Everyone you know and their mothers are going to Tulum, Mexico lately.
Understandably so, it’s a beautiful beach town with a little bit of everything for all kinds of travelers.
History junkies, beach bums, adventurists, explorers… I promise you Tulum has something for everyone.
I’ve done all the dirty work for you and put this guide together so you can build your own adventure, stress free, and enjoy everything from local favorites to the most popular tourist spots.
AIRPORT & TRANSPORTATION
You most likely will be flying in to Cancun. From here you can pick up the car you’ve rented for the trip, or the shuttle you booked; it’s about 1.5 hour drive to Tulum.
We went with the shuttle service Happy Shuttle and I have nothing but good things to say about my experience with them. This is my preferred way of getting to my hotel because you don’t have to drive as soon as you get off the plane, which can be stressful if you’re navigating a new country.
If you choose to hire a car, do your research about your companies and their fees and policies. I always take photos of the car at all angles the minute I get it just for reference. Hiring a car is a good option if you plan to do lots of sightseeing outside of Tulum, and the roads are easy to navigate and well taken care of in the most part.
I was content with cabbing and biking around once we got to our destination! A taxi from one part of town to the other was running about 100-200 pesos, and we used text plus to save the numbers and contact cab drivers we trusted and enjoyed.
WHERE TO STAY IN TULUM
Tulum is mostly divided up by the beach strip, and town. I’ll help you decide which part is right for you.
TOWN: The town Tulum is a 10-minute drive, a 15-minute bike ride, or a one hour walk to the start of the beach area. Tulum town is where you’ll have a more authentic Mexican experience and have a chance to eat, shop, and live where the locals do. It’s filled with budget friendly hotels, restaurants and shops.
BEACH: The beach strip is calling your name if you want the luxury of waking up in a picturesque beachfront villa. It can run you from anywhere in the hundreds and to the thousands, depending where you’re staying. You’ll be able to wake up and be a walk or bike ride away from the beach, chic restaurants and stunning boutique shops.
WHAT TO DO IN TULUM
Cenote Cenote Cenote: This is a must. Swim in crystal clear turquoise waters beside turtles in the famous Gran Cenote, or spend a day at the local favorite and in my opinion, the most BEAUTIFUL… Sistema Dos Ojos. Shower before you get in and wear sunscreen that is environmentally friendly.
Swim with the Sea Turtles: We got a cab to the public beach of Tulum and walked down the shore and looked at a few snorkeling companies before we chose one we felt was a great deal and safe. It was around $30 CAD for almost 2 hours of snorkeling, once over the corals and then once with the sea turtles and sting rays. My tip is to try and pick a non-windy day to do this because it was a workout swimming over those waves.
Visit the Mayan Ruins: Make a day to wake up early and go see the ancient Mayan Ruins. It’s important to go early if you want a more relaxed visit where you can take in the magnificence of whats around you, and get those picture perfect shots.
Pablo Escobars old Mansion: Casa Blanca is a famous boutique hotel that claims to be Pablo Escobars old state of residence. It has spectacular art and architecture. If you buy drinks or food here they allow you to relax in their gorgeous day beds for as long as you like.
Rent bikes: This is an eco friendly way to get around town and also the most popular choice of transportation. Most hotels and hostels offer them for daily rentals.
Shopping in Tulum town: Shopping in the Tulum town, especially in the late evening, is a fun way to spend a few hours. You’ll find dream catchers, blankets, and authentic Mexican souvenirs around every corner. We wandered a bit from the popular strip and grabbed some street food for around 50 cents and watched a local soccer game.
WHERE TO EAT
- Taqueria Honorio: $ For an authentic mexican food experience. Juicy and fresh tacos around 20 pesos each (1.30 CAD) and they’re packed with flavour. We came here twice, both in the early morning because they close in the afternoon.
- MatchaMama: $ I also came here twice, maybe 3 times. Something about being in the sweltering heat all day makes a fresh fruit smoothie taste even better.
- Hashtag Poke: $$ If you like sushi you’ll LOVE Poke. You can build your own bowl or try one of their house made bowls. With a picturesque pink aesthetic and relaxing atmosphere, this is a great and casual place to stop for lunch.
- Taboo: $$$ Amazing food and cocktails with a sultry ambiance and a saxophonist that plays alongside a DJ.
WHERE TO SLEEP:
This is my personal favorite way to travel, as I love the freedom and experience of a fully equipped household. I wrote an extensive review of the penthouse apartment I stayed at when I was in Tulum that you can read about here.
Click here to browse airbnbs in Tulum with your travel dates.
HOTEL OR RESORT RECOMMENDATIONS
- Hotel Holistka -Beautiful and budget friendly shared or private rooms.
- Secret Garden Tulum – Excellent town location with a gorgeous holistic feel.
- Central Park Resort & Spa – The rooms are beautiful and have a lux feel and it’s not too expensive. Location is a bit out of town.
- Meruva – Right on the beach, this is a beautiful and classic beachfront hotel.
- Orchid House – Tranquil jungle style hotel with spectacular reviews.
- Mi Amor a Colibri Boutique Hotel – Stunning adult only hotel for a truly luxurious and romantic vacation.
TIPS AND TIDBITS
- Exchange your money in your hometown or at the airport, the rates are much better than random ATM’s you’ll find in town.
- If you’re budgeting on this trip, don’t carry more than your decided daily budget of pesos with you so you’re not tempted to overspend.
- If you’re taking a taxi, it’s okay to negotiate pricing before you ride.
- Some places automatically add a tip on your bill, and you unknowingly could tip on top of it. Check your bill thoroughly so this doesn’t happen to you!
- Respect the wildlife and nature. If you’re swimming in a cenote and see a turtle, don’t touch it, just don’t. When exploring during daytrips, leave no trace and take all your garbage home with you.
IS IT SAFE IN TULUM?
I felt very safe in Tulum.
As with any highly populated tourist destination, don’t go out partying alone, or wandering the night with a pocket full of cash. When I travel abroad I always have someone back home to casually update about my plans and where I am staying just in case anything happens. I advise to exercise common sense and caution when traveling anywhere, but as a member of the LGBTQ community, I am always extra cautious, but something about Tulum felt very open minded and I didn’t feel like I stood out with my girlfriend whatsoever. I would travel solo here.
Yes. Tulum has a deeply unfortunate problem of an excessive amount of seaweed washing up to shore. You can read all about it here. When enjoying the beach we tried to find places that were clear of the seaweed but it was a bit hard. When swimming sometimes it would get caught in my hair or tangled around my hands and feet, which really grossed out my friend and girlfriend. I am being honest here when I say it didn’t personally hinder my visit at all, as I’m not all about the perfect beach photos and truth be told I’m not easily grossed out. I swam for hours as happy as a fish! But if you’re looking for a crystal clean Caribbean beach, I don’t want to sell Tulum as such. My advice would be to check the seaweed conditions before you leave and decide if this would personally be a deal breaker for you.
So, what are you waiting for?
Start planning your own Tulum vacation.
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Disclaimer: Any recommendations used by readers are of their own free will and choosing. Site owner is not responsible for any mishaps or accommodation issues that occur on trip. Always use your own judgment of the listing before booking.