Quantcast

Everything You Need to Know About Visiting Tulum | Travel Guide

 

Everything You Need to Know Before Visiting Tulum, Mexico

 

Lately it feels like everyone and their mother is going to Tulum, at least from New York City. I made plans to visit Cancun, Mexico for my cousin’s wedding and decided I needed to also see what all the hype in Tulum was about!

Tulum is famous for its soft, white sandy beaches and laid back vibe. There are actually two parts to Tulum: the original sleepy town that has now boomed with restaurants, scuba shops and affordable hotels, and the beach strip. You might hear locals refer to the town as pueblo and the beach as playa. The two are roughly 5km apart and easy to get between via cab or bike. The best hotels and restaurants are located on the beach but if you want authentic Mexico food, head into town.

Keep reading for my travel guide to Tulum and Cancun – covering all the best things to do, where to eat and more!

 



 

 

Tulum, Mexico Travel Guide

Here’s a breakdown of everything I saw and ate while in Tulum along with helpful tourist information and advice on costs, things to do, where to stay and more! Keep reading to make the most of your Tulum, Mexico holiday.

 

Weather in Tulum and Best Times to Go


When to Go to Tulum: The best time to travel to Tulum is in during Mexico’s dry season from December to April. Expect higher prices and crowds. Rainy season starts in Tulum around June and lasts until roughly October. Weather wise, it’s pretty much a flat, windless 80 degrees all year.

We went to Tulum in mid December and the beaches were fantastic – I didn’t experience any of the seaweed issues that some friends had mentioned. The weather was extremely hot, about 90 degrees every day and I definitely got a deep tan.

I would recommend budgeting 3 to 4 days in Tulum. This is enough time to see the ruins, do a day trip or two if you want to and still have plenty of time to relax on the beach and sample the best restaurants.

 

 Read more:  8 of My Favorite Restaurants in Tulum

 

Where to Stay in Tulum: Hotels and Accommodation


The high end resorts are located on Tulum beach, a long north to south strip of land with the best beach access. You actually have to walk through a hotel property in order to get to the beach as there aren’t public access points from the main road.

The best beaches (and the nicer, luxury Tulum hotels) are further south as the farther south, the beaches are smoother with less seaweed.

 

The best luxury hotels on Tulum Beach:

Dreams Tulum | When I first arrived, every cab driver thought I was headed to Dreams Tulum as this is the luxury hotel in the area. Dreams Tulum is a luxury all inclusive with its own spa and views of the Tulum ruins along with scuba diving, amazing rooms and family friendly activities for the kids. Note: it’s not located on the beach strip.

Check rates on Hotels.comBooking.com or Read reviews on TripAdvisor

Be Tulum | A five star resort at the end of the Tulum Beach strip and definitely very ‘sceney’. Even if you don’t stay here, come around sunset for cocktails, sit at the bar swings and enjoy the atmosphere.

Check rates on Hotels.comBooking.com or Read reviews on TripAdvisor

 

The Best Eco Friendly Resorts in Tulum: 

Eco resorts are quite popular in Tulum and all of these hotels are stunning. Design wise, they blend high end materials with the surrounding beach & jungle for a “glam rustic” vibe. These are the most popular accommodation to stay in Tulum at the moment!

But, if you are the type to want strong wifi, 24 hour electricity and hot running water, eco-hotels are probably not for you. They do try to protect the environment after all ha!

Papaya Playa Project | Rustic and minimalist, the property is made up of cabins facing the beach. Book the cabanas for private patios that open up right on the water.

Check rates on Hotels.comBooking.com or Read reviews on TripAdvisor

Nomade | Amazing decor, a calming spa and its own private section of the beach.

Check rates on Hotels.comBooking.com or Read reviews on TripAdvisor

Azulik | No electricity, but gorgeous tree hut suites that overlook the ocean. Outdoor showers!

Check rates on Hotels.comBooking.com or Read reviews on TripAdvisor

 

Best Tulum Budget Hotels:

For budget friendly options, head into Tulum town. Prices are cheaper, rooms are clean and you can always head to the beach on your own!

