When You Should Visit Tulum
Are you eager to explore Tulum but not sure when to go? Do you long to discover the secrets of this historic destination, but want to avoid overcrowded spots?
Brimming with verdant jungles, pristine white sandy beaches, and ancient Mayan ruins, Tulum has become a paradise for travelers seeking an eclectic mix of adventure, culture, and tranquility. But like any popular destination, timing is crucial to get the most out of your experience.
In this post, I'll provide my own insights as a local on when to visit Tulum to get the most out of your vacation. Whether you want to snag a great deal, dodge the crowds, or experience unique local festivals, I’ve tailored this guide to make your Tulum visit unforgettable.
When Is the Most Popular Time to Visit Tulum?
The most popular time to visit Tulum is in the winter months from December to April.
Now, why winter? Well, you know those frosty morning commutes and driveways waiting to be shoveled? These don’t exist in Tulum! With average temperatures hovering around 80°F, Tulum offers an ideal tropical escape to avoid being bundled up back home.
Fancy a spontaneous salsa session? Or maybe savoring fresh seafood on the beach is more your jam? Either way, you'll find Tulum buzzing with fellow sun-seekers during these months.
December to April is when to visit Tulum if you're looking for a vibrant atmosphere. Just remember - with popularity comes crowds, so book your accommodations and activities in advance to avoid disappointment!
If you're hunting for a bargain, plan your trip to Tulum during the shoulder seasons - that's May to June or October to November. Sure, you might see a little more rain, but the lower prices and fewer crowds more than make up for it. And hey, a tropical rain shower just adds to the adventure, right?
Those willing to brave the summer months from July to September will find the lowest prices. Keep in mind, though, it's also hurricane season.
The best time to visit Tulum to avoid the crowds is from September to November.
Yes, this period overlaps with the tail end of the hurricane season, but it's also when the tourist traffic slows to a peaceful pace. I've taken this gamble myself, and the payoff was having the picturesque Tulum ruins almost to myself.
Sure, you might experience some rainfall, but typically, these are short-lived. Plus, if you do encounter a rainy day, I’d make a beeline for an underground cenote. They’re fully covered and refreshing on humid days.
If you're up for it, visit Tulum’s attractions early in the morning during these months. You'll not only dodge the crowds but also the midday heat.
Top Tip: Ignore your weather apps warning of rain. They’re rarely accurate in this region and will usually forecast rain every day to be safe. Unless you see the clouds in the sky, plan your day as normal and enjoy. You might get some rain, but it rarely rains all day in Tulum.
Let’s dive into some nitty-gritty details that'll help you plan your Tulum getaway like a pro. I’m talking about those all-important considerations like weather, some of Tulum's must-attend festivals, and other unique events and factors that could sway your decision on when to visit.
Hurricane Season in Tulum
In Tulum, the hurricane season runs from June to November, with the peak months being September and October. Now, this might sound intimidating, but it's not all stormy skies and gusty winds. In fact, hurricanes are pretty rare.
You’re more likely to encounter some sudden downpours and the occasional all-day rain shower. Most years we get barely a gust of wind but one year, I got to experience three in a row. Having lived through a real hurricane season here, I still recommend a visit if you’re up for the risk. Many businesses and buildings are more than prepared for the unlikely event of a hurricane so you’ll be surprised to see everything back up and running the following day.
Major Festivals in Tulum
On to the fun stuff - festivals! If there's one thing that Tulum knows how to do right, it's throwing a fantastic party.
Every November, Tulum, like the rest of Mexico, lights up for the Day of the Dead. It's an enchanting blend of remembrance and celebration, a truly unique experience that's steeped in tradition. Celebrated from October 31st to November 2nd, this festival is a unique blend of joy and solemnity that truly encapsulates the Mexican approach to life and death.
Picture this: streets lined with marigold flowers, sugar skulls, and lively calacas (skeletons), as locals pay homage to their departed loved ones. In Tulum, families craft stunning altars known as ofrendas in their homes and decorate them with photos, favorite foods, and personal mementos of the deceased. It's a heartfelt celebration of life, rather than a mournful event. The air is filled with a sense of unity and love that's tough to put into words. If you're in Tulum during this time, it's an experience not to be missed.
If you're visiting in late November or early December, don't miss the Riviera Maya Jazz Festival in nearby Playa del Carmen. It's an incredible gathering of jazz musicians from around the globe. Previous artists to grace the stage include Chick Corea, Pat Metheny, and Earth, Wind & Fire.
If electronic music is your thing, then Zamna Festival is likely already on your radar. Held between December and January, this festival features world-class DJs against the backdrop of Tulum's lush jungle and crystalline beaches. I have friends that visit every year just for this event and they say it’s one of the best in the world.
