Tulum is one of many spots in the world that’s gained popularity from social media. Influencers started posting about the spot a few years ago and now it is all the rage! Celebrities and travelers from all around the world and booking trips to visit the unique, hut filled spot. Because of that, it’s definitely a bit more touristy than it used to be and the prices have increased to match the demand, but Tulum is a place unlike any other and is definitely worth a visit.
Tucked back along the coast of the Yucatan, Tulum is home to a relaxing and earth centered atmosphere. You’ll find some incredible hotels, yoga resorts, and retreat centers built among the trees and natural habitat. While our team was on our retreat in Cancun a few weeks ago, we took a day trip to Tulum. It was my second time in the area and I’m so glad I went back because it was even better the second time around.
If you’re questioning if you should make the trip to Tulum, I’m here to tell you you should! Read on to learn all of my recommendations for how to get there, what to do, and what to eat while you’re in Tulum.
GETTING TO TULUM
First things first, you’ll need to make your way to Tulum. If you’re flying into the area your closest airport is Cancun International Airport. From there, you’ll need to decide how you want to travel the remaining 1.5 hours from Cancun south to Tulum. Since we only visited for a day, we drove our rental car from Cancun and made it a little road trip which wasn’t bad at all! A rental car is a great option if you’re looking for some flexibility while you’re there (we booked ours for around $100 USD for a week), but keep in mind, Tulum is a small area and parking isn’t the easiest. It’s definitely designed for biking and moderate walking and if you’re looking to go that route I would recommend taking the ADO bus from Cancun to Tulum. ADO is the long distance bus company in Mexico, similar to a greyhound, and they’re surprisingly pretty nice. You can get a ticket from Cancun to Tulum for less than $10 USD each way and enjoy watching Mexican television while you relax and enjoy the ride. 🙂
WHERE TO STAY IN TULUM
I haven’t stayed overnight in Tulum before but what I know about the resorts is that you’ll spend a pretty penny to be on the main walking strip (Quintana Roo 15) where all the restaurants, shops, and resorts are. If you’re really set on staying overnight in Tulum and have the money, go for the resort and enjoy all of the amenities! If not, check out Airbnb for some more affordable options that are a little farther away from the beach. You’ll still be able to venture to the beaches and many of the resorts will let you pay to take classes or rent a beach chair so you can still get the luxury experience on a budget.
PLACES TO EAT IN TULUM
The great thing about Tulum and all of the attention it’s getting is that there are so many options for food. If you’re vegetarian or vegan you’ll be surprised at how many restaurants have options for you in Tulum. Just like any other place in Mexico, there are more expensive and touristy restaurants and there are budget friendly taco shops and whole in the wall joints. A little something for everyone!
While we were in Tulum we stopped for lunch at Mateo’s Mexican Grill. They had amazing salsa, ceviche, and tacos with a more American flare. The Sunday we were there they were playing the NFL football game and a ton of people were enjoying a drink and watching the game. I was super excited to find some non-alcoholic options on the menu and would definitely recommend the Nada colada! Its a non-alcoholic pina colada and you just can’t beat the fresh pineapple and coconut milk.
Before we headed out at the end of the day, we headed to Nomade Tulum for some drinks and dinner. They have a hefty restaurant minimum of $100 USD per person for anyone eating at the restaurant that wasn’t a hotel guest, so we opted for a few drinks at their Moroccan- style restaurant, Macondo, instead. It was a lovely environment but beware of the mosquitos! They chased us out before sundown.
Some other popular spots I’ve heard about but didn’t have the chance to check out are Matcha Mama, Raw Love, Antojitos La Chiapaneca, Casa Violeta, Tunich, and Posada Margherita for Italian food.
THINGS TO DO IN TULUM
Now let’s dive into the fun of things to do! Most people travel to Tulum with the mentality of relaxing and enjoying a bit of a slower pace than their everyday lives so many of the things to do fall into that arena, but not all.
The Mayan Ruins in Tulum (Parque Nacional Tulum):
The main attraction in Tulum is definitely the Mayan Ruins. They are the only ruins in Mexico that are built on the ocean and the view is incredible. I visited the ruins on my first trip to Tulum for a self-guided tour. This trip we paid $20 USD/per person for admission, parking and a guide. Though it’s not necessarily the cheapest route, I much preferred our guided tour. I would have never learned the history behind the temples. They are all built aligned with the sun and helped the Mayan people determine seasons for planting and child-rearing. It also didn’t hurt that we got to skip the admission line, which was a timesaver. In the middle of the day, the line was about 45 minutes long.
Tip: when you exit the ruins, make sure to head to your right if you want to go back to the main road where the trolley and tour guides are. If you exit to the left you will go to the nearby resorts and won’t be able to get back in the gate. Tim and I made this mistake on our trip and its was a long walk. I was glad I remembered this time around to save our legs!
Visit a Nearby Cenote for a Swim
Another very unique activity you have to do while in Tulum is visit one of the dozens of nearby cenotes. Cenotes (pronounced SIN-NO-TAYS) are natural sinkholes formed from limestone bedrock. Each one is a little different: for some the swimming hole is accessible above ground, while others are completely underground and can even form underground rivers. The closest cenotes to Tulum are the Gran Cenote, Cenote Calavera, and Cenote Tankah. You can pay entry into the cenotes yourself or go with a guide. Either way, I promise it’ll be refreshing and probably one of the most unique swimming experiences you’ve had.
Go to the Beach
The beach in Tulum is really beautiful. The water is light blue and the sand is warm and soft. Many people will swim in the ocean at the ruins when the beach is open. There are also several beaches along the resort stretch on Quintana Roo 15. If you’re looking for a beach off the beaten path, exit the ruins to the left and follow the road for a bit. You’ll find a few public beach access points where you can relax and enjoy some quiet time.
Shop + Explore the Resorts
Along the main strip of Quintana Roo 15, there are lots of little shops, restaurants, and bars. It could take you a week to explore everything since many resorts allow non-hotel guests to enjoy their properties. Make sure to pack your walking shoes! As we were headed back to Cancun for the night, we drove past lots of little shops and restaurants. They were so cute at night with string lights hanging from the trees. People were out riding bikes and walking around and I wish we had the time to do the same.
Check out Local Experiences and Take a Class
There are so many local experiences and classes in the Tulum area. Even a quick search on Airbnb experiences displays pottery classes, yoga classes and cooking classes. Take the opportunity to get outside of your comfort zone and try something new!
Last but not least, make sure to take some time to relax while you’re in Tulum. Get a massage on the beach or read a book while listening to the wave. Whatever your preferred method of relaxation is, Tulum is the perfect place for it! Maybe take a nap? I don’t think you’ll regret it. 🙂
So those are my suggestions! Tulum truly is a magical place with a style all its own. There are restaurants built into the top of trees and hammocks large enough for a crowd of people. There are resorts built completely open-air to be one with nature. It’s a unique place with so much to explore. I hope this post helps you in planning your next trip to Tulum. Something tells me it won’t be your last.
Thanks for reading!