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, I’d love to hear about your experience there and your recommendations in the comments section. I appreciate it and know that our future readers will too.
General Wheelchair Accessibility in Tulum
Like so many places in Mexico, Tulum wasn’t built with wheelchair users in mind. Furthermore, the town is spread out.
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.
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 (a rarity around the ruins and beach zone).
In terms of wheelchair accessibility, downtown Tulum has wide sidewalks along its main streets.
However, the sidewalks aren’t well maintained. So, you’ll hit bumps, encounter places where drop-down curbs don’t drop down all the way, and items that block a portion of the paths.
Nevertheless, the main Highway 307 has a bicycle path you could hop on if you get in a bind. I don’t recommend venturing far off Highway 307, as the sidewalks become narrower and even less maintained.
That said, there’s not really anything to do in downtown Tulum.
So, you’ll likely want to spend most of your time at the ruins and beaches.
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.
IMPORTANT: In September 2023, we received a comment from one of our readers that the Tulum Ruins are currently undergoing construction, making accessibility extremely difficult. They recommend wheelchair users stay away until the construction is complete, which will hopefully be by the end of 2023.
If you visit Tulum and have any updates on wheelchair accessibility at the Tulum Ruins, I’d greatly appreciate you leaving a comment to keep future travelers up-to-date on its current accessibility.
Tulum does a decent job when it comes to wheelchair accessible beaches. They even have large signs indicating beaches designed for wheelchair accessibility.
I’ll be sharing a lot more information about accessibility at the beaches in Tulum shortly. So, stick with me through the information about the ruins, and then get ready for beach mode.
Tulum Ruins: How Accessible Are They?
A visit to Tulum isn’t complete without seeing the ruins. But I won’t beat around the bush: Visiting the Tulum Ruins by wheelchair isn’t easy.
It’s possible, though.
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 to the 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 towards the front portion of the ruins.
As I approached the Tulum Ruins, I realized that only writing about the experience wouldn’t do this article justice. So, I backtracked and took step-by-step photos.
I hope that they, and the descriptions I’ve included, help you better prepare. Please also be sure to read the comments at the end of this post, as some wheelchair users kindly returned to this article after their trip to share their experiences.
As a final note, I don’t want to scare you off. The Tulum Ruins are beautiful and I think many people would agree that, in many cases, it’s worth the effort to see them.
Photo Journey of How to Arrive at the Tulum Ruins
Photo Journey Within the Ruins
Once you’ve made it through the tunnel, exploring the ruins get easier.
The path around the right side of the Tulum Ruins is composed of packed dirt with small, loose rocks. The leftmost side gets trickier with some deep sand in some areas, as well as staircases leading to Tulum’s iconic ocean views.
But I’m jumping ahead of myself.
As a word of caution, all paths at the Tulum Ruins are prone to puddles. So, if you have flexibility with your travel dates, try to visit on a day when it hasn’t rained.
I know, it’s easier said than done in a tropical climate.
Photo Journey of Arriving at the Ocean View
If you’ve ever seen a photo of the Tulum ruins, you’re surely wondering, what about the ocean? This is the most iconic view of the Tulum Ruins, taken from the top of a small hill:
Unfortunately, this view isn’t wheelchair accessible.
What’s even more frustrating is that it wouldn’t be difficult to make it accessible—the hill isn’t that high, and even if they threw a steep-ish ramp together like the ones you will have passed to arrive at 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 a power 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, here’s a photo journey of how to see ocean views at the Tulum Ruins as a wheelchair user.
Wheelchair Accessible Beaches in Tulum
With so much talk about the ocean, you might be ready to hit the beach.
The good news is that Tulum offers a handful of wheelchair accessible beaches. The two that I visited were:
- Playa Maya (specially designed for wheelchair users)
- Playa Santa Fe
When you’re driving around Tulum, look for the following sign to know if a beach is wheelchair accessible:
Such beaches offer accessible parking, a ramp leading 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.
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 exploring the coastline.
Parking around the beach is tricky enough 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:
Wheeling Around the Yucatán?
If so, good news!
We’ve put together a number of other accessible blog posts on destinations around Mexico’s stunning Caribbean peninsula. Check them out below:
Got Your Bags Packed?
Tulum has a long way to go before it can be called a wheelchair accessible destination. But given its beautiful ruins and beaches, many wheelchair travelers may find it worth the trip.
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 undoubtedly help future wheelchair travelers.