Updated: Jan 5
I’m personally more drawn to adventure and things to do on a budget. So for all of us who were drawn to Tulum because of the exciting history and nature, you’ll really enjoy these cheap things to do in Tulum!
The first thing I’ve got to say is that Tulum has this reputation for being super fancy, boho/chic vibes along a beautiful beach. It’s true, Tulum can be expensive, but you can do a lot of the “fancy things” for far less if you do it right!
I included all USD prices, but they are approximate since the currency in Mexico is pesos. I wanted to include it though because it does help you budget the amount of cash you should expect to need and spend!
Also, everything besides Akumal on this list is bike-able from Tulum. In general, places along the beach will be pricey so if you want more for your money, town is for you! We were there on a road trip from Cancun to Tulum and found that this was a great way to see the whole area on a budget.
1. Akumal Bay for Snorkeling
100 pesos, 5 USD
This was one of the highlights of our trip and we did it on the first day! Akumal Bay is known for it’s sea turtles and if you time it right you can go see them hatch. We were sadly not there at that time, but still got to see the incredible nature there.
Visiting is just $5 USD and you can hang out anywhere along the beach. You’ll see lots of people selling private tours out around a circuit that allows you to swim further out. Guides will ask you repeatedly and help you as you enter in hopes you will book them to snorkel.
Don’t worry about doing this because it really isn’t necessary to see lots of cool wildlife. Instead, go past the boats and snorkel on the other side. There is a large set of coral reefs that are easily accessible. We ended up seeing two stingrays, sea turtles, and tons of fish. It was also just a really well-maintained beach and… NO SEAWEED!
There are a lot of places to snorkel in Tulum, but this was our favorite. No matter where you choose to snorkel, you should do this while here as there is beautiful coastline and reefs to find all along the way.
Note: Renting snorkel gear will cost you more obviously! We chose to bring our own snorkel (we got ours on Amazon) because we wanted it when we went to the cenotes too. It made more sense to spend $30 at home in the US and keep the gear for good than to continually rent for $5 – $10 USD constantly.
Pro-tip: Get there early and skip the crowds. It’s a national park and opens at 9 am and fills up later in the day when the tour groups come. Get there early and you’ll have the whole beach to yourself!
2. Tulum Ruins
65 pesos or 3.50 USD
These ruins are pretty incredible and just $3.50 USD to visit. They are huge and there will most likely be a line, even if you get there early. You can spend a long time walking around, reading, and enjoying the incredible view.
There’s also a beach down below the ruins you can visit if you have time. It was full of seaweed while we were there as you can see in the picture below so we opted to skip it and just stick to the ruins. Walking along the cliffs and reading about the history of this sacred place for the Mayans was my favorite part.
It gets seriously hot here during the day and there is little shade. Get there early or in the afternoon when it cools down to avoid the extreme heat.
3. Muyil Ruins and Sian Ka’an
95 pesos or 5 USD
I put these together and on a budget because you can pay an entrance fee for the Muyil ruins and walk the path behind into the Sian Ka’an Biosphere. You pay for each separately. Muyil is 45 pesos and Sian Ka’an entrance is 50 pesos.
I loved this because the ruins were basically empty and there was a really cool pyramid you could walk around. Behind the pyramid you will see a path (I somehow always find a way to include a hike on a trip, something I am of course proud of.). This leads to the Sian Ka’an Biosphere. Once you’ve reached this point, you’ll pay the other entrance fee to enter. You can walk through the biosphere and to the peer.
We really loved going up the observation tower and getting an awesome view of the whole area. The water is so blue and truly different than other parts of Tulum. It’s a little wobbly but the view at the top is worth it.
Going on a boat or sea kayaking into Sian Ka’an is much more pricey than walking through, but would be a fun adventure. You will pay 700 pesos a person to go in (or you can go with a private group). We were low on time and didn’t have enough cash to do this, but is a great option for exploring this area further!
4. Cenotes on your Own
less than 100 pesos or 5 USD each
Cenotes are natural pits, or sinkholes, resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater underneath. Due to the natural rocks that clean the water, the water is incredibly clear and of course very cold – they are caves after all!
This was also the number one reason I wanted to visit Tulum. I wanted to experience these unique caves that are so special to this region. There are also waterfalls located all over the Yucatan Peninsula you might want to check out!
