Guide to Tulum, Mexico

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Tulum is the travel destination that seems to be appearing on just about everyones Instagram feeds at the moment. So naturally, as social media tends to do, I was lured into the idea of ending up in Tulum after a month travelling through Central America.

The layout of Tulum is actually pretty confusing for first timers like myself. The area that counts as Tulum seems to be relatively large and is split into two different sections. The first area is Tulum Town, which is about a 10 minute drive from the coast. It is essentially a main road lined with numerous restaurants, shops and side streets with affordable hotels. People on a small budget tend to stay here as the accommodation and food is good value. This is where I was based!

The other area of Tulum is anywhere along the coastline where the hotels are located adjacent to the beach. The beach road goes on for miles and it wasn't an area that I explored to its entirety because it was so expansive. Most of the hotels are pretty expensive and I believe quite a lot of them have private beach areas. However, you can easily access a beautiful public beach through El Paraiso Hotel or other walkways nearby (look on Google Maps satellite view).

Getting Around
  • Taxis are always readily available and willing to take you anywhere for a reasonably good price. From Tulum town we got a taxi to Playa Pariosa for around 70-100 pesos (one way) and it took about 15 minutes.
  • Many people hire bikes from hostels for around 100 pesos a day. Initially we thought this was how we were going to get around. However, when we actually arrived and realised how hot and how far the beach was we opted for a taxis instead!
  • Collectivo's are a great budget option for getting to and from relatively large distances. They are essentially small mini vans that regularly drive between Tulum & Playa del Carmen and will drop you at places along the way if you ask. We used one to get from Playa del Carmen to Tulum, but you can also use them if you want to venture to some further afield cenotes.
  • From Tulum town you can get a direct coach to Cancun airport for around £15. Just pop into ADO bus terminal located on the main road and pre-book a ticket to ensure you get a space on the coach!

Things to do:

1. Beach 

The whole coast is lined with beautiful beaches and where you go mostly depends on where you stay. I pretty much only went to Playa Pariosa because it was easy to get to and there were plenty of palm trees providing free shade!

2. Cenotes

 There are literally thousands of cenotes dotted through this part of Mexico. One of the closest to Tulum is Grand Cenote, which is about a 15 minute taxi ride away at 80 pesos. Entrance was about 180, a snorkel was another 80 and a locker was 25 pesos. The water was crystal clear and you simply must get a snorkel! There are loads more to explore and if I had more time and a larger budget I would have headed to Casa Cenote and Los Ojos too.

3. Tulum Ruins

 This is the only Mayan city to be set on the coast and was probably one of the cities that the Spanish interacted with when they entered Mexico. Even if you aren't interested in Mayan ruins the setting for this city is incredible, as it is located on majestic cliffs with the caribbean sea glittering below. I would say it probably has some of the best views in the whole of Tulum and its worth waking up early for!

4. Snorkelling

 The second largest reef in the world is located just off the coast, so there is plenty of marine life to see if you choose to do a diving or snorkelling excursion. The town & beach have plenty of tour companies to book with. 

5. Swim with turtles

 About 30 minutes from Tulum is a beach called Akumal where you can swim with turtles and explore the reef which is close to the shore. We saw a couple of turtles, beautiful reef fish and a barracuda. You can hire snorkelling gear on the beach but be warned, there are a lot of scams so wait until you get to the beach to hire equipment! Also please be chill with the turtles... I saw so many people getting over excited and waving go-pro sticks in their faces and just getting too close in general. Give them space!

Eat (Tulum Town)

  • Flor de Michoacan - Cute tiled cafe with beautiful garden & delicious homemade natural ice lollies.
  • El Capitan - Huge portions and tasty fish tacos and quac!
  • Malquerida - Always busy with a good atmosphere. Mexican or Italian restaurant and has very good guacamole too.
  • La Caribe - Cheap & cheerful mojitos at 2 for 70 pesos

Thank you so much for reading!

All pictures were taken by myself or James Fisher.

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Much love, 
Lizzie xx

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