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.
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:
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?
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.
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 undoubtedly help future wheelchair travelers.
P.S.- Heading to other parts of Mexico? Check out our guides on wheelchair accessibility in Mexico City, Oaxaca, and Puerto Escondido.
14 thoughts on “A Wheelchair User’s Guide to Accessibility in Tulum”
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
You’re very welcome, Marisela. I hope you and your son enjoy Playa! 🙂
Thank you for sharing. My mind is at ease to know a fellow wheelchair user has blazed the trails before me. 😉
You’re welcome, Terasa. Have a wonderful time in Tulum!
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.
Thank you so much for this information, Paul!
Where can I get info on any accessible public transportation (vehicles with lifts) from Cancun to Tulum and within Tulum? (Buses, van services, etc.)
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.
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.
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.
Thank you so much for these pictures. My family and I have been anticipating our visit to the ruins for months and I just broke my foot last week and trying to get around on a knee scooter or a iWalk knee crutch. I feel better prepared for the strenuous day ahead thanks to you. Really appreciate it.
I’m glad the article was helpful. Wishing you a speedy recovery and a wonderful time in Tulum!
I use an electric wheelchair and a few weeks ago we bypassed Tulum knowing it wasn’t too wheelchair friendly and drove to Coba. That was the best decision we made all week! Caba has these fellows on cargo bikes that will pick you up at your car and give you a great ride throughout the Coba ruins and the price is quite reasonable. Just out of the parking lot is a rough steep grade over roots and erosional bumps so two fellows pushed me up the hill. The rest of the site is flat but spread out. We paid entry but, I think, entry fees may be waived if you jump up and down and complain. We did complain at the Uxmal ruins where the official told us that wheelchairs and caregivers are free. But that was after we paid and wouldn’t return our $$.
I’m so glad to hear you had a positive experience at Coba, and thank you for all the tips you shared. I appreciate you coming back here to comment after your trip!