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17 Top Tulum Packing List Items for 2022 + What to Wear & NOT to Bring

what to bring to tulum
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Tulum is one of Mexico’s most exciting destinations. Perfect for nature, adventure, and water lovers, Tulum has countless activities such as swimming in freshwater cenotes and exploring ancient Mayan ruins to make for a fun and adventure-filled trip. It’s important you are packed and prepared so you don’t miss a beat!
To help you prepare and get the most out of your Tulum vacation we’ve put together a packing list of our must-have items as well as guides for what to wear, what NOT to bring, and answers to our most FAQs on Tulum to help you plan for your trip.

What to Pack for Tulum – 17 Essentials

  • 1.

    From the beach to the cenotes, you’re going to need a towel after all the fun you’ll have in the water. A microfiber towel is truly a travel essential because it packs down super small, dries quickly, is sand resistant, and is odor-resistant. I can’t think of many things that you’ll use more than this trusty travel towel on your trip to Tulum.

  • 2.

    Tap water isn’t a reliable source of drinking water in Mexico, and constantly buying bottled water is costly for you and the environment. A LifeStraw water bottle is the perfect travel companion because it gives you clean drinking water wherever you are thanks to the highly effective built-in water filter.

  • 3.

    As fun and relaxing as the beach is, it can get hot, and Tulum is no exception. It’s always a good idea to bring along one of these refreshing, non-toxic cooling towels. If you feel the need to cool down, simply get the towel nice and wet, wring out the excess water, and now you have an ice-cold towel that will help you feel refreshed on even the hottest days in Tulum.

  • 4.

    From the ocean to the freshwater cenotes, you’re probably going to be spending a bit of time in the water. And let’s face it, we don’t go anywhere without our phones these days, even places where we definitely shouldn’t bring them. So if you’re going to bring your phone, better keep it safe in one of these great water-proof cases. You can use the touch screen through the case and even take pictures too, all while your phone stays safe from water damage.

  • 5.

    Nothing is more annoying than having to search through a disorganized suitcase. Keep all of your belongings organized with packing cubes. Organizing your things into these cubes frees up so much space in your luggage and makes it way easier to find whatever it is you need. You’ll also be less likely to leave something behind because you will have a designated cube for all of your things to help keep everything accounted for.

  • 6.

    A waterproof daypack is essential on almost all of the excursions Tulum has to offer. Whether you’re going on a boat tour, lounging by the beach, or swimming in fresh-water cenotes, you’ll be glad you were able to bring your important belongings like keys, wallet, and phones without having to worry about them getting water damaged.

  • 7.

    Coastal weather is always unpredictable so it’s best to be prepared to have fun rain or shine. This travel umbrella is extremely well-made and durable while still being lightweight and easy to carry around on all of your fun excursions in Tulum. It also has a lifetime guarantee so you can count on this trusty little umbrella for all your trips to come!

  • 8.

    Travel can be unpredictable, that’s why it’s wise to always travel with insurance. You can insure the belongings you travel with in case they get damaged or stolen. More importantly, you can relax and know that you’re covered in case you have an accident or get sick on your trip. Having travel insurance gives you peace of mind so that you can fully relax during your vacation.

  • 9.

    You’re going to want your valuables like your room key, passport, cash, and credit cards in a handy but secure place while you’re on the go. A discreet neck wallet like this one seamlessly slips under your shirt to keep your valuables hidden but also makes them easy to reach whenever you need them without the risk of them getting lost or stolen.

  • 10.

    Bringing along bug spray is a good idea especially for those jungle excursions. Nothing is worse than being covered in itchy bug bites so better be prepared and prevent them in the first place. This all-natural bug spray is deet-free and has worked better than any other bug repellent I’ve tried, and I’m extremely prone to bug bites. It’s comfortable and safe to use on skin and it smells really nice!

  • 11.

    Protect yourself from some seriously uncomfortable sunburns with a rash guard. When you’re out in the water snorkeling or spending long days on a boat, you may not realize just how much sun you’re getting until it’s too late. It’s easy to forget to reapply sunscreen and kids often don’t want to stop having fun to put sunscreen on every hour. A rash guard is an effective and easy option to protect yourself from the sun.

  • 12.

    You don’t want to be stuck out and about in a foreign country when your phone dies. Our phones are essential these days when exploring a new place as they help us navigate, call an Uber, and take photos. That’s why it’s a good idea to keep a small portable charger with you in case you need to charge your phone on the go.

  • 13.

    With all of the time you’ll be spending in the water, make sure you have a waterproof camera to capture all of those fun moments. Look for a camera that is compact and takes high quality photos and videos. This affordable action camera is a great option. It shoots 4K video and can be submerged up to 30 meters below sea level.

  • 14.

    At a lot of fragile aquatic ecosystems in Mexico such as cenotes you aren’t allowed to wear chemical sunscreen. Chemical sunscreen is even proven to harm ocean coral reefs. Make sure you bring a biodegradable sunscreen that is allowed. You don’t want to get stuck not being able to use sun protection. You can still protect your skin and the aquatic ecosystems you visit by using a reef-safe,mineral sunscreen.

  • 15.

