Is Tulum the best place for a holiday in mexico

Is Tulum The Best Place for a Family Vacation in Mexico?


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Mexico is beautiful. The country is full of some amazing history, such as the ruins of Chichen Itza, beautiful landscapes, and incredible caves and cenotes. Mexico has developed a reputation as one of the top countries for family travel. And it has become incredibly popular with visitors from Canada and the United States. It’s large collection of luxury retreats, hotels, and hostels, make the country a great destination for travelers on every budget. All of these activities and rentals in Mexico make for an enticing destination for family travel. But of all the cities in Mexico, Tulum has been the one that has captured our imagination the most. Here’s why.

Christina Wagar and C on the beach in Tulum Mexico with kids

The Ruins of Tulum Mexico

While there are many ancient ruins ruins in Mexico, including Mayan Chichen Itza and mysterious Teotihuacan. The ruins of Tulum are consistently rated among the most beautiful. You can read a full list here. And not just in Mexico, but of all the Mayan ruins in central and South America! The ruins of Tulum are the most famous of the Tulum attractions due to its postcard-perfect positioning on the cliffs overlooking the Caribbean Sea and Tulum beach, Mexico. For those looking for what to do in Tulum with kids, the first destination of choice is nearly always the ruins of Tulum.Temple of the Diving God in Tulum Mexico with kids

The Mayan ruins of Tulum were built in the late 13th century. And what a place for them to choose. This limestone city is the only Mayan city built on the coast. It was likely chosen due to the protective cliffs that it sits upon. Tulum is also unique in that it has a wall that surrounds the city. In fact, entering the city through one of the small arched doorways is a memorable experience on its own.

There are a few ideas as to why the ruins of Tulum are walled. Some say that only priests and nobility were housed within the walls, while peasants lived outside. Another suggests that the wall was to protect the city from invaders.

Entrance to the Tulum Ruins in Mexico with kids

The Dramatic El Castillo

The Tulum ruins are a bit of a maze, seemingly randomly placed building scattered through across the rocky floor. Several buildings have incredibly ornate carvings. One really interesting feature is in the middle of the housing area. There’s a representation of a god riding a four-legged creature, believed to be a horse.  If that is truly what it is, then Tulum was still occupied in 1518 when the Conquistadors arrived.

But the ruins of El Castillo stand out among all the ruins. It stands proudly at the top of the cliff. Looking out over both the blue waters of the Caribbean and the buildings of the Tulum ruins.

El Castillo in Tulum Mexico ruins

The Beach Tulum has is Incredible

No Tulum vacation is complete without a visit to the incredible Tulum beach. The dramatic view of the ruins atop the cliffs is a difficult sight to forget. The fact that we could see them with golden sand between our toes and under the shade of a palm tree, was just perfection.

Just north of El Castillo is a pathway and stairs that lead down the cliff face to the Caribbean beach below. And a walk along the beach is one of the top things to do in Tulum for photographers. The clash of grey cliffs, green foliage, and blue ocean is breathtaking.

Tulum ruins viewed from the beach in Tulum Mexico with kids

The Authentic City of Tulum, Mexico

The town of Tulum is a short drive from the ruins. It is a developing town that currently only 20,000 people call home. Because of its location about 4.5 km (3 miles) from the beach, it’s hard to consider Tulum to be a Mexican beach town, but it still has a lot going for it. It does though have a beach strip that runs the length of the beach in Tulum. This is where most of the resorts and cabanas are. The area is hip, and offer a perfect Caribbean feel. For those booking Tulum vacation packages, this is likely where you’ll end up staying.

The town of Tulum is a great place to explore, even for those who aren’t staying there. It has a truly authentic feel, this is helped by the beach, where most tourists stay, being so far away.

A Mexican villager looks out a window near a bike rack in Tulum Mexico

Photo used under Creative Commons license. Photo by Reg Natarajan.

