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Tulum Packing List – What to Wear in Tulum (2024)

Tulum Packing List – What to Wear in Tulum (2024)

Tulum is located in the Quintana Roo State on the Yucatan Peninsula. A Tulum packing list is a little different than just packing for a beach vacation, as there are so many other activities to explore.

Tulum is a beach destination that has wild jungle areas, turquoise waters, and sandy beaches.

You may find yourself visiting Mayan ruins, rappelling into cenotes, and cycling in the town center, which requires more than just a bathing suit and cover-up! If this is your first time visiting Tulum, you might be unsure what essential items you don’t want to forget.

My #1 recent purchase is this beach bag. It goes with everything, is super cheap, is cute, is lightweight, is easy to pack, and fits a ton of things for the day.

While this packing list is specific for a Tulum trip, it can also be used if you are visiting Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Bacalar, or Isla Holbox, which are all part of the Mayan Riviera.

Shopping in Tulum is great! Don’t worry if you want to pick up some new outfits for a tropical destination. You can buy some souvenirs in Tulum rather than shopping at home. Clothing is always a great souvenir to bring back home as the clothing will be unique rather than the same outfits everyone has from department stores at home.

Our ultimate Tulum packing list will help you prepare for an amazing Tulum Vacation and will ensure you have packed all of the essentials you need to enjoy all things to do in Tulum!

This list will guide you on everything to bring to Mexico and What NOT to Bring to Mexico!

woman on the beach in Tulum with hands in the area

Quick Facts About Tulum

Language Spoken: In Mexico, the main language spoken is Spanish, so it can be helpful to know how to say a few phrases or questions in Spanish, such as “Where is the bathroom?” or “How much?”.  If you stay at an all-inclusive resort in Tulum, you will likely find that most staff have learned how to speak English to talk to tourists.

Currency: Mexican pesos, though USD dollars are widely accepted, can be exchanged at hotel concierge desks if needed! Almost all stores and restaurants will accept USD, but they also determine the exchange rate they offer. Often, the rate they offer is a peso or two less than the actual exchange rate.

We also use our debit cards at actual banks or in the airport. Make sure to decline the exchange rate the ATM offers you. By doing this, the exchange rate you will get the actual exchange rate, and your bank will do it.

Pro tip – If you plan on using your debit card in Tulum, it never hurts to tell your bank in advance you’ll be traveling to Mexico. That way, the bank doesn’t block your card and wait until they get a hold of you. This has happened to us.

Best Time to Visit: Tulum’s peak season for tourists is January to March, so hotels and excursions can be very booked up. If you have any flexibility, then traveling in November and December allows you to enjoy the warm, sunny weather with a lot fewer tourists. 

Cancun airport to Playa del Carmen priv

How to Get to Tulum: There are several ways from Cancun Airport to Tulum. We either take this private shuttle or pick up a rental car at the Cancun airport. You will want to book a private transfer in advance for the lowest prices. We book online here; we have used this company 40+ times, and we think they are the best way to go. The prices at the airport will be more than double than arranging it in advance.

Methods of Transportation: Most tourists walk or bike when visiting Tulum. We, however, ALWAYS rent a car. We love the freedom of renting a car, being on our own schedule, and going wherever we want to go!

We also book online here in advance. If you book in person, the daily rate is often 2-3x more. You can rent a car in Tulum or right at the airport. The drive from Cancun to Tulum is very easy and straightforward. 

If you are going on excursions or day trips on your own, you can easily use taxis or public transportation such as the bus or collectivo. This is a great option if you are trying to travel to Tulum on a budget. If you book day trips online or with the hotel you are staying at. Then, your guide will often meet you in the hotel lobby with a small van to take 8-10 guests around for the day.

We book all of our excursions online here with Viator. We prefer to book online in advance. That way, we can plan our trip, not shop around for tours, and negotiate prices. We find Viator has the best prices and tours to offer. 

