Destination Guide: Tulum

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Tulum, Mexico is a small town located about 100 miles from Cancun. The town (or pueblo) itself is located about five miles from the beach/hotel road (playa). Plan on spending at least 4 days here; more if you want to spend some days exploring the various cenotes throughout the area.

Things to Know:

Beach Road

Beach Road

  • Tulum is not on a public sewage system, so it cannot handle toilet paper. All resorts (even the fancy ones), restaurants and public areas have a bin next to the toilets to dispose of tp. It’s not that big of a deal and you get used to it after the first few times.
  • Bring cash! Most places do not take credit cards, so you will need to find an ATM either at the airport, or on the way to Tulum and take out as much cash as you think you will need for the time you are there. Try not to use the ATMs in Tulum, as they charge a lot in the exchange of money.
  • The water is not extremely calm. There were pretty big waves when we were there, which was actually more fun! We got thrown around a few times and we were able to body surf in the water.
  • Nightlife is much more zen and chill than other places in Mexico. Most of the area closes up around 9 or 10, minus Casa Jaguar and Gitano which have late-night parties. If you want a party scene, stay in Cancun or Riveria Maya.

Things to Do:

Kayaking in the bioreserve

Kayaking in the bioreserve

  • Find a yoga class to attend! There are tons up and down the beach road and even some within the pueblo. Check out Yoga Shala, Sanara, Tribal Yoga for their schedules. Most offer drop-in classes for around $12-$15 and have morning and evening classes.
  • Swim in a cenote. A cenote is a natural pit or sinkhole that exposes the groundwater underneath and there are tons around Mexico. It’s a great place to visit if the waves on the beach are too much for you. We tried to go to Grand Cenote, but we were only on bicycles and the road to it seemed too treacherous. If you have a car or book a taxi, check out Grand Cenote, Dos Ojos or Cenote Calavera.
  • Book an adventure tour with Yucatan Outdoors! They have a bunch of awesome tours, including bird watching, mountain biking through the jungle, and kayaking through the Sian Ka’an Biosphere. We booked the centoe and kayaking tour and it was awesome! Our tour guides even gave us snacks, including the freshest mangos I ever had, roasted cacao nuts, roasted fava beans (soooo good) and tacos de canasta (aka basket tacos) on the kayak. I am now obsessed with basket tacos, which are sold throughout Mexico. They are made in advance and get better the more they sit. The fillings include refried beans, cheese, and even mashed potatoes. 
  • Hang out at the Beach. Plan at least one downtime day where all you do is relax on the beach, read books, drink some cervazas or coco locos and play in the water. 
  • Take in the Mayan Tulum Ruins. Although not as impressive as the Coba ruins, the view from the upper portion of the beach is amazing. It’s only 70 pesos, so worth a morning trek there. 
  • Rent Bicycles, or Scooters to take a ride into town. You need to at least check out the pueblo while you are there. We ended up renting bikes, riding to the ruins and then into town. It was not an easy ride because of the wind that day. If we were to do it all over again, we would rent a scooter instead so we could also check out a few cenotes that day.

Places to Eat:

  • Hartwood: This is THE place to go if you want to dine with all the beautiful people from New York City. Reservations are normally needed in advance, although if you go exactly at 5, you might also get a seat. The fish and pork ribs were phenomenal, along with the fresh jicama salad. It’s pricey, though. Two drinks, a salad and two entrees was around $75 without tip.
  • Safari: If you don’t want to bother going to the pueblo to get tacos, you can get some good ones here. Everything is cooked on the open fire and delicious! We split the street corn and guacamole and each had two tacos. Try the lamb barbacoa special if they have it. 
  • Ziggy’s: We only had a quick appetizer here, but it was delicious. The interior is cute with wooden swings at the bar. If you are interested in Mezcal, they can do a whole presentation complete with crickets.
  • Raw Love: If you need a morning smoothie or acai bowl, check this place out. It’s located within the hotel of Ahau and hidden within the trees, which was really relaxing.
  • Antojitos La Chiapaneca: This is a taco place in the pueblo. They don’t open until 3 pm and it’s apparently the place to go to get tacos. Each are only $.45. Watch out for the red sauce…it’s hot! We missed out on eating these tacos because we were in the town too early and they were not open yet. 

Where to Stay:

  • Cabanas La Luna: This is where we stayed in the Robinson Crusoe bungalow. This is a small boutique property with only 8 bungalows. Prices are one of the cheapest on the beach in high season, but still insanely high. It’s located in the middle of the beach road and rates start at $150/night, but can go up to $500 for the private villa.
  • Ahau Tulum: We walked through here to get to the beach one night and loved the vibe and the look of the beach cabanas. Raw Love is also located here. If we were to come again, this might be a possible place to stay. Rooms start at $112 for a jungle room and go up to $504 for an ocean front cabana.
  • If you don’t need to stay on the beach, check out AirBnB for the Navitas Tulum, which is directly on the cenote we swam in. Note, since these are on the jungle side, you will need to bring natural bug spray with you to ward off the mosquitoes.

Have you been to Tulum? Are you planning a trip? Send us additional tips in the comments below and sign up for our emails in the footer to be a big winner like Candice S (Q1 print winner) and get a nature pic taken and signed by us shipped to you for FREE!

Because Adventure Travel Feeds the Soul,
Amy K and the Hashtag 59 Team

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