Is Tulum Safe?

Considering a trip to Tulum? It’s no surprise. This beautiful coastal town in Mexico is known for its stunning beaches, crystal-clear cenotes, Mayan Ruins, and rich cultural heritage. However, you might be wondering, “Is Tulum safe?” 

Having spent two years as a digital nomad, visiting places like Tulum multiple times, I’ve gathered some insights to help you make an informed decision. 

In this guide, I’ll explain everything you need to know about safety in Tulum.

Laguna Kaan Luum open-air cenote in Tulum
Laguna Kaan Luum

IS TULUM SAFE FOR TRAVELERS AND DIGITAL NOMADS?

Overall, Tulum is considered relatively safe for tourists and digital nomads. However, it’s important to remain vigilant as petty crimes like theft and pickpocketing, along with tourist scams—which can sometimes be more sophisticated—are common.

Staying updated with local news and travel advisories from reliable sources and paying attention to any warnings or recommendations. It’s also good to monitor weather changes, especially during Tulum’s hurricane season, which runs from June 1st to November 30th. 

It’s best to avoid unfamiliar areas at night and stick to well-lit paved roads and populated zones, especially when you’re alone. 

Make sure to secure your belongings by using a money belt or a crossbody bag to keep your valuables close, and avoid flaunting expensive items like jewelry or electronics.

WHY CONSIDER SAFETY IN TULUM

Safety is a top priority when planning any trip, especially to a foreign country. Tulum has gained popularity over the years especially with the opening of the Tulum International Airport and the Maya Train, attracting more tourists and nomads from all over the world. 

However, like any travel destination, it’s important to be aware of potential risks and take necessary precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip.

Tulum, with its vibrant nightlife, ancient ruins, and beautiful beaches, offers a unique travel experience. 

But as with any tourist hotspot, it’s essential to stay informed about local safety conditions and guidelines.

GENERAL SAFETY IN TULUM

Transportation Safety

Transportation in Tulum is generally safe, but there are a few things to keep in mind. 

When using taxis, opt for reputable services and, if possible, ask your hotel to arrange a taxi for you. Taxis will always be more expensive if you’re traveling to and from the Hotel Zone and expect the prices to be raised at night. Be comfortable to negotiate a price before hopping in the taxi. 

Tulum is bike-friendly, but always lock your bike and avoid biking in poorly lit areas after dark. 

Public transportation is available, but it can get crowded, so keep a close eye on your belongings to prevent theft.

Biking in Tulum

Beach and Water Safety

Tulum’s beaches are beautiful, but it’s important to be cautious. Always swim in designated areas, and be aware of strong currents and any posted warnings. 

Never leave your belongings unattended on the beach; use waterproof pouches for valuables. 

The sun in Tulum can be intense, so remember to stay hydrated by bringing your own reusable water bottle and protect your skin by using sunscreen regularly. Don’t bring plastic to the beach. 

Health and Medical Safety

Health and medical safety are crucial while in Tulum. Avoid drinking tap water and opt for bottled water to prevent stomach issues. 

Ensure you are up-to-date on routine vaccinations and consider additional vaccinations based on travel advisories. 

Invest in travel insurance, like SafetyWing that covers medical emergencies, and know the location of the nearest medical facilities in case you need immediate assistance.

Here is the nearest hospital in case of emergencies: 

Website: Costamed Tulum | Phone number: (+ 54) 984 124 0830 | Google Maps Location: Costamed Tulum 

Drugs and Cartels in Tulum

The Mexican drug cartels cast a dark shadow on an otherwise amazing country. Having lived in Mexico, I know firsthand how sensitive this topic is, and it’s crucial to approach it with caution. 

One of the best ways to avoid any trouble is to steer clear of drugs entirely. Not buying or engaging in drug use is the most effective way to avoid any involvement with the cartels. 

