Tulum is the jewel of Mexico’s Riviera Maya, and once you have experienced the beautiful surroundings and lovely beaches situated on the coastline of the Caribbean Sea, it will become clear why it's such a popular getaway. Once a laid-back beach destination, Tulum has become a hot spot for yoga retreats, dining, boutique shopping and even nightlife. Another major draw is the town's incredibly preserved ruins of an ancient Mayan city. This Tulum travel guide is filled with travel tips to help you plan your trip to Mexico!
What to Expect in Tulum
Tulum is situated on the Caribbean coastline of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, in the Riviera Maya district. In recent years, the town has become more high-end, due to wealthier travelers flocking in, so prices in Tulum are more expensive than similar resort areas in the Yucatán.
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. While US Dollars are accepted at some restaurants and shops, you’ll typically end up paying more than if you pay with Pesos, so take advantage of the local ATM’s around.
Safety: Tulum is extremely safe, but like any destination, don’t leave your belongings unattended. You are fine to walk around at night, just use your street smarts and be aware of your surroundings.
Climate: The average high temperatures in Tulum remain about 80 °F (30°C) throughout the year. The rainiest time of the year is between June and October, while the busiest season for tourism is in the dry period between December and April.
Getting Around in Tulum
Tulum is a relatively small town, but it is divided into three main areas. Most things are a little far to walk between, so consider renting a bicycle or hailing a local taxi!
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 nightlife district is located, and is the first part of Tulum you will see when you arrive.
Tulum Beach: This beautiful Caribbean beach is where those looking to relax and unwind will head. It’s home to a superb white sand beach, some lovely restaurants, and a few boutique spas and hotels.
Tulum Ruins: The ruins are a 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 13th and 15th centuries.
Nueva Vida de Ramiro
If you’re looking for a quiet, intimate getaway, Nueva Vida is your place. This property offers several cabana rooms right on the ocean, and they are eco-friendly! You’ll find it very comfortable and peaceful for only about $100 USD per night. Plus, there’s free breakfast!
Location: Tulum Beach
Accommodation: 3-Star Resort
Price Range: $
Mezzanine Colibri Boutique Hotel
This boutique hotel is situated on Tulum Beach and offers a peaceful and relaxing experience. With only nine rooms, you’ll never feel like you’re at a huge resort, and the staff will take care of all your needs. Plus the onsite restaurant, serving Thai and Mexican food, will blow away your expectations.
Location: North Tulum Beach
Accommodation: 4-Star Boutique Hotel
Price Range: $$
Encantada is the the perfect place to get away and experience extreme beachside relaxation. It is a small boutique “resort” (with only eight rooms) that has incredible ocean views. The service will blow you away, and make your trip even that much better! Be sure to check out their luxury spa while you’re here.
Location: South Tulum Beach
Accommodation: Luxury 3-Star Resort
Price Range: $$$
Teetotum offers large and modern rooms, great food and a very laid back atmosphere with a unique charm, for under $100 USD. The location is perfect—you’re close enough to walk around Tulum Town, or you can grab a bike and get to the beach!
Location: Tulum Town
Accommodation: Budget Hotel
Price Range: $$
Rancho Tranquilo Hostel
Rancho Tranquilo is a family operated hotel/hostel, where you can relax, enjoy, and visit all that Tulum and Riviera Maya has to offer. Come relax in their beautiful gardens, an air-conditioned casita or a 6-bed dormitory, all nestled in beautiful palm-filled gardens. They have a TON of amenities, including free breakfast and are in a great location—they are located near bicycle rentals, restaurants, the ADO bus terminal, the ruins, and the centre of Tulum Town.
Location: Tulum Town
Price Range: $
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.
Helpful Tip: 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.
El Milagrito Restaurante Bar Mezcal
Located in Tulum Town, this place serves up delicious Mexican food and amazing cocktails! If you’re staying in town, be sure to hit this place for lunch or dinner!
What to Order: The ceviche, nachos and daiquiris!
El Camello Jr.
Founded by local Mexican fisherman, at El Camello is all fish, all the time. Your main choices focus around ceviche, pulpo, and whole fish, all of which can be ordered literally by the boatload, feeding a huge, hungry group without flinching.
The quirky and cool jungle-like ambience, the creative (though somewhat sweet) drinks, the inventive and highly flavorful dishes.
What to Order: Scallop crudo, the ceviche (made with diced with apples, corn nuts, cabbage, and onions), mashed plantains, and the whole fish smothered with rosemary and olive oil.
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. An impressive bread and cheese board is every table’s greeting, the rosemary focaccia being a stand out.
GITANO is a Mezcal bar & kitchen, and the ambiance is the best at night when 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.
Sabor De Mar
If you’re a fan of tuna or tacos, this is a must. Sabor De Mar prepares fresh seafood and absolutely delicious small plates. Plus, the service is awesome.
What to Order: Tuna Tower and tuna tostadas!
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.
These natural fresh water pools are where rain water collects, and there are a few main cenotes (Gran Cenote, Jardin de Eden and Dos Ojos) nearby where you can swim or snorkel.
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.
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 any yoga retreats offered as many resorts organize them.
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.
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.
Sian Ka’an Reserve
Sian Ka’an is a UNESCO World Heritage Site (since 1987) that is located south of Tulum Town. Because it is a biosphere reserve, you can spot wildlife as well as 23 archeological sites and Mayan Ruins, the most well-known being Muyil.
Yaan Spa is 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 (Day Trip)
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 (Day Trip)
Take a colectivo or taxi 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. Be sure to wear reef-safe sunscreen!
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