Day Trips from Tulum

Although Tulum itself is quite small, there are a number of incredible day trips nearby. These include stunning cenotes and caves that are popular for both swimmers and divers, other incredible Mayan ruins, and of course, the beach! We would also like to remind those visiting that, although swimming with dolphins is a popular activity in Mexico, there is a dark side to this attraction that visitors should be aware of.

Mayan ruins of Coba

The Coba ruins are one of our favourite Mayan ruins in Mexico. This Mayan city is still very much covered by the surrounding jungle. And that gives it a truly authentic feel when wandering the extensive grounds. And located just 45 minutes inland from Tulum, they make an easy day trip from the city. When you visit, test your bravery on the 120 steps up the Nohoch Mul pyramid, the tallest pyramid in the Yucatan. It offers sweeping views of the dense jungle and Coba ruins. Read more about the Coba ruins here.

Coba Ruins in Mexico near the city of Tulum with kids

Dos Ojos Cenote

The Yucatan is full of incredible Cenotes (A deep natural well or sinkhole, formed by the collapse of surface limestone that exposes groundwater underneath). Many of these are open to explore, swim in, or even dive. One of our favourites is Dos Ojos cenote. This beautiful cave system is located between Tulum and Playa del Carmen, another great destination for family travel in Mexico. Dos Ojos is about a 30-minute drive along 307. Diving and swimming in the cenotes are one of the top things to do in Tulum with kids.

Diving Dos Ojos Cenote Photo by Cesar Velasco Fisheye Productions

Photo by Cesar Velasco Fisheye Productions

Tulum- Kaan Luum Lagoon

For those looking for very unique, and often overlooked Tulum activities, consider a visit to Tulum- Kaan Luum Lagoon. Just a short, 30-minute drive from Tulum, this lagoon-like cenote is a great place for an inland swim. This cenote has a very beautiful watercolour, and at a depth of nearly 80-metres, it’s as popular for SCUBA divers as it is for swimmers. You can read more about it here.

Tulum Kaan Luum Lagoon near Tulum Mexico with kids

Photo by dronepicr

Exploring Tulum Mexico for Kids

With the perfect mix of exploration, education, adventure, and beach fun, Tulum for kids offer one of the best all-around packages for those looking to avoid the tourist-focused bustle of areas like Cancun. The towns small size, and proximity to amazing attractions make it a perfect spot to explore Mexico for kids. In fact, for those looking for the right combination of Mexico tourist attractions and laid-back relaxation, Tulum is among the best place for a family vacation in Mexico.

Best time to visit Tulum Mexico

The best time to visit Tulum is from October to December. This is when the weather is warm, but the extreme heat and humidity haven’t settled in. June until October sees the most rain, while January, February, and March are the busiest times, as visitors flock to escape the Northern winters.

Have you ever been to Tulum? Do you have amazing activities to share with us? Let us know in the comments below, or get in touch with us from our contact page!

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About the Author

Kevin Wagar is a professional traveler and family travel expert living in the Greater Toronto Area. His beautiful wife Christina impressed on him her love of travel and they have made exploring the world an integral part of their life. With the birth of their two boys, Kevin and Christina have made it their mission to show others that traveling with children isn't as scary as it sounds and that kids can benefit from experiencing the world outside of their front door and beyond.

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  1. I haven’t been to Tulum, but if you seen my photos or blog posts, you’ll see that I’ve done A LOT of Quintana Roo (Cozumel, Holbox, Cancun, Bacalar, Cabo). That being said, if I did have kids, knowing what I know about Tulum, I think it would be a top location for family travel! Great post and photos. Cheers

  2. Sorry to tell you that Teotihuacán are NOT Mayan
    They are Aztec!!
    Do your homework (history search)
    before you publish something on your webpage!!!

    1. Hello Yolanda,
      Thank you so much for your insight. However Aztec culture is only a part of the Teotihuacan history. It was actually inhabited by the Aztecs, the Mayans, and other pre-Aztec cultures. It was however discovered, abandoned by the Aztecs, who gave it the name Teotihuacan. I had attributed the building to the Mayans as their civilization appeared before that of the Aztecs. I have amended the article to better clarify its mysterious history.

