What to Wear in Tulum: The Perfect Packing List

Last updated Sep 6, 2021 | Mexico | 0 comments |

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Planning a trip to Tulum, Mexico is extremely exciting — cenotes, beaches, and Mayan ruins await! There’s only one problem: what should you wear to Tulum? I know it can be challenging to know what to pack for a destination you’ve never been to. That’s why I wanted to share with you my complete Tulum packing list that I created when we moved to Tulum as digital nomads around this time last year.

The reality of Tulum is that it’s quite different than what you see in photos on social media. There definitely is a luxurious boho-chic aesthetic about Tulum as it’s portrayed on Instagram. But that’s only half the story. There’s much more to Tulum than meets the eye, which is important to know beforehand so you can pack accordingly.

In this guide, I’ll be sharing my top packing tips for Tulum including what you should consider packing depending on the weather, the month you visit, and activities you wish to do there.

Here’s the ultimate packing guide for Tulum Mexico!

 

The Complete Guide for What to Wear & Pack for Tulum

girl wearing skirt and bikini on bike in tulum beach zone

Complete Tulum Packing Checklist

Below is my suggestion for what to pack in Tulum! Keep reading below for extra packing tips based on the changing weather, the month you visit, and activities.

CLOTHING

TOILETRIES

GEAR & ESSENTIALS

  • camera (here’s all my camera gear)
  • laptop (if needed to work online)
  • dji mavic mini 2 drone
  • underwater action camera
  • sd cards
  • chargers
  • adapter (if needed, but Mexico has US outlets)
  • scuba/snorkel mask for diving
  • day bag
  • waterproof dry bag
  • usb charger port
  • wallet + credit cards
  • passport
  • driver’s license
  • emergency contact #’s
  • hotel or Airbnb address
  • medications
  • phone plan or Mexican SIM card
  • safety/emergency cash

What’s the Weather Like in Tulum?

Before you start throwing clothes in your suitcase and call it a day, make sure to check Tulum’s weather before your trip. Tulum, like many other coastal towns in the Yucatan Peninsula, has two seasons: wet and dry.

The weather in Tulum year-round is fairly pleasant and sunny, but you’ll be met with lots of downpours should you travel there during the wet summer months (and possibly hurricanes from August-October). That’s why Tulum (and Mexico’s beaches in general) are most popular during the dry winter months from November to April (give or take).

A quick Google search for the best time to visit Tulum will yield results stating sometime between November and December. But that doesn’t really explain what it’s like to be there during that time. From our experience, cool winds bring a slight chill in the mornings and evenings, then it gets fairly hot and dry from noon to dusk.

If you’re planning to go during this time, that means your packing checklist for Tulum might need to include a few warmer staples than you would have originally expected.

Tulum Outfit Ideas by Activity

girl laying on beach bed on tulum beach in mexico

In this section, you’ll find tips and outfit ideas for Tulum by activity. These are outfits I’ve worn, and outfits I thought were cute that I’ve seen other people wear while I was living there.

OUTFIT 1: CENOTES & SIAN KAAN

There are so many incredible cenotes in and around Tulum you can’t miss out on. For those, and for floating down the lagoon inside the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, you’ll want to bring all your watery gear!

I’ve found that wearing my bathing suit under a comfy romper or short and shirt combo is easiest for changing. If you are biking to the Cenote Calavera or Cenotes Escondido and Cristal, you should cover up appropriately since you’ll be on the side of a busy road.


⚠️ Sunscreen is forbidden in the cenotes and lagoon inside Sian Ka’an in order to protect their fragile ecosystems. If you are wearing lotions, makeup, sunscreen, etc., please use the outdoor showers to rinse off before entering.

OUTFIT 2: TULUM BEACH/HOTEL ZONE

In the Tulum Hotel Zone, where the public and private club beaches are, you can expect people to be dressed a bit more boho-chic and ready for a night out. Think long flowy dresses, linen pants, cute rompers, 2-piece sets with a bandeau and skirt, large sunhats, etc!

Men are typically dressed in nice shirts and shorts. Avoid wearing pants in Tulum unless it’s lightweight and breathable (goes for both men and women).