During my visits to Tulum, I was approached to buy drugs more frequently than anywhere else. Tulum is known for its lively nightlife, which unfortunately attracts such offers. A simple “no gracias” usually suffices, and I was always left alone. 

However, in areas where I was approached multiple times, I opted to move to another location. This is the best advice I can offer – avoid anything related to the cartels to stay as safe as possible in Tulum.

Local Laws and Regulations

Understanding and respecting local laws and regulations is crucial when traveling. In Tulum, as in the rest of Mexico, drug use is illegal, and penalties can be severe. 

Familiarize yourself with local laws regarding alcohol consumption, traffic rules, and protected areas, especially when visiting nature reserves and historical sites. 

Being respectful and following the rules not only keeps you safe but also shows respect for the local culture and community.

EXPERIENCES FROM OTHER TRAVELERS

Talking to fellow travelers can provide valuable insights. Many travelers have praised the friendliness of locals and the overall safety of tourist areas. Visitors have enjoyed the laid-back vibe of Tulum, feeling safe while exploring beaches and cenotes during the day. 

On the other hand, some travelers have reported petty theft, especially in crowded places and during nighttime. A few visitors mentioned feeling uneasy in certain areas at night, emphasizing the importance of sticking to well-lit, populated areas.

Positive experiences often highlight the friendly and welcoming nature of the local people. Many travelers find that engaging with locals, asking for recommendations, and showing genuine interest in the culture enhances their safety and overall experience. 

Negative experiences, on the other hand, usually stem from lapses in vigilance. Tourists who have had items stolen often admit to leaving their belongings unattended or being in less secure areas late at night. Learning from these stories can help you avoid common pitfalls.

13 TIPS FOR STAYING SAFE IN TULUM

1. Trust Your Instincts

If something feels off, trust your gut and remove yourself from the situation. 

Staying connected by keeping your phone charged and having local emergency numbers saved is crucial. 

Try to blend in with locals to avoid standing out as a tourist and, whenever possible, explore with a group or a travel companion.

2. Engage with Locals

Engaging with locals can significantly enhance your experience and safety in Tulum. Locals can provide valuable insights into safe areas to visit, best restaurants, and cultural practices. 

Building a rapport with local people not only enriches your travel experience but also helps you navigate the town more safely. 

Whether it’s chatting with your Airbnb host, the staff at your hotel, or local shopkeepers, these interactions can be both informative and enjoyable. 

For example, a local might direct you to a less-known beach that’s safer and less crowded or recommend a family-owned restaurant where you can enjoy authentic Mexican cuisine.

3. Stay Informed

Keeping up with local news and travel advisories is crucial. Subscribe to updates from reputable sources and check for any travel advisories from your home country. 

Staying informed about local events, weather conditions, and any potential risks helps you make better decisions and stay safe during your trip. 

Join travel forums or social media groups where you can ask questions and get real-time advice from fellow travelers and locals. 

 This can be especially useful for learning about any areas to avoid or understanding local customs that might impact your safety.

4. Avoid ATM Scams

Take personal safety measures seriously, especially when it comes to your finances. Use a money belt or a secure bag to carry your valuables. 

Be cautious when using ATMs, especially at night. Opt for ATMs located inside banks or busy, well-lit areas like the ATMs in Chedraui to minimize the risk of scams. Avoid using ATMs on the streets

Always shield your PIN when entering it and be aware of your surroundings.

5. Avoid Rental Car Scams

When renting a car in Tulum, be aware of common scams such as online bookings with no available cars upon arrival and hidden insurance fees for insurance revealed at the last minute. 

To avoid these issues, choose reputable companies with high ratings and confirm your reservation directly with the rental office before your trip. 

I recommend using DiscoverCars for transparent pricing and reliable service, ensuring a hassle-free driving experience in Tulum.

6. Avoid Unpaved Roads

When you’re in Tulum, it’s easy to get lost and find yourself on unpaved roads where some local residents live. 

I’ve had Google Maps lead me into unfamiliar and sketchy areas, so it’s not always reliable.