If you do rent a car, make sure to read our renting a car in Mexico article for tips on driving in Mexico.

woman in a red swimsuit sitting on a water swing at Cenote Cocalitos in Bacalar

Weather in Tulum  & Tulum Seasons 

The weather in Tulum is a tropical climate all year long, between 70-90 degrees Fahrenheit, so it is mainly sunny and hot, which is what draws tourists to visit, especially when their home countries are cold.

The best weather in Tulum is from February through March, when it is consistently warm and there is little rain. The months of June through October can see a good amount of rain, and it is Hurricane season in Tulum, so the weather can be variable.

Even on cooler days where you will need a light jacket, remember to use sunscreen and wear a hat, as you can still get a burn even in the shade. I am guilty of forgetting how intense the Mexican sun can be, so make sure to reapply sunscreen, wear a hat, take breaks from the sun, and drink lots of water to avoid sunburn and heat stroke.

Summer in Tulum

The summer in Tulum is very, very hot and humid by the coast and gets very muggy as you head toward the inland areas. The summer months can have unbearable temperatures, so it often keeps the tourists away and makes visiting the beach more enjoyable as it’s not so busy! The Caribbean waters are the hottest in August. 

When deciding where to stay in Tulum, if you are visiting during the summer months, we highly suggest staying on the beach for the extra breeze. It will be really hot in Tulum town.

palm trees on the beach in Tulum Mexico

When is the Best Time to Visit Tulum?

The best weather in Tulum is found during the months of February to May when the weather is settled and is normally sunny, with average temperatures ranging between 77F  to the low 90F. This is Tulum’s high season, but if you ask me, Tulum is always a popular destination and always has tourists.

For the past five years, we have traveled to the Yucatan Peninsula for 4-6 weeks, arriving the first week of February and staying into March. The coldest month in Tulum is December when the Tulum temperatures dip to around 68F. It is also the dry season, and we see little to no rain. On our last five-week trip, we saw rain once, and it was for less than one minute. The average daytime temperatures were around 80-85.

From June to October, you can still find warm weather; however, it is the rainy season in Tulum. So, if you are not bothered by the rain, this can still be a great time to visit, and often, you can find much cheaper vacation rates as this is considered the off-season.

Related Article: Best Family Resorts in Tulum

Best Luggage to Bring to Tulum

Many hotels in Tulum do not have paved pathways or elevators to roll your wheelie suitcase, so make sure whatever luggage you choose is light enough that you can carry it if needed.

Many pathways that are paved may also have sand on them, so if you choose a bag with wheels, you will want to choose a suitcase with spinner wheels that can maneuver through the sand.

I think the best luggage for Tulum is the carry-on size to avoid the hassle and the extra cost of checked luggage, plus it’s easy to carry. Waiting for luggage at the Cancun airport is always a hassle. On our last trip, we waited over an hour for our luggage…

I love this bag. It is a carry-on size. I put it in the overhead bin. I love that it is stylish and durable, fits a TON of clothes (42L), has compartments, comes with a rain cover, and another great thing is it has a computer sleeve. I love everything about this bag. You can get it on Amazon here

If you are staying at a luxury resort in Tulum, there will most often be a bellman who will deliver your luggage to your room. So it isn’t that big of a deal. Make sure to tip the bellman. Our tipping in Mexico guide goes over everything you need to know about who and what to tip.

couple holding hands in Tulum Mexico looking at the beach
Wearing one of my favorite Pitusa dresses over my swimsuit in Tulum.

Must Have Essential Packing List for Tulum

The weather in Tulum is hot and humid year-round, which can be very unforgiving if you don’t protect yourself from the sun with sunscreen or hats. When packing clothes, you will want to choose light, breathable fabrics like tropical clothing to help keep cool!

If traveling in the summer, women will want to pack shorts, tank tops, flip flops, and flowy maxi dresses, while men will likely pack t-shirts and shorts.