There are a ton of really affordable cenotes around Tulum. Gran Cenote and Cenote Calavara were the two affordable ones that we visited that I recommend if you are on a budget. Both charged an entrance fee of less than 5 USD each.
Gran Cenote is the largest near Tulum and gets really crowded. It also has a ton of really nice facilities and is 5 USD to enter. I loved how secluded it felt in the second part of the cenote and the water looked so blue and clear! This one was also unique because you could swim from one part of the cave into the other. The floor of Gran Cenote is also sandy and soft which is so nice!
Cenote Calavara is much more rustic. There are no facilities and you have to walk a path for a little bit past a house to get to the cenote itself. It isn’t very big, but was fun because you can jump through small holes into the very dark cave. The water is really deep so you need to be a confident swimmer or rent a life jacket. There is one large opening and two smaller ones. I almost hit my head on the side as I jumped so be careful! You’ll also have to use the large ladder to get in and out of the water.
5. Tulum Beach
This is the largest and most famous beach near Tulum. It’s a free beach and so it does get crowded during the day. The beach is beautiful though and the water is usually crystal clear. Seaweed (sargam) is an issue on this beach, but the currents do change and so you’ve just got to find the right spot along the beach to swim without it. Parking is really limited here so unless you have a parking spot reserved, do not drive! Bike or taxi instead.
6. Eat Local Town
Most people want the cute Instagram pics at Matcha Mama and Raw Love which is totally fine! But these are not really budget friendly. There are tons of budget friendly options in Tulum Town though. We had ceviche, tacos, and drinks for less than 12 USD a person in town at Amore Mezcaleria.
We also ate lunch at a local spot along the road that was amazing (the enchiladas had such a good homemade sauce I still think about it) for less than 5 USD a person including drinks.
7. Hang out at Batey for Music and Mojitos
100 pesos or 5 USD per drink
This place came highly recommended from some friends who had visited Tulum previously so I wanted to check it out. I’m so glad we did!
They are famous for their mojitos and for a good reason. They were actually taking the sugar cane and hand churning it to make the syrup for the mojitos. They had all these different flavors of mojitos as well and we tried 4 different kinds. My favorite was definitely the watermelon mojito with chunks of watermelon right in the drink. So refreshing and delicious.
They have live music nightly and we enjoyed some different bands while sipping drinks. It’s a fun spot that I would highly recommend on your Tulum visit.
8. Rent a Bike
100-250 pesos or 5 – 10 dollars
A lot of hotels and hostels around Tulum will offer free bikes to people who are staying there. Even if your hotel doesn’t offer this, you can still find a really cheap bike rental. You’ll see tons of shops around Tulum town offering bike rentals for 5 – 10 USD for the day. Do not overpay and enjoy riding a bike to some amazing spots listed here!
9. Happy Hour along the Beach
100-250 pesos or 5 – 10 dollars
Okay, I mentioned how expensive these beach spots can be, but there is a way around it! A lot of them have happy hour daily – yes even on weekends! We road our bikes down to the beach and were able to stop at a bunch of different bars during happy hour to enjoy some drinks for 5 USD instead of at least double that. If you want to hang on the jungle drag and save some money, 5 – 7 pm is the best time to head there without spending a ton.
10. Save your Souvenir Shopping for Outside Tulum
Tulum has some really cool shops and merchandise, but to be honest, it’s the same thing you will see all throughout the region. I wanted a cute little hanging tassel to take home. In Tulum, I asked a few different shops and they were all charging over 85 pesos (4.50). We ended up stopping at a shop on the edge of town and they were 35 pesos (2.50). Almost the exact same design but cheaper! This can be echoed for basically everything in the store. If you can, wait until you are outside town and stop.
PS – looking for places to stay that aren’t killing the environment?!
Unlike many in Tulum… here is my researched list. Please also read my post about what to avoid in Tulum because there are some major issues there right now that need to be discussed.
Ahau Tulum – beachfront and built with sustainability in mind
Harmony Glamping – sustainable and upscale glamping on the beach
Cenote Escondito Ecoglamping – affordable camping option
Sanara Tulum – luxurious ecofriendly resort on the beach
Casa Xixim – private villas with sustainability in mind
Prana Hotel – outside Tulum along the beach
So now you have some fun and cheap things to do while in Tulum! It can truly be done without breaking the bank and I’m sure you’ll enjoy your time while there – I know I did!