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!

Dreams Tulum

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 Akumal
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.

Xel ha, Tulum

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.

Tulum snorkelling

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.

Xel ha cenotes, Tulum

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 ha
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.

Tulum taxi driver

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!

Tulum fruit store

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!

Pack for Tulum


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.

Xel ha

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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What to pack for Tulum

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

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