    If you plan on using public WiFi in hotels and restaurants then it’s a really good idea to protect your online information like passwords and credit card numbers using a VPN. It’s best to be safe and with a VPN you can also access websites or even different Netflix libraries that would normally not be available to you in the country you’re visiting.

  • 16.

    Hand sanitizer is pretty essential everywhere we go these days. Soap is not always available in bathrooms in Tulum so make sure you have hand sanitizer with you just in case. I love this hand sanitizer because it kills 99.9% of germs but also moisturizes and leaves my hands smelling really fresh.

  • 17.

    Charcoal tablets are something you hope you won’t need but you’ll be glad to have if you do. Activated charcoal is excellent at absorbing toxins. If you find yourself with an upset stomach, try taking a couple of these right away to help your body get rid of what’s making you sick so you can recover and get back to having fun faster.

What to Wear in Tulum

Mexico is a conservative catholic country, especially when it comes to how many locals choose to dress. Don’t be surprised if you see people with long pants or long-sleeve shirts even when the sun is out in full force. However, that doesn’t mean tourists are expected to dress like this. It is totally acceptable to wear shorts, tank-tops, and beach attire when out exploring in Tulum. It would also be a good idea to bring a couple of more formal outfits if you plan to have nice dinners at a resort or upscale restaurant.

Tulum’s climate is hot and humid so you’ll probably be most comfortable in breathable, light-weight clothes. Any fashion preference goes in Tulum so dress for hot beach weather however you feel most comfortable. For most people that means, t-shirts, shorts, dresses, and flip-flops.

What Should WOMEN Wear in Tulum? – (Click to expand)
Below is a sample women’s clothing list. (All items link to Amazon.com for your convenience).

Beach attire is what you’ll be wearing most of the time in Tulum. You’ll find most days to be hot and sunny so light-weight clothing is your best bet for staying cool and comfortable. Flowy dresses, breathable blouses, shorts, and tank-tops are all good options. It would be wise to also bring along some quick-drying activewear for those days when you get a little sweaty or wet during fun excursions.

For a nice night out bring along a couple of dresses and a pair of nicer sandals or wedges. You don’t need anything crazy fancy, Tulum has very much of a relaxed beach vibe. You might even want to bring along a light sweater or cardigan for those breeze nights by the beach if you tend to get a little cold.

What Should MEN Wear in Tulum – (Click to expand)
Below is a sample men’s clothing list. (All items link to Amazon.com for your convenience).

Men will be most comfortable in shorts and t-shirts. A long sleeve fishing shirt is a good idea to cover-up from the sun if you plan to spend long hours outside. Tulum is hot and humid so the more breathable and light your clothing is the better. Flip-flops or comfortable walking shoes will probably be your footwear of choice between the time you spend on the beach to participating in more adventurous activities.

At night you may want to swap your shorts for a pair of lightweight pants and a comfortable pair of slip-on loafers for more formal resorts and restaurants. Dressing in layers could be a good idea in the winter months when the nights get a little chilly with the sea breeze.

Packing for the Seasons in Tulum

WET SEASON – May, June, July, August, September, October:

ITulum is hot year round. What changes from season to season is the rain. Tulum’s rainy season is from May to October and you can expect showers almost everyday. Luckily they are pretty predictable and come around the same time every day and usually don’t last too long.

Be prepared for Tulum’s wet season and the hot humid weather and expect temperatures of around 80 degrees. During the day and 70 degrees at night. Pack light, quick-drying clothes. Synthetic fabrics are often better than cotton when wet because they dry much quicker and don’t absorb odors. You will probably wear a swimsuit a lot of the time so you’ll likely be dressed for some water in case of a rain shower. A poncho or travel umbrella is definitely a must-bring if you plan to visit during the wet season.

DRY SEASON – November, December, January, February, March, April:

Dry season is still hot in Tulum with temperatures averaging mid to upper 70 degrees. However, temperatures do drop a little, especially at night, in December, January, and February. It almost never rains during the dry season and it’s usually not as humid, making this time of year a very comfortable and popular time to visit. The average temperature is between 70 and 80 degrees.

Still expect hot beach weather and come prepared with your swimsuits, shorts, flip-flops, and rash guards to protect your skin from long days under the sun. An umbrella usually isn’t necessary but it never hurts to be prepared. In the evenings it can get as low as 60 degrees so it’s a good idea to pack a light sweater for nightime.

How to dress for activities in Tulum – (Click to expand)

Exploring Ruins – The major archaeological sites of Tulum and Chichén Itzá would make a perfect day trip. What most people don’t realize is just how hot it gets at the Mayan ruins. There is very little shade so hours spent under the sun exploring the ruins can really take its toll if you don’t dress properly. Protect your face from the sun with sunglasses and a cap or sunhat. Comfortable walking shoes are essential as well as a daypack with plenty of water and sunscreen.

Cenote Swimming – Tucked away in the jungles of Tulum are freshwater swimming holes called cenotes. Make sure to bring a swimsuit, travel- towel, snorkel gear, and reef-safe sunscreen as chemical sunscreen is often not allowed. You’ll also want to pack a change of clothes and some water and snacks for after you’re done swimming.

