Tulum Travel Guide
Tucked away in the Rivera Maya, Tulum is the ultimate Caribbean paradise with postcard-perfect views, crystal clear waters, chic bohemian restaurants, and yoga retreats that will leave you feeling more relaxed than ever before. The magic of Tulum lies within its raw beauty that will captivate you from the moment you arrive. You won’t find any all-inclusive resorts, generic chain hotels, or anything of familiarity; instead, you’ll escape into the depths of the jungle, explore the underwater world of a cenote, indulge in fresh acai bowls, bask under Caribbean sun, and bike your way through the town.
What to do
Wander: Tulum is one of the most unique places I have ever experienced. Every restaurant, hotel, street sign, store, EVERYTHING is an experience of its own. You could easily spend your entire trip wandering around the town getting lost in its bohemian magic.
Beach: Not to point out the obvious but if you’re traveling to Tulum you can’t miss a beach opportunity. The beach is EVERYWHERE. Tulum has some of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen. It is the perfect mix of crystal clear water and vibrant shades of blue. Most of the beaches are private to the hotel property they sit on however, I was able to make my way into many of them without any issues.
Tulum Ruins: Why these are not one of the 7 wonders of the world, I will never understand. The Tulum ruins are one of the most breathtaking landscapes I have ever seen. These Mayan ruins tower of the ocean to create something truly spectacular. Enjoy a morning journeying through the archaeological ruins of Tulum! The ruins get really busy as the day progress, therefore, I definitely recommend arriving as soon as the open. I arrived 30 minutes before open and was allowed in…aka. no crowds and perfect photo opportunities.
Cenotes: No trip to Tulum is complete without taking a dip in a cenote. I owe my brother big time because he is the one that told me not to miss the opportunity to visit some! A cenote is basically a freshwater sinkhole. Sounds weird, I know but stay with me, think of a cenote as a giant swimming pool filled with Caribbean blue water in the middle of the jungle. You can swim, snorkel, and even dive in many of them. There are several cenotes to add to your list: Gran Cenote, Cenote Dos Ojos, Cenote Nicte-Ha, Cenote Calavera, Cenote Zacil-Ha. My favorite was Cenote Cristal, this is one of the lesser-known cenotes, meaning it’s not very crowded. I went twice early in the morning and had the whole cenote to myself for hours!
Yoga: If you’re a yogi this will be your paradise. There are yoga studios all over Tulum offering a variety of different settings and types of yoga. I’ve heard some people travel to Tulum simply to experience some of these yoga settings.
Rent a bike: Time for an embarrassing admission, I HATE bikes. I had a traumatizing bike experience when I first moved to Cincinnati a decade ago. Ok, traumatizing is a bit extreme but it was an experience that resulted in me not getting back on a bike until I visited Tulum. Let’s just say, a Florida girl who is used to nothing but flat terrain does not handle 5 miles of hills very well. Anyways…when I first arrived in Tulum it felt as though all I saw were cute pastel-colored bikes everywhere! By day 2 I was sold on getting on a bike and peddling my way through the main strip. This was one of my favorite activities during this trip. It was so much fun riding around exploring the shops, restaurants, and beaches. Most hotels have bike rentals but you can also find some private businesses along the strip that will rent them.
Where to stay
Tulum is any hotel lovers dream destination! Tulum offers a variety of options from high-end resorts, boutique hotels, to budget-friendly hotels. I’ll highlight a few of my favorites:
Azulik: I’m getting chills just reminiscing on my Azulik experience. Unless you’ve been living under a box for the past several years, chances are you’ve seen Azulik on IG. Azulik is an experience unlike any other. Think of staying in the most luxurious treehouse you can imagine. Add a stay here to your life bucket list!
Nomade: “The Meeting Point of Whose Journey Never Ends”. Nomade truly embodies the most authentic feelings of the Mayan culture through luxury rustic decor, fire rituals, yoga, cocoa ceremonies, and the most delicious cuisines.
Sanara: Discover a piece of paradise while experiencing the beauty of the Caribbean. Sanara is consistently ranked for its unique architecture and interiors – from muted blues to rustic wood, you’ll instantly feel the deepest sense of peace from the moment you step foot onto the property.
