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Tulum Mexico: The Ultimate Packing List and More!

El Castillo near Tulum
El Castillo near Tulum

Ah, Tulum! A place where the jungle kisses the sea, and ancient ruins hold the secrets of centuries. This gem on the Mexican Caribbean coast is a sanctuary for travelers seeking a blend of adventure, serenity, and a touch of the mystical. But before you can dance under the moonlight or plunge into the refreshing cenotes, there's one crucial step—packing. Fear not, my fellow travel enthusiasts, beach lovers, and sustainable travelers, for I have crafted the ultimate Tulum packing list, tailored just for you.

Tulum is the perfect place for a getaway, the tropical climate makes it great all year long for beach weather, just remember summer will be hot! The ocean will be a beautiful shade of blue any time of year you visit, great for snorkeling, scuba or other water activities. Turquoise colored water is always wonderful wherever you are in the Caribbean. The proximity to Mayan ruins, Playa del Carmen and Cancun are great. With Tulum only being an hour to an hour and half south. If interested in taking tours or visiting those areas. Even the famous cruise port stop of Cozumel is not that far away, (2 hours including the ferry ride), Cozumel is an island off the coast.

If you are anything like me, at an all-inclusive resort, I like to do just a few things, swim in the ocean, visit the pool, eat great food with great drinks, and relax. This is no different with a Tulum vacation, and the many all-inclusive resorts they have there. So let's jump into this blog, with airport information and lists of travel essential items you need to pack or think about packing for your next travel adventure. 

Navigating the New Tulum Airport

Airplane in the air
Airplane in the air

The area of Tulum Mexico has grown in recent years with population, resorts and hotels. Basically, using Cancun as the main point of entry into the area, but a little bit of a distance away. This has helped with building a new airport in the area (TUY), giving vacation goers a closer airport option and taking some of the pressure off of Cancun. Several cities in the United States fly directly into Tulum, making it a great destination choice if you want to spend time on the Yucatan Peninsula for a beach vacation. Charlotte NC, Atlanta GA, Fort Lauderdale FL, Houston TX, plus many more fly direct.

Major airlines including American Air, United, and Delta offer flights, along with JetBlue and now Spirit Airlines for the budget traveler. Also, using this airport can save you some money, as I have noticed the prices of flights are cheaper than flying into Cancun.

This airport opened in December of 2023, but without some conveniences inside. As of May they are still missing many restaurants and shops inside. But there is enough open inside for you to get your water, soda, or snack for the flight. You will notice that this airport, like many others, still charges outrageous prices for drinks and snacks. (2 drinks and 2 snacks were $22) I found that out from a client I booked at an all-inclusive vacation in Tulum.

The new Tulum airport is set to revolutionize travel to this bohemian paradise. Here’s what to expect:

  • Convenience: Located closer to Tulum than Cancun's airport, reducing travel time significantly.

  • Sustainability: Designed with environmental conservation in mind, it's an extension of Tulum's eco-friendly ethos.

  • Smooth Transfers: Expect streamlined services to get you from the airport to your accommodation seamlessly. With the opportunity to use Amstar for you transfer to your hotel or resort, or a private driver with Viator. It is very easy to find them at this airport.

The Essentials: Packing List for Tulum Mexico.

packing for a beach trip
packing for a beach trip
  • Lightweight Clothing: Think breathable fabrics. Tulum is warm and humid. Pack a mix of casual and a few dressy options for those enchanting beach dinners. I am very much a casual person, I don't even own a dress anymore, so tank tops and tees are my things. But I have found out the hard way that some restaurants at the all-inclusive resorts might have a dress code or want you to dress in business casual wear. Like Polo shirts and slacks or khakis for the guys and a dressier shirt, blouse, skirt, or dress pants for the girls. There are some really cute flowy maxi dresses out there that are perfect for a nice dinner, that are lightweight and perfect for a vacation dinner. The best way to find this out, is using the resort's website ahead of time. Just to make sure you pack your best if you need too.

  • Swimsuits/ Bathing Suits: This is a must for any beach vacation, definitely don't forget to pack them. Depending on how long you stay you might want to pack more than 1 bathing suit, but that is your choice. I typically pack 2 or 3.

  • Shoes/ Sandals: I always go to the airport wearing my sneakers, which means I need to pack my flip flops for walking around the resort or to the beach. So don't forget to pack your sandals.

  • Eco-friendly Sunblock: Protect your skin and the reefs by choosing reef-safe sunblock. The sun here is no joke! Tulum has not banned non reef-safe sunscreen, but it is always best to protect the environment. Look for Zinc Oxide or Titanium Dioxide on the packaging. Those 2 chemicals are considered safe for coral reefs.

  • Insect Repellent: Preferably something natural. The jungle is alive, and so are its tiny inhabitants. This is especially true if traveling to the Mayan Ruins. Mosquitos are common among a couple others that might like to get you. Have you ever heard of sand fleas or sand lice? These are very common critters even on the beaches in tropical areas of the United States. The bites on my ankles at a beach in Fort Lauderdale Florida one time were very itchy. You might want to think of using repellent while at the beach too. Here is a list of repellents to use specifically for sand fleas but usually they just bite on feet or ankles, unless you lay down in the sand, but these items work for mosquitos too.