If traveling in Mexico’s winter season, you may choose to bring a light cardigan or jacket.  Tulum is hot all year, and you will likely be wearing swimsuits and cover-ups all week, so I would pack multiple swimsuits. In the evening you can bring slightly nicer dresses or collared shirts for men, but you don’t have to pack fancy clothes for the restaurants!

If you plan to adventure and take any excursions, you will want a refillable water bottle, running shoes, and a good cross-body backpack to carry your stuff! You will want to make sure you bring your credit cards, power bank, camera, and travel insurance with you on day trips.

Personally, I would leave my passport in the safe in your hotel room or somewhere safe at your accommodations if possible. We never carry our passports on us throughout the day. 

  1. 2-4 Swimsuits – My favorite brand is Summersalt. Use code STAMPEDJS10 for 10% off. 
  2. Sun Hat – You can easily buy this on the beach or in Tulum town.
  3. Beach Cover-Ups – My Pitusa dresses often are my swim cover ups too.  (You can easily buy this on the beach or in Tulum town.) 
  4. 1 sarong – You can easily buy this on the beach or in Tulum town.
  5. 5-7 sundresses or rompers -I love my Pitusa dresses. I own over 10 of them, and they have been traveling with me since 2017.
  6. 4 Tank Tops
  7. 1 pair of jean shorts
  8. 1- 2 pairs of flip-flops – I swear by OluKai sandals. They are on the pricier side, but they last and are really comfy. I also usually bring another cute strappy pair of sandals for nice dinners out.
  9. Running shoes or closed-toe shoes for excursions – On my last trip, the shoes I wore down on the flight from Wisconsin were my only tennis shoes. 
  10. 1 pair of cute sandals/wedges if you have nice dinners out planned.
  11. 2 pairs of sunglasses – I like these cute cheap ones (bring two pairs in case you lose one)
  12. Beach Bag – I have this one, and I love it for many reasons. It is lightweight, doesn’t lose its shape, you can see what is in it, cheap, and I love the color. (You can easily buy this on the beach or in Tulum town.)
  13. Cross Body Bag or Backpack – These bags are perfect for excursions to hold all your stuff and keep your hands free! 
  14. Light Jacket/Light Sweater – I often wear this light sweater/sweatshirt down on the plane, and that is all I bring for cold weather clothes.
  15. Rain Jacket – If you are visiting between June and October, you will want to pack a rain jacket as this is typically the rainy season in Mexico.
  16. Water Bottle – I like to bring a cheaper one like this that is insulated.
  17. Mosquito Repellent – I have been liking these mosquito stickers. They work pretty well as a bug spray alternative.
  18. Lip Balm
  19. Water shoes – I would bring small, cheaper water shoes/aqua socks if you are planning on going to cenotes. 
  20. Power Bank – I love this one because it has the cords built in! 
  21. Multi-plug outlet -Sometimes, there is only one reachable outlet in a room.
  22. Reef Safe sunscreen – You could buy this in Tulum if you prefer to carry on only travel.
  23. After sun lotion – You could buy this in Tulum if you prefer to carry on only travel.
  24. Liquid IV – This is a must for me to help with hangovers/hydration.
  25. Dry Bag/Fanny back – something to keep phone/money. I suggest this waterproof dry bag for day trips.
  26. 7 pairs of underwear
  27. 2 pairs of socks
  28. Pajamas
  29. Passport
  30. Credit Cards/Cash – I never exchange cash. I always take money out at the Cancun airport and then in Tulum town at an actual bank.
  31. Hair ties – If you have long hair, you’ll want to have hair ties on you at all times, especially if you are out on a boat.

woman with her feet in the clear waters of Cenote Jardin del Eden near Palay del Carmen and Tulum Mexico in an over/under photo via a gopro dome

Tulum Activities & Extra Things to Pack for Them

In addition to the items you have packed based on our list above, you may want to consider packing some of the items below if you plan to partake in any of these excursions in Riviera Maya on your vacation to Tulum.

You don’t want to arrive in Tulum unprepared for your excursion and be left scrambling to find items such as water shoes

Woman standing in front of Chichen Itza in an orange dress

What to Wear when Visiting Mayan Ruins? 

