The Ultimate Travel Guide to Tulum, Mexico
I recently discovered that there is quite possibly nothing more exciting and rewarding than a last-minute trip to a new country. When the opportunity to go to the white sandy beaches of Tulum presented itself, I jumped at it, grabbing my friend Lauren and as much colorful clothing as I could fit in a carry-on. Since I’ve never been to Tulum, I was so excited to see the magical little town and experience all that Mexico could offer. Tulum quickly became a favorite of mine on this last visit! I’m a huge fan of Tulum because even though it’s a popular destination, you are away from the craziness and hoards of tourists in other areas like Cancun.
In Lak’ech Ala K’in
definition: I am you, and you are me. A Mayan greeting honoring each other. It is a statement of unity and oneness. In Lak’ech Ala K’in mirrors the same sentiment of other beautiful greetings such as Namaste does in the East.
It’s just a quick flight to Mexico (the Cancun airport) and a 1.5hr cab to Tulum. From the airport, you can grab a shuttle bus and ride with several people to the resorts in Tulum or you can book a taxi and ride solo with complimentary wifi. You can’t miss the taxi’s because people are yelling at you everywhere. I obviously wouldn’t take a ride from a stranger, so there are little booths on the side so you know it’s legit. They’re typically offering a deal if you buy your return trip back at the same time. I got half off for booking them both. You can also book ahead and check out the pre-arrival deals that way too!
Transportation Pro Tip: I can’t speak for the other resorts but where we stayed didn’t have great service or hotel phone, plus I don’t speak Spanish, so calling to book my return pick up time was difficult. I highly recommend booking your return pick up time when you arrive in Tulum.
Once in Tulum, you can get around easily by biking, walking next to the street or on the beach, or by taking a cab. In the summer months, it can get pretty hot so if you walk along the beach you’ll get more of a breeze and maybe even stop for a massage or two!
Travel Pro Tip: Make sure you bring cash and grab some pesos at the airport for your trip! Remember to notify your credit and debit card companies that you’ll be traveling out of the country so they don’t freeze your card.
Where To Stay
There are too many resorts to count in Tulum. You really can’t really go wrong because they’re all on the same street. We choose Amansala, an eco-chic resort and had an amazing stay there. Check out our bungalow here!
Read More: Our stay at Amansala
Want more of a luxury vibe and less eco-chic? Check out the 6 luxury resorts in Tulum below.
Read More: 6 Luxury Resorts In Tulum
Where To Eat
For breakfast and lunch, we mostly ate at our resort because the food was fresh and so delicious. We didn’t even have to leave the beach. The first night we were in Tulum we rushed over to Hartwood for dinner. All of our friends kept raging about how good this place was. We were told the line to get in can hover around 2 hours long so go early! Luckily since it was just my friend and me, we were able to grab 2 seats at the bar. It turned out to be a great spot because there were so many fresh juices lined up in front of us, we couldn’t decide which cocktail to choose first! We started with the Hot Austin which is watermelon rum and chile de Arbol then we moved to sangria and finally tried the Luna Roja, hibiscus mezcal and chile ancho. We also downed about 3 liters of bottled water because it was so hot. One thing to note is that Hartwood is a cash-only restaurant. Drinks will run you about 165 pesos each.
For an app, we had the beautiful ceviche de quelites, pictured above and costillas al agave. The fall off the bone pork ribs was delicious and the portions were large so Lauren and I split everything and we still couldn’t finish it all. After everything, our meal was about $120.
You can typically find the restaurant burning Copal heavily at certain times during dinner. Although I had no idea what they were doing at first and why it was so smokey, I grew to really like Copal and even brought some home with me. I was told by locals to take a deep breath in, it’s good for you. More on copal here.
Some other places you should definitely try while you’re in Tulum:
Arca – right next to Hartwood. It was our second best meal down there, so good! The atmosphere is magical. I recommend getting the cheese ice cream. It sounds so weird but it was delicious!
Gitano – next to Hartwood is great for drinks afterward
Ki’Bok Coffee Shop – grab their tasty fruit bars made from scratch every morning
Zamas + Que Fresco – late lunch or sunset drinks
La Eufemia – beachside cafe and bar
Posada Margharita – amazing breakfast here as well
Casa Jaguar – cozy and casual with great cocktails
Chamico – cash only secret beach bar
What To Do
Tulum is so much fun to just jump on a bike and explore. There is so much to see and do or you could just spend your time relaxing on the beach. We recommend visiting the Mayan Ruins while you’re there. Here are few other things to do when you’re in Tulum.
Shopping in Tulum was such a crazy experience! I was ready for the local shops but I had no idea Tulum was like the Manhattan of Mexico. They have some ahhhmazing high-end shops that feature hand made Mayan clothes, artwork, and so much more. I recommend going to the shops in the heart of the city and all the local shops. Near Hartwood, there are a few favorites like Mr.Blackbird, Josa, Wanderlust boutique, and La Placita the #jungleboutique. One of my favorite shops in all of Tulum is Shalom. It’s also a nice shop that is reasonably priced. I got some amazing sunglasses, handmade kimono, hand-painted Frida coin pouch, and a bomb ass print by a local artist that features a woman with a tiger head! I love it!
Water Fun + Cenotes
Tulum is a natural playground. With one of the world’s largest underground water systems, adventure abounds. Fresh or open water diving, snorkeling, and fishing tours are offered everywhere. There are dozens of cenotes in the area from open swimming holes to the stalactite and stalagmite filled caves. There are a ton of water activities but Tulum is most famous for its cenotes. I’d recommend Dos Ojos but you can make an entire day of just checking all the different
Spend a day at the spa! A beautiful spa we recommend is Yaan Spa!
Definitely do a day at Nomade Tulum. Tip: as long as you eat you can use their day beds
Yoga is everywhere in Tulum. It’s a real mind, body, spirit sort of a place so take some time to meditate or enjoy yoga on the beach.
When we asked a friend what to do she said, “do you want to go to a jungle party at all?” And I was like whaaaattt? She said if you go into Tulum town, which is like the downtown where locals live, you need to go to this place called burrito amor! She said it was so delicious and super cheap but I can’t speak from first-hand experience because sadly we didn’t get a chance to go.
Our weekend trip definitely wasn’t long enough with everything there is to see and do in Tulum! We’re already planning our next trip! Have you been? What is your favorite thing to see and do?
Read Next: 13 photos to inspire you to visit Tulum