You’ve probably seen images of others visiting this small Caribbean town in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo all over your timeline and may be wondering what’s all the fuss about. Tourism in Tulum has exploded in the past few years and has easily recovered after the pandemic and it’s no wonder why. Tulum is an unhidden gem with a boho vibe that is the perfect respite from the hustle of life. If you’re ready to visit this slice of paradise in the Yucatan I’m sharing the best way to eat, play, and stay in Tulum!
Tulum has lodging options that range from budget hostels to luxury hotels but generally Tulum has great inexpensive options. I have always stayed in rentals with private pools but if you prefer hotels, the hotel zone is where you want to be. If you choose to stay in a rental property, I would suggest staying in Aldea Zama, a boutique residential area of Tulum with walkable streets and a variety of restaurants and shops with easy access to the hotel zone (where most of the hotels and restaurants are).
I highly recommend staying in Cancun the day prior to your departure from Tulum to avoid any delays on the drive back or getting to the airport on time.
Transportation Tulum is planning an airport that allows you to fly directly to the city in 2023 but as of now you fly into Cancun and have to travel to Tulum by vehicle. You can book shuttles or take a bus but I prefer renting a car. Tulum is approximately 118 km (73 miles) away from the airport with a straight easy drive.
Tulum has world class restaurants with a plethora of different cuisines. Some of my favorites are below! I would recommend making reservations at restaurants that take them on OpenTable.
Burrito Amor - the freshest burritos I’ve had in my life with great natural juice options.
Hartwood - reservations are taken one month in advance and the menu changes so you will always get a fresh experience!
Casa Jaguar - want to eat outside in the jungle? Put this restaurant on your list! I recommend the whole roasted fish.
Casa Banana - this upscale rustic restaurant features great mocktails and fresh out of the open wood-fire oven options. I recommend the lamb risotto.
RosaNegra - if you want the party dinner experience definitely visit this restaurant which features a live DJ and a lively atmosphere.
Kin Toh - the restaurant connected to the luxury hotel Azulik has views high above the city and a treehouse setting that complements the outstanding fare.
Rossina Cafe - fresh breakfast smoothies and artisan breakfast options to start your day in Tulum!
The boho beach vibe of Tulum almost forces you to relax and really enjoy the ability to absolutely nothing but whether you choose just to hang by the beach or do something active, there are plenty of things to do!
There are picturesque corners of Tulum everywhere you look! I love the arts and Tulum definitely feeds that passion. Walking the Zona Hotelera in Tulum is the best way to explore and get all the best pictures for the 'gram!
Serik IK - an art gallery that merges the beauty of the area and innovative design
Papaya Playa Project Beach Club - this is the way to hang by the beach! One of the better beach clubs in Tulum you can reserve for the day with beach, pool, and restaurant access.
The Yucatan is home to one of the seven wonder of the world Chichen Itza, 152 km (94 miles) away from Tulum. You can rent a car and drive or take a bus tour to the area. Go early as the sun is brutal and there is little shade as you're walking.
Cenotes are natural pits or sinkholes filled with water and Tulum and the surrounding area has several. The most popular is Gran Cenote, about ten minutes from Tulum's center. You pay a fee to enter and lockers and life jackets are available. You are also required to shower prior to entering the cenote area. I recommend going early as it gets busy.
As of November 2021, you do need show proof of vaccination to travel (check airline guidelines) and are required to take a Covid-19 test prior to departure from Mexico to enter the U.S. You will find several facilities where you can take the test and the general price for the antigen test is around $35 USD.
Although Spanish language skills are not needed to visit Tulum, it is a much smaller city than Cancun so you may encounter residents who do not speak English - just a reminder to be patient and respectful with communicating.
I would recommend having some Mexican pesos for tipping, etc. but generally most restaurants, etc. accept credit and debit cards in which you can pay in pesos or USD.
I've driven a rental car the times I've visited the area however, if you are not comfortable with driving on non-well maintained roads, I do not recommend renting a vehicle. There are taxi and private transportation services as well as simply biking or renting a scooter to get around. Always check with the lodging about parking availability and check your insurance coverage for potential undercarriage and tire damage to the vehicle.
I can truly say Tulum has become one of my favorite vacation locations and I'm looking forward to visiting again soon! I hope this guide helps you add Tulum to your travel list!