For your safety, stick to paved roads and avoid local residential areas, especially at night, to prevent finding yourself in an intimidating situation. 

While it’s interesting to see local life, it’s not always safe for tourists to walk those roads. Be aware of your surroundings and trust your instincts.

7. Leave Your Valuables at Home

Do not carry your passport with you unless absolutely necessary; instead, bring a copy and keep the original secure in your accommodation. 

Carry only the cash you need for the day and leave expensive jewelry and electronics at home. This minimizes the risk of theft and helps you blend in better with locals.

8. Don’t Drink Too Much

Avoid excessive alcohol consumption, which can impair your judgment and make you more vulnerable to accidents or theft. 

If you’re out late, use reliable transportation options to get back to your accommodation safely. Avoid taking drinks from strangers and always keep an eye on your drink to prevent tampering.

9. Always Carry Cash

Not all businesses in Tulum accept credit cards, so it’s important to always carry cash with you. If you are planning to take a taxi, make sure you have enough cash on hand. 

This ensures you’re never stuck without a way to pay for transportation, food, or small purchases.

10. Don’t Drink The Tap Water

Carry a reusable water bottle to stay hydrated in Tulum’s hot and humid climate. Never drink tap water; instead, use filtered water for drinking, cooking, and even brushing your teeth. 

  • For Cooking: Boil the tap water for at least 5 minutes before adding foods, like pasta and rice. 
  • Ordering Drinks w/ Ice: Ensure the ice cube has a hole in the middle, indicating it’s filtered. 
  • Raw Vegetables: Be cautious when ordering salads and raw vegetables, as they may be washed in tap water.

11. Know Some Spanish

Knowing some basic Spanish can be incredibly helpful when traveling in Mexico. I’ve found the Duolingo app to be very helpful, and the Translator app on my phone is a lifesaver. 

Learning a few words and phrases can make interactions with locals smoother and show respect for their culture.

12. Avoid Plastic Waste

Tulum has a major plastic and trash problem, which is quite sad to see. I can’t stress enough the importance of trying to limit your plastic use. 

When you go to the store, either buy or bring a reusable bag with you, and when you pick out vegetables and fruits, don’t carry them in a plastic bag. 

Tulum does not have a waste management system, and this is becoming a major issue. By being mindful of your waste, you can help preserve the natural beauty of Tulum.

13. Use Eco-Friendly Sunscreen and Mosquito Repellent

When traveling to Tulum, it’s essential to protect your skin from the sun’s rays and the pesky mosquitoes, but it’s equally important to do so in an environmentally conscious way. 

I always carry eco-friendly sunscreen and DEET-free mosquito repellent in my travel bag. These products help me stay protected while also being mindful of the delicate ecosystems I visit.

By using eco-friendly sunscreen and mosquito repellent, you’re not only protecting yourself but also doing a favor for the environment. 

SAFEST ACCOMMODATIONS IN TULUM

Your choice of accommodation can greatly impact your safety in Tulum. Opt for well-reviewed hotels, hostels, or vacation rentals in safe, well-lit areas.

Aldea Zama

Aldea Zama is a newly developed area with brand-new apartment structures. It’s located between Tulum Beach and Tulum Centro. 

While it has some stores and restaurants, you will most likely need to take a taxi to buy groceries. This area is known for its modern amenities and safety, making it a good choice for families and long-term stays.

Here are the 3 safest places to stay in Aldea Zama:

  1. Zereno Boutique Hotel features an outdoor swimming pool, a garden, a bar, and a complimentary breakfast.
  2. La Bella Vita Tulum features concierge services, a swimming pool, and bike and shuttle services.
  3. Naala Tulum features a restaurant, an outdoor swimming pool, a bar, and a shared lounge. 

