While visiting Tulum, I knew I didn't have much time but still wanted to pack in as much as possible. Since Tulum is known for its natural beauty I booked a prearranged tour to help me see it all.
After lots of research, I went with the company Edventure Tours Tulum. I am so glad I did because the tour I ended up going on was fantastic! They have many options but I did the Cenote/Turtle swim tour and I highly recommend this tour specifically because so much is packed into one day.
The quick version is we rode ATV's, swam in a cave cenote with colorful fish and bats, visited another cenote before lunch, swam with turtles, and then snorkeled in a natural aquarium.
All in one day - seriously.
I'm so happy I was able to see so much of Tulum. But particularly, I saw so much without feeling rushed - which is so hard to accomplish on prearranged tours like this. Here is a link to the exact tour I took.
Booking the Tour
I arranged everything online through their website. I found it very easy to book and once I selected my tour I immediately received an email from them with instructions for the tour, details about pickup and lunch, and a list of what I needed to bring. They also informed me about natural sunscreen to protect the fragile ecosystem and assured me I could buy it in the shop the day of the tour.
The Tour - Cenote Portion
The morning of the tour I was picked up right on time by one of their drivers. The driver dropped me off at their storefront, near the Tulum ruins, where I met up with other girls who were taking the tour with me.
Side note: If you want to grab food in the morning before you head out this is the perfect time to do so. There are many stores and restaurants near the Tulum Ruins to grab a quick bite.
After a quick fitting for snorkel gear, we were loaded into a small tour van and off to our first destination - only about 10 minutes away. When we arrived, we all hopped out of the van and moved our stuff into an ATV for a ride through the jungle which would ultimately get us to the Cenotes.
The ATV ride was bumpy but so fun! The ATV fits 5 comfortably (4 travelers and a driver) and our driver expertly weaved through the jungle to our first cenote.
Our group of girls met up with another family (on a different tour - same company though) and we entered the first cenote, an underground cavern with bats and crystal clear water. It was hard to capture just how gorgeous it was down here since pictures come out so dark.
After a quick safety lesson, like look where you are going while you swim so you don't bump into the huge stalactites, we popped our masks and fins on and climbed into the cold water. Our guide led us around the cave on a slow swim while colorful fish swam below us and inquisitive bats looked on from above.
Important to note: If you are claustrophobic, this part of the tour may not be for you. I admit that even I was a bit scared when entering the water and almost backed out. My heart was in my throat and I felt like the walls were closing in, and I wouldn't identify as claustrophobic at all. But I pushed through it and did really enjoyed it.
After the first cenote, we exited the cave and took a short walk through the jungle to another crystal clear private cenote. This one was covered with sunlight and had two platforms, one for walking in and one for jumping in. We all took turns jumping in and then grabbed our stuff and headed out for lunch.
Lunch was served under a huge outdoor hut and consisted of making your own tacos. During the booking process, they email you asking about food preferences and made special accommodations for me: the sole vegetarian. We all enjoyed the meal at long tables getting to know one another before heading out on the ATV back to the car.
The tour - Turtle Portion
After lunch, we continued onto the turtle portion of the tour. This was actually a add on to the cenote tour. You can add swimming with turtles or visiting the ruins for an extra fee.
Anyway, the drive to Akumal is around 30-minutes, which was perfect and allowed our food to settle. We arrived at a bustling beach with SO many people. Because we were on a prearranged tour we didn't have to wait in any lines to access the beach or swim with the famous turtles.
After a brief history on the turtles, which included the recent law change to help the species survive and avoid human interaction, we entered the water with our guide. We slowly made our way around the course and spotted squids, colorful fish, and best of all turtles! It was incredibly cool to be so close to these graceful creatures. They are curious and don't mind coming right up next to you.
After we exiting the water and loaded back into the van we drove 5 minutes down the road to Yal-ku. This attraction has its own cenote and natural aquarium you can access for a small fee. Since we were on the tour we didn't have to pay to enter. The natural aquarium is a mix of sea water and fresh cenote water making it full of life. It literally feels like you are swimming in a closed off aquarium, there are fish EVERYWHERE.
I particularly liked this tour company because by this point in the day I was exhausted. I wanted to just relax on the dock and take in my surroundings instead of snorkel in it. Usually, guides want you to experience everything so they can get pushy even if it is only with the best of intentions. When I decided to stop swimming and just relax our guide was completely fine with it, just checking in to make sure I was OK. He didn't try and persuade me to get back in the water, or tell me I'm missing out. He just let me do me, which I really appreciate.
After the long day, we headed back to the van for the 45-minute drive back to Tulum. We were dropped off at our hotel which is so convenient because I was definitely done by the end. Such a tiring but perfect day in Tulum.
Final Thoughts on Tulum
One last thing... even though researching ahead of time is great, I definitely recommend bringing a guidebook along with you. Here are some books I recommend...
And of course, if you have any questions DO NOT hesitate to reach out to me via Instagram, Twitter, or just shoot me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org).