Tulum is the destination that everyone is talking about on the Mayan Riviera in Mexico. My mom was shocked to learn how popular it was now, she told me of the unspoiled beaches and town of Tulum she had visited 30 years ago. While tourists have discovered this gem, thanks to Instagram, influencers, and word of mouth, it is still 100 percent worth coming here for a great vacation! The pearly white sand beaches are what initially draws tourists, but there is a boat load of things to do beyond the shores.
If you want uncommercial, chill, and relaxed vibes as compared to nearby tourist destinations Cancun and Playa Del Carmen, Tulum is for you! If your still not convinced here are 10 reasons that will have you booking your ticket ASAP!
Home to one of the most FLAWLESS stretches of Beaches in Mexico (maybe the World?)
Not that I am a beach expert (although I grew up in Florida!), but wow the beaches in Tulum stretch for miles! One magical beach lies below, the Tulum Ruins. How cool is that? Undeniably, the most beautiful beach in Tulum is the aptly named Playa Paraíso. Yes, that means Paradise Beach. The leaning palm trees that sway with the wind, and azul waters rushing up on the powder white sand will take your breath away.
The stunning Mayan Ruins surround Tulum
Tulum is not only fortunate to have great food, nightlife, and world-class beaches, but also has a few historic sites with the most picturesque backdrops. The most iconic and easy to get to ruins from Tulum are the “Tulum Ruins”, which sits atop a rocky cliff and the beach below. Alternatively, if you want an adventure or are just a history buff like me you can head to Coba Ruins. Cobá is about an hour away from Tulum and has an impressive 138 foot pyramid that you can still climb to the top! The first two photos are me before and after climbing the Cobá Ruins. It was definitely harder than it looked!
Come to see the Best Cenotes in Mexico
One of the top reasons why people come to Mexico is the beautiful cenotes. Luckily enough, Tulum is situated in the middle of a ton of cenotes. While they all range in popularity with tourists, some are practically undiscovered. There are plenty to choose from but some of my favorite were Dos Ojos, Gran Cenote, and the cenotes surrounding the Cobá ruins. Many people may wonder why the locals prefer the cenotes over the beach, but when you experience one of the jungle swimming holes formed by underground springs/ sinkholes you will understand why. The cool water is refreshing as compared to the very warm sea.
Tip: I hired a private taxi for the entire day and it took three of us to Cobá Ruins, and two cenotes that we chose for $120 USD. This was way cheaper than taking a tour bus and we could go at our own pace.
Tulum’s world class nightlife
I was pretty shocked and disturbed after going to Cancun during Spring Break, so I didn’t know what to expect when I arrived in Tulum in terms of nightlife. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find Tulum’s lush nightlife welcoming, fun, and varied. One of my funnest nights was going to the Full Moon Party at Papaya Playa Project, we got a VIP table, danced the night away to Berlin techno, and all under the stars by the ocean. Definitely a memorable experience!
There are two parts to Tulum nightlife:
- The posh Tulum beach nightclubs and restaurant bars on the strip close to the beach. Some of my favorites:
- Gitano, Known for their amazing Friday night party, Beach Road Km. 7, Boca Paila, Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico
- Casa Jaguar, Known for the pet jaguar that hangs out here, Carretera Boca Paila Km 7.5, Tulum, Q.R., Mexico
- Papaya Playa Project, Known for the Full Moon Party on Saturdays, Tulum National Park, Quintana Roo, Mexico
- The laidback and carefree fun bars in Tulum town. The most local and late night spots:
Snorkel in nearby Akumal to see Sea Turtles
Do you like Turtles over tequila? If so then come between May to October, when many beaches such as Akumal have thousands of turtles arrive to lay their eggs. Or you could come in the day to swim with them instead! Getting outdoors and staying active on the road is one of my passions, so this was definitely a perfect half day trip for me from Tulum. It is easy to get to from Tulum town center, you can take a taxi collective for 30 minutes to Akumal (shared taxi for 45 pesos~ $3usd).