Relaxing Beach Day – There are so many beautiful beaches in and around Tulum. You’re going to want to spend as much time as possible by the turquoise blue waters and the white sandy beaches so better be prepared. You’ll want to bring sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun. Even a sarong doubles as sun protection. A sand resistant beach blanket would also be a great bonus so you can spend hours comfortably lounging on the beach.

Boat Tour – There is so much to explore out in the ocean. There are boat tours for all sorts of activities like fishing, snorkeling, whale & dolphin watching, and scuba diving. Usually these outings last all day so you want to make sure you’ve packed everything you’re going to need. A rash guard, sunglasses, sunscreen, and hat are essential for the harsh midday sun. A change of clothes and a travel towel are nice to have to dry off and get warm for the windy boat ride back to shore.

Night Out – Tulum has so many great bars and restaurants that you’re going to want to check out. The vibe is overall pretty casual in Tulum so with a pair of nice sandals and a summer dress for the girls and a pair of shorts and button-up shirt for the guys will do. You also might want to bring along a light sweater for those chillier nights especially during dry season.

What NOT to Bring to Tulum

  • 1.DON’T PACK Drones:

    It is illegal for non-Mexican citizens to fly drones in Mexico. If you enter Mexico with a drone and the airport security sees it, there is a chance they could confiscate it. Better not take any chances and leave this expensive toy at home.

  • 2.DON’T TAKE Heavy Clothes:

    It’s never so cold in Tulum that you’ll need more than a sweater. Leave the warm bulky clothes at home because you won’t be wearing them here! Lighter synthetic fabrics and swimsuits will be your best friends in Tulum.

  • 3.DON’T TAKE Jewelry and Valuables:

    Flashy jewelry or other valuables that are obviously of value are best kept at home. You don’t want to become an unnecessary target for petty-theft. If you leave any valuables in your hotel room it’s also important to keep them locked away in a safe.

  • 4.DON’T BRING Uncomfortable Shoes:

    Between relaxing on the beach and going on fun day trips you’ll need an easy pair of flip-flops and a comfortable pair of walking shoes. No fancy, uncomfortable shoes needed here! Even for nights out in Tulum you can keep your footwear comfortable and casual.

  • 5.DON’T PACK a Regular Towel:

    Regular bathroom or beach towels are big and bulky making them cumbersome to pack and tiresome to dry. Sand sticks to them like a magnet and they often smell bad if they don’t dry quickly enough. A microfiber travel towel is definitely the way to go.

  • 6.DON’T PACK Books:

    There’s no need to bring along bulky guide books. With a tablet, smartphone, or even a Kindle almost all books are available in e-book formats. Better to bring along electronic books and save room in your suitcase for some souvenirs to take back home.

What clothing should I NOT wear to Tulum ? – (Click to expand)
Tulum is a beach destination through and through. You won’t be needing any thick, warm clothes or boots. Keep things beachy and comfortable and leave restraining clothes and shoes at home. Don’t wear very flashy jewelry or anything that could be stolen easily.

FAQs about Tulum

  • 1. Is tipping expected in Tulum?

    Tipping in Mexico is expected and generally the same rules apply here as in the United States. Generally, Mexicans tip anywhere between 10-20% of the bill’s total. It is also courteous and expected that you tip grocery store baggers, shuttle drivers, and hotel room cleaning staff.

  • 2. Do I need a visa to visit Tulum?

    Canadian and American citizens do not need a visa to visit Tulum. Upon landing in Mexico you will be given a piece of paper you must keep for the duration of your trip and a stamp in your passport allowing you to stay in the country for 180 days. Upon your departure from Mexico you must present that piece of paper that was given to you on arrival. If you lose it you will have to pay a small fine.

  • 3. Do I need to be able to speak Spanish to visit Tulum?

    It always helps and is courteous to make an effort to speak the local language of wherever you’re visiting. With that being said it is not necessary to have an advanced knowledge of the Spanish language. Most hotel and restaurant workers will know a bit of English and between you and the locals you should be able to communicate in spanglish.

  • 4. When is the best time of year to visit Tulum?

    The dry season is the ideal time of year to visit Tulum as there are almost no rainstorms to have to worry about and it tends to be a bit cooler. If you are looking to avoid the crowds then try visiting during Christmas, summer, and spring break vacations.

  • 5. What is the ideal amount of time to stay in Tulum?

    There is so much to do in and around Tulum so staying at least 5-7 days would be ideal. You’ll be able to thoroughly explore Tulum as well as check out some awesome places nearby!

  • 6. What is there to do near Tulum?

    There are plenty of amazing things to do and see outside of downtown Tulum. Chichén Itzá, Cozumel, and Playa del Carmen are all popular Riviera Maya destinations. Lesser known sites include Coba, Valladolid, and Sian Ka’an Biosphere.

  • 7. What is the best way to get around Tulum?

    A rental car would be the most convenient way to get around, but you could definitely get everywhere you needed with Uber or local taxis. Tulum is very walkable but if you want to get out of town and you’re on a budget there is also public transportation that is cheap and safe. Just keep your valuables secure and out of sight.