Tulum is a special place. Far less touristy, and much cheaper, than Cancun and Playa del Carmen, Tulum has become THE place to visit on the Mexican Riviera Maya. Tulum used to be a chilled out little fishing town, now it is growing in size and popularity it still manages to maintain that hippy vibe. With picturesque Mayan ruins next to a turquoise ocean, fantastic snorkelling and diving, gorgeous beaches and plenty of excellent restaurants, it’s not hard to see why Tulum is so popular with everyone from backpackers to honeymooners and female solo travellers. I visited Tulum with a friend then came back to spend a couple of weeks here alone, so I’m sharing all my tips for Tulum solo travel.
Is Tulum Safe?
I feel like I need to address this first, as most people who I talk to about Mexico solo travel immediately freak out and assume that you will be murdered the second you land at the airport. YES, Tulum is safe. The Riviera Maya and Cancun have come under scrutiny in the press recently for some safety issues regarding gun violence, but these are isolated incidents, which don’t usually affect tourists.
Tulum is not Cancun and is a lot more laid back, there are no issues here with violent crime. Likewise, the horror stories about tainted drinks in all-inclusive resorts won’t don’t affect Tulum either – Tulum is blissfully free of mega-hotels and resorts, instead you will find small boutique hotels and eco-lodges.
Tulum was ranked as the 2nd best place to visit in Mexico by US News, ahead of other top destinations like Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Mexico City, and is known as a safe haven for locals and visitors alike.
There are some basic safety tips for solo travellers in Tulum though, like avoid walking on isolated beaches or roads at night, don’t flash expensive jewellery or cash, and don’t end up drunk in a pool of vomit with no one to look after you. Follow the same basic safety tips you would anywhere, and you will be absolutely fine.
Considering Travel Insurance For Your Trip?
- Unfortunately, things can and do go wrong when you travel. I always buy travel insurance for my trips and was very glad I had insurance when I had my laptop and passport stolen in Ecuador!
- I chose World Nomads Travel Insurance for my current backpacking trip to Australia and New Zealand. World Nomads offers travel insurance for independent travellers and intrepid families, and offers cover for more than 150 adventure sports and activities as well as emergency medical, lost luggage, trip cancellation and more. Get a quote, make a claim, or buy or extend your policy while on the road.
As an affiliate, I receive a fee when you get a quote from World Nomads using this link. I do not represent World Nomads. This is information only and not a recommendation to buy travel insurance.
- I have also used SafetyWing which is available for purchase online in 180 countries and you can also buy it while you are already travelling. SafetyWing travel medical insurance is charged on a month-by-month basis so a great flexible choice for digital nomads or if you're not sure of your future plans.
- Alternatively, use a comparison site like Travel Insurance Master to find the best cover for you.
What to Wear in Tulum
Tulum is a chilled out beach destination, so unlike big cities like Mexico City, you can wear pretty much what you like. Comfy sandals are useful for walking around the ruins and cycling to and from the beach, but you’ll probably spend most of your time in flip-flops. The sun is strong here, so a hat is very useful, as well as something to cover your shoulders to protect yourself from sunburn.
Comfortable, light dresses, shorts and tops are standard here, and of course you’ll want a bikini or swimsuit for the beach. When you go to eat or go inside, a coverup or top to pull on over your swimsuit is a good idea – I’m no prude but I don’t want to see anyone’s baps out while I’m having lunch!
In the evening, or around cenotes the mosquitos can be a problem, so remember to bring eco-friendly insect repellant and you may want some cool linen trousers for the evenings to stop the little blighters feasting on you.
Getting to Tulum Safely
Tulum is on the Caribbean coast of Mexico, part of the Yucatan Peninsula. Most visitors to Tulum will fly into Cancun Airport and travel down the coast to Tulum.
It is safe and easy to take a bus from Cancun to Tulum, as there are ADO buses that run directly from Cancun Airport to Tulum, or you may have to change buses at the ADO bus station in Cancun. ADO is the most reliable bus company, and have clean, comfortable buses.
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If you are on a tight budget then there are other cheaper 2nd class buses such as Mayab that also run the route from Cancun bus station, but these take longer as they stop along the way to pick up passengers and aren’t as comfy.
Aim to arrive in Cancun by mid-afternoon at the latest, so you will arrive in Tulum while it is still daylight. I hate arriving in a new place alone in the dark, no matter how safe it is!
The journey takes about 2 hours, so if your flight lands late at night a taxi ride will be expensive, but you can arrange a semi-private transfer at reasonable rates if you prefer.
Where to Stay in Tulum for Solo Female Travellers
Tulum is split into two distinct areas or zones. The cheapest places to eat and stay are in the town centre, which is divided by the main road which runs from Cancun to Belize. Along the beachfront, the Zona Hotelera hotel zone has sprung up, where more expensive restaurants and hotels in Tulum have been built.
Hostels in Tulum
As a solo traveller in Tulum, I preferred to stay in a hostel where I could meet people to socialise with. I stayed at Amorcito Hostel which had a nice little pool on the roof and was very clean, with dorms and private rooms to choose from.
