Tips for visiting Tulum:
- How to get there: the closest airport is Cancun International airport and it will take about 2hours to get to Tulum by cab. I strongly recommend organizing your shuttle ahead of time. It can cost up to $100 one way for a taxi!
- If you have Mexican roots and speak Spanish- you can benefit from local discounts.
- Go on a Catamaran ride: the water is absolutely stunning! There was a big group of us and apparently, the only catamarans for rent were all the way in Cancun so it was another long drive to get there and back but totally worth it! (Tip: maybe plan to stay one night in Cancun upon arrival or a day before you leave and enjoy a full day on a catamaran.) We made a snorkeling stop at Punta Sam to admire fish and enjoy the 6 giant hand sculptures by Cuban Artist Elier Amando Gil, at a depth of 3,5 meters. More here. We also stopped at Isla Mujeres for lunch: it was a beautiful spot!
- The town of Tulum is stretched out over a few miles along the beach. It’s absolutely adorable! Great design and still expanding- you’ll want to do some shopping here but be warned, the prices are quite high!
- Similarly, the pricing in restaurants is not what you would expect of Mexico. They are clearly aware of the wealth of tourists and you can expect pay prices similar to Los Angeles. We did not eat out much and that’s one thing I regret! There were so many options that looked fantastic! We did try Loco Tulum and enjoyed it greatly. The drinks were nice and the food was good.
- There are no sidewalks so bikes, pedestrians, buses, taxis, trucks and cars share the road. Be careful! Bikes are a great way to get up and down the main strip. Taxis zoom up and down the street at all hours and are easy to get (make sure you have cash). Also, note that traffic in peak season can be quite bad!
- The weather was very humid and hot when we were there and locals told us it was like this all year long.
- Beach: we were very unlucky and got a lot of seaweed but it cleared up on the last day. The white sand is so soft and fine and beautiful against the turquoise water!
- The biggest supermarket it outside the town, so I’d recommend stopping on your way in.
- MOSQUITOS- Bring lots of insect repellant.
- Jungle- Tulum is nestled between a beautiful white sandy beach and the jungle hosting sea turtles, jaguars, and many more species! Watch out for scorpions too!
- If you’re looking for a fun way to workout, head to the Tulum Jungle Gym. It was such a cool spot! Not every day will you get a chance to workout in open-air, barefoot and lift rocks into a netting basket to do back squats! The view was also amazing!
- Most locals speak Maya & Spanish. It is said that over 800,000 Mexicans living in the Yucatan region speak Maya (technically called Yukatek Maya). Here are a few words you can quickly learn:
- thank you- Dios bo’otik
- Please- Meent’ uts
- Goodbye- Ma’lob ak’ab
- Excuse me- Pa’atiki’
- Help- Áantení!
- Cenotes or sinkholes are believed to link Mayans with the rain god Chaac. I ran out of time to explore the popular ones such as Gran Cenote and Casa Tortuga Tulum (multiple big ones- you will want a few hours to hang out here apparently). The concept is the following: it’s a sinkhole filled with fresh water. The day we left, I walked over to a local one, accessible via a hotel called Mayan Cabanas & Cenote Tulum. They charge 50 pesos to access it and an extra 50 pesos if you want to rent a kayak. The access is a little bit secluded and you have to swim or row for a few seconds before you get to the bigger, wider area. I believe this cenote is not like the typical ones, as it was very large and open. It felt more like a lake but the water was very clear and there was no one around!!! It was so peaceful and quiet and only a 10-minute walk from Loco Tulum!
- Right outside of the touristic downtown Tulum, you will find some Mayan ruins. The entry is 75 pesos and you can walk in and around the Tulum ruins. We strolled around for a few hours and admired the beauty of the temples, the still noticeable colors on the walls and the breathtaking views of the ocean. It was very hot, with barely any shade so make sure you bring a hat, sunscreen and water. There was a beach access but it was closed the day we were here. On the drive up to the side, we also noticed multiple beach entrances. I’d love to check it out next time!
- Other famous sites a little bit further from Tulum: Chichen Itza, Coba, Ek Balam and El Rey (in Cancun).
- The city is mostly run by generators since it doesn’t have proper access to the power grid. They are quite noticeable at night (noise pollution).
- Accommodation options in Tulum are boutique hotels or you can rent small apartments, houses or single rooms but there are no big hotel chains within the center. Not all hotels have air conditioning so make sure you check before you book! Some places only allow it to run at night.
- While talking with a few locals, we learned that 30 years ago Tulum was a very small town with only a few boutique hotels. Due to the growing popularity of the area, more and more boutique hotels and shops are being built every day, a lot of them on protected areas. The region is growing too fast creating a lot of problems like overflowing landfills, power source problems (see above note on generators), coral reef collapse, and more. Try to be extra cautious and environmentally conscious while you are there.
Impression of Tulum:
Tulum was a trendy, cute little town that seems to be expanding by the minute. I enjoyed my short time there and would love to go back again soon. The people were so friendly and the atmosphere was great. It felt very fashionable, chic, beachy and safe.
Since there was a big group of us heading to a wedding that was happening in a rented house on the beach, my friend rented a whole building on Airbnb. This property can be rented by the room or you can rent the whole property as we did. Every room had their own bathroom, hammock/private balcony as well as a front porch with chairs. The AC worked from 7 pm to 5 am. There was a communal kitchen on the rooftop with a small pool and living space. On one side we could enjoy the endless jungle views, and on the other, we could watch our neighbors on their rooftops (owned by the same person). This was perfect for our group, as half of my friends traveled with their partners and took the rooms with the king beds, and the other half got the rooms with the 2 doubles. We all had breakfast in the morning on the rooftop and a nightcap on the roof before calling it a night. The restaurant right beside our property (Loco Tulum) welcomed our group daily, as if we were family. it was truly a beautiful experience.
If I go back, I think I’d need at least a week to check out one or two of the bigger Cenotes and the bigger Mayan Ruins. I’d love to go scuba diving in this perfectly clear, turquoise water and enjoy a day on the beach, playing in the waves and walking in the white sand. I’d love to take a yoga class, with the jungle as a backdrop. I’d love to go shopping in all these cute shops, have a little taste of every restaurant and go out to one of those trendy bars at night. I’d also try to stay in one of those boutique hotels, with AC. The weather was very hot and humid while we were there and I can’t imagine staying here with no AC.
Hasta la vista Tulum!