- Explore the ancient Maya fortress ruins at Tulum
- Dive into cenote lagoons and swim in Río Secreto
- Float down the tranquil waterways in Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve
|Day 1||Arrive in Cancún, Transfer to Tulum||Tulum|
|Day 2||Chemuyil Cenotes & Tulum Ruins||Tulum|
|Day 3||Río Secreto Guided Tour||Tulum|
|Day 4||Day Trip to Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve||Tulum|
|Day 5||Free Day in Tulum||Tulum|
|Day 6||Tulum to Cancún, Depart|
Day 1: Arrive in Cancún, Transfer to Tulum
Welcome to Mexico and its famous Yucatán Peninsula! You'll arrive at the airport in Cancún and then transfer about two hours south to the resort town of Tulum. This route is part of Mexico's famous Riviera Maya, a section of beautiful coast spanning over 100 miles (160 km) along the Caribbean. Enjoy the ride because there's breathtaking coastal scenery the whole way. When you do arrive in Tulum, you'll check in to your hotel and can relax after your long flight.
Day 2: Cenotes of Chemuyil, Tulum Archeological Site
Leave in the morning on a short ride north of Tulum to Chemuyil. This small coastal town is famous for its nearby cenotes (limestone sinkholes), whose lagoons are part of a system fed by the largest underground aquifer in the world. Upon arrival, you'll hop on a bicycle and follow a local guide to three cenotes. The first is La Cuevita (The Little Cave), a hidden cave lagoon with crystalline waters. Then you'll visit two other cenotes great for swimming. Plus, you can hike around the nearby forests and spot endemic birds of the Yucatán, like parrots, motmots, and woodpeckers.
After splashing around at Chemuyil, you'll return to Tulum in the afternoon to visit its famous archeological site. The ancient Maya ruins here, which are built on 39-foot (12-m) cliffs overlooking the ocean, once comprised a great fortress city (the word tulum is a Yucatán Mayan word meaning "wall"). On a guided tour of the site, which dates to 1200 CE, you'll visit the famous El Castillo. This iconic fortress stands 25 feet (7.5 m) and once served as a lighthouse and temple. After touring this UNESCO World Heritage Site, you can head directly below the ruins to swim at Playa Ruinas.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 3: Río Secreto Guided Tour
Just as many above-ground cenotes make great swimming holes, there are also plenty of underground cenote caves and waterways worth exploring. One of the most incredible is Río Secreto. This natural wonder is one of the largest underground river systems in the world. The best part is it's located only about 45 minutes north of Tulum in the heart of the Riviera Maya.
On a 3.5-hour tour, you'll strap on a helmet and head into the river to explore its wonderland of geological formations, massive caverns, hanging stalactites, and crystalline waterways. This is a guided tour, and as you make your way through the cave network, your guide will explain the history of Río Secreto and offer insight into its geology.
Day 4: Day Trip to Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve
In the morning, head out on a full-day tour of nearby Sian Ka'an, a Biosphere Reserve and Unesco World Heritage Site. It's Mexico's largest protected area, covering an area of over 2,000 sq miles (5,180 sq km). The site has natural wonders like tropical forests, palm savannas, wetlands, mangroves, lagoons, and unspoiled coastline. The region's sheer beauty is represented in its name—in the Mayan language, Sian Ka'an means "origin of the sky." Today's activity is part of a community-based ecotourism cooperative focusing on conservation and a commitment to responsible tourism.
You'll arrive at a community center where you'll join your tour group and start the excursion. After hiking for a while on a jungle trail, you'll arrive at the temple ruins at Muyil, an ancient Maya site settled in 300 BCE. Continue hiking until you reach the edge of the turquoise Chunyaxche Lagoon, where you'll ride a boat through a mangrove channel and arrive at a small dock. Once there, you can take a refreshing dip in the water. The joy here is floating slowly along the canals amid the peaceful surroundings and listening to the calls of howler monkeys and exotic birds in the trees.
After the swim, you'll head back to the community center, where you'll find a hearty meal waiting. Then, it will be time to return to your hotel in Tulum.