Tulum is one of the trendiest vacation spots right now and it is easy to see why! There are Mayan Ruins, beautiful beaches, and lots of amazing food. Although Tulum has found itself on the top of many people’s destination lists, most people only look into the all-inclusive resorts or the eco-chic hotels on the beach. But there is much more to Tulum than that.
First off, we flew non-stop to Cancun and rented a car to drive down to Tulum. Both of these options are probably not the most cost-effective options but as I talked about in my travel tips post I am not a good flyer, so for my sanity we needed to fly non-stop. As for renting a car, we knew we wanted to have flexibility to go wherever we wanted to, such as out to Coba, on our own. You can also rent bikes around Tulum or take a taxi. These were choices we made for ourselves but won’t make or break your trip.
Another important thing to consider when planning your trip to Tulum is that it really is separated into two parts, the town and the beach. Being right on the beach is, of course, an amazing experience but that also comes with a higher price tag. Meanwhile, staying in town is much less expensive. You will not be sheltered from the stark contrast between the tourist centered businesses and those for the locals. Tulum is booming, but many of the locals are living in poverty. We chose to stay at an Air BnB in town ( I should mention it was an apartment building built for the purpose of renting to tourists). This option allowed us to stay for a week as opposed to three or four days. Both the town and beach are full of restaurants, so no matter which you choose, make sure to explore the other too. Tip: be prepared, we found that meals on the beach were at least three times more expensive then in town.
My Restaurant Must List:
- Burritos Amor: Burritos in town
- Casa Cenote: Get the fish tacos! This spot is farther up the coast but worth it (and swim in the cenote while you are there)
- Mateo’s: On the jungle side of the beach road, with a sunset lounge, but we were unimpressed by the famous fish tacos. Try something else!
- Arca: This one will be a real splurge moment but I think its worth it (although we got lucky, we actually attended a wedding at Arca so let’s just say it was the best wedding food I’ll ever have!)
Of course we spent days by a pool or on the beach relaxing but the area is home to Mayan Ruins as well as some amazing cenotes. I highly recommend at least going to see the Tulum Ruins when you go. These ruins are right on the coast and are incredibly preserved with lots of informational signs. If you have the opportunity, also make the drive out to Coba. Pro-tip: Get there as close to opening as possible, because by 11 am tour buses fill the parking lot and the paths are filled with streams of people. The really cool thing about Coba is that you can actually climb the taller temple ruins (which will be the second one you find). Coba is not as well marked as Tulum is, but it doesn’t make it any less impressive. Be prepared to either walk, rent a bike, or rent a bike taxi. It is a hike! My fitness tracker said we walked five miles while at Coba. We were exhausted!
While out in that area, and while hot and exhausted, I recommend venturing out to some underground cenotes! They are not too far up the road and are pretty well marked, just be prepared to drive on some dirt roads! The three cenotes are Tankach-Ha, Cho-Ha, and Multun-Ha. Although, I did not feel good when we got there, this was my most favorite part of the trip! You descend down these winding staircases in wells and emerge in giant caverns filled with fresh water. It really is a beautiful sight you need to see. The water is incredibly refreshing as it is so clean and cold! Each one is unique. One is more like a shallow pool perfect for non-swimmers or children, one has a giant platform you can jump off of, and the other has incredible rock structures under the water.
Tulum was a dream and I would love to go back to explore some more, but there is so much more of the world to see! If you have any questions drop them in the comments and I will try to answer them as best I can!