I have heard a lot about Tulum. It is a small town located on the Caribbean side of Mexico, famous for it’s white sand beach and Maya Ruins. I wanted to visit a few months ago but have read on group posts that it was not safe. So I hold it off and now, decided to make a day trip there. Many of you have seen beautiful photos of Tulum especially on Instagram. I have heard everything was expensive compared to other parts of Mexico. Is it worth the hype? I decided to check it out myself.
First, let’s talk about some Facts and Travel tips
Tulum is open to visitors. Always check International Travel Restrictions by Destination before your trip along with CDC updates. You are required to have a negative Covid test to return to the U.S. The results must be dated within three days/72 hours of your flight. As of now, only an Antigen Test (NAAT Test) is required, according to the CDC.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
Tulum has tropical climate, warm and sunny year round. The shoulder season in April, early May or November is a good time to visit. Less rainfall and less busy. While June to October is rainy season.
The high season is from the end of December to the beginning of March.
The closest airport to fly into is Cancun. When you arrive, you can choose to take a rental car, the Bus, Taxi or a private/shared transport.
By Car: From Cancun, it is about a two hour drive to Tulum. Renting a car might be the best option if you don’t mind driving.
By Bus: Take ADO bus from Cancun airport or Playa del Carmen. You can check on the ADO website, the local bus company. Prices for this route vary, but estimate no more than $300 pesos ($15 USD) for a one-way ticket.
By Private or Shared transport from Cancun to Tulum. Price varies.
By Taxi: From Cancun to Tulum, cost around $100-150. We took a taxi from Puerto Morelos to Tulum round trip with around 4 stops from 9 am to 5 pm cost 2200 Pesos ( approx $110 USD). I believe price varies little with different Taxi driver.
WHERE TO STAY
Tulum is comprised of three areas: the Tulum Beach Strip, the Tulum Ruins, and the Town Center (Tulum Pueblo).
The cheapest way to stay in Tulum is to stay in a hostel or apartment. You can find a very nice apartment close to the city centre.
In Tulum Pueblo, you will find affordable hotels, restaurants, bars and dance clubs. On the beach side, you will find luxury hotels, fine dining and boutique shop. It takes around 15 to 45 minutes to cycle from the center of the Pueblo to the Beach. I would not consider walking, unless you want to. It takes an hour or 2 to walk but there is not much of a side walk.
IS TULUM EXPENSIVE?
It really depends on the lifestyle. For high-end restaurants on the Beach side, expect to pay as much as you would pay in US and Europe.
ARE TULUM BEACHES FREE?
Similar to Cancun, if you are not staying in Zona Hotelera ( Hotel Zone) beachfront hotel, you will have to go to a public beach, or you need to pay for a beach club. Day pass varies. Public beaches such as Playa Paraiso have no sunbeds and umbrellas.
THINGS TO DO
1) Take photo at Ven a la Luz (Come to the Light) sculpture.
This sculpture is located at the entrance to Raw Love Cafe and Ahau Tulum Resort. I have seen this sculpture on Instagram and online and I was very interested. It is done by artist Daniel Popper, and is one of the original Tulum art pieces. There was a line and I didn’t want to wait. So I took the photo further away.
2) The Tulum Mayan Ruins and beach
Recognized as an UNESCO World Heritage Site, these ruins are nestled on a seaside cliff.
These are estimated to be built between 1200 AD and 1450 AD.
You will need at least 2-3 hours to walk around if you plan on taking pictures.
When we arrived, there are 2 booths, one is for the short ride to the Ruins. 25 pesos each. The other booth is the entrance fee 80 pesos each.
There is a guide that will lead you to the ruins and give you some history. They are open from 8 am – 5pm.
3) Playa Paraiso/Paradise Beach (Tulum Ruins Beach)
This beach can only be accessed from the ruins, so it’s a good idea to cool off after visiting the ruins. Unfortunately, it was closed when we went.
4) Swim in a Cenote
A cenote is a naturally occurring water filled sinkhole.
Among the most popular cenotes in Tulum are El Gran Cenote and Casa Cenote.
Other Things to do
Have a drink at Batey, a lively bar in Tulum and also offers live music.
Check out Playa Maya, an iconic beach and the perfect backdrop for amazing instagram pictures.
Explore another UNESCO site, the Sian Ka’an
Relax at some of the Top Beach Clubs in Tulum:
Enjoy a day trip to the lesser-known Muyil
Visit Coco Tulum
Visit Punta Laguna
Visit Coba archeological site
Most Instagrammable Spots in Tulum
Matcha Mama: Among the most instgrammable Tulum places, Matcha Mama also serves smoothies, acai bowls, “nice cream” which is a vegan ice cream and other healthy fare. Head here to take a photo on their famous and photogenic swings, next to the I Love Tulum So Matcha surfboard sign.Follow that Dream sign: right next to Lolita Lolita Boutique! It is towards the very end of the strip. It is about a 5 minute walk from Matcha Mama. Sferik is the museum at Azulik. This area is great for photos. It is only about $10 to get in, and you can get tickets at the door or online. I-Scream bar is great for pictures. Try the Ice Cream, it is vegan and gluten free.
IS TULUM WORTH THE HYPE?
Well, it’s fun to see something new. It reminded me of Holbox and a little bit of Bali because of the swings, thatched roofs, rooftop bars and one of the difference is the road in Tulum were in better shape than Holbox. If you want to burn some money, relax, take pictures, Tulum is a good place for that. Everywhere you turn, there’s something quirky for you to take pictures. I can also recommend Tulum for vacation esp for honeymoon or celebration but not to live. For me it’s pretty expensive! Some beach club have a minimum purchase of $150 USD. I felt the one lane road on the hotel zone was very crowded. There was no internet signal when we were in the hotel zone. I heard night vibe is very lively with glamorous party scene. All the restaurants and hotels have very beautiful unique architecture but with a price tag.