Tulum Travel Guide: Where to stay, what to eat and what to do!
About a year ago, I started seeing images of Tulum, Mexico popping up all over my Instagram feed, travel blogs and I was even alerted of travel packages to yoga and wine retreats there (Thanks Mario!). So when I started to really look into this lesser known Mexican village, I could just picture myself there on the beautiful beaches, doing yoga, sipping margaritas and eating the most delicious tacos. I had to get there soon! Little did I know, there was so much more to Tulum than yoga and tacos. I have the fondest memories from my trip and I cannot wait to go back!
Tulum has gained a lot of hype in recent years, so try to get there before it gets too touristy. Here are some of my top picks for where to stay, what to do, and where to eat.
Getting there/Getting around: Tulum is about an hour and a half drive from Cancún International Airport. Book a car service in advance for about $100. You will likely get a private, air-conditioned van with great service. Try USA Transfer. We were very pleased with this company.We received an email confirmation ensuring us that we would be greeted by one of their reps wearing a USA Transfer hat at the airport with our reservation on hand. They were very prompt, accommodating, and efficient. It gave us peace of mind to know that this would be taken care of upon our arrival to Mexico. One less thing to worry about when planning a trip! Once you’re in Tulum, you can get around by taxi, bicycle, and by foot. Just be careful when biking because the road is narrow and there aren’t any sidewalks for bikers. In Tulum Playa, where most of the bars, shops and restaurants are located, everything is within walking distance.
Stay: There are plenty of places to stay in Tulum Playa. We stayed in two different resorts. Pavo Real was a beautiful, colorful resort located right on the beach with lots of fun activities like volleyball, bocce, aqua gym (workouts in the pool), and yoga classes. If you come to Mexico to chill, you’ll enjoy their beautiful beach beds for ultimate relaxation! This is an all inclusive resort with yummy food, drinks and a rooftop bar with live entertainment. This place provided the quintessential Mexican hospitality!
If you’re looking for an adults-only resort, stay at Kore Tulum. This is another all-inclusive resort that is over-the-top beautiful. The resort grounds and amenities are absolutely fantastic. As you enter the resort, you are transported to paradise! Upon arrival we were greeted with massages and margaritas. Bienvenidos indeed!! What more can one ask for?! There is a beautiful yoga and meditation space with 4 daily classes. The pool and swim up bar overlooking the beach are so inviting. The restaurant and snack bar offer Mexican fare with an asian twist such as beef rolls and thai flavored ceviche. My favorites were the catch of the day and a refreshing gazpacho (served in a wine glass) alongside a refreshing pina colada. Kore is the type of resort where you don’t even have to step out of the resort. They have so much to offer for a fun day at the pool such as pool volleyball, badminton, ping pong, billiards, and more. Bike rentals are free so if you want to escape to town for some shopping or change of scenery, hop on one of their cute bicycles and away you go! The rooms at Kore were one of my favorite things about the resort. There’s a jacuzzi tub complete with ice bucket in the room! If you want to spend a romantic night in, there’s a 24 hour room service menu and a patio right off your room. I could go on and on about Kore Tulum, but you’ll just have to book a stay and see for yourself!
Do: There’s so much to do in Tulum. Many people will go to Mexico to simply relax on the beach, but if you don’t venture outside your resort, you’re missing out. Besides the huge yoga community, there are so many excursions you can do! Spend a day snorkeling in the coral reefs of Akumal. Take a boat ride up the Sian Ka’an biosphere where you’ll see sea and wildlife such as a variety of different birds, crocodiles, sea turtles and dolphins. You can do a whole day excursion with a stop off for lunch using i-tour Mexico. This is a full day of boating, snorkeling and relaxing on one of the most spectacular and ecologically diverse places on earth. Other tours include visiting the world-famous cenotes: crystalline freshwater pools connected by a maze of underground rivers and Chichen Itza, the Mayan Ruins of Tulum.
One of the nicest beaches we visited in Tulum is Playa Paraiso which offers plenty of watersports and excursions as well as beachside restaurants and live entertainment. Spend a day walking up the beach, people watching and stopping at different resorts for cocktails and maybe even a donkey sighting!
Last but not least, the shopping in Tulum is pretty special. Purchase a beautiful dream catcher, hand-embroidered womenswear, handmade maxi dresses, and crochet swimsuits. Some of my favorites shops were Zenigo’s and Josa. You can find beautiful dresses and accessories at these unique boutiques.
Eat and Drink: With some research done ahead of time, we discovered a gem for fresh mojitos in Tulum called Batey. These mouthwatering mojitos are made in a variety of flavors using sugar cane that is cut fresh on a little cart right in front of the bar. After indulging in the most delicious mojitos we had a little craving for street tacos and had to hit up Antojitos, a curbside taco joint with the most savory tacos al pastor I’ve ever had! And the best part about it?? We had 2 rounds of tacos and tostadas – that is, 9 tacos for $135 pesos or $7.16!!! Woah. We will never forget our first night in Tulum with that warm Mexican welcome of Antojitos. Don’t miss it!
Another cool beachside spot for tacos and tequila is La Eufemia. You’ll get decent ceviche, and fish tacos here. This place is laid-back, a little bit hipster, a little bit touristy, but mostly just chill and dip your feet in the sand kind of joint. After lunch, walk up the beach for the best fried fish you’ve ever had at Playa Maya Tulum. Not only will you get the fresh catch of the day, but also the best margaritas on the beach complete with swings and live music. It doesn’t get much better than this.
In town there are a bunch of restaurants and bars to grab dinner and drinks. One of our favorite places for drinks is Mateo’s Mexican Grill for 2 for 1 happy hour on a rooftop with great views. They make a mean strawberry basil mojito as well as a frozen mango margarita. Both are made with fresh fruit. This place is packed with cool art and Frida Kahlo inspired decor. A very cool, eco-chic eatery and cocktail bar is El Tabano with arguably the best cocktail menu on the strip. I had the Perrum, which was a pear, apple, and lavender rum cocktail that I could just sip on into pure bliss. End your night across the street at Zamas where you will get a taste of the freshest guacamole and micheladas. Located right alongside the beach, this restaurant has an authentic Mexican band that was truly one of the highlights of the trip for me.
- Trade your dollars for pesos in your home country to avoid a fee and higher exchange rate at the resorts. The current rate is 18 pesos per dollar.
- Always carry pesos so you will have it for tips. Many of the restaurants are cash only and will charge you more if you pay in U.S. dollars.
- Bring casual clothes such a denim shorts, linen, and beach dresses. You will be in your bathing suit 90% of the time and there’s no need to get dolled up in this beach town.
- Purchase coral reef friendly sunscreen if you plan on snorkeling. Regular sunscreen causes cancer in sea turtles and kills the reef.
Thanks for reading my post and please leave me any questions or comments here! I hope this inspires you to plan your next Mexican getaway!