  • Oils or oil-based products that create a layer on your skin that have a smell. Lemongrass, Lavender, Coconut, or Citronella.

  • Tea Tree, Rosewood, Eucalyptus, and Citrus flavored oils too, also work great.

  • DEET repellents work great for the bugs of the jungle and sand fleas. This is probably the best mosquito repellent.

sunglasses on beach
sunglasses on beach

  • Sunglasses: We have talked about protecting your skin but you need to protect your eyes too. The sun is bright, and you do not want to do any damage to your eyes by not having sunglasses. A great option is to look for sunglasses that protect you from UVA and UVB rays.

  • Basic Toiletries: I always pack a little makeup bag, for whatever makeup I need (not much), but I also pack a small bag to pack a small deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrush, mouthwash, lip balm, lotion, hairbrush, elastic hair band, shampoo, body wash, and conditioner. I always use those small 3 ounce bottles. And recently I just packed some of those items  as a just in case, because the resort will supply shampoo conditioner and body wash.

Tip here. I love reusable zip lock bags, and that is what I use. I double bag these items in case they burst, but they are only 3-ounce bottles, as I rarely pack them in my checked luggage if going on a small trip. There are many travel toiletry bags out there, and believe me I have a few, but in a pinch, I use a Ziploc bag. lol

beach bag
beach bag
  • Beach Bag: It's always a good idea to pack a small little beach bag for your trip. Just for your sunscreen, room key, or a little cash for tips while soaking in the sun at the beach or pool. I tend to toss my reusable water bottle in there also. Some might even want to pack a snack in the beach bag. It is for whatever you need poolside, your choice.

  • Travel Documents: Always keep your important travel documents handy, from airfare, hotels/resort, airport transportation or rental car info. Those of you who buy travel insurance (more on that later), it's a good idea to have that info too. Personally, with cell phones and apps these days, I don't print everything, I just use my cell phone to get access to the information I need. So definitely remember to bring your cell phone if you are like me.

  • Credit Cards / Money: With all my travels to Mexico, I never have used pesos, so I do not recommend getting pesos for your trip. First off, the exchange rate at the airports is ridiculous, and secondly, using a card is so much easier. I prefer to use credit cards instead of debit cards. Credit cards will transfer the charge from pesos to dollars and are more secure than using your debit card. Also, you can call the credit card company easily and fight any fraud charges. You will have longer to do this with a credit card than you will with a debit card that is attached to your bank. For example, my bank’s Visa Debit Card, will only let you fight charges for up to 3 days after charge and guarantee refund. Credit card companies will usually let you fight charges up to 30 days after the fraud charge. Plus, credit cards these days offer points or rewards for using them, just as long as you use them correctly. If you do not have a credit card, those prepaid visa cards, or visa cards you can add money to are always a good option. I always take American dollars for tipping at resorts. Great bartenders, room service, or tipping tour guides if you book a tour. They will accept American money as a tip.

Tip of the day, be sure you let your credit card company know that you are traveling out of town, tell them the dates and what country you are heading to. This will help prevent your card from being declined.

  • Medication: Be sure to remember to pack your medications, and pack them in a carry on or personal item for the flight. Never put them in your checked bag. The what if on lost luggage or needing meds while on the plane is too large to not have those items with you. If you are anything like me, I pack a few OTC items when traveling, like ibuprofen.

 I will say that Mexico’s pharmacies are different from pharmacies in the United States, so if you need to make a run to a pharmacy for something, some items are able to be bought without a prescription. OTC items like you would buy in the US are available, but behind the counter there are some basic antibiotics, to even Viagra, prescription free. Lol (I do not recommend, just thought I would share, in case you forgot your Lasix.) Also, if you are staying at an all-inclusive resort, they will have a little store where you can buy items you forgot. It will be expensive, but if you forgot your Tylenol, they would have it.

  • Cell Phone and Cell Phone Charger: As mentioned earlier, you might use your cell phone to house your travel documents. Don't forget it or your cell phone charger too. Also, you are leaving the country, you might want to reach out to your cell phone company to make sure it works internationally. I have T-Mobile and it works fine internationally without any extra fees. You might want to check out Airalo, it is great for international service, if interested. Usually, the all-inclusive resorts have Wi-Fi included, and you will be able to use the Wi-Fi to make your calls, or send messages, but just in case, it is always a good idea to make sure your phone works in the country you are visiting.

  • Passport: This is a must, do not forget this, but also pack your driver's license if renting a car, you will need to prove you can drive if renting a car. One of the best things I started doing for international flights, if keep my passport with me, but put a copy of my passport inside my luggage, like my checked bag. This is just as a caution if luggage is lost, or what if I lose my passport somehow, I will have a copy in my luggage.

Speaking of luggage, have you ever thought about using air tags? Air tags can be ordered on Amazon, and you use your cellphone to track your luggage, this is a really good idea for those of you worried about lost luggage. Just make sure when you order the air tags, make sure it is compatible with your type of phone, (iPhone or Android). This is a thought especially for those of you with several layovers at airports.

