Tulum, Mexico in One Day

Exploring Tulum, Mexico in one day might seem impossible to some, but that’s all we had during our honeymoon in 2014. We made the best of our limited time and chose a tour company that would allow us to do as many of our bucket list items as we could.

It turns out, exploring Tulum, Mexico in one day ended up being the best part of our honeymoon. Here’s everything we were able to fit in our day.

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Tulum, Mexico in One Day

We traveled to Playa del Carmen (near Tulum), Mexico in October 2014 and stayed at Secrets Maroma Beach Resort. Hurricane season was in full swing, but we had traveled to the Caribbean during this time before. We purchased trip insurance and went without a care. The only issue we had was some seaweed, but this did not put a damper our trip at all.

Our one day exploring Tulum, Mexico started at 8:00 am with a pick-up from our resort with Edventure Tours (included in the price of our tour). Our first stop was the Mayan ruins of Tulum. Not only did we get to see some incredible ruins, but the beach it sits above is considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. We opted for the self-guided tour of the ruins and it was perfect.

About 2 hours later, we met back with our tour group at the Edventure Tours office which was located right outside the ruins. We got fitted for life jackets and flippers, then we were on our way to the Mayan jungle.

I knew ahead of time that we’d be taking all-terrain vehicles to get to where we needed to be in the jungle, but I didn’t know they were going to let us drive. They had two four wheelers and two 6-passenger Polaris vehicles. I rode in a Polaris, but Eric drove a 4-wheeler. He had a blast!

We reached the base for the ropes course after a 20-minute ride deep into the jungle. Our guides gave us a quick safety demonstration, then we were ready to be fitted with our harnesses. I was so nervous. I am terrified of heights, so this was a challenge for me.

The course started low and we slowly worked our way up to the treetop level ziplines. The first major zipline we got to almost put me in panic mode, but I had to finish the course. I took a deep breath, then jumped. I was terrified, but it was so fun! Then I was ready for the next one.

Eric lives for heights, so despite me thinking we were all going to die, he was flipping upside down and doing all the crazy things the ropes course guides were telling him to do to make it more “thrilling”. All I could think was how is being held up by a rope at treetop level not thrilling enough?!

Eric zip lining in Tulum, Mexico
After our fun treetop adventure, we were ready for something a little lower to the ground. Actually, more like underground. Tulum, Mexico has an abundance of beautiful natural underground cave rivers called cenotes. Cenotes are found in other parts of the world, but Mexico is known to have the most.

The first one we went to was incredible and very dark. We grabbed our life vests and flippers then we were off to explore the deep and chilly cave waters. I was a bit nervous at first (theme for the day?). Swimming in deep water underground with little to no light was a bit nerve-wracking. We had flashlights, but honestly, shining them down into the depths below us almost made it scarier.

We could see an eerie fog deep below the water that looked like clouds. It was almost like an inverted sky. Later we found out this was a mix of hydrogen sulfide and saltwater flowing underneath the fresh water. We also learned that the ancient Mayan people used cenotes for human sacrifices, so that didn’t exactly comfort us.

Lauryn and Eric swimming in a cenote in Tulum, Mexico
The second cenote we visited was more open to the outside, so the water was exquisitely blue. Since we weren’t in danger of hitting our heads on low hanging stalagmites, we were able to swim about without our life vests. They even had a platform we could jump from.

Blue waters of a cenote in Tulum, Mexico

We had already seen Mayan ruins in Tulum, ziplined from the treetops of the jungle, and snorkeled through underground cave rivers, but the day was young! It was only 1:00 pm when we made our way to a small pavilion for a traditional Mayan lunch. They even made sure we had a few local beers to hydrate.

The next destination was Yal-Ku Lagoon in Akumal to snorkel through the brackish water. The lagoon itself was beautiful, but as soon as we put our heads underwater it was like a whole new world.

There was such an abundance of marine life! We saw so many different types of tropical fish and stingrays. The water was so clear, it was like we were snorkeling in a giant tropical aquarium.

At this point you must be thinking our adventurous one day in Tulum, Mexico was over. Not quite! They saved the best for last: snorkeling with sea turtles!

From Yal-Ku, we made a short drive to Akumal Bay. Akumal means “land of turtles” in the Mayan language. The name said it all. Our guides let us know we had to keep our life vests on and inflated while we were snorkeling. This was to prevent us from touching the sea turtles. Edventure Tours prides themselves in their eco-friendly tours. They did a great job of educating us as well as helping to protect the animals and locations we visited that day.

We made our way to the ocean where we swam out about 80 feet from shore. Unlike the other places we snorkeled earlier in the day, there were waves, so it was a little harder to snorkel.

It took about 5 minutes before our guide spotted the first turtle. It was amazing to see it in person swimming in its natural habitat. We kept a safe distance, but they were not scared of us at all. They actually swam up pretty close on their own.

So if you lost track, in one day we saw the Mayan ruins at Tulum, ziplined through the jungle, snorkeled through 2 cenotes, ate a traditional Mayan lunch, snorkeled through a lagoon in Akumal, and finally snorkeled with sea turtles. Edventure Tours’ slogan is “The best day of your vacation” and they aren’t lying. It was truly the most amazing day I’ve ever had (not including my wedding day).

Tulum, Mexico in One Day Tips

  • Wear your bathing suit for the whole trip. Ladies, I suggest a suit that you know will stay on.
  • Wear sandals that can get wet (like Teva’s or Chacos)
  • Purchase and use organic sunscreen and mosquito repellent (organic is required and you will want the protection)
  • bring a backpack with a towel and possibly a few snacks from your resort. Edventure Tours will feed you lunch, but it’s a long day with lots of activity.
  • Prepare for temperature extremes. The cenotes have very cool water, but it will most likely be very hot outside. We did not opt for a wet suit, but they do offer them.
  • Purchase the photo package (unless you have a fancy camera). They will take pictures for you all day and will give you all the photos at the end of the day. We were so glad we did this!
  • Bring some cash for tips. All the guides we encountered were so helpful, nice, and hard working. Make sure to give them a little something extra for everything they do! We brought $20 in $1’s and distributed accordingly.

If you’re thinking about going on a tour outside of your resort near Tulum, Mexico I would highly recommend it. Edventure Tours was an incredible company with a stellar reputation. Your one day exploring Tulum, Mexico is sure to be one to remember.


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