Lately it seems travelers to Mexico are opting less for the large all inclusive resort style accommodation that Cancun has to offer and more for the eco-friendly lifestyle health resorts that Tulum prides itself on. I say Por Que No Los Dos?
You probably saw hundreds of perfectly curated posts from all of your favourite travel bloggers over the summer living it up in their beach front villas but trust me Tulum isn’t just a pretty face.
I, like you saw hundreds of photos on Instagram and thought ‘I HAVE to go there.’ Tulum just had this certain charm about it. When I dug deeper into the travel planning it just made sense. We mapped out exactly where we wanted to visit when we were in the Riviera Maya and Tulum was right in the middle of the action. In actual fact, we didn’t spend too much time in Tulum itself because there was so much to do. We spent a week but could have easily spent a lifetime!
Where to stay?
Tulum is basically split into 3 parts: Zona Hotelera, Pueblo and Aldea Zama.
We personally opted for a little Airbnb in Aldea Zama, close enough to the town that we could walk, but still only a 10 minute drive to the beach. Aldea Zama is a relatively new development that has popped up only in recent years.
Our apartment had beautiful views over the jungle & a rooftop swimming pool.
If you’re after a little more luxury, then the Zona Hotelera is definitely for you, but be prepared to pay the price! This kind of eco luxury isnt cheap! Some beautiful hotels in the Zona Hotelera are:
Azulik- remember how I said be prepared to pay the price. The cheapest room at Azulik is $750AUD per night. With respect to Australia the prices are not too expensive, but in comparison to prices in Mexico it is quite high. When you walk into the grounds of Azulik you walk through a tunnel made completely of tree branches that opens up into a beautiful exposed lobby with jungle surrounding. You can just tell it is going to be one of the most luxurious hotels that you ever stay at. While we didn’t personally stay, I instantly wished we did!
If you are after budget accommodation, then Pueblo is perfect for you. There are hundreds of hostels and boutique hotels that scatter the town starting at $8AUD per night.
Where to Eat and Drink?
Like accommodation prices there are two very different standards when it comes to prices of food and drink in Tulum. When you are at the beach expect to pay Australian prices (if not more), when you are in town you can eat dinner for less than $5AUD per person. Our favourite places to eat and drink were
Nomade is a beautiful space set up on the beach, with Morrocan inspired finishes. There are rugs and cushions on top of the sand where you sit to eat. As soon as you sit down you instantly feel zen! Hot tip: the ceviche is to die for, and the guac is one of the best we had in Mexico!
The Taco truck in the Alleyway next to the OXXO
I don’t have a proper name for this one because well… Street food. If you want cheap, authentic tacos al pastor this is THE place in Tulum. Grab a few beers from the OXXO next door, sit down and enjoy your 5 tacos for $2.50AUD. These tacos were simple but absolutely delicious.
Kin Toh Tulum
Located within the grounds of Azulik Tulum is Kin Toh, a treehouse bar and restaurant with a beautiful view overlooking the jungle and all the way out to the ocean. With drink prices of $25AUD we opted not to stay for dinner, but the view was worth every cent.
Matcha Mama Tulum
For the tastiest Matcha, Smoothies, Kombucha and other vegan treats Matcha Mama is a go to!All of the prices are super affordable and I mean… if nothing else, you have to go for the photo op #forthegram
There’s no shortage of transport options in Tulum but if your budget permits I highly recommend hiring a car. We paid $250AUD for 4 days and there is no way that we could have fit as much in if we didn’t. Having a car allowed us to come and go to as many places as we wanted and make stops along the way. The roads are surprisingly well maintained, some were even better than the roads in Australia. Pro Tip: All major roads between cities have Toll points, these are only a couple of dollars but make sure you carry small change. Don’t carry large amounts of cash as Police corruption is rife!
If your budget is tight, don’t stress! Collectivo’s run up and down the main road between Tulum and Cancun as well as Tulum to Coba. These are basically mini buses and you can hop on or off anywhere along the way. A 30 minute ride will probably set you back about $3AUD, expect to pay a little more if you’re heading all the way to Cancun or Playa Del Carmen.
What to do?
Sure you could spend your whole day on the beach relaxing and drinking margaritas and eating Pizza but Tulum is bursting at the seams with things to do! Here’s a few that I recommend.
The ruins of Tulum are located along the coast about a 15 minute drive from both Pueblo and Zona Hotelera. Entry will set you back about $5.50AUD. We spent 2 and a half hours walking around the grounds (we could have easily spent longer here, but I was recovering from an allergic reaction and not having a good time in the 40° heat.) Did you know: Tulum was one of the last cities inhabited by the Maya’s before the Spanish Revolution?
More ruins? If you’re not interested in history then you probably dont want to fill your itinerary with Archaeological sites but the history of the Maya’s is so rich and interesting that I do highly recommend it! Coba is approximately a 45 minute drive from Tulum and will set you back $6AUD for entry and $3AUD for parking. Coba is one of the last ruins that you can actually still climb up and from the top is an amazing view of the surrounding dense Mayan jungle.
Tulum is surrounded by hundreds (no exaggeration) of cenotes to explore. If you are driving around you will see signs lining the road, for different cenotes. Cenote hopping was one my favourite memories of Tulum, we spent days on days visiting different cenotes. Each cenote is so different from the next. If you want to explore the natural beauty of Mexico this is something that you have to do. Check back next week to read my full guide of Cenotes in the Riviera Maya.
Best Times to Visit?
The weather in the Riviera Maya is broken into a distinct wet season (March-September) and Dry Season(October-February). During the wet season the area is known for heavy rains and sometimes tropical storms. During the dry season, the weather is hot and humid with little to no rain. The high tourist season in the area is around January/February time when all of the US travelers are trying to escape the cold winter. While the wet season can be unpredictable, it is very warm and cheaper to travel. For good weather without the crowds October-November is best to travel.
Enjoy your trip!