There is just something magical about flying into a destination surrounded by beautiful blue water. A few weeks before Memorial Day weekend, my husband and I decided – rather spontaneously – that we needed a beach in our life, and fast. We chose Mexico because neither one of us had been before and it was a quick and easy nonstop flight from Dallas. We arrived in Cancun on Friday afternoon and immediately hopped in our prearranged van that whisked us off to Tulum.
I had been wanting to visit Tulum for years since I randomly saw a picture of the Tulum Ruins on Google, and let me tell you, Tulum did not disappoint. I love the boho, chill vibes that Tulum is known for and it’s one of my favorite beach destinations I have ever visited. Continue reading for how to experience the best parts of Tulum with my complete travel guide…
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My Beach Essentials
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Where to Stay
There are so many great options in Tulum including quaint boutique hotels (my personal favorite), house rentals, and of course the luxury hotels along the Beach Road.
- Elements Boutique Hotel – This is the hotel we stayed at while we were in Tulum. It’s located in Tulum town instead of along the Beach Road, which is what we wanted because it’s less expensive in Tulum town. When we arrived, the receptionist gave us a map of the area and also provided recommendations on places to eat in Tulum town. The hotel has 18 rooms that are divided into three different room categories. We stayed in the Grand Deluxe room with a balcony and view of the pool, which is in the courtyard area. If you want to read more about the hotel check out the complete review I did on our stay.
- Prana Boutique Hotel – Another really affordable boutique hotel located in Tulum town not far from where we stayed. Prana is pet friendly and also offers free bike rentals to all guests. The hotel also has an on-site Mexican/Mediterranean restaurant.
- Azulik Resort – If you are looking for luxury accommodations, then look no further than Azulik. Located on the Beach Road, this eco-friendly resort is Instafamous for a reason. When I say eco-friendly, I mean it. Azulik does not have electric light or televisions on their property. The hotel has several on-site restaurants, with Kin|Toh probably being the most famous – after all, the restaurant is built on stilts and sits 39 feet above Tulum’s Mayan jungle.
- Casa Malca – A former home of Pablo Escobar, it sat vacant for years after his death in 1993 and was converted into an ultra swanky boutique hotel in 2015. The hotel consists of 42 suites and honestly looks like a cross between a hotel and an art gallery. The lobby of Casa Malca houses painting and sculptures by many contemporary artists. Casa Malca also boasts and underground steam room and several on-site restaurants.
Where to Eat
- La Coqueta – Y’all, this restaurant is so good! I am not even kidding when I say my husband and I ate here a few times in the three days we were in Tulum. It’s that delicious. The outdoor seating area is exactly what I pictured a little restaurant in Tulum to look like – colorful, lined with palm trees, and great music playing. The tortillas are to die for – seriously, the best tortillas I have ever eaten in my life. They were so fresh and it made the food that much better.
- Taqueria Honorio – If you want to dine where the locals do, then this is the place for you. Enjoy $1.00 tacos in a casual, outdoor atmosphere – and yes, the tacos really are that cheap. Definitely a must try for everyone and especially those on a budget. Pro top: try an authentic pork taco.
- Raw Love Cafe – If you are looking for a healthier option while in Tulum then Raw Love is the place for you. It’s also perfect for those adhering to a gluten free and/or vegan diet. If you enjoy zoodles, açaí bowls, and vegan burgers then you will love this adorable little cafe.
- Macondo – Located at Nomade Tulum hotel, Macondo serves up some great dishes made with locally farmed ingredients. Head on over for lunch and enjoy fresh vegetable sushi or red ceviche, followed by Tiramisu for dessert. There are tons of vegan and gluten free options, as well as options for non-vegetarians.
- Matcha Mama – This isn’t really a restaurant, per se, but it is a great option for an afternoon smoothie or açaí bowl after being at the beach all day. Don’t forget to add matcha to your order – after all, it is called Matcha Mama.
What to Do
- Tulum Ruins – Hands down a must do while you’re in Tulum. You can easily bike there from Tulum town or the Beach Road. I would recommend getting there right when they open if you want to enjoy it sans the crowds. We arrived around 8:00am when it opened and spent a little over an hour walking around. By the time we left, it was packed.
- Tulum Town – If you don’t stay in Tulum town, I would highly suggest you at least take half a day to roam around and explore. There is a main road that’s full of shops that sell Mexican tapestries and hand-made leather goods. I didn’t have enough room in my luggage or I probably would have come home with 4875489573 tapestries and no money.
- The Beach Road – We spent a few hours walking around the Beach Road on the day we rented a car. There are lots of neat shops and restaurants in the area, but this part of Tulum is a lot more expensive, so be prepared. Parking a car along the Beach Road can be a little tricky, but there are a few places that will allow you to pay and park.
- Gran Cenote – There are a lot of cenotes in the area, but this one – in my opinion – is the prettiest. Besides the mosquitos and bats, of course. Arrive right when they open if you want to enjoy it semi-peacefully. I say semi because even though we got there around 15 minutes before it opened, there were already about 10 people in line. It’s $10 per person and they do accept U.S. currency. Pro tip: if you pay with U.S. currency, make sure your bills are crisp and neat – no rips, tears, or any bills that are taped together.
- Chichen Itza – If you have the time, I would recommend visiting the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to make it, but it’s on our to-do list for our next trip. It’s about a 2-hour drive from Tulum, so this is an excursion you will definitely need a car for.
How to Get Around
- Car Rental – In general, Tulum is easy to navigate without a car, but if you plan on venturing outside of Tulum then I would definitely rent a car. On our last full day in Tulum, we decided to rent a car because we wanted to explore a little bit more than what we could do via bicycle and my ass hurt from riding a bike for two days. I needed a break. We rented our car from Avis, which was located around the corner from our hotel. It was a really simple and straightforward process and reasonably priced, in my opinion.
- Scooter Rental – Renting a scooter is also a great choice because they are small and can easily zip around Tulum with relative ease. Scooters are also really easy to park on the Beach Road if you will be spending a lot of time down there. There was a place called iBike Tulum right around the corner from our hotel that had scooter and bike rentals. We did not rent from them, so can’t comment on their services, but I did see a lot of people renting from there during the three days we were in Tulum.
- Bike Rental – Biking was how we got around for the most part during our visit. It was great because our hotel had free bikes, so we didn’t have to worry about renting any – although there are a ton of places you can rent them from if your hotel doesn’t offer any. Keep in mind, it is really hot and humid in Tulum, so if you are going to bike around, make sure you have plenty of water with you.
Have you ever been to Tulum? What are some of your recommendations for the area? Leave me a comment so I can check them out on our next trip. And if you have any questions, feel free to shoot me an email!
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