When visiting Mexico, you will want to plan to visit either the Tulum Ruins, Chichen Itza, or Coba Ruins, as these Mayan ruins are quite a masterpiece to see. Visiting ancient ruins is an active excursion, so you will want to dress comfortably in shorts and either a T-shirt or tank top, as you will get sweaty. 

There is no dress code, but I would advise against sun dresses as it is an activity that requires a lot of movement. If you are going on a day trip excursion, you will want to pack the following:

  • Backpack
  • Sunscreen
  • Water
  • Hat
  • Closed-toe comfortable shoes – keep your feet comfortable and avoid stubbing any toes by wearing shoes that protect your feet.
woman climbing out of Cenote Calavera on a ladder - One of the best Cenotes in Tulum and Mexico

What to Pack When Visiting Tulum Cenotes?

Mexican Cenotes are natural sinkholes in the ground that you can repel into. Enjoy checking out the cave and even swim in the water below in some cases. Check out these great cenotes in the Tulum area. My favorite cenote in Tulum is Calavera.

Tulum is one of the best places in Mexico to visit cenotes, and this is a popular excursion option for tourists. If you are going to visit a cenote, you will want to pack the following:

  • Water shoe/aqua sock – Cenotes are often rocky when entering, and the ladders/rocks are slippery. I like these aqua socks. They are lightweight, easy to pack, and CHEAP. 
  • Swimsuit – If you plan on swimming in a cenote
  • Quick Dry or Small Towel 
  • Mineral Sunscreen/ Reef-safe Sunscreen (some cenotes have a no-sunscreen rule)
  • Water Bottle
  • Underwater Camera or Go Pro – You will want a camera that is good for adventure activities that can get wet. If you are into photography, consider getting a dome for fun over/under shots. *Some cenotes charge an additional cost to bring in camera equipment.
  • Dry bag – Bring a bag to carry all your gear 
  • Waterproof phone case – if you plan on bringing your phone in for photos
  • A dry pair of clothes – I like to change into a dry pair of clothes after getting all wet and driving/riding back to our hotel.
Woman swimming with sea turtles in Akumal

What to Pack for Snorkeling in Tulum or a Boat Trip

When visiting Tulum, going on a snorkeling or a boat trip excursion is a must, in my opinion, as they are so much fun! Whether you are sipping cocktails and riding the waves as the boat drives across the water or relaxing and sunbathing on the nets of a catamaran, you will be having the time of your life! 

Snorkeling in Mexico can be super enjoyable, so you will want to pack everything you need to be prepared for a fun day! You will want to pack the following for water activities or boat excursions:

  • Swimsuit
  • Towel
  • Dry Bag
  • Eco-friendly sunscreen – we try to protect the natural environment as best as we can by choosing eco-friendly sunscreen options.
  • Sun hat or visor – You’ll want some sun protection.
  • Sunglasses
  • Snorkels *Most tour companies will provide these for you.*
  • Beach tote
  • A waterproof camera such as the GoPro
  • A dry pair of clothes – I like to change into a dry pair of clothes after getting all wet and driving/riding back to our hotel.
woman standing against a yellow building in Izamal Mexico

Packing for Tulum for 7+ days

You can easily re-wear clothing if you are staying longer to avoid packing so heavily, or you can do laundry in a sink.

While Tulum does have laundromats, that can be inconvenient, so instead, pack Tide Travel Sink Packets that have just enough detergent to wash a few items in the sink.

What to Pack for Yoga Classes in Tulum

Tulum is known for having meditative vibes and thus draws in many visitors looking to engage in the practice of yoga. Many tourists specifically come to Tulum for Yoga Wellness Retreats, while others may just want to try a single class as a way to disconnect and relax.

