Updated: Jul 29, 2019
Here is my quick guide to exploring Tulum
Tulum is tranquil, its slow, and every corner, man-made or not, is stunning. This eco-friendly, hippie chic jungle is equipped with beautifully designed hotels, instagrammable matcha lattes, and has a top notch culinary experience. Once known for its bright blue waters, quite doesn't sparkle the same. I wanted to point this out because of the amount of seaweed and algae that was there I hardly went in the ocean. It's def still swimmable, but worth noting because the allure of Tulum has always been its ocean. Nonetheless I had a great time unwinding and soaking up the vibes.
Tulum is definitely a place that developed rapidly, and in a sense, was set up for tourism. With that, things can get pretty expensive, or at least comparable to what I'd spend in the bougie parts of Los Angeles. I'm all about a hi-low situation, so you can find some deals through this guide as well as some mentions that may be worth the splurge.
Lastly Tulum is quite small and condensed, so you’ll probably be spending most of your days hanging by the beach, eating and drinking which makes it a perfect escape.
Things to Know Before you Jetset
Fly into Cancun International Airport (CUN). Tulum is 1 hour 45 mins away.
- Use a private driver to Tulum can run you approximately $175 round trip (better if you're in a group and can split the cost)
- Shared shuttle about $50 one-way, but you're making several stops so will take longer.
- Ado Bus. It's super easy, affordable (right now cost is 262 pesos= about $14 dollars) and the ride takes about 2 hours. You can purchase your ticket in advance on the website (would definitely recommend) or you can purchase at the airport at the Ado ticket stand. The Ado bus leaves out of Terminal 2 so make your way there and make sure you're in line for the right destination. The Ado bus staff is very helpful if you have questions. This is great if you're traveling alone or with one other person to save some money. If you can't find the right schedule direct to Tulum based on when you land, you may need to stop in Playa del Carmen and continue to Tulum. I did that and it was still super easy. Once you're at the Tulum bus station you can grab a taxi to your hotel. There are plenty!
ONCE YOUR IN TULUM
You'll probably be using taxis, bikes and walking. Taxis for the short distances are not as cheap as you'd expect so keep that in mind when booking where you want to stay.
Most places take USD but would advise to use an ATM to pull out pesos. You're better off using pesos than dollars.
Also most places are Cash Only so make sure you have enough. If you run out, there are ATMS around.
Let's break down the 3 different areas of Tulum before we jump into all it has to offer
Tulum Beach-If you follow any fashion blogger's Tulum's trip, most likely this is what you saw. Very beautiful and "instagrammable." It's like a chic jungle at the beach. More than aesthetics the food here is next level and so worth it.
Tulum Town- definitely less pretentious and has a lot of local flavor! It feels completely different than the über-chic beach area and is def more budget-friendly. The town is filled with lots of local owned business and bomb taco stands. To get to the beach area you'll need to take a 15 minute taxi ride.
Tulum Ruins -spend the day discovering the Mayan ruins and cenotes. You can hire a driver/guide to take you to all the cenotes and find some less crowded ones (ahem looking at you Gran Cenote). Instead check out Dos Ojos or Cenote Calavera. Also Coba, another Mayan ruin, isn't too far away and Chichen Itza is about 3 hours away if you want to make a full day out it.
There is an abundance of beautiful places to stay at. Most are eco-friendly and stay with that hippie-chic vibe Tulum is known for. The below are located along the main beach road where you'll find all the spots you see on people's instagram feeds.
The following are moderately priced and super chic !
Coco Tulum Bed and Breakfast. Bathrooms are shared but trust me they are so beautiful! You'll be waking up in paradise.
Delek soo beautiful. I had the best stay. The staff feels like family and they offer a lot of extras here like yoga, and temazcal rituals.
The following are the most popular but can run you $$$/ night and get booked out fast.
If you want to save and stay in Tulum Town these hotels are beautiful. If you stay here you will need to take a taxi to get the beach. It's not walking distance.
EAT & DRINK
Best thing to do in Tulum is eat. The culinary experience here is incredible.
Nu Tulum- great dinner option. Try the octopus. I legit still think about that plate!
Hartwood- It's a staple in Tulum but it also lives up to its hype. The staff is so friendly we ended up as friends! Food is super bomb of course. Make resos in advanced and bring cash! If you can't make resos head over around 6pm and they may squeeze you in.
Ojo de Agua- perfect for breakfast or lunch. Really bomb juices and coffees as well.
Taqueria Honorio- in Tulum town. Legit ass tacos! You will find a mix of locals and tourists. Go in the morning because it gets packed and can sell out.
Raw Love -tasty smoothie bowls! Perfect for a late breakfast or mid afternoon snack.
Matcha Mama- the infamous matcha place in Tulum. Great cold brew and of course iced matcha lattes.
La Malinche Tulum: really good Mexican food at great prices.
Taqueria La Eufemia: delicious tacos that wont break the bank and sits right at the beach. Vibe here is super cool. Go for a late lunch, pre dinner.
Asian Bodega if you're looking for something low-key and tasty that is not tacos, head here
Brunch at Casa Malca: Definitely worth going to admire the beautiful space. If you want to stay at the beach there, but you're not a guest they have consume, which basically means your food and beverage purchase can go toward the fee they charge to be there. So have brunch (its okay) and stay for the beach and order more drinks! The fee is about $50 pp.
Gitano- Incredible tacos with drinks to die for.
Caravana- beautiful and luxe earth toned clothing with flowy silhouettes made by Mexican artisans.
Kilometro 33- beautiful pieces that showcase Mexico and Latin American designs. Very Luxe.
Yaan Wellness Energy Spa
Thursday night: Casa Jaguar
Friday night: Gitano’s
Saturday later evening: Papaya Playa Project (cover charge at the door)
Fruity Cocktail bar located in Tulum Town which is actually a way funner atmosphere to party.
As always I love to leave you with my Google Maps to help give you an idea of where things are when you're planning your trip as well as to have with you while traveling.
Be sure to follow me on Instagram and tune into my Tulum IG stories Highlight to see all these places in action