15 Essentials to Pack for Tulum

I’m not really one for ‘what to pack for…’ posts, because I often find that a lot of them are the same. I know if I did them I’d constantly be saying the same things for each trip, and I basically take everything I own with me, or as much as possible on every trip. But I really felt that for anyone like me, a what to pack for Tulum was essential.

I did take some things that were unusual for me, then there were things I just didn’t have and wish I did (chapstick!). This obviously totally justifies my need to take everything, everywhere! But here’s my essentials you should definitely pack for Tulum, and why.

Flip flops – for everything!

I wore flip flops from start to finish. Even when we were going to nice restaurants, or planning an evening in the bars there was absolutely no need at all for anything other than flip flops. I took two pairs of the brightest Havaianas I could find for through the days, and a few pairs of different colours for night time. I took two pairs of heels and didn’t wear either, I think I tried to put them on one night and just took them off and went back for my flip flops. Save the weight and space in your case and don’t bother!

Waterproof camera/phone case

Akumal beach just ten minutes from Tulum is a hotspot for sea turtles, and if you want to capture the incredible moment you actually see them in the wild going about their business then definitely take a waterproof camera or phone case. They are very tame so you should get some great shots.

If you go to Xel ha, or to explore the cenotes in Tulum you will also be really glad of a waterproof phone case, these experiences were some of the best of our holiday and I’m so glad I got photos of them all!

I took the MPow waterproof phone case, available on Amazon.

Wildlife friendly suncream

Not all suncreams are animal friendly, and their are plenty out there that are. Tulum is full of opportunities to get up close and personal with wildlife and sea life in their natural habitat, and the entire area is big on eco friendliness. Places like Xel ha and anywhere you may encounter wildlife actively promote wearing specific suncream.

Many of them will even confiscate your own and give you theirs to use, so if you’re fussy what you wear for whatever reason – allergies, the smell, whatever – take your own!

Sea turtles at AkumalPIN IT
Sea turtles at Akumal

Insect repellant

I got bit only once the entire time we were there, but I admit I didn’t often venture into the jungle, and I wore a lot of long maxi dresses. I didn’t risk it though especially in that part of the world and we lathered up every night in insect repellent. Insects were twice the size of normal beasties over there!

Your own beach towel, even if your hotel provides them

Most hotels and resorts do provide beach and pool towels, even the parks and day trips advertised them too. However, if you’re going exploring on your own either to the ruins, Akumal beach, Tulum public beach, you will want to take your own. You never know when you will come across a beautiful cenote you just HAVE to jump in, or a beach you want to stay at longer than you thought because its basically paradise.

Snorkel equipment

If you have your own then absolutely take it! I tried to see the sea turtles with just a pair of swimming goggles and failed miserably, so had to buy a snorkel on the beach. It wasn’t too expensive, but definitely more than what you would pay at a hotel or local store because of the demand in places like this. The only thing to mention – don’t take flippers, they advertise not to use them as they disturb the sea bed the turtles feed off.

Waterproof shoes

The cenotes in Tulum are a must see, but they are natural and even the prettiest have slimy rocks and ragged edges when climbing in and out. If you have them take waterproof shoes that you can wear in the water.

Go Pro

I dont have one of these but I wish I did – both for swimming with sea turtles, and our day at Xel-Ha climbing the adventure world and cliff jumping.

Adventure World, Xel haPIN IT
Adventure World, Xel ha

Cover up for the taxi transfer

One thing I found out as soon as we got off the plane and into our taxi transfer is that Mexican drivers LOVE the air con, to the point where it is like an arctic winter inside the taxi. I was FREEZING! Every taxi driver was the same, so if you’re in one for longer than about five minutes I would take something to cover up with. My goosebumps were like mountains.

Pesos not dollars

Everywhere took dollars, but a lot of the local businesses, shops and street stalls were noticeably happier if you paid in pesos. It’s such a small community that it’s better for them if you do, so if you’re travelling from the UK definitely go with pesos. I think the exchange rate was a lot better too!

Lip protection

A pretty obvious one for every hot destination really, but I forgot it and woke up one morning looking like a fish with a burnt bottom lip! Not a good look. Really considered not including this photo but I think you definitely need to see the struggle I had, it was practically tripping me up man!

Colourful clothes

Mexico is a colourful country, so rather than sticking to whites or nudes, embrace it and get colourful, even if you end up looking like a fruit salad like me!


Now that my iphone camera is so good I often leave my proper cameras at home, as they’re an extra weight to carry. But for some places it’s pretty much impossible to capture in a photo have beautiful it is, and Tulum was definitely one of those places. The difference in quality between my phone photos and the ones I took on my camera was huge, and I’m glad I carried it half way around the world.

A cross body bag/good beach bag

For days where you might venture into Tulum town, or to the ruins or cenotes a good beach bag is essential, especially one that crosses your body and can zip up. It was very safe, but you never know, and especially when climbing or hiking you will be glad you don’t have your hands full. Take water and suncream everywhere!

Shorts with pockets

When we went to Xel ha for the day, we were given a locker for all our stuff, but we had to keep the key obviously. Thank God for Kieran and his zipped pocket shorts! I panic when it comes to locker keys on a bit of string, I couldn’t stand the hassle if it got lost!

That’s it! Obviously bikinis, sunglasses etc go without saying! God I love summer, get me to a beach again!

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Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by the lovely people at Travel Yucatan



  • Hayley
    9th March 2017

    Great tips! Love that you are promoting more animal friendly sun-cream. A lot of sun-creams also damage coral so using an environmentally friendly brand is a great idea 🙂

  • Nina
    10th March 2017

    These are some great tips. I was happy to read that they pay so much attention to eco-friendliness. Good to hear”

  • Stephanie Huff
    10th March 2017

    This is such a helpful post 🙂 Too bad I didn’t see it before I went to tulum haha but it can definitely be applied to other similar destinations. thanks for sharing

  • Becky Angell
    10th March 2017

    Great tips, really useful. I wanted to go to Mexico for a while and this is tempting me to go again! Love the idea of the wildlife friendly suncream, never looked into that before 🙂 And I really need to buy a Go Pro too!

  • Stephanie
    10th March 2017

    Great tips! I’ve never been to Mexico but it’s on my list, I’m sure it’s a great country!

  • Travelling Dany
    10th March 2017

    I always carry flipflops with me, too! But I haven’t been confident enough to wear them at the restaurant… yet! 😀 I highly agree also on the wildlife friendly suncream. Great tips, I’ve noted them down!

  • Andrea
    10th March 2017

    This is great!!! I wish I had this list before going to Tulum, especially the sunscreen!

  • Elise
    13th March 2017

    I love packing posts that are specific to that location! Like the animal friendly suncream – I never would have thought of that! Great insider knowledge 😉

  • March Round Up | Stephanie Fox Blog
    12th June 2017

    […] from our trip in September as well. I did a Dreams Tulum restaurants review, a packing guide for 15 essentials you need to pack, and a favourite Tulum Insta photos post too. I really loved writing all these, it was such an […]

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