Tulum - Mexico

Tulum

Tulum has very rapidly gone from a sleepy fishing town to a popular vacation destination. A big part of that popularity comes from the stunning natural beauty found all along the coastline, where azure blue Caribbean seas gently lap up amazing white sand beaches. Along these beaches, more and more boutique hotels prop up, which remain quaint and promote eco-friendliness.

Tulum is the perfect place for those looking for a laid-back tropical setting in relaxing surroundings. The whole of the Riviera Maya has beautiful white sand beaches and turquoise waters, but in Tulum, you don’t have to share them with many people. Relatively small and intimate, Tulum is nevertheless larger than some places on the coast, like Akumal or Puerto Aventuras, and features more services and attractions. Thanks to the lovely coral reef just off the coast Tulum is a great place for snorkeling and scuba diving, and the beaches are safe for swimming. The renowned Mayan ruins look out across the Caribbean Sea and a lovely beach below. Tulum is about eighty miles south of Cancun, forty miles south of Playa del Carmen, and just a couple of miles north of Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, a fabulous area of protected mangroves which is great for a day tour by boat or kayak.

Why is Tulum so popular?

Tulum in Mexico

Tulum is one of the most bucket-list-worthy Mexican lay back village. For those looking for more of a tranquil and relaxing getaway, Tulum is lovely and needs to be visited.

  1. It has world class nightlife, from full moon beach parties at the legendary Papaya Playa Project to the uber popular Cuban bar on the central strip.
  2. It is home to the most pristine beaches in Mexico which have stunning azure waters, practically-white powder sand and plenty of swaying palms.
  3. You are close to the country´s best cenotes gorgeous sinkholes with their rugged walls and transparent waters, and you’ll definitely welcome the refreshing coolness of the water in the baking hot heat. 
  4. Mexico´s most eco-friendly escapes with its locally crafted buildings and use of organic materials, Tulum is great for those conscious about their environmental impact.
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When is the best time to go to Tulum?

Tulum Riviera Maya

You can visit Mexico year-round. Tulum’s rainiest months are JuneSeptember, and October. The three-month stretch from October to December is the best time to visit, when hurricane season is over and the weather is warm but not oppressively hot. January through March see the biggest wave of tourists, so avoid that time if you’re not a fan of crowds.

How to get to Tulum?

Tulum Airport Shuttle from Cancun

To get to Tulum, you will be landing at Cancun International Airport. The ride from there is about 1 hr 30 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the chosen transportation method, weather and traffic

Bus ADO

  1. From the Cancun International Airport you can take the ADO bus to Playa del Carmen with departures every :30min to 1 hour for around $156 MXN (about $12 USD). Once in Playa del Carmen you transfer to a second bus (ADO, AU or Mayab) to Tulum for an additional $74 MXN (about $5 USD) or a Colectivo for around 40 – 60 Pesos from Highway 307 or downtown Playa del Carmen (calle 2 between avenues 20 and 25), get off in Tulum then take taxi to your hotel.
  2. From the Cancun Downtown  you can take the ADO bus or the Colectivo/Playa Express in Cancun to Playa del Carmen and transfer there to Tulum bus or Colectivo.
  3. From the Cancun Hotel Zone take a taxi to the ADO bus or the Colectivo/Playa Express in Cancun and make you way to Cancun.

Private Transfers

Affordable private transfers throughout the Yucatan Peninsula, including transportation to Tulum. The most common route is from the Cancun airport but we can accommodate transfers to Tulum from anywhere in the Yucatan Peninsula or Riviera Maya area. Book transfers.

Rent a car

Rental cars are priced reasonably and are the easiest way to get around the Tulum area. If you check prices on internet, make sure to confirm that the price you are seeing if the final, as some companies apply surcharges at the very last minute when you are already signing the contract.  It is a very easy drive to Tulum. To get there you take the only highway south from Cancun Airport straight down past Playa del Carmen, Akumal, etc. About 90 minutes from the airport you will arrive in Tulum. If staying on the Hotel Zone, you will see a sign that says “Boca Paila” and you need to follow it and turn left. From there, you just need to look for your hotel.

Is Tulum dangerous?

Tulum safety

This coastal town is home to literal Mayan ruins and loads of nearby relics and jungles and doesn’t face loads of issues with gang violence. Still, Tulum does have a few issues with petty crime, getting things stolen on the beach isn’t unheard of and isolated incidents of robbery do occur. Nature wise, there are hurricanes and poisonous creatures to watch out for. YES, Tulum is safe. The Riviera Maya and Cancun have come under scrutiny in the press recently for some safety issues regarding gun violence, but these are isolated incidents, which don’t usually affect tourists. Tulum is not Cancun and is a lot more laid back, there are no issues here with violent crime.

Common-sense precautions are the name of the game when it comes to staying safe in Tulum. Risks of violent crime like mugging is low in Tulum, though it would be a smart idea to leave your best jewelry and watches at home anytime you travel. However, avoiding isolated areas, like beaches and empty streets, at night is always good practice when it comes to staying safe. 

 
Tulum Bohemian Style - MExplor MExico Travel Guide Blog 2020

Is Tulum expensive?

Tulum travel budget

It’s always good to have numbers. As indicated, Tulum is not as expensive as people expect. You can easily get by on a $60-$70 per day budget in Tulum including food and accommodation based on two people sharing. Five or six years ago, Tulum was mostly unknown, like a secret Caribbean getaway for digital nomads and backpackers. Recently though, Tulum has experienced a commercial boom. Resort-style hotels line the beach strip now, and with them came a slew of shops, restaurants, and bars.

