A Wheelchair User’s Guide to Accessibility in Tulum

White sand beaches, Mayan ruins, and coconut water straight from the shell are some of the many things that entice travelers to visit Tulum. But among the ice cream shops and vegan cafes, yoga studios and beachside hammocks, you might be wondering, just how wheelchair accessible is Tulum?

Since pictures speak louder than words, this post is packed with photos to help you visualize what an accessible visit to Tulum might look like for you.

Note: The information here is based on my observation as a non-wheelchair user. If you have firsthand experience as a wheelchair user in Tulum, please let me know about your time there and your recommendations in the comments section. I appreciate it and know that our future readers will, too!

General Wheelchair Accessibility in Tulum

A wheelchair path in Tulum leading to dirt.
We can only hope that they plan on extending the sidewalk someday…

Like so many places in Mexico, Tulum wasn’t built with wheelchair users in mind. Furthermore, the town is spread out. In fact, many people refer to Tulum as there being “three Tulums”: the downtown center, the Tulum ruins, and the beach zone.

Let’s take a look at each.

Downtown Tulum

There isn’t much to write home about when it comes to downtown Tulum. It has a bit of a run-down feel, but it’s a great place to find cheaper meals (which is a rarity around the ruins and beach zone).

In terms of wheelchair accessibility, downtown Tulum has wide pedestrian paths. However, the paths aren’t well maintained, so you’ll hit bumps, encounter places where drop down curbs don’t drop down all the way, and find items blocking a portion of the path.

An accessible path in downtown Tulum.
A sidewalk and bicycle path in downtown Tulum.

Nevertheless, the main Highway 307 has a bicycle path you could hop on if you get in a bind. I don’t recommend wheeling off of Highway 307, as the sidewalks become more narrow and even less maintained.

That said, there’s not really anything to do in downtown Tulum, so you’ll likely want to spend your time at the ruins and beaches anyway. Speaking of which…

The Ruins

The Tulum Ruins are partially wheelchair accessible. The majority of this article focuses on how to get around the Tulum Ruins with a wheelchair, so hang tight because I’ll be sharing a step-by-step photo explanation of the journey.

The Beaches

Tulum does a decent job when it comes to wheelchair accessible beaches. They even have large signs indicating beaches designed for wheelchair accessibility. I’ve got a lot more information to share with you about this, too, so stick with me through the ruins and then get yourself ready for beach bum mode.

Tulum Ruins: How Accessible Are They?

A wheelchair accessible sign in Tulum Ruins.

A visit to Tulum isn’t complete without seeing the ruins. I won’t beat around the bush here: visiting the Tulum Ruins in a wheelchair isn’t easy.

But it’s not impossible, either.

On the surface, wheeling around the ruins seems like it should be pretty simple—ramps are in (most of) the right places to arrive at the ruins, the paths around the ruins are spacious and (mostly) flat, and the terrain is (mostly) firm.

However, once you get up to those ramps you’ll realize that they’re ridiculously steep, the paths fill up with puddles if it rained recently, and the terrain is only firm in the front portion of the ruins.

As I approached the Tulum Ruins, I realized that a mostly written account of the process involved for arriving wouldn’t do this article justice. So, I backtracked and took step-by-step photos of the process. I hope that they, and the descriptions I’ve included, help you feel better prepared.

Before we begin, however, I don’t want to scare you off—the Tulum Ruins are beautiful and are very much worth the effort to see them.