Ginger Tulum Hotel | Located right in Tulum town between the main strip and the bus station, each room is slightly different. Comfortable, modern decor, free breakfast and wifi.

Check rates on Hotels.comBooking.com or Read reviews on TripAdvisor

Azura Boutique Hotel | Near the edge of downtown and a quick short ride from the beach. Free internet, comfortable rooms and an all around solid budget option.

Check rates on Hotels.comBooking.com or Read reviews on TripAdvisor

 



 

Getting Around Tulum


Bikes and cycling around Tulum | If you’re staying on Tulum beach, you can get around to the different hotels and fancy restaurants by either walking or renting a bike. The bicycles for rent are simple, older bikes and make for a great workout!

If you want authentic tacos al pastor which I highly recommend, you’ll need to head into Tulum central, the actual town. It’s about a 20 minute car ride north east of Tulum beach.

Cabs in Tulum and approximate costs | Depending on where you are on the long strip of Tulum beach, a cab ride will cost anywhere from 70 to 150 pesos. Make sure to negotiate and settle on the price before you get in, although prices are generally set. Here are some rough guidelines for how much a cab will cost from central Tulum to the beach.

Top of Tulum beach (around Papaya Playa Project hotel) – 70 mexican pesos

Middle of Tulum beach (around Hartwood) – 90 – 120 mexican pesos

End of Tulum beach (around Be Tulum hotel) – 150 mexican pesos

 



 

Popular Day Trips and Sights Near Tulum

Easy Day Trips from Tulum

Popular day trips in the area include visiting top cenotes, Akumal to swim with turtles in the ocean, scuba diving and seeing the ancient Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza. I highly recommend doing all of these – they were well worth it and highly unique! Where else can you swim with turtles for free, right in the ocean, without diving?

Other popular things to do in Tulum are visiting Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, notable for its mangroves; Coba and Vallodolid. I didn’t personally have time for these unfortunately!

The most convenient way to see any of these is to book a tour as they take care of all the rental gear, include lunch and private transportation. There are lots of dive shops in the town of Tulum central which can arrange day trips to all of these spots and have special tours for diving in the cenotes, swimming with bull sharks, etc.

 


Tulum Colectivos

If you’re on a budget, you can very easily hop into a colectivo, which is a shared Mexican van that predominantly locals use. We did this for Akumal and to see the Tulum ruins and had no problems. I always like to see the way locals get around to be honest!

Make sure to get in a colectivo going the same direction you want to go and just tell the driver your destination. They know all the touristy ones like Dos Ojos Cenote, Akumal, etc although if you want to go to Chichen Itza that is much farther and you have to take a bus. It also helps to “act like a local” in terms of knowing how much things cost as they will definitely keep your change if you act like a tourist ha.

Here is a general cost breakdown of colectivo fares starting from central Tulum town:

Tulum ruins | 15 min ride via colectivo and 20-25 pesos per person

Akumal | 30-45 min ride via colectivo and 35 pesos per person

Dos Ojos Cenote | 15 min ride and 20-30 pesos per person

 

Read more about secret cenotes in Mexico here.



 

Packing Checklist for Tulum and Things to Know Before You Go

My quick overview of the absolute essentials to pack for Mexico is below. For my complete packing guide including outfits and what to wear in Cancun, you can read my Mexico packing list post.

Sunscreen | A must have wherever you go, I like to bring both a facial sunscreen and all over body sunscreen. For the face, this Japanese brand is my hands down favorite – it’s non greasy, affordable and non-tacky without any scent. For the body, I love this broad spectrum sunscreen which smells like coconuts and leaves your legs nice and glowy.

Bug Spray | There are definitely mosquitoes and bugs around so protect yourself from any potential viruses by bringing along some buy spray in advance. Look for a high level of deet in order to be effective and just make sure to wash your hands with soap and water after applying.

I use this spray if I’m in the woods or a forested area but for regular day time use, I’ve been loving these wrist bands. The bracelets contain a blend of insect repelling oil so you don’t have to apply bug spray directly on your skin. I usually get 2 – one for my wrist and one for the ankle otherwise the range of coverage doesn’t seem to extend across the full body.