Celebrated every March, Benito Juarez Day honors one of Mexico's most revered leaders. This is a national holiday, so expect a festive atmosphere, albeit quieter than some of the more flamboyant celebrations.
Every September, Tulum’s streets erupt in a colorful spectacle as locals gather to celebrate Mexico's Independence Day. This is the day when "El Grito" is reenacted by a local government official at the town hall, followed by an evening filled with mariachi music and dancing. Either look for a restaurant hosting a special celebration or head for the town hall for more of a local experience.
The Full Moon Party at Papaya Playa Project is an experience that needs to be seen to be believed. Trust me, dancing under the starlit sky with the rhythm of the waves as your beat - it's nothing short of magical. It happens every month and it’s well worth planning your trip around.
Holy Week in Tulum
Holy Week (or Semana Santa) is a significant event in the Mexican calendar. This religious occasion is marked by processions, ceremonies, and celebrations. But keep in mind, it's also a popular holiday time for locals, so expect a surge in crowd levels. Also, remember, certain services and businesses may be closed during this period.
My best advice during this time is to avoid driving your own car to the beach road. Car parks will be full and the narrow road that spans the length of the beach will be very difficult to navigate. Take a taxi or better yet, rent a bicycle!
Fall Equinox at Chichen Itza
And last, but certainly, not least, is the Fall Equinox at Chichen Itza. If you're in Tulum in September, this is a must-visit event. It's when the shadow effect creates an illusion of the serpent Kukulcan descending the steps of El Castillo.
Arrive before 5 pm to fully immerse yourself in the experience. Just a heads up - don't forget the insect repellent! The site is surrounded by jungle, after all.
Tulum is a destination that shines all year round, but each season comes with its unique perks and quirks. I’ve been lucky enough to see the town at many different times of the year and can honestly say, there’s no bad time to visit. If you’ve got some flexibility, however, here’s what you can expect in each season.
Visiting Tulum in Winter: December - February
Welcome to the high season! Winter in Tulum boasts warm days, cooler nights, and fewer rain showers. It's an ideal time to bask in the sun on Tulum's white sandy beaches or to explore the mystical Mayan ruins. However, remember that with great weather comes great numbers of tourists. So be ready for some company!
You can expect daily high temperatures to hover around 84°F and rarely dip below 76°F. Nights are pleasantly cooler, with temperatures around 63°F. Plus, winter is the driest season, with rainfall decreasing from 2 inches at the start to 1.5 inches by the end.
On the flip side, winter in Tulum can be pricier with higher accommodation rates and crowded tourist spots. So if you're planning a winter getaway, book early and be prepared for a bustling Tulum.
The average surface water temperature decreases from 82°F in Fall to 80°F during winter so it might not be the warmest time for a swim. But, it's still warmer than many places during winter!
Visiting Tulum in Spring: March - May
Spring in Tulum means blossoming nature and rising temperatures. Daily highs increase to 91°F, so it's a tad hotter than winter but bearable, especially if you're by the beach. Spring break can bring a surge of younger crowds in March which adds an energetic vibe to the place.
The downside? As we inch towards May, humidity and rainfall pick up, with rain peaking at 4.9 inches by the end of the season. But hey, a little rain never hurt anyone, right? Plus, the beauty of Tulum's lush jungle in the rainy season is simply unbeatable.
The chance of muggy days shoots up from 61% to a whopping 99%. But if a bit of humidity doesn't bother you, springtime with its warmer water temperatures of 80°F to 83°F is an inviting time to visit.
Visiting Tulum in Summer: June - August
Summer in Tulum is a wild card. June to August can be hot, humid, and rainy. But on the bright side, this is when you'll find the best deals on hotels and tours. You might even have some of those picture-perfect beaches all to yourself!
The summer months coincide with the Atlantic hurricane season, but significant storms are not a daily occurrence. So if you're okay with a bit of unpredictability, summer in Tulum can offer great value.
Daily highs stay around a toasty 90°F, and rainfall holds steady at about 4.8 inches. With muggy conditions pretty much 100% of the time, you might feel like you're in a tropical steam room. The good news is, the water temperature stays consistently around a balmy 84°F—perfect for those long beach days!
Visiting Tulum in Fall: September - November
Fall is Tulum's underrated gem. The weather can be a mixed bag as September is the peak of the hurricane season and November ushers in the cooler, drier climate of the upcoming winter season.
Temperatures decrease gradually from 90°F to a comfortable 83°F, and nights become cooler with lows dipping to 64°F by November. Rainfall decreases sharply from 5.3 inches in September to 2.1 inches in November, and the humidity also drops, making the weather more bearable.
Fall sees fewer tourists, so it's a fantastic time to enjoy Tulum without the crowds. However, some businesses may be closed in this slower season. On balance though, I'd say Fall in Tulum has a unique appeal with a laid-back vibe that's hard to resist.