Miles of beaches, a hopping food scene, funky sculptures, and hippie vibes have put Tulum on the map as a must-see destination in Mexico. But with so much bad press on Mexico’s safety, you might be wondering—Is Tulum safe?
Tulum isn’t among the safest destinations in Mexico. But if you apply some common sense, it’s not downright dangerous.
I spent two months living in Tulum as a solo female traveler and will share my experience here to help you prepare.
Accessibility Note: If you’re a wheelchair user, be sure to check out our guide on wheelchair accessibility in Tulum.
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First Things First: A Disclaimer
Related article: Is Quintana Roo safe?
I spent two months in Tulum and had a positive experience safety-wise.
But the information I share here, with the exception of statistics from linked sources, is my personal opinion based on my encounters.
Everyone has unique experiences that shape their perception of any given destination.
So, take what you want from this article and leave the rest. And above all, never let your guard down just because I or anyone else tells you that a destination is safe.
Trusting your gut and following basic safety practices are vital to improving your security in any destination.
May I Ask A Favor?
Since the recent bad press about safety in Mexico, we’ve seen an uptick in readers looking through our Mexico safety articles. I’m doing my best to answer the questions I receive. However, the safety situation in any destination can change fast, and I’m not currently on the ground in Mexico.
So, I’d appreciate you returning to this article after your trip and leaving a comment about your experience in Tulum.
There’s nothing like recent firsthand experience to paint a more realistic picture of Tulum’s current safety situation.
An Overview of Safety in Mexico
Before we dive into exploring safety in Tulum, below is a chart highlighting some of Mexico’s general health and well-being statistics.
|Organization||Index score||Country ranking|
|Global Health Security Index||57.0||25 of 195 (good)|
|Global Peace Index||2.61||137 of 163 (bad)|
Safety in Tulum: What the U.S. Department of State Says
The U.S. Department of State (DOS) is my go-to guide when determining the safety of a destination before I plan a trip. I recommend making it yours, too, and using the information on the DOS’ website as your resource for the most up-to-date safety information on Tulum.
Tulum ranks as a Level 2 under DOS guidelines. That means you should exercise increased caution when traveling within Quintana Roo state, where Tulum calls home.
Below is a chart showing the DOS’ four safety rankings.
|1||Exercise normal precautions|
|2||Exercise increased caution|
|4||Do not travel|
So, according to the DOS, there’s no need to cancel your trip to Tulum for safety reasons. They also state that they have no restrictions for employees who want to travel to Tulum.
Nevertheless, the DOS encourages tourists to practice “increased situational awareness” in downtown Tulum after dark.
They also advise remaining on well-lit streets at night.
Safety in Tulum: What the Statistics Say
When questioning, “Is Tulum safe?” it’s worth looking at Numbeo’s statistics in addition to the DOS’ advisory.
Numbeo lists Tulum as having a “moderate” level of crime. It even puts violent crimes in the “low” category.
However, that’s not a reason to let your guard down. Cartel activity in Tulum has made the news recently, with Numebo even ranking Tulum as “high” under the category of “Crime increasing in the past 3 years.”
Organized crime isn’t exclusive to Tulum; it’s an issue in Quintana Roo.
On the bright side, Tulum’s neighbor, Yucatan state, has managed to stay mostly clear of cartel violence.
The good news is that as long as you don’t interact with cartel members (such as buying drugs), your chances of cartel-related violence are low in Tulum. Tourists are valued in Mexico, and both the Mexican government and members of authority in cartels strive to make Mexico a safe place for tourism.
Tulum in the News
I’d be remiss not to point out that fluke cartel-related crime can and has happened to tourists in Tulum.
In October 2021, Tulum made international news when two female tourists were shot and killed while dining at a resort. Officials believe the women had no connection with the cartel; they were at the wrong place at the wrong time, getting caught in cartel crossfire.
You can expect to see army-like trucks carrying men and women holding rifles when you’re in Tulum and the Quintana Roo region. While it can be an intimidating sight, that’s the national guard, and their job is to protect locals and tourists.
During times of increased tension between cartel members, the Mexican government sends additional national guard support.
Visiting Tulum as a Solo Female Traveler
I was no stranger to Tulum before deciding to spend two months living there; I had already visited it a couple of times as a day trip from my former base in Playa del Carmen.
What I loved about being in Tulum as a solo female traveler is that I experienced significantly less street harassment there than in certain other destinations in the Yucatan, including Playa del Carmen and Cancun.
I only experienced a few non-threatening street harassment incidents during my time in Tulum. In contrast, non-threatening street harassment was a daily occurrence when I lived in Playa del Carmen.