Snorkel and Fins | if you plan to visit the cenotes or Akumal to swim with turtles, I definitely recommend buying your own set snorkel mask and fin set before you go.

Yes, there are rental places at each but you’ll end up paying a lot more to keep renting it at each cenote and again at the Akumal beach.. so why not get a brand new and more importantly CLEAN set of your own? After all the snorkel goes into your mouth!

I bought a set on Akumal beach and of course it’s marked up significantly so just buy your own on Amazon (like this inexpensive set here) before you go.

Hand sanitizer and wipes | I generally always pack these and definitely when there’s sand involved!

Cash | In general, Tulum is not a credit card friendly place and you will need cash for everything, even paying for hotels. ATMs are not the most reliable so make sure to get enough Mexican pesos before you go. Some fancier restaurants will accept US dollars.

 

 Read more:  What to Wear in Cancun, Mexico: Packing List, Souvenirs & More

 

 

 

Visiting Mexico – Travel Checklist

From New York City, you can often find fare deals on direct flights to Cancun. From Cancun International Airport, you can rent a car or take the local bus to Tulum, Playa del Carmen and other popular cities. If you’re visiting Puerto Vallarta or Mexico’s West Coast, you may need to transfer in Georgia or Texas if traveling during low season.

Check for flight deals in advance in order to save. For hotel bookings, we relied on Booking.com. For more help with planning your vacation to Mexico, we love Lonely Planet’s Mexico guidebook. The local advice for admissions, times, maps and pricing was pretty invaluable.

If you plan to scuba dive, kayak or swim – I recommend bringing along a GoPro to take some fun photos!

Finally, make sure to visit Mexico with travel insurance. Whether you get injured and need to be hospitalized, or your phone gets stolen, or an injury forces you to cancel all or part of your vacation, travel insurance will help when you need it most. I use and recommend World Nomads travel insurance.

 

 

 You Might Also Enjoy: 

 

Mexico Vacation Planning Articles

Our trip report: Exploring Puerto Vallarta

Headed to Mexico on vacation? Check out this Cancun packing guide

The Complete Travel Guide to Visiting Tulum and Cancun!

The Best Food to Eat in Tulum

 

 

 

Follow Sher She Goes on

Bloglovin | FacebookTwitter | Pinterest | Instagram


JoyceJanuary 18, 2017 - 1:49 pm

I spent wayy too little time there last time. I can’t wait to go back and really experience Tulum! Thanks for this guide!

[…] to enjoy the whole experience. You can explore Tulum by yourself, with a tour guide or by reading this guide on everything you need to know about visiting Tulum. The beaches are beautiful and usually you are able to go downstairs and swim (best to bring your […]

[…] covered this in my Tulum Mexico Travel Guide, but Tulum is actually composed of two sections. There’s Tulum town and Tulum beach. Locals and […]

[…] Tulum Travel Guide | Tulum Eats & Restaurants […]

[…] this year alone, I feel like I’ve nailed down the art of packing for what to wear in Cancun, Tulum and the Yucatan! My essentials? Fun prints, breathable cotton and lots and lots of color. So far […]

Tai Cobb KlamApril 24, 2017 - 9:24 pm

Do you recommend Be Tulum over Casa Malca?

SherApril 24, 2017 - 9:49 pm

Hi Tai – im not familiar with casa malca sorry! But yes be tulum is a gorgeous hotel and one of my favorites on the beach strip

JennAugust 3, 2017 - 9:58 pm

Did you buy the black dress with colorful flowers in Mexico? My family will be leaving for cancun next week. Do you think a day trip to tulum would be doable and worth it?

SherAugust 4, 2017 - 12:10 am

Hey Jenn, no I bought online here: http://rstyle.me/cz-n/cgg876b6e2f

Yes, a day trip is a great idea! But the drive is about 1.5 hrs each way so try to leave early in the morning to maximize the day!