Photo Journey of Arriving in the Ruins

A road leading to the Tulum Ruins.
There isn’t accessible (or any) parking at the ruins entrance, so you’ll need to roll down this flat, paved road for a couple of hundred meters. There are barely any cars on the road, except for the occasional lost driver.
Entrance to the path leading to the Tulum Ruins.
The path you’ll head out on once you’ve purchased your ticket in the open-air cement floor ticket booth area.
Ticket booth at the Tulum Ruins.
The ticket check area, which has an accessible entrance.
A wheelchair ramp at the Tulum Ruins.
Heading out of the ticket check you’ll encounter a ramp that comes almost flush to the ground.
A path with stones and puddles.
As you’re rolling down the path to get to the ruins (which will take 5 – 10 minutes, depending on your pace) you’ll encounter a mixture of cobblestone, dirt paths, and, unfortunately, puddles if it rained recently.
A ledge along the path to the Tulum Ruins.
You’ll need to pop over this circular ledge, and then…
A wheelchair accessible steep ramp leading to the Tulum ruins.
You’ll arrive at your first ramp. Manual wheelchair users might need a push—this baby is steep!
This shows the steepness grade of the ramp.
This is the same ramp. It’s hard to do the steepness justice with a photo, but the staircase in the previous photo will help give you a better idea of the incline.
Another ramp at the Tulum Ruins.
You’ll soon come to another ramp, this time on a downward slope. The slope is still steep, although not quite as bad as the first ramp.
A final ramp at the Tulum Ruins.
Yet another ramp you’ll pass through. This one also isn’t quite as steep.
A narrow stone gap leading into the Tulum Ruins.
The grand finale is arriving at this tunnel. I know it might not seem like it in the photo, but there’s enough room for a wheelchair to pass through. It’ll be bumpy from rocks jutting up from the soil.
The entrance to the Tulum Ruins.
Believe it or not, this is the terrain and view waiting for you on the other side of the tunnel!

Photo Journey Within the Ruins

Phew, what a workout!

Once you’ve made it to the start of the ruins, things get easier from there. The path is packed down dirt with small, loose rocks through the right half side of the ruins. The leftmost side gets trickier with some deep sand in some areas, as well as staircases leading to Tulum’s iconic ocean views. But we’re jumping ahead of ourselves here.

As a word of caution, all paths at the Tulum Ruins are prone to puddles, so if you have the flexibility with your travel dates, try to hit it on a day when it hasn’t rained.

I know, easier said than done in a tropical climate!

A wheelchair accessible path inside the Tulum Ruins.
When you exit the tunnel, the path you’ll be on will take you through the right side of the ruins first (the side furthest from the ocean). The paths on the right side of the Tulum Ruins look like the one shown here.
The Tulum ruins has a wide, dirt path and a low-lying rope fence.
Another example of the path on the right side of the ruins.
Puddles at the Tulum Ruins.
And now, an example of puddles. But there are two positives to point out here: the informational signs are low for wheelchair users to read, and there are many parts of the Tulum Ruins where you’re allowed to veer off the path and roll around the grass, thereby helping to avoid some of the puddles.
Stone ruins.
You can roll right up to some of the ruins.
A view of a partially reconstructed ruin.
You can’t roll up in the grass to this structure, but this photo is taken beside the rope blocking people off, so you can see how close you’re allowed to get to it.
Prickly pear cactus growing on a ruin wall.
You’ll see some prickly pear cacti as you explore the grounds. Fun fact: these guys are called nopal in Mexico, which is the cactus you can order in your tacos! Don’t worry, they take the spines off. You can also eat the sweet prickly pear cactus fruit when it’s in season (which unfortunately wasn’t the case when I took this photo).
A grey iguana blending into the stone ruins.
Be on the lookout for iguanas! They’re everywhere, but they blend in so well that you can easily miss them.
A rugged path at the Tulum Ruins.
This is an example of the path on the left side of the ruins (the side facing the ocean, but still on the ground level). You can see there are a few small stone steps and the terrain is sandier.
There are loose stone like this one on the path at the Tulum Ruins.
In addition to sandy areas, the left side of the ruins also has a higher amount of loose stone.
A ruin surrounded by foliage.
Some structures, such as this one, require a camera with good zoom as there are steps to arrive up to it.

Photo Journey of Arriving at the Ocean View

If you’ve ever seen a photo of the Tulum ruins, you’re surely thinking, what about the ocean? In case you’re out of the loop, this is the most iconic view of the Tulum Ruins, taken from the top of a small hill:

The iconic view of the Tulum Ruins.

