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Tulum Guide

Tulum has been on my bucket list for years, especially ever since instagram and the travel-blogging world really started to blow up and pictures of the cenotes, trendy cafes and beautiful white sand beaches kept popping up on my timeline. Well, a few weeks ago I was finally able to travel to Tulum for one of my best friends bachelorette parties… and it was everything we hoped for and more! If you’re wondering what it was like traveling there during the pandemic, I have more information on traveling to Mexico during Coronavirus written here if you have more questions.

First things first, Where to stay?

While Tulum itself isn’t that big of an area, its still confusing when trying to choose a hotel or air b&b to stay at because there’s so many different areas to choose from. There’s stuff closer into town, beachfront resorts, and then some places that are located smack in the middle of both. We ended up staying in the middle ground in an area called Aldea Zama because we wanted to be central, and had plans to do a little bit of everything in our 4 short days there. Here’s my best attempt to break down where you should stay when visiting Tulum:

If you are wanting to save money and get a more authentic Tulum experience I suggest staying in Tulum town. Here you’ll find cheaper hotels and air b&b houses, and also more authentic restaurants and places to shop for souvenirs. The only bad thing is being so far away from the “trendy” restaurants and the beach.

If you’re coming to Tulum just to layout, drink and relax then I suggest staying on the beach. You have two options here, pending your budget. If money isn’t really an issue then I would definitely suggest staying at one of the private beaches with resorts like Papaya Playa Project, Azulik and Nest . You’ll find a most of these resorts will feature the beautiful beachfront bungalows you see on instagram that would be perfect for a couples trip or a honeymoon vacation. If you want to stay on the beach but not spend hundreds a night on a bungalow, you also have the option to stay farther down the road at a resort or air b&b on the public beaches. There will still be some things to walk to around here, however you’ll most likely end up wanting to take a taxi closer to where the private beaches are. On the bright side, you will be super close to the mayan ruins if you stay here.

Lastly you have the Aldea Zama area which is a new development being built that is kind of in between the old town area and the beach, landing slightly closer to the beach side. This is where we ultimately ended up staying. You can find our amazing air b&b here. The house was absolutely beautiful and our host was amazing. You’ll notice that a majority of the air b&b houses and condos you come across online will be located in this area. Just keep in mind you can’t walk to anything here, and some things are still under construction so you may hear some extra noise during the day. Other than that, we were happy staying in this area because it was a quick 10 minute taxi to pretty much everything and our house was amazing for the price.

If you haven’t used air b&b before here is a coupon for $65 off!!

Our Airb&b, Villa Valma slept 10 comfortably

Transportation

In case you were unaware, Tulum is about an hour and a half from Cancun. So before you land in Mexico you’ll want to make sure you have your transportation scheduled. If you don’t, you’re going to end up spending way more cash than necessary and get hassled by the airport taxi drivers and companies as you walk out of baggage claim. If you’re traveling with a few people I highly suggest hiring a private van driver to take you all from the airport to Tulum. It will be much more convenient and probably cheaper in the long run. If you’re traveling solo there’s lots of options as well with a few different bus companies driving back and forth all day. You can search ticket prices here on this website but to give you an idea, they range from $10-$15 for a one way. I can’t say exactly how much a private van will run you because it varies, but I’ll say that ours was upward of $100 for 8 people just to give you an idea. If you’d like his contact information you can send me a message on instagram and I can send that over to you!

Food and Drink

Now for the fun stuff! There’s so many amazing restaurants and bars to go to in Tulum. Of course I had been stalking instagram the last few months for ideas on where to go, but with Covid restrictions many bars and nightclubs were closed or not operating regularly, so I’ll spare you and just go over the places we went to. One place you absolutely cannot miss is Raw Love. Even if you don’t know anything about Tulum I can almost guarantee you’ve seen a photo of the entrance to this place. It’s the big lush green art exhibit “Ven a La Luz” that is featured below:

Raw Love is a super trendy vegan restaurant where you can get açaí bowls, salads, bowls, smoothies, coffee and more. It’s located on the Ahau hotel premises and features a ton of swings, hammocks and benches to sit and lounge on. The whole ambiance is super cute. Our entire group got açaí bowls and we also split a vegan pad thai. Word to the wise- this pad thai is made up completely of veggies.. no real noodles and it is served cold. It was still amazing though! Just very different. Afterwards we walked out to the beach which was just a few steps away, where they have a second location with a more limited menu!

If you’re looking to have a nicer outdoor dinner setting with aahhmazing food and craft cocktails you can’t miss out on WILD Tulum. It’s set up on the beach and has some of the best tapas and appetizers I’ve ever had. We literally ordered one of everything on the menu and it was all delicious. For dinner we had octopus, sea bass, and prime rib and it was equally impressive and so were the cocktails. The girls and I all tried different ones but my favorites were the two mezcal ones. Just make sure if you’re with a big group to reserve in advance because seating is limited and also keep in mind the entire restaurant is covered, but outside.

Mayan Ruins & Cenotes

Two things must not miss when you visit Mexico are definitely the mayan ruins and the cenotes. If you’re short on time like we were, you’ll be able to visit both in just one day by hiring a private driver or booking a tour. The mayan ruins in located in Tulum are closer to the public beaches I mentioned above, but once again not too far a drive from the rest of the city anyways.

The Tulum ruins are the only ones built by the sea, so you can wear your swimsuit and head down to the beach for a refreshing dip. Either way, I would dress light because there’s not much shade and it got pretty hot walking around (even in October).

The Tulum ruins are the only ones built by the sea, so you can wear your swimsuit and head down to the beach for a refreshing dip. Either way, I would dress light because there’s not much shade and it got pretty hot walking around (even in October).

There are tons of cenotes to choose from, and some of the most popular include Dos Ojos, Zacil-Ha, Sac Actun, Calavera and finally the el Gran Cenote which is the one we visited. Tickets were about $15 USD at the door which seemed a bit steep to me for Mexico, so if possible I would try buying your ticket in advance. I also heard that the other cenotes are less expensive so that’s something to keep in mind. Either way, it was well worth the price to take some photos in the cenote and swim in the cool waters after a day of exploring.

We didn’t have time to do it on this trip because it was a few hours out of the way, but if you have the extra days in Tulum or Cancun I highly highly recommend visiting the Chichen Itza mayan ruins and cenote Ik Kil. I was able to see them in person when I visited in highschool and both sites were truly incredible.

Overall Tulum is super touristy and trendy and I can honestly say I felt very safe the entire time we were there. Covid precautions were in place everywhere we went, and your dollar will go a long way compared to visiting other places like this. It honestly reminded me a lot of Bali. With only 4 days we really only had time to do the bare minimum and see a tiny bit of this beautiful area while we were there, so I can’t wait to come back another time to see the rest Tulum has to offer! Comment below any questions you may have or message me on instagram!

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