White sand beaches and turquoise warm waters are just a couple of the reasons Tulum is gaining so much popularity. The laid back beach town has more than 2 million visitors each year and the number keeps growing. With a mix of boho chic vibes, fitness gurus, and warm Caribbean breezes, its a perfect place to spend a few days, weeks, or a lifetime.Although there are many things to do and see in Tulum, it may be best known for the iconic ruins, which are situated directly overlooking the Caribbean Sea. A trip to Tulum isn’t complete without a visit to one of the many nearby cenotes. These diverse, cool water swimming holes are also popular destinations for divers.Tulum has also made its mark on the map for a vibrant food scene. VeganFest and TFWS Festival are especially nice ways to experience the variety of gastronomic options available. Popular restaurants, such as Hartwood and Noma popup, have been featured in countless magazines, articles, and on Netflix documentaries.
Tulum is divided into 2 distinct areas. The town, aka pueblo, boasts the most authentic Mexican food and experience. There is one main strip, easily walkable, with countless souvenir shops, bars, and restaurants. It’s an eclectic mix of local lifestyle, hippie chic, and tourist accomodations. On the south end of town is a neighborhood called “La Veleta”. We recommend renting a car if you plan to stay there, as it’s not walking distance to the beach.
The beach, aka playa, has the most beautiful hotels, breathtaking views, and variety of great food. However, be prepared to pay more. On one end of the strip you’ll find the Mayan ruins and on the other Sian Kaan Biosphere. You can easily walk, bike, or taxi around the beach strip. The hotels generate their own electricity, so you won’t find large all-inclusives or chain hotels like nearby Cancun or Playa del Carmen. Instead, each place has its own unique design. You can easily disconnect from the rest of the world and truly relax.
The town and beach are connected by one road, approximately a mile long, and run parallel to each other. There is a bike and walking path along the road, but it isn’t shaded or lit. Along that road you’ll find a large grocery store and the neighborhood known as Aldea Zama. Taxis are constantly passing by both the beach and town roads.
WHEN TO GO
The sun is (almost) always shining in Tulum. Although there are 2 seasons, the weather is approximately 80 degrees year round. December and January can get chilly at nights, but the days are still warm. The rainy season is typically from June through November, although the name isn’t really accurate. During those months it rains, but usually a lot at one time and then the sun is back out. However, you can also get constant rain for a few days or, in extreme cases, weeks. What you get in exchange is more lush tropical foliage, more secluded beaches, turtle season, and lower prices.
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
In line with its laid back reputation, Tulum is not credit card friendly. Most places either don’t accept cards or have technical difficulties at the time you pay. Having cash in hand not only saves you a hassle, but it will save you money on the exchange rate and price bidding.If you don’t have time or access to pesos before you arrive, you can stop at any bank and make a withdraw in pesos from your card. The bank machines don’t always work or may have a long line, but don’t trust ATM’s that aren’t at a bank, as they are notorious for fraud.
Make sure your sunscreen is biodegradable. Others can cause damage to the reef and cenotes. You can pick some up in town if you haven’t brought it.
Tulum is about 1.5 hours south of Cancun on one straight highway. It’s an easy drive if you’ve rented a car. Otherwise, you can arrive by bus (ADO), private transfer, or shuttle. It’s not recommended to travel by Collectivo, or shared bus. It’s intended for locals, so is reliable at best along the beach road, and goes at insane speeds along the highway.
TIMEZONE: Tulum does not have daylight savings time, unlike the rest of Mexico, so be aware!
CURRENCY: Mexican Pesos