Extra items you might want to think about packing.

  • Water Shoes: Essential for exploring cenotes and rocky beach areas. Plus, they double as great footwear for light hiking. The Yucatan Peninsula is known for their cenotes, and usually you can find tours to them. Many people love these water shoes, and they are great for diabetics for protecting their feet, but personally I put them on this list as a reminder for those of you who would use them, as I do not use them.

Reusable water bottle
Reusable water bottle

  • Reusable Water Bottle: Stay hydrated in style and sustainability. Tulum encourages eco-conscious living. I carry a reusable water bottle often when traveling. Some airports even have water stations for reusable water bottles, Charlotte NC airport even does. 

  • Portable Charger: Keep your devices charged for those picture-perfect moments without compromising on enjoying the present. As much as I use my phone, I keep a portable charger with me at all times. Taking pics and videos tend to wear out my battery, but I do use my phone more than most, as a job hazard. Still, it is something to think about since you cannot plug your phone into a charger while sitting at the beach.

  • Sun Hat: I personally have never used one, but several of my clients always pack a sun hat, that helps keep the sun off their faces, and their head in general due to having thinning hair.

  • A Good Book: For those lazy hammock afternoons. May I suggest something by a local author to immerse you deeper into the spirit of Mexico?

If You're Glamping or in a Boutique Hotel:

  • Biodegradable Toiletries: Many places in Tulum are off-grid and rely on sensitive septic systems. So biodegradable toiletries are required.

  • A Hammock: While many spots offer hammocks, having your own ensures you always have a spot to relax.

  • Solar-Powered Lights: For those magical nights under the stars. Perfect for setting a serene ambiance. 

Personally, I've never been off the grid camping, or glamping, but I can see where these types of items would be nice in those circumstances. If this fits you, definitely dig a little bit deeper than I am going in this blog to find out exactly what to expect from the place you are staying at.

Venturing into the Jungle or to the Pyramids:

Howler Monkey in the tree near Tulum
Howler monkey in the tree near Tulum

I loved my times looking at the ancient sites. The Pyramids are great, but learning about the culture of the Mayans was unbelievable. The first time I went I was shocked by the tour. When behind the pyramid the guides were talking to us about how that area was where they would play games to decide who would be sacrificed.

  • Long-Sleeved Shirt and Pants: Protection against insects and the sun.

  • Hat and Sunglasses: Keep the sun at bay while exploring the ancient ruins.

  • Binoculars: The wildlife in Tulum and surrounding areas is spectacular. Don't miss out on the colorful birds and elusive creatures. Did you know Spider monkeys and Howler monkeys call this area's jungles home. You can hear the Howler monkey calls miles away.

Best time to visit Tulum

beach near Tulum
beach near Tulum

There are certain times of the year that are better than others for visiting Tulum and the Yucatan Peninsula in general. Temperatures are warm all year long, just like any other tropical destination, but there are few things to keep in mind.

Hurricane Season starts on June 1st and goes to November 30th. You have more of a chance in August, September, or October, but there is a chance out there for your vacation to have issues if a hurricane is around. This is a good reason to buy Travel Insurance. I choose Allianz for my travels and my clients insurance needs. Even the basic package will cover weather related/ hurricane travel issues.

The rainy season tends to be the same time as hurricane season, with October usually being the wettest month, with over 6 inches of rain. Usually, the rain during the summer months is sporadic and don't last long. So hopefully you will not be visiting during a washout. 

The best time to Visit is Mid-March till the end of May, Spring is a great time for a vacation and considered the dry season. Plus, if you have kids, you can coordinate it with their spring break vacation or if you want it less crowded you can book your vacation to avoid the weeks of spring break. You will have warm weather, and less chance for rain during this time.

Winter months are still warm and honestly the water temperatures are not that bad either. The average water temp is 80 degrees Fahrenheit, with the lowest water temperature being 77 degrees Fahrenheit.  The average temperatures hover around 74 degrees Fahrenheit. Not too shabby in my opinion.

With my trips to the Yucatan area, I have visited in February, March, June, July, and September and luckily have never had any issues with weather, but mother nature is unpredictable, so you never know what will happen especially if you book a few months in advance.

Final Thoughts

Mayan Ruin near Tulum
Mayan Ruin near Tulum

A Tulum trip is not just a destination; it's an experience. It whispers tales of ancient civilizations, sings the songs of the waves, and dances to the rhythm of the jungle. With this packing list, you’re more than prepared to immerse yourself in everything this magical place has to offer. Pack your spirit of adventure alongside your essentials, and prepare for a journey that not only takes you to Tulum but also transports you to a realm of discovery, connection, and unforgettable memories, plus beautiful beaches.

Remember, the key to the perfect Tulum adventure lies not just in what you bring in your suitcase, but in the openness of your heart and the curiosity of your soul. Happy travels!

This blog contains affiliate links. If you click on them and make a purchase I might receive a commission at no extra cost to you.

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