Unfortunately, this view is not inherently accessible. What’s even more frustrating is that it wouldn’t be difficult to make it accessible—the hill isn’t that long, and even if they threw a steep-ish ramp together like the ones you will have passed to arrive in the ruins, at least it would be something.

That said, if you’re a manual wheelchair user and are experienced at popping up staircases, you can likely get up to the top of this view. I’ll show you some photos next so you know what to expect.

If you have an electric chair, you’ll need to battle a bit of sand, but you can get a glimpse of the ocean from the ground floor.

With that overview, let’s dive into a photo journey of seeing ocean views at the Tulum Ruins as a wheelchair user.

Sign pointing to the wheelchair accessible path at the Tulum Ruins.
Once you arrive at the end of the ruins, you’ll see these stairs and this sign. The stairs lead up to the ocean, but it’s best to follow the sign and head to the stairs you’ll see in the following photo since there are fewer steps to climb.
Steps leading up to the ocean view at the Tulum Ruins.
If you want to head up to the ocean at the Tulum Ruins with your wheelchair, these are the “best” stairs to tackle.
More steps leading up to the view.
Here’s another example of the stairs. As you can see, there’s a platform after each step with enough room for your chair.
Accessible viewpoint at the top of the Tulum Ruins.
When you arrive at the top of the staircase, you’ll be greeted with a wide area for exploring and platform for getting the iconic Tulum view.
Dirt and stone path at the top of the Tulum Ruins.
You can also roll down other smaller paths to get to different viewpoints.
A path following the cliff of the Tulum Ruins.
Here’s another example of the smaller paths along the cliff.
Ocean view from the Tulum Ruins.
And here’s an example of the ocean view (along with the cover photo in this article). The vegetation is low enough in most areas so you’ll be able to enjoy the views from your chair.
A sandy path at the Tulum Ruins.
If tackling stairs isn’t an option, you might want to consider tackling a short, sandy path to get to ocean views from the base of the ruins. This is an example of the sandy path. Admittedly, the sand was deeper than it appears in this photo.
A wheelchair accessible ocean view at the Tulum Ruins.
Here’s the ground floor ocean viewpoint you’ll get to enjoy after rolling along the sandy path.

Wheelchair Accessible Beaches in Tulum

With so much talk about the ocean, you might be ready to hit the beach at this point. In happier news, Tulum offers a handful of wheelchair accessible beaches. The two that I visited included:

  • Playa Maya (specially designed for wheelchair users)
  • Playa Santa Fe

When you’re driving around Tulum, you can look for the following sign to know if the beach is designed for wheelchair users:

A wheelchair accessible beach sign at Playa Maya in Tulum.

Such beaches offer accessible parking, a ramp leading out to the beach, and might have a beach wheelchair you can borrow.

Below are some photos so that you can get a feel for beach accessibility in Tulum.

A street side coconut stand in Tulum.
Okay, this isn’t a beach photo per-se, but you’ll likely drive by some “Mayan Coconuts” when you’re beach hopping around Tulum.
An old wooden wheelchair accessible path at Playa Maya in Tulum.
This is the wheelchair ramp access at Playa Maya. While one has to applaud their effort, nature has taken its toll on the path, so you’ll likely find it easier to roll beside the ramp, as the path has a (sand covered) cement surface.
Beach at Playa Maya.
The beach at Playa Maya is wide and the incline into the ocean is gentle. Sargazo (seaweed) is a common occurrence in this region.
Entrance to Playa Santa Fe, Tulum.
Playa Santa Fe is another accessible beach in Tulum, although it isn’t designated as such. It’s a smaller beach near the Tulum Ruins and you can drive right up to the point shown in this photo where you’ll have beach access. That said, it’s an option that’s best suited for people traveling with beach wheelchairs.
An outdoor restaurant at Santa Fe Beach.
Santa Fe Beach offers an outdoor beach restaurant.

