If you think there’s street art is unique to Tulum, think again! Mexico’s culture of muralism dates back decades to the early 1920s and 30s. Like many places in the world, graffiti is seen as a form of art. Hence the name street art! Many times, this inspiration to create art and put it on public walls for display is symbolic. Either it is a show of resistance, representation, or a sign of healing and expression after trauma (in such places as Bogota, Colombia, where the decades-long conflict between the government and FARC guerillas created a culture of widespread street art).
The Tulum art movement is growing. Although it’s not very well known right now among tourists, it’s only going to keep gaining in popularity. I personally feel that street art is a special way to give back to the community. Hopefully, more people will begin to appreciate the hard work and beauty in Tulum’s street art and discover a newfound sense of curiosity in the destination and its people.
Here is my guide about Tulum’s street art and where to find its colorful murals!
Where to Find the Best of Tulum’s Street Art
TINASAH Urban Art Movement in Tulum
Street art has a beautifully nuanced way of telling a story. In that sense, Tulum’s street art is no different. Even the most bizarre and mysterious murals have something to tell. What’s more, several of the murals in Tulum are painted by renowned international muralists. The culture of street art in Tulum is very present, in part thanks to the urban art collective Tinasah, who in 2019, hosted the first FAT Tulum Art Festival (Festival Arte Tinasah) with the aim to paint over 12 walls by 12 artists in 12 weeks. (P.S. Their Instagram is also helpful for getting clues on where to find Tulum’s street art).
“TINASAH’s work in Tulum is grounded in a shared belief that street art is about making change happen and creating murals for the community in Tulum that have a positive cultural and political influence.” –CultureTrip
After living in this pueblo for going on 3 months, I truly believe that exploring the street art culture is one of the best things to do in Tulum.
Street Art on Calle Sol Oriente
Calle Sol Oriente is about two blocks below the main Avenida Tulum crossing the pueblo from north to south (so the east side of the town). It is the street we lived on and luckily so because this street is chock-full of painted walls and hidden murals!
Rent a bike and cruise down the length of Calle Sol Oriente to see the street art. The best way to start your DIY Tulum street art tour is from the far end of Sol Ote where it meets Coba Rd (the road the heads toward the beach). From here, you can cruise down Calle Sol Ote and virtually cross Tulum pueblo, spotting along the way dozens of murals (some recently painted for the FAT festival).
If you start from Coba Rd you will first come across the giant sea turtle mural splashed onto a blank white wall. Keep going and you’ll see a corner of street art.
On the sidewall of the scooter rental store, you’ll see a mural of indigenous Mayan women cooking together (one of my favorites) by Mailen (@mailenparmiggiani) for the Tinasah FAT festival.
This piece is especially worth visiting because of what it represents. As Tinasah says on their Instagram (loosely translated), “the mural represents the traditions that are slowly disappearing within a pueblo, that sadly, values money more than the soul of the earth where it lives. It’s our hope that this mural honors and helps preserve Mayan territories and their traditions.”
“Un muro que rescata las tradiciones que lentamente van desapareciendo en un pueblo que parece valorar más el dinero que el alma de la tierra donde se vive; deseamos que se preserven y honren las tierras mayas en las que vivimos y sus tradiciones.” @tinasahhouse
Fish Head People & Tulum Te Amo
Soon you’ll come to the strange fish people mural and the “Tulum te amo” mural. Both receive many visitors – I know because I used to live right on this street and used to people watch out the window, lol). Keep going to find a handful of small street art pieces by various artists including one large wall decorated with an Aztec-looking figure that stands out in blue and yellow.
Small murals are dotted all over Calle Sol Oriente. How many will you spot?
Further down Sol Ote you’ll find a large, colorful, and whimsical mural by Pelucas (@pelucaspilasbubbles) on the corner of Calle Orion Sur (pictured below).
The mural “Agua” by artist Val (@val_aurea) is witty and playful. It plays on reality by depicting feet underwater that are directly positioned below a roof-top pool, which you can see through its clear-glassed wall. You can find it on the corner of Calle Sol Ote and Geminis Sur.
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Other Places to See Street Art in Tulum
“El Parajito” Old Mayan Man
One of the most striking murals I think out of all of Tulum’s street art is the painting of an “old Mayan man” who has apparently lived in Tulum for seemingly forever. The artist, Emma Rubens (@emmarubens), had quite the work cut out for herself to paint such a stunning piece even with electrical lines in her way. The result is truly beautiful and definitely one of the “must-see” murals to see in Tulum. You can find it on the corner of Calle Satélite y Calle Mercurio.
The local cemetery in Tulum has a wall surrounding it that’s full of stunning street art symbolic of Mayan culture and the representation of death and religion. I didn’t get any pictures here but you can trust me on this one! It’s beautiful.
Deep-Sea Diver Kiss
I am not sure about the name, and I didn’t capture the artist’s name either, but there is a beautiful blue-purple mural of a woman and a deep-sea diver exchanging a besito on the cheek. It is a whimsy, underwater world scene not to miss out on your tour around Tulum’s street art. The best way to enjoy the view of this mural is to grab a vegetarian meal at La Hoja Verde located just opposite the street (Calle Beta Sur).
Continue down Calle Beta Sur to find even more street art, including this one of a woman’s face coming out of the earth.
“Belen” A Local Girl
One of the largest art murals in all of Tulum is none other than a piece by Emma Rubens. This mural is inspired by Belen, a local girl who would come hang out with Emma while she painted. Belen always asked when Emma would paint her, so finally she did. You can spot this piece as you enter Tulum off the main ave on the backside wall of the Tulum Yoga Studio. (Story by @tinasahouse).
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If you go around the corner down Calle Gemini Sur, you’ll also find painted high on a secret wall the colorful “Mother of Geminis” by artist Vexta (@vexta).
Salvemos La Selva
“Salvemos la selva” or “Let’s save the jungle” is a beautiful piece not to miss by @alinzart in collab with @ericaarndts.
“Dedicated to the ones that loved this place before you even existed, the ones that lived in balance and harmony with their surroundings and knew how to communicate with nature. The true owners of this earth that today suffers by the greed of the ego. Collaborative wall with @ericaarndts, thanks for your patience and understanding.” –@alinzart
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There are SO many more murals and street art to see in Tulum than I mentioned here. You’ll have to keep your eyes peeled for them! The best way to get around the pueblo to see all the street art is by bicycle. Walking is doable as well but would take too long. So rent a bike and explore the side streets!
I hope this guide to Tulum’s street art provided a bit of insight and background. My hope is that you can better appreciate these works of art as you enjoy Tulum and all it has to offer now that you understand a little bit more about the artists and their stories. Feel free to drop more street art locations in the comments below. Thanks for reading!
Don’t forget to check out my other travel guides to Tulum:
- The Ultimate Digital Nomad Guide to Tulum
- 12 Epic Day Trips From Tulum You Can’t Miss
- The Complete Guide to Scuba Diving in Tulum, Mexico
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