What to Expect in Tulum
Language: Spanish is the main language spoken by the locals, although most working in the tourism industry will also speak English relatively well.
Currency: The Mexican Peso is the local currency in Tulum.
Credit Cards and Banks: Upmarket restaurants and hotels will take Visa and Mastercard payments, but your best bet is to always carry cash. Most places are cash only.
Climate: The average highs in Tulum remain about 30 degrees celsius (mid 80’s F) throughout the year.
Rainy season: The rainiest time of the year is between June and October
Dry season: The busiest season for tourism is in the dry period between December and April
Getting Around Tulum
Tulum is a relatively small town, but it is divided into three areas.
Tulum Town: The main town area is located right by Highway 307, while the beach is a little further away, and is home to several upmarket spas and hotels. This is where the banks, shops, cafes and the small night life district is located, and is the first part of Tulum you will see when you arrive during your visit.
Tulum Beach: This beautiful Caribbean beach is where those looking to relax and unwind will head, with a superb white sand beach, some lovely restaurants and a few boutique spas and hotels.
Tulum Ruins: The ruins are another short distance away from Tulum Town. There are plenty of taxis that can be found in all three areas of Tulum, but you can also rent a bicycle if you would rather get around by yourself. This is where you can explore the Mayan ruins that date from between the thirteenth and fifteenth centuries.
If you don’t fancy spending too much of your budget on taxis getting between the different areas of Tulum, renting a bicycle will give you a quick and easy way of getting around. The ‘colectivos’ are a form of local transportation and are a much cheaper option.
Where to Stay in Tulum
Tulum has a range of accommodation options ranging from budget hostels or beach side cabins up to top of the range hotel rooms.
The Best of Accommodation in Playa Tulum
Papaya Playa Project
: Beachfront cabins, Free Wi-Fi and breakfast, bottled water.
This eco-friendly hotel is made up of a series of cabins facing on to the beach with large comfortable beds, while there are also some good activities available too.
: On-site restaurant, great beach access, excellent activities
. This charming complex of cabins situated along the beach at Tulum is a lovely place to stay, with comfortable rustic decor, and great activities such as yoga classes, along with a very good restaurant too.
Dreams Tulum Resort & Spa
: Luxury accommodation, beach views, scuba diving.
Probably the top hotel in Tulum, this resort boasts its own spa and a lovely beach area which has views of the Tulum ruins, while the rooms are beautifully decorated, and there are plenty of activities including a kids club and scuba diving.
Budget-Friendly Accommodation in Tulum
El Jardin de Frida Hostel
: Dorms and private rooms, bar and restaurant, hot showers.
This lovely hostel is well located near the town center, and is built around an attractive botanical garden, while the competitive rates make this a good place to stay.
Mama’s Home Hostel
: Quiet Location near the center, air conditioning, breakfast.
Just off the main street, this hostel is a great base with good facilities such as free wi-fi and hammocks in the courtyard, and the option of a dorm bed or private room.
Camping: There are several campsites located around Tulum, with Santa Fe being a nice campsite on the beach near the bar and restaurant of the same name, while the Cenote Encantado
is another popular campsite.
If you are traveling on a budget, it is worth noting that the cheapest food is usually to be found in the Tulum town area, and there are plenty of cafes offering meals at a great price when compared to hotel and hostel restaurants.
What to Do in Tulum
From the historical site to seaside activities, Tulum has plenty to do.
Cenotes: These natural fresh water pools are where rain water collects, and there are two main cenotes (Gran Cenote and Dos Ojos) nearby where you can swim or snorkel.
Snorkeling: Whether you choose to join one of the organized snorkeling tours or explore yourself, there are some great wildlife areas to see just a short distance off the beautiful beach.
Scuba Diving: Just off the coast of this part of Mexico are some wonderful diving sites and, whether you are a novice or an experienced diver, there are some great natural sights to see while you dive.
Yoga: There are several venues that offer yoga classes in Tulum, particularly in some of the hotels around the beach area. Look in advance to see if there are an yoga retreats on offer as many resorts organize them.
Tulum Ruins: Tulum’s ruins are an interesting place to visit, and as well as the buildings themselves, it is the decorative touches that are particularly good, while if you travel to the Coba ruins you can climb ‘El Castillo’ and enjoy the views.
(nearby): This incredible park is a great place to relax and to enjoy the sunshine. There is a lagoon where you can snorkel among beautiful multicolored fish, along with zip lines and cliff diving sites for the more adventurous visitor.
: A lovely spa in an idyllic location, this is a great place to relax and be pampered, with yoga classes among the treetops of the forest, and great treatments and massages available.
Playa del Carmen (nearby): A short drive from Tulum, the vibrant beach resort of Playa del Carmen is a popular day trip with a lovely pedestrianized shopping center and some wonderful scuba diving and charter fishing on offer.
Akumal (nearby): Take a colectivo to Akumal, a popular tourist destination, where you can literally walk into the water from shore and swim with giant sea turtles, eagle rays and countless fish.
If you are heading down the beach, it is worth noting that there aren’t many payphones in the area, and those in place will require a particular type of calling card, so either take your cellphone or arrange to meet friends before heading down to the beach.
Where to Eat in Tulum
Great seafood is the order of the day in Tulum, along with a variety of fast food places.
(Best of the Best): With a distinctive jungle decor that is very different to most restaurants you encounter, this is a special experience that has a wonderful emphasis on the “catch of the day” and local ingredient which make up the heart of the menu.
(Mezcal Bar & Kitchen): The ambiance in this attractive restaurant is great at night when the candles light up the tables. The food is well presented and fresh, and the addition of a mezcal bar means you can spend the whole evening there.
(Organic & Sustainable): With a deserved reputation as one of the best in town, make sure you book early. The food has an interesting blend of Mexican and American dishes, while the cocktails made with local fruit juices are unforgettable.
(Craft Argentinian): As you would expect from an Argentine restaurant, the steak here is very good, while the local seafood options are also worth trying.
(Incredible Italian): Situated in a nice location overlooking the beach, this is a great place for Italian food with pasta and fresh fish combined with a good wine list and a selection of cocktails.
(Famous Fish Tacos): The bright and open-air layout of this bar and restaurant make for a wonderful welcome. Fish tacos are a highlight of the cuisine of the Mexican coast and is the best place for fish tacos in Tulum.
(Authentic & Inexpensive): You know you’re on to a good place when the locals dine there, and here you will find generous portions of authentic and tasty Mexican dishes for a good price. You’ll also often find live music in the evenings.
(Best Nightlife): A restaurant during the day and a vibrant bar at night, Curandero’s has a good range of food, cocktails, tequilas and other drinks.
There are only a limited number of restaurants and stores in the beach area of Tulum, so if you are heading down to the beach and don’t want to spend too much, buy some picnic food, water and drinks in the town before you head down to the beach.