Tulum Travel Guide: Cool Places to Stay, Things to Do, and Where to Eat
If you're looking for an amazing tropical getaway, Tulum is the perfect destination. This vibrant town on Mexico's Caribbean coast has something for everyone, from stunning beaches and crystal-clear waters to a lively nightlife scene and interesting Mayan ruins. Check out my guide to Tulum for some insider tips on where to stay, things to do, and where to eat!
The Beautiful Village of Tulum
Tulum was first settled by the Mayans around the year 1200 and served as an important strategic port for them. The city's name comes from the Mayan word for "wall", referring to the wall that was built around the city to protect it from invaders. Tulum reached its peak in the 13th century but was abandoned soon after the Spanish arrived in Mexico in the 16th century.
Nowadays, Tulum is a popular tourist destination for both Mexicans and international visitors. It's known for its beautiful beaches, clear waters, and relaxed atmosphere. Tulum is also home to some interesting ruins, including the well-preserved Tulum Archaeological Site which sits atop a cliff overlooking the Caribbean Sea.
How to Get to Tulum
Tulum is located about an hour and a half south of Cancun International Airport (CUN) by car. You can also take a bus from Cancun to Tulum, which takes around two hours. Once in Tulum, there are plenty of taxis and rental cars available if you want to get around town. If you plan on staying an all-inclusive resort and staying within the main beach strip, you can easily get a bus from and back to the airport, and then either walk around, use taxis, or rent bikes. If you want to do more exploring outside of those areas, I highly suggest renting a car!
We rented our car through Yes! Rent a Car, and the process was super easy. We booked the car a few weeks before through their website, and they had a driver waiting to pick us up from the airport and bring us to their office. Plus, their price includes all the collision and liability insurance you need.
The Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit Tulum is between the months of November and April when the weather is dry and sunny. However, keep in mind that this is also the busiest time of year for tourism, so you'll want to book your accommodation and flights well in advance. If you don't mind a little rain, May through October can also be a great time to visit as prices are lower and there are fewer crowds.
Just like anywhere else, Tulum has its rainy season (usually starting in mid-May) and hurricane season (from June to November), so it's important to keep an eye on the weather forecast if you're planning a trip during those times of the year. I visited during March, and the weather was a sunny 80 degrees fahrenheit.
Where to Stay in Tulum
There are a variety of accommodation options in Tulum, from camping and hostels to luxury resorts. The resorts that are all along the coastline are the most popular, but they can also be the most expensive. If you're on a budget, there are plenty of hostels and Airbnbs in town that offer great value. For a truly unique experience, consider staying in one of the eco-friendly hotels that are made out of sustainable materials like bamboo.
While I visited, we stayed in a 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom apartment that had a shared outdoor pool, parking space, a balcony, and was close to Downtown Tulum. They had recently renovated it and it was a very inviting space. The host was also super nice and dropped by after we had checked in to make sure we had everything we needed, and they also offer bike and ATV rentals as well. The Airbnb was a super affordable option for us, and cost us a little under $100 USD per night.
If you want a more high-end experience, I recommend staying at the Papaya Playa Project Villas. They offer beachfront villas and bungalows that come with their own private plunge pools, outdoor showers, and stunning views of the Caribbean. Prices start at around $400 USD per night. For a more budget-friendly option, check out the Lum Hostel. This hostel is located in the town center and has a rooftop terrace with hammocks, an outdoor pool, and free breakfast. Prices start at $35 USD per night for a dorm room.
If you're looking for more places to stay, check out my blog on Unique Accommodations in Mexico!
Things to Do in Tulum
In addition to lounging on the beach and exploring the ruins, there are plenty of other activities to keep you busy in Tulum. Go for a swim in one of the many cenotes, hike through the jungle to see some amazing views, or take a cooking class to learn how to make traditional Mexican dishes. For those who want to party, there are also plenty of bars and clubs that stay open late into the night.
If you're looking for a more laid-back activity, consider getting a massage or visiting a temazcal. A temazcal is a traditional Mexican sweat lodge that is said to have healing properties. You can find them at many of the resorts and spas in Tulum. For something that's a little more adventurous, consider going zip-lining or scuba diving. Tulum is home to some of the best scuba diving in Mexico, and there are plenty of dive shops that offer both beginner and advanced courses.
If you're traveling with kids, they'll also enjoy activities like playing in the sand, building sandcastles, and swimming in the ocean. Tulum is a great place for families to vacation. Check out my full list of things to do in Tulum, with recommendations on where to go and what to see.
Where to Eat in Tulum
Tulum is home to some of the best restaurants in Mexico. From street food to upscale dining, there's something for everyone. For the best street food, head to Tulum town and try dishes like cochinita pibil, tacos al pastor, and tamales. You can also find food carts selling snacks like churros and ice cream.
For a more upscale dining experience, check out one of the many restaurants along the beach. Many of them have outdoor seating so you can enjoy the views while you eat. I recommend trying the ceviche, which is a dish made with fresh seafood, lime juice, and chili peppers. You can also find great pizzas, pasta, salads, and other cuisines outside of traditional Mexican food. Tulum is also home to several vegan and vegetarian restaurants.
Here are some recommendations of places to eat that I really enjoyed eating at:
Aroma Cafe - A great place for breakfast with a wide variety of food options. The smoothie bowls are particularly good.
Co.ConAmor - A local vegetarian spot with really good food. They have great freshly made juice options.
Encanto Cantina - A cute hidden restaurant with authentic Mexican food.
Sabor de Mar - A seafood restaurant with outdoor seating that has great views of the water.
Ilios - A high-end Greek restaurant with excellent food and service.
Hartwood - A popular restaurant that specializes in wood-fired Yucatan cuisine.
Homu - A Japanese restaurant with really good sushi.
Pasha Tulum - A Turkish restaurant that has excellent food and shisha options.
Most of the restaurants in the tourist areas are very conscious about the water they use, so you don't need to worry about getting sick from the food. Tulum is a safe place to eat, and you'll be able to find plenty of options no matter what your budget is. Just make sure not to drink the tap water anywhere, and be careful if you go to some of the smaller local spots, as they may wash the raw vegetables or make their ice with tap water. I always made sure to bring around my own bottle of water just to be safe.
I hope you found this guide helpful! If you have any questions or suggestions, please leave a comment below. Thanks for reading!