One of the best hostels in Tulum is Hostel Che Tulum, which gets excellent reviews. You can also choose between private rooms and dorm rooms here, take a dip in the pool or join one of the group activities like yoga classes, free tours and BBQ nights.
Avoid staying anywhere too far away from the centre as there are no street lights and it is very dark walking back to the hotel alone! (Or you could get a taxi of course).
Beachfront Hotels in Tulum
The best value hostels and hotels in Tulum are in the ‘town’ centre, but on the beach, you will find plenty of amazing hotels and cabanas with beachfront views if you fancy a splurge, but you might end up spending +$300 USD a night for the privilege.
Check prices & availability for all hotels and hostels in Tulum on hostelworld | hotelscombined
Airbnb in Tulum
If you like the independent life, check the options for Airbnb in Tulum. You can find some great deals on apartments and rooms in Tulum, like this gorgeous apartment with a roof-top pool in the centre of Tulum. There are also some fabulous Airbnbs on the beach too like this beachfront room with a terrace.
If you have never used Airbnb before, use this link to sign up & get up to $52 credit to use on your first trip! Read more about the Airbnb first time discount code or click below for your Airbnb coupon.
What to Do in Tulum Solo
Tulum Mayan Ruins
The Mayan ruins at Tulum are certainly in a spectacular location. Perched on top of a cliff overlooking the ocean, these are probably the most picturesque ruins you will ever see. They are very popular of course and get incredibly busy and overcrowded so arrive as early as you can, for a much quieter, cooler visit! The ruins open at 8am, so aim to be there at opening time.
To get to the ruins, most hotels and hostels in Tulum will offer bike hire so you can cycle to the ruins along the bike paths, then explore for the rest of the day on your bike. Make sure your bike has a lock, you don’t want it wandering off while you’re in the ruins! Also check the brakes and the seat height carefully before you set off.
Bring sunscreen, plenty of water, and your swimsuit, as you can go to the beach for a swim right beneath the ruins.
Tulum Solo Travel Activities: Hit the Beach
The beaches in Tulum are gorgeous, assuming that the sargassum seaweed hasn’t come back. Arguably, the best beach in Tulum is Playa Ruinas at the ruins, for that picture-perfect dip in the water next to ancient Mayan temples.
Other popular spots are Playa Paraíso, and the secluded Las Palmas beach. If you have snorkelling gear then bring it with you, or hire it from one of the dive shops, the sea is crystal clear.
If you’re alone, avoid bringing expensive kit you’ll have to leave on the beach while you’re in the water. Alternatively, try one of these dry bags to keep your phone safe and dry with you in the water.
Solo Travel Activities in Tulum
Tulum isn’t just about beaches, so if you want to more to do than just relaxing, there are plenty of fun things to do for solo travellers in Tulum. You could take a bike tour, kiteboarding lessons or zipline through the jungle!
Swim, Snorkel or Dive in a Cenote
Cenotes are natural swimming holes that are dotted all around the Yucatan Peninsula, and taking a dip in a cenote is one of my favourite things to do in Tulum! I visited Dos Ojos cenote for swimming and snorkelling (which is easy to get to by collectivo), then La Calavera (Temple of Doom) and Casa Cenote for a day of diving in cenotes in Tulum. Diving in a cenote was incredible, although there isn’t as many fish and sea life to see, the water is beautifully clear, and it felt like another world in the caverns with mangrove roots reaching down into the water.
Snorkel with Turtles at Akumal
Sadly, Akumal isn’t the paradise for turtles as it once was, with hotel developments and tourists taking their toll on the fragile habitat of the turtles. If you do snorkel here, make sure you have reef-safe sunscreen, take all your rubbish home with you and do not get too close to the turtles. You can take an official ‘turtle tour’ where you will be led through a cordoned off area close to the beach. Life jackets are mandatory, which you can hire from the many touts on the beach.
However, if you already have snorkel gear, I advise walking straight past all of this, and turn right on the beach to pick a spot to sunbathe. I snorkelled right off the beach and spotted a turtle just hanging out and eating seagrass.
To get here, take a taxi or any collectivo or 2nd class bus from Tulum to Playa del Carmen will drop you off on the main road by Akumal for around $30 pesos, and you then walk to the beach about 800m away. On the way back, flag down a collectivo to head back to Tulum.
Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve
This large natural reserve of jungle, marsh and mangroves is filled with animals and bird species. I didn’t personally go here, but someone at my hostel took a kayak tour to Sian Ka’an and said it was incredible. If you choose to explore, it is best to go with a guide, either arranged from Tulum or Punta Allen.
Looking for tours in Tulum? Check out these options from GetYourGuide:
Tulum Solo Travel: Visiting Mayan Ruins Outside Tulum
If you are visiting Tulum, I highly recommend you spend some more time exploring the Yucatan Peninsula, visiting colonial towns like Merida or Valladolid, and seeing some of the other Mayan ruins here, which are all different and have their own charms. The easiest ones to reach from Tulum are Coba and the world-famous Chichen Itza, UNESCO site and one of the new Wonders of the World.