“Non-threatening” is the key word here—I’ve never had a man touch or grab me while on the streets in Tulum or elsewhere in Quintana Roo.
Instead, my experience with street harassment has been in the form of catcalls and unwanted comments.
If you’re a woman traveling with a man, it’s unlikely you’ll experience harassment as long as it’s clear he’s with you.
Limitations Women Face in Tulum
Experiencing less street harassment in Tulum was a breath of fresh air. But that’s not to say I felt 100% safe wandering around Tulum on my own.
I follow my gut when traveling. That instinct told me on several occasions to cross the street to avoid passing by a sketchy-looking person or situation, ignore Google Maps when it wanted me to turn down questionable-looking streets, and indulge my early bird self by staying home after dark.
I know that the last one isn’t an attractive option for many. And I’m certainly not implying that women can’t enjoy exploring Tulum at night.
However, it takes some planning.
Uber and other rideshare apps don’t operate in Tulum. Recent legislation may change this, but given the issues with Uber in Cancun, I recommend steering clear of rideshare apps. Taxi companies have a stronghold on the transportation system in Tulum, and clashes are known to occur between taxi companies and rideshares.
So, you need to figure out how you’ll come and go from your accommodation if you explore Tulum at night. It’s best to have a trustworthy local arrange a taxi or ask a restaurant to call one for you.
When possible, exploring Tulum at night with a group rather than on your own is ideal.
If you’re taking a solo female trip to Mexico and want to make some friends, hostels are a great choice. Selina is my go-to option in Mexico. They’re a boutique hostel with cowork spaces, making them a great place for digital nomads.
Hotel Zone vs. Downtown Tulum
Popular read: Is Cancun safe?
The Hotel Zone has a reputation for better safety than downtown Tulum. I believe much of this comes down to a higher tourist presence by the beach. And, thus, a higher police presence.
It takes less than ten minutes to drive from downtown Tulum to the Hotel Zone and around 30 minutes by bike.
Personally, I chose to rent an Airbnb in downtown Tulum because it’s significantly cheaper (though still expensive by Mexico standards) than renting a place in Tulum’s hotel zone.
I also appreciated having access to cheaper food in downtown Tulum and a great gym.
I felt comfortable enough safety-wise staying in downtown Tulum, though I do think staying in the Hotel Zone is likely a bit safer.
Is Tulum Safe at Night?
Tulum is safest at night in well-lit parts of the Hotel Zone.
The downtown area is also relatively safe if you stick to the main road and when businesses are still open and people are still wandering around.
Nevertheless, as the DOS implies, there’s a higher chance of crime happening in Tulum at night than during the day.
So, I encourage you to follow the saying, “Nothing good happens after midnight,” and plan accordingly.
Does the Cartel Operate in Tulum?
Multiple cartels operate in Tulum. It’s the “multiple” part that causes the most problems; violence is known to break out between rival cartel groups.
Despite there being the possibility of innocently getting caught in the crossfire, your chances are low, especially considering the millions of tourists that travel to Mexico each year.
Transportation Safety in Tulum
So, is Tulum safe in regards to transportation? It mostly is, with Uber as the exception.
Is it safe to take an Uber in Tulum?
It’s not safe to take an Uber in Tulum. You likely won’t even be able to use the Uber app in Tulum, given ongoing discussions between rideshare drivers and taxi companies.
Violent crimes have happened with taxi companies harassing Uber drivers and their passengers in Cancun, and it’s reasonable to assume the same could happen in Tulum. So, until things settle down, I wouldn’t take an Uber or use other rideshare apps in Quintana Roo, even if they show availability.
Is it safe to take a street taxi in Tulum?
I don’t recommend flagging a taxi off the street in Tulum unless you’re in a serious bind. The most common scenario is that you’ll get ripped off. Flagging down a taxi off the street in Mexico also comes with higher crime risks than if you were to call a cab.
So, ask your hotel for the number of a trustworthy driver or cab company, and make a habit of calling a taxi instead of flagging down one off the street.
Is it safe to drive in Tulum?
It’s quite safe to drive in Tulum, especially during the day. Finding parking is often the most challenging part.
Police sometimes set up checkpoints, but these are nothing to be concerned about as long as you have your ID, vehicle registration, and you’re not carrying anything illegal.
Is it safe to take a bus in Tulum?
It’s safe to take a bus in Tulum, and I’ve done this many times. This accounts for taking an ADO bus to Tulum from a further away destination and taking the local van combis for short-term travel within Tulum.
While I’ve taken the ADO bus day and night with no issues, I’d be more cautious about taking combis at night in Tulum. Unlike ADO, combi passengers aren’t regulated since they don’t have to give their personal information to buy a ticket.
