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Known for local cenote dives and the Sian Ka’an Reserve, Tulum has a unique variety of dive sites to enjoy alongside its famous Mayan pyramids.

Highlights

Turtle Migration at Akumal Bay

Green, Hawksbill and Loggerhead Turtles arrive to Akumal during the summer months every year in order to lay eggs on the protected, white sand beaches.

The Biodiversity of Xaak

To the north of Akumal lies the reef of Xaak, home to rays, nurse sharks and turtles. This makes an excellent excursion with a stop in Yal Ku Lagoon.

Untouched Sian Ka’an Reserve

As a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1987, the Sian Ka’an Reserve represents a heavily protected and studied piece of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef.

Cenote Diving in Yucatan

With around 6000 cenotes, Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula and its extensive subterranean waterways are ideal for experimenting with cavern diving. The popular Cenote Dos Ojos is accessible to most divers.

Bull Sharks in Playa del Carmen

From November to March, get up close and personal with majestic bull sharks as they arrive in Playa del Carmen for breeding season.

Diving in Tulum

Quick facts

With access to both inland and sea dives, Tulum’s diving scene is a unique mix of cenotes and reefs.

Just offshore of Tulum, exists the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve. Most of this area is inaccessible, but some local operators have permits to dive these untouched sections of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef. Outside of the Biosphere Reserve, 7 other reef sites allow guests to get up close and personal with the area’s biodiversity. These can be accessed by a short speedboat ride from town.

To the west of Tulum, the very best cenotes lie within a few minutes drive. Approximately 10 of these are dived on a regular basis. Many require tec diving experience, but a few are easy enough for beginners and offer a fantastic introduction to cave diving. To blow bubbles in a cenote, you’ll need to do a little heavy lifting. Entry to the water is often down several steps.

When to go

Tulum is a year-round destination. For uncrowded sites and great visibility, book your holiday between May and November. For pelagics, pick December to April.

December to April

There is no bad time to dive the Caribbean. In fact, the water temperatures remain constant year-round and cool only slightly during the winter months, meaning it’s possible to dive approximately 300 days each year.

December to April is considered the best time to visit Mexico and therefore is the most popular time to dive in the Caribbean. Because the winter months constitute high season, you should make sure to book as early as possible in order to secure the best rate.

On average, water temperatures vary between 78 and 82ºF (25 and 28ºC) in Tulum. The cooler waters found in the winter months tend to attract more pelagic animals than other months. So this is the best time to dive Tulum if you enjoy large animal encounters.

May to November

The best time for cenote diving is between May and September. This is because the summer months feature the best visibility in both the cenotes and the sea. These months also bring the best light to the caves and result in the better photographs.

Also note that diving in the Caribbean is possible year-round. Simply keep an eye on the forecast during the summer and early fall. These seasons do see the occasional hurricane. When there isn’t a hurricane, the weather during the summer is hot and humid with the occasional rain shower.

From May to September, green and loggerhead turtles arrive to lay their eggs on the Riviera Maya beaches.

As an added bonus, the summer months are low season throughout Mexico. At this time, you’ll find the best deals on diving and accommodation. If you enjoy uncrowded, Caribbean dive sites, travel to Mexico between May and September.

Rain and temperature

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Water temperature

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Where to dive

The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef and Casa Cenote are great for beginners and intermediate divers. Advanced divers should check out the 9 inland cenotes.
    USD 2,380Per person for 7 nights for 2 divers

    Snorkeling in Tulum

    Snorkeling in Tulum is often as exciting as diving. The coral reefs offshore are shallow enough to allow topside spotters to have a great experience. You’ll be surrounded by tropical fish and colorful corals. If you’re ready for an adventure, be sure to book a snorkeling trip to a cenote where the crystal clear water will allow you to see deep into the earth.
    Dive sites in Tulum can be split into two areas. First, there are the sea dive sites. Several of these are located within the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve. These are heavily protected and require a local operator with the necessary permits. There are also 9 reef dives outside of the Reserve. These include Dream Reef, Stingray and Ballena. Inland, several cenotes are worthwhile dives. Perhaps the best known cenote throughout Mexico is Dos Ojos. This cenote creates the best photographs. Other popular cenotes include Grand Cenote and Angelita. Casa Cenote is perfect for those without much cave diving experience.

    What to see

    Tulum is home to a huge diversity of wildlife, part of the reason for its UNESCO World Heritage designation. Tiny macro critters delight photographers, and in the healthy reef ecosystem, vigilant divers can see lobsters, crabs, groupers, angelfish, eels, stingrays, sergeant majors and hundreds of other tropical fish species. Loggerhead Turtles, Green Turtles, Hawksbill Turtles and eagle rays may also be seen floating along the reef’s edge. Occasionally, lucky divers may spot a manatee, sailfish and even whale sharks further from shore.

    Just north of Tulum, Playa del Carmen hosts bull sharks from November to March, and many dive operators will run one or two-day trips to Isla Mujeres for whale shark snorkeling from June to September.

    Calendar

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    Most likely sightingsPossible sightings

    Location

    Located on the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, Tulum was originally an ancient walled city inhabited by the Mayans. From the 13th Century to the 15th Century, this civilization thrived, and many Mayan temples were built on the tall cliffs bordering the shore. In the 15th Century, diseases brought by the Spanish resulted in many fatalities and the ultimate demise of this Mayan city.

    Today, Tulum contains some of the best preserved Mayan sites, and therefore attracts thousands of tourists every year.

    Other attractions

    As a major tourist destination, Tulum offers many exciting attractions. Chief among these are the Mayan Ruins of Tulum, scattered along the coast. You might also be interested in taking a day trip to Chichen Itza while based in Tulum. Adventure-lovers should check out the Punta Laguna Nature Reserve, an off-the-beaten path jungle destination, and fun cooking classes allow you to take home a new skill. Finally, those who are looking to cool off from the hea should check out the local swimming holes in the cenotes as well as the region’s gorgeous beaches.

    Getting there

    Cancun International Airport is the closest port of entry to Tulum. From Cancun, the most relaxed way to reach Tulum is via rental car. Otherwise, you’ll need to take two buses or arrange for a private transfer. Once you’ve arrive, use shared vans, taxis or bicycles to get around the city.

    As a side note, it’s also possible to arrive in Tulum via cruise ship or Cozumel International Airport.

    UTC-05:00

    Time zone

    MXN

    Currency

    +52

    Calling code

    127 V

    Electric volt

    A, 

    B

    Plug type

    CUN

    Main airport
    x

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