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If you have enough time in Mexico, I’d definitely recommend spending the night somewhere closer to Chichen Itza, in Valladolid or Pisté (the closest village to Chichen Itza), or even staying at the hotel which is inside the ruins. That way, you can visit the ruins in the early morning so it is much quieter and cooler! If you are only in Mexico for short time, then a day trip to Chichen Itza from Tulum is a great way to see this incredible archaeological site from Tulum.
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Cobá Archaeological Site
Cobá is a large Maya site about 45 minutes’ drive or bus ride from Tulum, is definitely off the beaten track! You can hire bikes inside the site to ride around and explore, which is a lot quicker than walking, or you can hire pedi-cabs if you’re not up to walking or cycling. It is possible to climb one of the pyramids here, but the steps are uneven and getting down is a lot harder than climbing up!
I spent the night at Cobá in order to visit the Mayan ruins early next morning, then hired a bike to visit several cenotes in the afternoon. I stayed at the basic but reasonable Hotel Sac-bé in Cobá, or you can join a day tour to Coba which usually also include visits to the cenotes.
Foodie Experiences for Solo Travellers in Tulum
I love food, and a great way to meet people when you’re travelling alone is to bond over a shared love of food! Learning to cook authentic Mexican food at a cooking class is educational, fun and delicious! Riviera Kitchen is one of the popular cooking classes in Tulum and it gets great reviews.
If you prefer to just eat the food, why not try a food tour in Tulum? Reviews of the tour suggest it’s better if you are new to Mexican cuisine, so it’s a good introduction if this is your first Mexico trip.
Where to Eat in Tulum
Places to Eat in Tulum Centre
My favourite place to eat in Tulum on a budget is a proper locals place called Antojitos a la Chiapaneca. It’s on Avenida Tulum, not far from the bus station. Here you can choose from cheap and delicious tacos, sopes and other tasty delights, to which you then add your own salad and salsas. No frills but quick and super cheap!
For seafood, head to El Camello Jr for huge plates of ceviche, freshly grilled fish and delicious seafood. This is a popular place so get here early or prepare to wait.
For dessert, it has to be the Cremeria La Campanella, a delicious ice cream parlour a few doors down from La Chiapaneca. Treat yourself!
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Places to Eat by the Beach
Eating anywhere on the beachfront expect to pay a premium for the views, but there are a few gems here which won’t break the bank and are a laid-back option for any solo traveller.
Taqueria La Eufemia is cheaper than most places and won’t stretch your budget too much.
Villa Pescadores serves up a delicious ceviche and won’t charge you extra to chill out on the lounge chairs either, so you can enjoy the beach after you’ve eaten.
If you’re feeling flash, wash down your tacos with a cocktail or two before you take a dip in the ocean – there really is nothing like a colourful cocktail on the beach!
Have you been to Tulum alone? Do you have any other tips to share for solo travel in Tulum? I’d love to hear your experiences, share them in the comments below.
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8 thoughts on “Tulum Solo Travel: A Female Solo Travel Guide to Tulum Mexico”
Tulum has no shortage of excellent dining and drinking options to choose from.
Absolutely right! I would kill for some tacos right now, I miss the food in Mexico!
I like a blog is very helping an information best travel tour in Mexico is interesting.
Thank you for share us
I’m about to travel back to Mexico for the first time in 25 years. It is nice to hear about cleanliness and safety. No more “Mantazuma’s Revrnge?” You helped me get more excited about the trip. Thank-you.
So is there something or some link, we can go onto that Tulum have for Solo Travelers to hangout with other Solo Travelers, even do activities. Where to go for Solo Travelers crowds
Hi Rhonda! Thanks for reading 🙂 Hostels are a good place to start, but if you’re staying in other accommodation you could try looking on Facebook for expat groups or solo female travel groups and post in there that you’d like to meet up with people. Sol Female Travelers is a big group to check out, they also have separate groups for meetups too. https://www.facebook.com/groups/solofemaletravelers You should also check out this article https://thistravellover.com/blog/solo-travel-tips-ways-to-meet-people-while-travelling-alone/ which has some more suggestions. Good luck and enjoy your time in Tulum!
Hi Claire. I am writing after reading your blog online. I did request to join your fb group as well.
I am getting ready to fly into Cancun w/my 3 teen children. I am the only licensed driver. I was wondering if it is safe and fairly easy for me to drive to Tulum for our stay? Is driving in Mexico okay ( I speak /read very little Spanish) however thinking I could figure out signage. I have driven abroad elsewhere before. I wanted a car vs transportation as we are staying a week and planning on sightseeing/adventures. We will stay in Tulum but plan on taking day trips.
I guess my main concern is driving and following signs/rules. Thanks so much!
I’m so sorry for the late reply, I had to put some things on hold while I’ve been working on other projects so I’m sorry I missed this! If you aren’t already in Mexico I would say you will be fine to hire a car. I personally haven’t hired a car as I was on my own and just travelled by bus instead. However, from reading other blogs online there are many people who do it and don’t have any issues. I’ll reply directly to your email as well with a few more details in case you don’t check back and see this!