Luckily, in Tulum, many locations offer yoga within a few minutes walk from most main hotels. You will want to pack the following to be prepared for a yoga experience:

  • Reusable water bottle
  • Athletic clothing, including leggings, tank tops, and sports bras for women
  • A yoga mat – I personally would leave this at home. Many retreats and yoga studios also rent these for a small charge.
  • Small towel
Parking car in Tulum Beach on the road
Parking our rental car along the road by Tulum Beach

What to Pack if You Want to Rent a Car in Tulum

If you plan on renting a car in Tulum, you will need to pack the following:

  • Driver’s License
  • Proof of International Driving Insurance – Many credit cards provide this through their cards, but I have never been asked to show this.
  • A Valid credit card – Most car rentals will place a hold on your credit card
  • Car charger – I always bring this cheap cigarette plug car charger thingy, but you do need to bring the cord.

If you rent a car, you may consider a road trip from Cancun to Tulum or Tulum to Cancun!

What to Pack if You Want to Rent a Bike in Tulum

Cycling is a good option to get around and explore Tulum at a very low cost and is a great way to move between the Pueblo and the Playa or to visit cenotes just outside of the main town area. Bikes are easily accessible to rent in Tulum and can be rented by the day or for multiple days.

Bike rentals typically cost around $8-10 USD a day, so it is a very affordable and fun way to explore. Most of the roads are very flat, and you can ride to the beach in about 25 minutes if you start in the Tulum town centers. The best part is you can whiz by traffic instead of being stuck in a hot taxi.

The best place to rent a bike is on Beach Road is called Ola Bike Tulum, which is located in the town. Ola Bike Tulum will rent for the week and will even deliver directly to your hotel, including kids’ bikes. A benefit of booking with them is they also provide bikes with a basket or baby seat if necessary. 

If you plan to do any biking in Tulum, you will want to pack:

  • Rompers or shorts – for comfort and ease when cycling
  • Water bottle 
  • Good closed-toe shoes or sandals that will stay on your feet
  • A backpack or cross-body bag that is easy to wear while biking
  • Sunscreen
  • A headlamp if you are going to bike to restaurants at night

Hannah About Page Getting Stamped Travel Couple Come Follow Along - Las Coloradas Mexico

What Not to Pack for Tulum 

Now that you have figured out what to Pack for Tulum, we wanted to give you a couple of reminders of what items to leave at home to save room in your luggage. Below is a list of what not to Pack for Tulum, as these items are just not practical.

Hair Dryer or Hair Straightener – The humidity makes it impossible to keep your hair straight, and it will likely keep getting wet in the water, so leave the straightener at home and enjoy the beach hair look. Hotels almost always provide a hair dryer in the rooms, and if they don’t ask the concierge, I am confident they will find you one.

High Heels – Everyone in Mexico lives in sandals, including tourists, so give your feet a break and leave the heels at home and bring some cute dressy sandals instead. There is sand everywhere in Mexico, so sandals make more sense and are more comfortable than heels. Even in fancier restaurants, you will find most guests in sandals. I often find myself barefoot for most of the day.

Laptop – Expensive items like cameras and laptops are not necessary for traveling to Tulum unless you have a specific purpose for them, like answering business emails. Often, technology items don’t even end up being used and just take up precious luggage space and add more weight. Technology items are also at a higher risk of being stolen, so unless you absolutely need them, then leave them at home.

Expensive Jewelry – Tulum is hot and can cause swelling, which can make wearing jewelry uncomfortable, especially rings. Jewelry is also at an increased risk of being stolen, so leave expensive and sentimental jewelry at home and trade it for stylish jewelry that can be easily replaced if it gets lost or stolen.

Tons of over-the-counter medicine – Pharmacies are easily accessible in Tulum, so don’t feel you need to pack your whole medicine cabinet. Packing a simple first aid kit, commonly used medications, and prescriptions should be sufficient for any trip to Tulum. Local pharmacies carry the same medications as those in the U.S.A.

Woman in the hammocks of Kaan Luum hanging over greenish blue water

Do you Need Travel Insurance to Travel to Tulum?