  3. Thx for the great post, Kevin. I recall Tulum Beach with great fondness. It is SO magical, and we were fortunate to be there on a day when it was not busy at all. I would love to go back!

  4. Beaches, & Ruins, & Cenotes…OH MY! But seriously Tulum is definitely on my Mexico Bucket List! I would love to snorkel those warm waters and then explore the culture. Not to mention the FOOD!!!

  5. As a Canadian I am embarrassed to admit that I have only been to Mexico once. I am just now realizing how much more there is to do beyond the all inclusive resorts. Tulum looks like such a perfect destination for families with the ruins, beaches and underwater exploring.

  6. Tulum is a great place! It’s not as touristic as Playe Del Carmen, it’s clean, it’s well located, and the nature is beautiful! Not only Tulum has a lot to offer, but also the trips, as you mention, from there are worth it! Great article!

  7. Tulum looks absolutely gorgeous. I am thinking of going to that part of the world so I’ll make sure to check it out when that happens

  8. Thanks for a really useful post – I was already keen to visit Tulum and this has made me want to go even more! I really appreciate your thoughts about the dolphin experiences too.

  9. I totally agree with you that Mexico is beautiful I have not explored much yet but i hope to in the near future. These ruins look so interesting i will be adding them to the list of things to do.

  10. Yes, I have been to Tulum twice. Once in 1989, when it didn’t had much to offer aside from the ruins, and once in 2007, when I was totally shocked. The parking lot of the Mayan site was overflowing with around 15-20 large and countless small tour buses. And gone were the almost isolated small cabañas with only basic facilities – replaced by many posh holiday homes and medium sized resorts. I can believe that Tulum is still a paradise for a nice beach holiday with kids. The beaches are safe, the sand is fine, and the weather invites to escape Northern winters. But the rustic feel and isolation I experienced first time is gone.

  11. I would love to visit Mexico. It does look so beautiful. The ruins at Cozumel, the history and the ruins of Chichen Itza would be on my list. As too would be to just enjoy the beautiful landscapes, and perhaps explore some of the incredible caves.

  12. From your description, I can imagine that Tulum is a really great place for a family vacation. Giving kids access to the history is great addition to their formal education. And there is so much more to do within easy reach of the city. I just love ruin sites – in Mexico, Central America and South America. I agree that the position of Tulum is one of its attractions, but I must say that I wouldn’t count it up among the best sites I have visited.

  13. I keep seeing so much on social media about Tulum, so you are right it does seem to be really popular. Also it looks like a really pretty place. I guess this is another one to add to the never ending bucket list. haha.

  14. I spent five weeks living in Playa del Carmen, but went on several day trips to Tulum. It is a lovely place and the ruins are quiet with large lizards roaming about the site. I would highly recommend spending time in Tulum.

  15. Tulum looks great Kevin, especially the Mayan ruins. I didn’t know that the town itself is so small, with most of the places to explore actually being a bit away, that’s good to know. Thanks for this post, it’s very informational for me.

  16. Wow, this post brought so many good memories from Tulim and the area! I really agree Tulum might be a top place for a family vacation – it has it all! Weather could be quite harsh – for me visiting in October was already too hot so I kept sweating all the time! Can’t imagine to go in the worst heat…

  17. I’ve been reading up on Tulum lately, looking for destination ideas for my family in the coming year. My kids are teens now, but I think they’d still enjoy this place!

  18. Tulum is a great place to visit. I haven’t been but I plan to extend my travels outside Asia. Your post is very useful, thanks for sharing. There are many more such places around world yet to be visited.

  19. Hi Kevin,

    We haven’t been to Tulum yet but it is definitely high on our list. We were planning on visiting Tulum already this summer, unfortunately the corona situation changed those plans. But, for sure we’ll be there in the future and then i’ll make sure to refer back to your blog. Mexico is a beautiful country to travel!

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