Zereno Boutique Hotel in Zama
Zereno Boutique Hotel

Tulum Beach

Many travelers recommend staying in the Tulum Beach area where there is a higher concentration of tourists and security. This area is known for its beautiful beachfront properties and vibrant nightlife

Here are the 4 safest places to stay in Tulum Beach:

  1. Papaya Playa Project is the favorite among travelers and for good reason. The boho-chic style accommodations, beach club, free breakfast, and restaurants are just to name a few. 
  2. Azulik is an adults-only sanctuary that redefines the luxury eco-resort experience. Its unique, nest-like structures and absence of electricity encourage guests to disconnect from the digital world and reconnect with nature. 
  3. Habitas Tulum stands as a beacon of eco-luxury, harmonizing high-end amenities with strict environmental ethics. 
  4. Olas Tulum boutique hotel takes pride in its eco-friendly practices, aiming to leave a minimal environmental footprint while offering a serene and intimate guest experience. 

Papaya Playa Project hotel
Papaya Playa Project

Tulum Centro (Downtown)

Although it’s not the most Instagrammable place to live in Tulum, Josh and I always stay here for the budget-friendly options and its proximity to one of the main supermarkets, Chedraui. 

We can walk to Tulum Centro for its amazing dining and shopping experiences while avoiding taxi expenses. This area offers a more authentic experience and is great for travelers looking to save money.

Here are the 3 safests places to stay in Tulum Centro:

  1. Prana Boutique Hotel features a restaurant, free breakfast, and an outdoor pool. 
  2. Tuk Tulum – This is where Josh and I always stay when we are in Tulum and they have a gym! It’s walkable to Chedraui (main supermarket), coffee shops, bars, restaurants, and shops. 
  3. Mimosa Tulum features a garden, a swimming pool, a terrace, and a bar. This hostel is great for solo travelers. 

Tuk Tulum
Tuk Tulum

BEING SAFE IN CENOTES

The Riviera Maya is home to over 6,000 cenotes, natural sinkholes that are popular for swimming and exploring. While cenotes are generally safe for swimming, it’s important to be aware of potential water quality issues, such as E. coli and other bacteria.

Due to their popularity as tourist destinations, cenotes that were once pristine habitats for many animals are now becoming contaminated with chemicals from sunscreens, mosquito repellents, body lotions, and other personal care products. These chemicals can disrupt the delicate ecosystems within the cenotes and pose health risks to swimmers.

Unfortunately, this issue has become a significant problem in Tulum. Some cenotes have faced challenges with E. coli in the past, so it’s wise to check the current conditions with staff or local guides before taking a dip. Always prioritize your health and safety by staying informed about water quality.

Here are some important tips for staying safe while enjoying the cenotes:

  1. Shower or Rinse Off Before Entering: Always shower or rinse off before jumping into a cenote. This helps to remove any harmful chemicals from your body that could contaminate the water.
  2. Avoid Ingesting the Water: Never ingest the water from a cenote. It’s best to keep your mouth closed while swimming to avoid swallowing any potentially harmful bacteria.
  3. Limit Full Submersion: Avoid dunking your head underwater unless you are confident in the water quality. If you are diving or snorkeling with proper gear, it’s generally safe to do so, but always remain cautious.
  4. Respect the Ecosystem: Cenotes are living, breathing ecosystems. Treat them with respect, as you are a guest in their natural habitat. Avoid wearing any products that could harm the environment, and refrain from touching or disturbing the natural surroundings.
  5. Check for Updates: Before visiting a cenote, check for any recent advisories or updates regarding water quality. Local guides and staff can provide valuable information about the current conditions.

By following these guidelines, you can help protect the cenotes and ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone. 

Remember, you wouldn’t want strangers coming into your home and disrupting your environment, so please be responsible and take precautions to preserve these beautiful natural wonders. Here’s a guide on HOW TO STAY SAFE IN CENOTES

You can also check out some of my favorite cenotes below if you wish to visit on your own:

FAQs on Is Tulum Safe

Is Tulum safe for solo travelers?