OUTFIT 3: TULUM TOWN

Tulum Town is much more casual! You should aim to cover up in town more. No need to wear a bikini, for example — the beach is 20-minutes away (unless you’re wearing it underneath your clothes on your way to a cenote).

The town can feel hotter without that sea breeze. Wear light clothes — ankle to knee-length linen pants, dresses, skirts, or cute denim shorts.


OUTFIT 4: TULUM RUINS & COBA RUINS

For visiting the Tulum Ruins by the sea, or the Coba Ruins in the forest, you’ll need good walking shoes or sandals as both areas are quite large.

The Tulum Ruins have little to no shade — wear sunscreen or avoid tanktops to cover your shoulders.

Coba Ruins lie hidden under a forest canopy so think to cover up your legs and arms — it can be buggy!


OUTFIT 5: TULUM DAY TRIPS

Finally, if you’re planning a day trip from Tulum, then consider bringing a mix of everything depending on your destination!

You’ll need swimming gear for any coastal destination such as Akumal, Bacalar, or Cancun, or a bit more city-style outfits for Valladolid. If you’re planning a one-day trip to Chichen Itza, think about being comfy over cute!


  • maxi dresses
  • jumpsuits
  • long skirts
  • beach cover-ups
  • airy cardigan
  • light sneakers or walking sandals
  • hat, sunglasses
  • light jacket (depending on the season)

What to Wear in Tulum by Month

instagram photo Ven a La Luz statue in Tulum Mexico

All that said, here’s a handy overview of what to wear and pack for Tulum by month.

January to February: Pack a couple of extra layers on top of your normal beachwear, including sweatpants and a light sweater, as January is the coldest month of the year in Tulum (with lows around 70°F). Low rain chances make January a popular month to visit Tulum. February in Tulum involves a bit warmer sea temperatures, and daily temps above 75°F. It is also the month where rainfall drops from 70mm to 50mm, so you won’t need to pack a rain jacket or dry bag.

March to April: March to April in Tulum brings sunnier, yet slightly muggier temperatures. Expect longer and warmer days (8 hours of sunshine compared to 6 in January), even lower rainfall, and perfect weather for swimming in the warm Caribbean sea (average water temperature is 81°F). It’s the perfect weather to rent a scooter in Tulum and go on a day trip.

May to June: With a Tulum itinerary that falls in the months of May or June, one can expect sweltering hot days of full sunshine. While some people may love this, I know some who loathe it! Bring light and airy clothing from May onward, as this month is the debut of the rainy season in Tulum (sometimes the rain arrives late, sometimes early).

July to August: These months mark swimming with whale sharks season — a popular thing to do in the Riviera Maya including Tulum. In July and August, daily temps soar and become hot and extremely humid. Rainfall doubles or triples from spring, so you should expect to bring a rain jacket, dry bag, and long pants/shirts for hiking or exploring in the jungle, such as for visiting the ancient Coba Ruins.

September to October: No crowds — but high chance of rain and, possibly, hurricanes. We moved to Tulum in September and it was one of the best months in terms of having empty roads, uncrowded cenotes, and pleasant sunsets at the beach. Then, in October, a hurricane arrived and took out our electricity for days, dirtied the beaches, and flooded the streets. Plan and pack for unexpected weather. A dry bag or plastic cover for your backpack or day bag is a must, as well as a quick-dry towel, spare shoes, and a poncho or light rain jacket.

November to December: Beautiful (yet shorter) days of sunshine — cool air refreshes you in the mornings and evenings while the sun heats up in the afternoon. The only downside of spending these months in Tulum is the crowds that increase by the hundreds or thousands each week leading up to Christmas and the New Year’s holidays.

Did I Forget Something?

Let me know your thoughts about this Tulum packing list! I have been there for most of the year but skipped out during the hot summer months from May-August. So if you have recommendations or suggestions, I’d be happy to hear them!

Happy and safe travels!

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Hi, I’m Bri! I’ve been slow traveling around the world in search of new adventures since 2013. I have lived in 8 countries on 4 continents including Nepal, Mexico, Colombia, and parts of Europe! I created this blog to inspire others to live a life of adventure, seek out meaningful experiences, and to travel slowly and mindfully. Join me on this journey and let’s tick off our bucket lists! Read my story here.

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