Akumal, Quintana Roo, Mexico
Fall in Love with food all over again in Tulum
I have probably ate a ton of Mexican food in my lifetime, but the tacos, burritos, and seafood I had in Tulum was the BEST! My favorite place for lunch, that I went to a couple of times for lunch was Burrito Amor. It was very close to my hotel Holistika, at least that was my excuse. The banana leaf wrapped burritos were so tasty! The average price is more than reasonable at 100 pesos ($5.30), making it a budget friendly option from the upmarket eateries along the beach.
Have a sweet tooth, have the best Gelato in Mexico at Origami! A double scoop will set you back 90 pesos ($4.75), but it is worth it to cool off from the heat.
Matcha Mama is the perfect breakfast spot, where you can get everything plant based and amazing Matcha Lattes!
If you don’t want to break the bank at one of the many great restaurants head to Taqueria La Eufemia for tacos on the beach and to watch a eye-catching sunset.
Go shopping in Tulum’s Boutique Shops
If you are like me and love to get a piece of clothing as a souvenir, then Tulum’s many boutiques that sell hippie boho- inspired clothes that will have your suitcase bursting at the seams.
Don’t expect Mexican prices, those price tags are not in pesos they are in dollars and muy caro (very expensive)! The concepts of all the stores were very interesting and worth your time to even window shop.
Walk or bike alone the south beach road and you will not miss the best shopping in Tulum.
Rent a Bike for the day
One thing I did not expect when I arrived to Tulum, was how far most of the accomadations are from the actual beach. While there are plenty of taxis that make the route, a great way to stay fit on the road is to rent a bike and pedal your way there. Bicycles for rent are 100 persos (About $6 USD) for the day. Nearly every hotel or hostel will rent you a bike, and the bike paths make it safe and easy to navigate to the beach! Also, if you want to stop and take those Instafamous photos it is the fastest way to get around.
Explore the Sian Ka’an Biosphere
Sian Ka’an natural biosphere that truly showcases the beauty of the Mayan Riviera. Here you can swim in canals carved out by Mayans, boat across crystal clear water, see diverse flora and fauna that will make your eyes water with joy or allergies. To get here you need to either rent a 4×4 car or take a tour. It is a full day trip from Tulum, but if you want to come to a national protected park in Mexico and see dolphins then this is the place for you!
Where to stay in Tulum?
- Hostel Che is the best budget option for backpackers and solo travelers. They host events every night, always have a group of excited travelers looking to see the sites, and they have the best breakfast buffet that is included! Also, there is a pool and air-conditioning, which is always a plus.
- Xscape Tulum offers a calm escape from the party atmosphere of the beach clubs and nightlife of Tulum. The apartment style accommodations give you access to your own kitchen, living area, and room. All the rooms have a view of the pool and the staff is so nice and accommodating here!
- Holistika was such a surprise when I booked this place after I saw it on Instagram. This former private wellness and yoga retreat has finally opened up to the public! I stayed in a King Room Suite with a balcony, sunbed, hammock, and amazing view of the Tulum National Park overlooking the pool. However, if you want a budget luxury option, you can book a bed in the bee hive dorm they offer. Every day they offer multiple meditation, yoga, and wellness classes and guests get one class FREE! The onsite restaurant is Vegan, but so delicious and makes the best smoothies for by their gorgeous Insta ready pool. Check it out here!
- Casa Malca is instafamous and known for being the former home of Pablo Escobar. Now it is a luxury boutique hotel on the beach and is a piece of art itself. The ocean front views, attention to detail around every corner, and the calm nature of the hotel makes it hard to believe this was Pablo Escobar’s home in Tulum.
How to get to Tulum?
Indeed, there is no airport to Tulum. The closest airport is about 60 km away in Cancun. However, since it is such a popular destination Ado bus offers buses from the airport every 30 minutes to Tulum. The ride is about 2 hours long, but the WIFI and air-conditioning will make the ride bearable. You can also get a private taxi if money is no worry.
Any questions about Tulum Mexico? Comment Below!
Prefer a city getaway in Mexico? Head over to my guide of Mexico City HERE!