You should plan to spend around M$560 ($26) per day on your vacation in Tulum, which is the average daily price based on the expenses of other visitors. Past travelers have spent, on average, M$197 ($9.31) on meals for one day and M$81 ($3.84) on local transportation. Also, the average hotel price in Tulum for a couple is M$423 ($20). So, a trip to Tulum for two people for one week costs on average M$7,837 ($371). All of these average travel prices have been collected from other travelers to help you plan your own travel budget.

Where to stay in Tulum? Beach or Town?

Best areas to stay in Tulum

Tulum is broken up into Tulum Town (Pueblo) and Tulum Beach (Playa) and better if you check out which area will match with you. Staying in the Town is incredible for budget travellers. You’ll get fantastic airbnbs for low prices. Best luxury hotels, fine dining restaurants, outdoor nightlife (beach and jungle parties), and boutique shops are on the beach. Most hotels on the beach have limited air conditioning. Basically, 

GO FOR TULUM BEACH IF:

  • you’re visiting this place for the very first time
  • you are planning on spending your days relaxing on the beach
  • you want to splurge in a boutique hotel or resort
  • money is not an issue

GO FOR TULUM TOWN IF:

  • you are on the budget
  • you are planning on exploring the Mayan ruins, cenotes and do plenty of day trips in the surrounding area
  • you want to stay somewhere where you can experience an authentic local vibe

Tulum Town - El Pueblo

The Pueblo is the lively downtown area of Tulum, brimming with wonderful restaurants, bars, and clubs. Hotels tend to be in the budget or moderate range, though there are a handful of luxury hotels at a fraction of the cost of the beach resorts. The Pueblo is easily walkable and bikable with a grid layout, sidewalks, and street lamps in most parts. Food in the Pueblo is more authentic and affordable than what you’ll find at the beach. Though the Pueblo is a vibrant, urban area, it is completely surrounded by jungle, with lots of nature to explore just a short bike ride away. Several amazing cenotes are within a 5 to 25-minute bike ride north along Avenida Coba and also the best yoga studios.

Tulum Beach - Playa

The “playa” is a long strip of beach where you’ll find tons of luxurious resorts that have direct access to the beach. The beach itself is made up of 4 areas all with unique feels: the Beach Town (a cluster of hotels, restaurants, and shops in general more affordable here than in the other beach areas) and the North 8where the Mayan ruins are), Middle (upscale dining, high-end boutiques, and stylish open-air nightclubs), and South (great for kids with a long, wide stretch of sandy beach, eco-conscious hotels, reflecting the bohemian vibe and abundance of yoga and wellness studios) Beach Zones. It takes about 15 to 45 minutes to cycle from the heart of the Pueblo to the Beach, depending on your exact destination (if walking, this can take an hour or 2). Most hotels offer free or cheap bicycles to guests, making it simple to stay in one spot and enjoy the other (about a 10-minute bike ride from the Pueblo to the beach).

Aldea Zama

Aldea Zama is a new luxury development in between the Pueblo and the Beach Zone. This neighborhood is primarily high-end homes, condos and Airbnbs, though there are a couple of boutique hotels, restaurants, and a playground – all connected by walking and cycling paths. Much of the development is still under construction, but there are plans to add luxury boutiques, restaurants, and bars. At the moment, this area has a bit of a sterile feel and hasn’t found its own personality yet. However, the location is perfect, offering easy access to the Pueblo and beach, while remaining calm and quiet at night.

Where to stay in Tulum? Beach or Town?
Best hotels in Tulum Pueblo
Best hotels in Tulum Beach
Best hotels in Aldea Zama

What can I do in Tulum?

Best things to do in Tulum

The incredible white sand beaches of Tulum are the main attraction here, but there are a ton of awesome places to visit in Tulum beyond the shore. Tulum is a dreamy, laid back beach paradise with white sands and jungle adventures.

  1. Snorkel or dive in a cenote: The most refreshing thing to do in Tulum.
  2. Visit the marvelous Mayan Ruins of Tulum: Its spectacular location on a cliff overlooking the beach makes the Tulum ruins a marvelous site to behold.
  3.  Explore the Sian Ka´an Biosphere: protected area home to thousands of species of flora and fauna, as well as some of the most pristine water in Mexico. Inside the park, you’ll find dolphins, turtles, and more fish and birds than you can count.
  4. Tulum healing experience: Spend a day in Beachfront Eco-Friendly Boutique Hotel, with amazing places to meditate, Yoga Shala, Healthy Restaurant, Temazcal and much more.
  5. Enjoy the holy benefits of a Temazcal: The design of the Mesoamerican temazcal connects us to the deepest of creation, to that place from which to heal becomes a spiritual call. Connection, regeneration and understanding are favored by this sacred Mexican medicine. 
  6. Swim with sea turtles in Akumal
Reproducir video
Explore Sian ka´an Biospere

Rent a Car in Tulum

Before going to Tulum, you need to know there is not many public transport option and taxi drivers charge a lot of money. Of course, depending on how long you stay and what you will do, you might don´t need a transport. But if you are thinking to stay a few days and visit the island, we recommend renting a car in Cancun or Playa del Carmen and cross with the car ferry in Playa del Carmen.

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