Yes, Tulum can be safe for solo travelers if you take precautions. Stick to well-populated areas, avoid walking alone at night, and stay informed about local safety conditions. Engaging with other travelers and locals can also provide a sense of security and companionship.

Are the beaches in Tulum safe?

Generally, yes. Stick to designated swimming areas, avoid swimming alone, and never leave your belongings unattended on the beach. 

Be mindful of strong currents and follow any posted warnings or guidelines.

Can I drink tap water in Tulum?

NO! ALWAYS avoid drinking tap water. Stick to bottled water to prevent stomach issues. Many accommodations provide bottled water, and it’s readily available at local stores. This also goes for brushing your teeth. Stick to filtered water ONLY. 

Additionally, be cautious with ice and salads washed with tap water. If ice has been filtered, there will be a hole in the middle of the ice cube

Are taxis safe in Tulum?

Taxis in Tulum are generally safe, but use reputable services and avoid hailing cabs off the street late at night. It’s advisable to ask your accommodation to arrange a taxi for you. 

If you need to take a taxi from the street, ensure it is from a recognized company and agree on the fare before starting your journey.

What should I do in case of a medical emergency in Tulum?

Have travel insurance that covers medical emergencies in Tulum. 

Know the location of the nearest medical facilities and emergency contact numbers. Most hotels and accommodations can provide information on nearby hospitals or clinics. 

Tulum’s Hospital: Costamed Tulum | Phone number: (+ 54) 984 124 0830 | Google Maps Location: Costamed Tulum 

Keep a basic first aid kit and familiarize yourself with local emergency procedures.

Is Tulum safe to bike?

Yes, Tulum is very bike-friendly, but always lock your bike and avoid biking in poorly lit areas at night. Wear a helmet for safety and be mindful of traffic. 

There are several bike rental shops in Tulum, and many accommodations offer bike rentals to their guests.

How can I avoid scams in Tulum?

Stick to reputable tour operators, avoid “free” offers, and be cautious when approached by strangers offering deals. 

Do some research before booking excursions and read reviews to ensure you choose reliable services. Be wary of people who seem overly eager to help or offer unsolicited assistance.

Are there areas in Tulum to avoid?

Avoid poorly lit, unpaved roads, and isolated areas, especially at night. Stick to well-populated tourist areas. It’s advisable to get recommendations from locals or your accommodation about areas that are safe to explore.

During the day, most areas frequented by tourists are generally safe.

What vaccinations do I need for Tulum?

Ensure you are up-to-date on routine vaccinations. Check travel advisories for additional recommendations. 

Common vaccinations include hepatitis A and B, typhoid, and, depending on your itinerary, you may consider vaccines for rabies or other region-specific diseases.

Should I invest in travel insurance for Tulum?

Yes, travel insurance is highly recommended to cover medical emergencies and unexpected incidents. I use SafetyWing for my digital nomad insurance. 

Travel insurance provides peace of mind and financial protection in case of medical emergencies, trip cancellations, or lost luggage. Choose a plan that covers the specific activities you plan to do in Tulum.

Where To Eat in Tulum:

What To Do in Tulum:

WRAP-UP TO IS TULUM SAFE

Tulum is a captivating destination with its stunning beaches, ancient ruins, and vibrant culture. While safety concerns can arise in any travel destination, being well-prepared and informed can significantly enhance your experience. 

By following these tips—trusting your instincts, staying informed, engaging with locals, and taking personal safety measures—you can navigate Tulum confidently and safely.

Remember to respect the local environment, especially when visiting cenotes and other natural attractions. Using eco-friendly products and being mindful of your impact helps preserve the beauty of Tulum for future visitors. 

Stay hydrated, carry some cash, and always be aware of your surroundings.

Traveling with an open mind and a cautious approach will allow you to fully appreciate the wonders of Tulum while keeping your safety and well-being a priority. By following these guidelines, you can make the most of your trip and create lasting memories.

Happy travels, and enjoy everything that Tulum has to offer!

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