Some countries legally require you to carry Travel Insurance. However, Mexico is not one of these countries, so the simple answer is “No.” You do not have to purchase travel insurance when visiting Tulum, Mexico.

When traveling to any country outside of your home country it provides a sense of safety and comfort knowing you have purchased travel or health insurance as you never know when an unexpected medical issue may arise, so it is recommended to pre-purchase insurance. We always buy this insurance.

Travel insurance provides a sense of security as you know that costs will be covered, and you will not be left with huge medical bills that can quickly happen if a major medical event occurs, especially if a hospital stay becomes necessary, or even worse, a medical evacuation. Most health insurance plans can be purchased for as little as $5 a day, and it is worth every penny! It is essential to check your health insurance plans in your home country or credit cards, as many provide coverage when traveling abroad. 

This is why whenever we travel, we choose to purchase SafetyWing Insurance as it is super affordable and yet provides us the necessary coverage we would need if an emergency happened. When traveling with children, it is important to note that SafetyWing will cover up to 2 children under 10 years old free of charge. You can also purchase one policy to cover you if you visit multiple countries, rather than needing multiple policies, which is extremely convenient for frequent travelers. 

Woman by the pool in Xpu Ha Mexico

Other FAQ about packing for Tulum

Should I Bring Pants to Tulum? 

While Mexico is traditionally very warm all year, and you would not expect to need pants, it is a good idea to have a pair of pants as you will likely want to pack at least one pair.

Tulum can get cooler in the evening in the winter months, as Mexico often has mosquitos at night, so wearing pants can keep you protected. 

I often wear a pair of pants on the plane so that I have a pair to travel in, which will keep me warm and comfortable on the plane and in the airport, where it can be cooler than your sunny destination.

You may want more than one pair depending on the time of year you visit and your personal style.

woman eating at Los Arcos restaurant in Izamal Mexico

What Should I Wear to Tulum for the Day? 

When going on vacation, I believe you should pack clothes that allow you to feel comfortable, and Mexico is perfect for this, as pretty much anything goes during the day in terms of clothing. Mexico attracts a range of tourists, including yogis, backpackers, luxury travelers, beachgoers, and budget travelers.

During the day, most men wear shorts and t-shirts or muscle tanks, and women wear jean shorts and a tank top, rompers, or flowy sundresses to stay cool. Almost everyone is found wearing sandals or flip-flops unless they are headed on an excursion. Many people also live in their bathing suits and cover-ups as they spend their time in and out of the water, whether at the pool or the beach.

In the evening, some people will choose to dress up a little for dinner at restaurants in Tulum. This typically means men wear dressier sandals, a polo shirt, and long pants or shorts. Women will often wear flowy sundresses that are longer and dressier sandals. You will want to avoid heels or dress shoes as there is sand everywhere.

Most excursions in Tulum require you to be out in the sun all day long, so you will want to wear clothing that will keep you cool yet protected from the sun, as the last thing you want is a sunburn or heat stroke!

If you are engaging in an active adventure such as visiting the ruins or cenotes, you will want close-toed shoes, and on boat excursions, you will want to make sure you have a bathing suit.

couple drinking a bear at a Tulum Beach Club in Tulum Mexico

Closing Thoughts on the Essential Packing List for Tulum Mexico

Escaping the cold weather at home to escape to a beautiful sunny destination requires a little bit of pre-planning as you will need to find all your summer clothing to pack. When packing for Tulum, Mexico, you will want to consider what activities and excursions you plan to participate in, the weather expected for the month of the year you choose to visit, and what clothing you are comfortable wearing!

Follow our guide for the ultimate list of what to pack for a tropical vacation to the sunny Mexico coastline of Tulum. Whether you choose to snorkel, relax on the beach, visit the ruins and cenotes, or join a yoga class, Mexico has it all!

We hope our blog post helped you decide what the most important things to pack are and what you can skip!

Are you planning a trip to the beautiful beaches of Tulum? Let us know in the comments if our list was helpful when packing!