Hoan and I just got back from Tulum for our one year anniversary and gosh, this place is definitely worth a visit! We spent 3 days and 2 nights here at an airbnb and we absolutely LOVED it!
How to Get to Tulum
Unfortunately, there is no direct flight to Tulum. However, it is a straight 1.5 hour drive from the Cancun airport. You can get here by shuttle/bus, taxi, or a rental car. We would highly recommend a car rental because you can get rentals as cheap as $1 a day! However, where they get you is the insurance. We purchased car insurance through Expedia as well as the car rental company on site. We went with Enterprise as we had read some relatively good reviews, plus it was a company we were familiar with. Unfortunately when we arrived, they told us that we had to purchase Mexican car insurance as it is required in the country while driving which ends up being about $15 USD extra a day.
Our car rental cost was a total of $2,266 pesos for 6 days, which included the optional 66$ USD car insurance through Expedia which includes coverage for like basically everything else. Our exchange rate was $1 USD = $18.40 peso which equated to ~$123 USD for 6 days!
There are SOOOOO many affordable boutique hotels in Tulum and you can easily check sites like Kayak or Expedia. But we opted for an Airbnb because we found a stellar deal. Our Airbnb was a relatively new building in a quieter area of town which is perfect when you want a good night’s rest. It also offered a continental breakfast, purified water, free parking and free bikes + locks! We would highly recommend checking it out (this isn’t even sponsored, we just loved it so much lol).
Another option I would recommend would be the Coco boutique properties, I reached out to quite a few hotels to collaborate and they were the most responsive and I feel most accommodative to tourists. Coco Tulum is very instagrammable and just steps away from the beach. It has adorable swings and bean bag chairs for lounging and great 2 for 1 drinks during happy hour!
Things to do
1 . CENOTES
According to wikipedia a cenote is a natural pit, or sinkhole, resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater underneath. Cenotes were sometimes used by the ancient Maya for sacrificial offerings. And there are A TON of them! We went to Suytun and San Lorenzo Oxman which are both a drive but I thought they were totally worth it! Make sure to bring biodegradeable sunscreen if you’re thinking about swimming.
- Cenote Suytun – This cenote is super instagramable and pretty much enclosed except for a little peep hole at the top that lets a nice little beam of light in on a sunny day from about 10:30-11ish onwards. The entrance fee is $140 pesos per person and includes life jackets. Everyone is super respectful of pictures as a line forms to get onto the platform. Tour buses arrive around 11 so be sure to come a little bit before that or right before it closes around 3 so it’s less crowded. We got there about 10 and left right at 11:15AM and it was perfect because there were a storm of people coming in as we were leaving!
- Cenote San Lorenzo Oxman – You could potentially spend a whole day here as they’ve got a pool and a bar/grill. They have different entrance fees but we opted for the top dollar at $150 pesos which allows you entrance into the cenote PLUS they give you all that back worth in credit to use at the bar & grill! They have typical lunch items such as tacos, quesadillas, burgers, etc. The cenote itself is really cool! It’s literally a large hole that has water at the bottom and has vines growing around it. Plus it had a rope swing where you could swing and jump into the water!
- Gran Cenote – We hear it’s quite grand and very beautiful. We opted not to go because of the price since it’s $25 USD per person and gets pretty packed during the day. Someone told me it’s like the Disneyland of cenotes. So beware. But regardless, we heard really great reviews about it, plus relatively close to Tulum so if you have some free time and extra cash, I’d recommend checking it out!
- Cenote Calavera – This cenote is super cute via pictures, again we didn’t go but it was something I wrote down on my list. It’s got a cute ladder and swing. The cenote is pretty small but if you want a quick pic for the gram, I’d go here too since it’s so close to Tulum.
2. Tulum Ruins
These Mayan Ruins are really unique since it sits on a cliff right next to the beach. It used to be the largest trading post back in the day. It is secluded by 3 physical walls, the 4th being the ocean to protect it from outsiders. It’s $70 pesos to get in and we would realllllly recommend going early when it first opens because 1) it gets crowded, 2) it gets super hot. There’s parking along the street but towards the end you’ll have to walk a little ways. We arrived at 11AM and it was scorching hot so we opted to view the ruins from the neighboring beach which is totally FREE!
3. Walk the main road in downtown Tulum
The main road in downtown Tulum, is a short strip on the 307. There are a ton of shops and restaurants, live music and DJs play at night at certain bars. So I definitely think it’s worth a walk. If you want to do some shopping, it may be a little pricey in this area since there are so many tourists, I’d recommend driving up the 109 and there a ton of cute family owned shops on the streets. We even found a churro stand!
4. Get Drinks at Kin Toh by Azulik
The photos I saw of Kin Toh was what inspired me to visit Tulum. For some reason when I think of Tulum, I think of Kin Toh. It’s just so iconic of what Tulum’s vibe is like, very Bohemian jungle. Dinner here is like $$$$$, so I would just go for drinks at the bar which is about $28 USD per person. They have two options for where to have your drinks. You can do the rooftop or the regular bar which has the nets where you can sit and lounge. While the drinks are a little pricey, they were freakin’ amazing! And a really good size too. I’d highly recommend this place. BUT BE SURE TO WEAR INSECT REPELLANT!!!! I literally got lit up, 6 mosquito bites and counting.
5. Explore the Beach Road
The main beach road gives access to all the beach hotels and restaurants and is seriously SO LONG. It has so many hotels, shops, and restaurants along the strip and legit such cute vibes! It’s definitely worth a bike ride down the street to check out all that it has. Hoan and I had a blast just driving down and looking at all the cool architecture!
6. Grab an ACAI Bowl from Matcha Mama
The instagram famous smoothie/acai bowl place is definitely worth a look-see. I will say it is a little pricey but they do target tourists so what can you do. The workers are super friendly and it is kind of a drive down the beach road but exploring the beach road is fun. And just to keep in mind, they do include a service charge too. So for our two acai bowls, it came to about $28 usd.
7. Other Restaurants to check out
- We had dinner at Encanto Cantina which is open till about 1AM. Has a live DJ and a cute outdoor setting with mood lighting
- Grab gelato at Origami! We didn’t have time, but dude everyone raves about this place!
- Burrito Amor has a superrrrr cute outdoor atmosphere and good burritos
- Farm to Table has a really cute door front filled with overhanging trees and great food!
- Raw Love has an adorable vibe and great options especially for Vegans
THINGS TO CONSIDER
I also just wanted to mention some other things to be aware of such as ensuring you’ve got biodegradable sunscreen and bug spray if you head to a cenote because we gotta keep them fish healthy. Also, I really encourage the bug spray because I generally don’t normally have a big issue with mosquito bites but I literally got like 12 mosquito bites. So be careful!
Also, make sure to pay in pesos because you’ll usually get a better deal. The only times we used our credit cards was for the car rental and for Kin Toh. Otherwise I wouldn’t trust gas stations or a restaurant with my credit card. Speaking of gas stations, make sure they zero out the previous sale and pay attention to how much they give you back in change. We read that a lot of people got scammed at car stations, the attendant saying they didn’t have enough change, or said you didn’t give them enough money, etc.
Finally, I would brush up on my Spanish. Thank goodness Hoan speaks some Spanish, because otherwise google translate would have been our best friend. And make sure to have fun!