Be Tulum: Be Tulum is another place that truly feels magical! With 64 different unique suites to choose from, you’ll surely find one that will fit your vibe. Be prepared to feel the need to completely redecorate your entire home after staying here.
Casa Malca: Have you ever seen drapes made out of wedding dresses? Lovelies, whether you stay at Casa Malca or not, you’re going to have to pop in for a visit. After cross the entrance gates, you are immediately transported to a Spanish world of jungle luxury.
Airbnb: You all know I love Airbnb during my trips. There are some really unique and boho Airbnbs in Tulum. I mean how cute is this Airbnb apartment?! Be aware that most of the Airbnbs are outside of the hotel district (where you will likely spend the majority of your time), however, this district can easily be accessed via a bike or even walking.
Remember you can get $20 off your first Airbnb with my referral link. I’ve gotcha covered lovely. You can also read my full Airbnb review here.
Where to eat
If you’re a foodie, Tulum is the place for you. From authentic Mexican tacos, Spanish cuisine, vegan EVERYTHING (not kidding), to Italian pasta, prepare for the most epic food coma of your life!
Raw Love: Imagine a restaurant where you can eat and nap on a hammock. Dream. Come. True. When I first saw a picture of Raw Love on IG, I instantly knew I’d have to make my way down to Mexico. Located within the Ahau Hotel, you’ll find yourself indulging in raw, vegan, healthy cuisine while lounging on a hammock.
Posada Margherita: One of Tulum’s most well-known restaurants! I arrived at Posada Margherita with the intention of having a quick Italian lunch and ended up spending 4.5 hours at this beachfront beauty. I recommend sitting in one of their casita on the beach.
Gitano: Named after Spanish gypsies, Gitano is another Tulum staple! This chic bohemian restaurant is best saved for a dinner or evening drink. I recommend the shrimp tacos and Gypsy Disco as your cocktail. So many people claim this as their favorite dining experience in Tulum and for good reason.
Kin Toh: HOLY MEXICAN GUACAMOLE! Nothing I say will do this place justice – it is a fairy tale. I’m going to be very honest and tell you my main motivation for going to Kin Toh was to lounge on the famous nets. If you plan on dining here, you’ll want to ensure you make a reservation several weeks in advance. They didn’t have any tables open when I arrived but I was able to snag a seat the bar! I treated myself to some appetizers and enjoyed people watching for a bit.
Matcha Mama: Where acai bowls dreams are made! This became my go-to breakfast and lunch spot. I’m not kidding, I had Matcha Mama 3x in one day!
Negroamaro: Breakfast lovers, this is your spot! My morning at Negroamaro was one of my favorite mornings in Tulum. I woke up one-morning craving eggs, decided to forgo my Matcha Mama routine, and headed down to Negroamara. The entire experience was amazing from the friendly staff to the amazing Mexican eggs! Definitely, don’t miss out!
How to get there
Tulum is about a 90-minute drive from the Cancun airport. There isn’t a major airport in Tulum therefore the most convenient way to reach this Mexican paradise is via the Cancun International Airport (CUN).
After you land in CUN, you’ll have serval options: Rent a car, Private car/bus transportation, Public bus transportation, Taxi
Rent a Car:
Because I wanted to have the freedom to travel around the state of Quintana Roo, I chose to rent a car. I rented through Enterprise. If you’re nervous about driving in a Mexico, don’t be! You’re pretty much on the highway the entire way from CUN to Tulum.
Cancun Airport Transportation offers airport to hotel pick-up and drops off. They have been in business for over 20 years and offer a variety of affordable forms of private transportation from vans, luxury vehicles, handicap services, and for those of you who want to go all out – they even have limos. A private option will be your fastest way of arriving in Tulum.
You can book them here. PS. bring cash to tip your driver.
Unfortunately Uber was not very reliable in Cancun or Tulum. In fact, I logged onto Uber several times in Tulum and didn’t see any. Once you arrive at the airport you can ask a CUN employee to confirm an official taxi for you.
ADO, the local bus is another great public transportation option. ADO is the main bus company in the Riviera Maya. Please note that there are only a few direct buses from CUN to Tulum each day. If you are unable to make a direct route, you can easily take the route from CUN to Playa del Carmen and then transfer to Tulum