Accessible Parking in Tulum

By now, you’ve gathered that getting around Tulum by vehicle is best. So, you might be wondering: how’s the accessible parking situation?

In downtown Tulum, you’ll come across occasional accessible parking spots. They don’t always lead to drop curbs though, so you might have to roll down the street a bit to get to one.

Accessible parking at wheelchair-designated beaches in Tulum is your best option when you’re exploring the coastline. Parking around the beach is tricky for non-wheelchair users due to limited parking spaces, and parking on the side of the street is common in those cases.

Accessible Restrooms in Tulum

Wheelchair accessible restrooms are few and far between in Tulum. The only one I came across was at the Tulum Ruins, and even then, it wasn’t truly accessible. Below are a couple of photos of what you can expect:

Sink area at the Tulum Ruins.
The outdoor sink area isn’t accessible and has a narrow sidewalk around the sinks.
The wheelchair accessible toilet at the Tulum Ruins.
This is the “accessible” restroom at the Tulum Ruins.

Wheeling Around the Yucatán?

If so, good news!

A view of the ocean with a sign that reads, "Pancho Villa."

We’ve put together a number of other accessible blog posts on destinations around Mexico’s stunning Caribbean peninsula. Check them out below:

Wheelchair Accessibility in Cancun

Wheelchair Accessibility in Chichén Itzá

Wheelchair Accessibility in Cozumel

Wheelchair Accessibility on Holbox Island

Wheelchair Accessibility on Isla Mujeres

Wheelchair Accessibility in Las Coloradas

Wheelchair Accessibility in Merida

Wheelchair Accessibility in Playa del Carmen

Wheelchair Accessibility in Valladolid

Got Your Bags Packed?

A view of the Tulum Ruins.

It’s true—Tulum isn’t a wheelchair user’s paradise. But given its worthwhile ruins and beautiful beaches, it’s definitely a contender for a modified Yucatan visit. There aren’t tons of wheelchair accessible hotels in Tulum, so you may want to base yourself out of Cancun or Playa del Carmen, as you can easily take a day trip there from these destinations.

If you’ve already had experience with accessible travel in Tulum, I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments section; your words will no doubt help future wheelchair travelers. Have lingering questions about accessible travel in Tulum? Leave a comment and I’ll do my best to help.

P.S.- Heading to other parts of Mexico? Check out our guides on wheelchair accessibility in Mexico City, Oaxaca, and Puerto Escondido.

10 thoughts on “A Wheelchair User’s Guide to Accessibility in Tulum”

  1. Marisela Ramírez

    Thank you for your feedback, I’m traveling to playa del Carmen next month with my disable son and the information you provided has giving me some tranquility.. thank you

  2. Thank you for sharing. My mind is at ease to know a fellow wheelchair user has blazed the trails before me. 😉

  3. We managed a late afternoon boat trip with @siankaantours – taxi into Sian Kaan, short sand and decking wheel to the jetty, and assistance into the very stable boat with knowledgeable local guide.

  4. Where can I get info on any accessible public transportation (vehicles with lifts) from Cancun to Tulum and within Tulum? (Buses, van services, etc.)

    1. Hi Paula,

      Cancun Accessible offers private accessible transportation from Cancun to anywhere in the Riviera Maya. To my knowledge, there unfortunately aren’t accessible buses that travel between Cancun and Tulum/within Tulum at this time.

  5. Thank you Laura! I read your article shortly before my recent visit to Tulum. Your description and photos are very detailed and accurate. My travel power wheelchair flipped backwards onto the pavement on that first ramp at the ruins, fortunately the headrest broke the fall on my head (and broke the headrest). I learned the hard way to adjust my center of gravity and have assistance holding the chair behind me on those steep ramps. Also in general, there’s no room for error in Mexico with ramps since they’re typically narrow without curbs or railings.

    1. Hi Carlos,

      Thank you so much for coming back here to share your experience at the Tulum ruins. How scary about your power chair flipping backward! I’m so glad you’re okay. I appreciate your insight and hope you had less eventful experiences during the rest of your trip.

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