KathrynSeptember 7, 2017 - 4:28 pm

Hi sher we have ten days and was wondering would this be too long to spend in tulum? Would you recommend splitting time between here and Akumel

SherSeptember 8, 2017 - 7:30 am

Hi Kathryn, it depends on the kind of vacation you like but I think you might prefer seeing another town if you have 10 days. Akumel is famous for the turtles and makes for a good day trip! You can also check out chichen itza, coba, playa del carmen, isla holbox!

[…] on the East Coast, I was familiar with Cancun and Tulum but hadn’t experienced much of Mexico on the Pacific Coast. A couple weeks ago, C and I took a […]

AlyssaJanuary 21, 2018 - 9:51 am

Thanks for this great information! Headed to this beautiful town in Feb. Did you have trouble getting purified ice cubes and water at any of the restaurants in town?

AlyssaJanuary 21, 2018 - 9:53 am

What’s the best way to travel from Cancun to Tulum. I’ve heard there are shuttle options, bus options, or rental car options. I am staying at an air B and B so a hotel shuttle isn’t an option I think. What would you recommend?

SherJanuary 21, 2018 - 5:32 pm

Hm I didn’t check for purified water/ ice to be honest!

SherJanuary 21, 2018 - 5:33 pm

Bus is the easiest and cheapest but if you want flexibility, you can rent a car. Just be careful police have been known to scam foreign drivers by asking for bribes

[…] in San Juan but few all inclusive hotels – it’s not really an all inclusive place like say, Cancun. Instead, you’ll find trendy boutique hotels, family friendly properties and luxury waterfront […]

Melissa Torres-MontoyaFebruary 8, 2018 - 1:27 pm

Hi Sher,

Thanks for your great guides! Some of your other guides have been so helpful in my own travels. Are the photos you chose to include in the hotel section from Dreams Tulum?
Thanks!
Melissa

SherFebruary 8, 2018 - 1:54 pm

Hi Melissa – Nope, those are actually old photos from my hotel in Cancun. Tulum was a really relaxing trip for me so I totally forgot to take pics!

HelenApril 3, 2018 - 8:44 pm

Thanks for information…heading to Tulum in a few weeks. Can you please tell me where the bird graffiti wall was taken?

Much Thanks!
From Canada!

SherApril 4, 2018 - 11:16 am

Hi Helen! It was somewhere along the beach!

[…] this year alone, I feel like I’ve nailed down the art of packing for what to wear in Cancun, Tulum and the […]

MaxJune 27, 2018 - 3:42 pm

Hi Sher, nice article. I’ve also been in Tulum and it was a great place to be. But do you know what was confusing me as I saw this blog post for the first time? It was the title photo, for it is not the picture of Tulum but of Chichen Itza.
Greetings from Germany

SherJune 27, 2018 - 3:51 pm

Hi Max – glad you liked the article! Ha, actually you’re not the first person to tell me that about the photo. The reason is I did a day trip to Chichen Itza when I went to Tulum so I wrote one post about the trip and incorporated all my photos in this article.

I guess I need to go back to Tulum and get a nice hero shot to update this post!

Noelle FernandesJuly 9, 2018 - 5:34 pm

Hi We are heading to Tulum in a few weeks and would love your perspective on renting a condo in the Aldea Zama area. Most of the hotels on the beach are booked and we have two kids (teen and pre teen) so need more room. You have great taste so I would love to hear your POV on staying in those areas. Thanks

SherJuly 9, 2018 - 5:57 pm

Hi Noelle! Hm, I had to look up Aldea Zama on a map as I wasn’t aware of it. Looking at Google Maps, its about a 35 minute walk from the main street that runs through Tulum town. I think it’s a little far to be honest.

The beach hotels are expensive and can fill up fast – perhaps you’d be interested in staying in Tulum town? There are lots of restaurants and shops in the main town, and also lots of cabs that you can hail to take day trips or a ride to the beach. I’m not sure that Aldea Zama is as convenient for a first time visitor (but again, haven’t been so if others recommend it then maybe it’s great!)

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *

*

*