What to Pack for Tulum

I am a terrible packer. I either entirely overpack or woefully under-pack. On this trip to Tulum I somehow managed to do both. I know, say what? I didn’t do enough research or find out what the weather would really be like. I didn’t know what to pack for Tulum.

So I packed tons of things I didn’t wear and was missing quite a few things that I wish I had packed. I don’t want you all to have to suffer from this terrible fate. This post is a list of all the things that should go into your suitcase and that will make your life and your trip so much easier.

Kindle or E-Reader

No beach vacation is complete without a pile of books to read. I think I went through three books in the week we were away. It was utter bliss. A Kindle is genuinely the best purchase I’ve made for my travels. I used to lug entire libraries around for months on end and if I couldn’t find somewhere to swap one of them, I would have to wait until we got somewhere I could buy another book. With my Kindle, I load it up with tons of books before we travel anywhere and I never have to worry about going with something to read.

I’m not entirely brand loyal, but I have found that you can easily purchase books wherever you are in the world on amazon, which I know isn’t the case for all brands of e-readers. There are also TONS of free books available and offers every month where you can pick up new or best selling books for less than $2.00.

Bathing Suit

I kind of wished I had packed a one piece. We went snorkeling and I was wearing a bikini and I knew about it for almost a week afterwards. The sunburn was unbearable. If you’re thinking about doing a lot of swimming in the cenotes or snorkeling in the ocean, definitely pack a one piece bathing suit or a swimming shirt.

what to pack for tulum

Lots and Lots of Sunscreen

Speaking of sunburn, you do not want to run out of sunscreen. Even if you think you tan, “oh I never burn”. Don’t do it. The sun is insanely strong and there is little shade at the beaches. Please consider buying chemical free sunscreen, especially if you’re going to swim with the turtles in Akumal. It’s better for your skin and for the little critters in the sea.

My favorite brand of eco-friendly sunscreen is a brand I found here in Mexico called Maya Solar. It’s not too heavy on the skin and it’s safe to use in the ocean. Badger is also a good one that is reasonably priced. If I can’t find either of those at the local shop, I buy baby sunscreen. Baby sunscreen is made with natural minerals and will be safe to use on your skin and in the environment (why do we switch to chemicals for adults??).

See Also: Eco-Friendly Travel Products I Love

Lightweight shorts

I packed one pair of shorts. They were high waisted denim shorts. I couldn’t wait to look all cute going out to dinner in a cropped top t-shirt and these shorts. I wore them a grand total of once and the whole time I had them on I wished I didn’t. They clung to my sticky, sweaty legs and held on for dear life.

Instead of denim, pack lightweight shorts made of a more breathable fabric. I highly recommend something that isn’t close fitting because in the heat of Tulum, it will become even closer.


For some reason I only brought two t-shirts and not a single sleeveless top. Bad move. Not only did I have an attrocious t-shirt tan by the end of the trip, but I was so, so hot. Do your body a favor and pack loose, sleeveless shirts.

ruins in tulum
Basically the outfit I wore every single day.

Flowy Dresses

For some strange reason I thought two dresses for a week, one of which was a long and thick maxi dress, was the right amount to pack. I never wore the long one because it was just too hot. It’s always too hot in Tulum. It’s a coastal town with a slight sea breeze that you only feel if you’re actually in the sea. Otherwise it’s humid and hot from the moment the sun rises until the moment it rises again (see what I did there?).

I wish I had brought my lighter and thinner dresses. I ended up wearing the same thing almost everyday just to keep cool. Dresses will keep you way cooler than shorts and t-shirts and are easy to throw on over bathing suits, too.

Flip Flops / Sandals

Ladies, leave your heels at home. Trust me, I brought a pair. Didn’t wear them once. Tulum is such a casual place, if you were to put on a pair of heels or wedges, you’d be incredibly overdressed. All you need is a cute pair of comfortable flip flops or sandals.

Just before I moved to Mexico I bought myself a fresh new pair of Rainbow flip flops. I wore them around the house to break them in a little, then I forgot to pack them. It was an incredibly sad moment. Rainbows are the best traveling flip flop I have ever had. I wore out a pair traveling through Asia. I lived in them in Australia and New Zealand. I even hiked in them. They are seriously amazing. I tried to find something similar here, but nothing is the same as a nice, comfortable pair of leather flip flops.

So when I packed for Tulum, I only had a cheap pair of rubber flip flops and a pair of sneakers. I wore the sneakers most days and my feet were so unhappy and hot. Don’t forget to pack your flip flops and make sure they’re comfortable enough to walk in. You’ll want something you can go from beach to ruins to restaurants with.

Shop Rainbows Here.

A Hat

I wish I had brought a hat. I was really surprised that there weren’t many shops selling hats actually. After working our way down from Playa del Carmen, where you can buy absolutely anything at a hyper-inflated price, I was bummed that there weren’t many cute sunhats on offer.

Bring your own. You’ll save yourself the hassle and the cash and the sunstroke. As a brunette I find that my head gets hot really quickly. If I’m out in the direct sun for more than a few minutes My hair heats up, my scalp heats up, and suddenly I’m a bit lightheaded. Hats are my sunshine savior.

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what to pack for a trip to tulum

3 thoughts on “What to Pack for Tulum”

    • I did work in Tulum – I was staying in an AirBnB place with terrible wifi, but all the cafes and restaurants (and bars!) have really great, speedy internet in Tulum town. I’m not entirely sure about the places by the beach, but I’m sure the higher-end hotels and restaurants will have great wifi too!


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