right and turquoise ocean to the left. Head further west and you will be enjoying amazing solo time at a Caribbean beach. The crystal clear water invites you to take a dip and the mangroves and palmtrees offer a nice shady place to relax.

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Swim in lagoon Kaan Luum

Heading south on main road 307 from Tulum center (approx. 15 minutes by car), you will not miss Kaan Luum lagoon, girl. Wooden pathways through the jungle lead you to the lagoon. You can swim in turquoise colored water or swing over the water in some cool swings. In the middle of the Kaan Luum lagoon is a cenote that is very deep and perfect for diving trips. It’s the same here, the sunnier the day, the more bright turquoise will the lagoon appear.

In and around Tulum you’ll find the most dreamy spots and adventures! Have you travelled to South America yet? I have a great guide for Easter Island, Chile. Check it out!

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// Disclaimer //  I was not paid for my reviews and recommendations mentioned in this blog post. The views and opinions expressed in this blog post are purely my own and can be considered as honest evaluations.

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Have you been to México yet? What would you love to visit? Please leave your comments and thoughts below or on social media @storiesoutofthesuitcase. Happy Traveling 

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