Travel Tip: If you’d like to travel to Playa del Carmen during your visit to Tulum, check out my guide on how to get from Tulum to Playa del Carmen. I highlight the safe and not-so-safe ways to travel there.
A Note on Airport Transfers
The Cancun International Airport is the closest airport to Tulum. Unfortunately, it’s a prime place for pirate taxis to linger, along with genuine taxi drivers who want to overcharge tourists.
For this reason, if you fly into Cancun and plan on using a taxi to get to your accommodation in Tulum, book a taxi at a designated taxi stand inside the airport.
You can also book your airport transfer in advance.
Many legitimate companies operate airport transfers in Cancun. However, my go-to company for transfers and tours is GetYourGuide.
What I like about GetYourGuide is that they’re an international, English-speaking company with 24/7 support. You can read customer reviews before booking your transfer, giving you a better idea of the service and vehicle quality to expect.
You can visit GetYourGuide to see pricing and availability for a Cancun to Tulum airport transfer.
Beach Safety in Tulum
Further reading: Is Playa del Carmen safe?
Because Tulum’s coast faces the open Caribbean Sea, the water is sometimes rough, and rip currents can happen. Therefore, take note of the flags on public beaches before swimming in Tulum—a red flag means to stay out of the water.
A type of seaweed called sargassum is also prevalent in Tulum and all of Mexico’s Caribbean coast from May to October.
Sargassum is harmless, but it’s smelly and makes for an unpleasant swimming experience.
A Note on Hurricane Season
The official hurricane season in Tulum is from June 1st to November 30th.
While direct hurricane hits are uncommon, Tulum often experiences the side effects of heavy rain and wind from other tropical storms or hurricanes in the region.
So, if you decide to travel to Tulum during hurricane season, it’s wise to purchase travel insurance.
Earthquake Safety in Tulum
Is Tulum safe from earthquakes?
According to Volcano Discovery, Tulum has only had three earthquakes above a 3.0 magnitude since 1900.
Is the Water Safe to Drink in Tulum?
The water isn’t safe to drink in Tulum. However, safe bottled drinking water is abundant.
You can purchase bottled water in many sizes from tiendas (convenience stores) and streetside vendors.
How To Stay Safe in Tulum
Below are some basic safety precautions to take in Tulum. As you’ll see, there’s nothing unique about them—it’s wise to practice these tips regardless of where you travel.
- Take a taxi at night
- Don’t walk around showcasing expensive electronics
- Only take out money from ATMs inside a bank
- Never carry around all your credit cards and cash
- Use a money belt
- Don’t wear flashy jewelry
- Ask locals for advice
- Don’t leave an unopened drink unattended
- If you’re going to get inebriated, do so with a trustworthy sober companion
Finally, trust your instinct. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.
The Safest Destinations in Mexico
I’ve explored much of Mexico as a solo female traveler and have felt safer in several destinations other than Tulum.
Below are the top places where I felt the safest:
Should you be considering a trip to Cabo, learn why I don’t recommend it for solo female travelers.
FAQs About Safety in Tulum
Do you still have questions about safety in Tulum? Read on to see if I answer them here. If not, leave a comment and I’ll get back to you.
Is Tulum safe to travel alone?
Tulum is safe to travel alone as long as you take the right precautions. Never walk down dark, desolate streets by yourself at night, and call a taxi instead of walking through areas you’re unfamiliar with.
Solo female travelers can expect some catcalls. However, from my experience, this issue isn’t as prevalent in Tulum as in other cities in Mexico.
Is Tulum safer than Cancun?
The U.S. Department of State ranks Tulum and Cancun as equal in safety. Both destinations are listed as a Level 2, which is to exercise increased caution.
That said, I personally felt safer roaming around Tulum than Cancun.
Is Tulum safer than Cabo?
Tulum and Cabo are equal in safety, according to the U.S. Department of State. They rank as a Level 2, so you should exercise increased caution in these cities.
That said, from a subjective point of view, I felt safer in Tulum than in Cabo as a solo female traveler. The street harassment in Los Cabos was unlike any I’ve experienced elsewhere in the world, so it’s not a destination I’d visit alone again.
The Bottom Line: Is Tulum Safe?
Like so many destinations, safety in Tulum comes down to smart practices and some luck.
While Tulum has become more dangerous than in the past due to cartel activity, the DOS still sees it as a safe enough destination for tourists to visit. And from my experience, I feel the same.
Please remember to check the DOS’ website for the most up-to-date information on Tulum’s safety status.
If you have questions, leave them in the comments and I’ll do my best to help. Please also feel free to share your experience regarding safety in Tululm.