Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer”
Ain’t that the truth. Traveling is something I will continue to spend money on because the experiences that come from it are invaluable. No matter where I travel, I always come back with a greater perspective of life and the world we live in. While this recent trip to Tulum was not my first, it certainly will not be my last. It is such a special place that is sure to bring you plenty of memorable experiences. We were only able to spend a day in Tulum but actually saw quite a bit. Since we were staying in Playa Del Carmen, we rented a car (24 hour rental was about $60) and drove an hour south to Tulum (about 2 hours south of Cancun). Whether you’re spending a day in Tulum or a week, use this Tulum travel guide in order to make the most of your time in Tulum…
SWIM IN A CENOTE
We went to Cenote Dos Ojos (two eyes) and snorkeled in the crystal clear water filled with stalagmites and stalactites. This was an unforgettable experience and a little scary at times. They offer guided tours equipped with hard hats and lights to really venture through the cave but we stuck to swimming around before heading to our next destination. The cost to get in was 200 pesos (about $12) and only a few dollars to rent snorkel gear. Casa cenote is another gorgeous cenote that is outside and near the beach where you can also snorkel in both the cenote and ocean.
VISIT THE RUINS
The ancient Mayan ruins in Tulum are located right off the beach and are very easy to get to. We parked on the street, grabbed a coconut, and headed in to explore. Unlike other ruins you may have visited, these are blocked off in order to protect them so you are not able to climb them. It was still interesting to walk through and read about the history. I was also amazed at the insane amount of iguanas crawling around. These guys blend in everywhere so pay attention before you sit down or rest your hand somewhere!
VISIT SIAN KA’AN BIOSPHERE
Like I mentioned, I visited Tulum about 13 years ago with my family. Tulum is considered a beautiful part of Mexico that is still “untouched” and hasn’t become touristy like other areas, so you can imagine how untouched it really was 13 years ago. It is safe to say there was close to nothing out there but my Dad was on a mission to visit the Sian Ka’an biosphere, one of the most ecologically diverse places on earth. We drove down a dirt path through the jungle in our Rav jeep convertible (no top) for hours until we ended up on the coast near Punta Allen. The drive was well worth it because we ended up at a fishing village where they were pulling huge lobsters out of the ocean and offered to cook them for us in their little shack of a restaurant. We saw everything from colorful toucans and parrots perched in the trees to walking into knee-deep water with sting rays and multi-colored fish swimming around us to crabs and turtles crawling around the shore. It was truly an experience I will never forget. We were encouraged to leave before the sun went down due to the jaguars coming out at night (not kidding). Since our drive was so long we inevitably ended up doing part of our drive at night which might have been one of the scariest experiences of my life (I’m not exaggerating when I say we were on a long dirt road in the jungle with no crossroads, no shoulder, just tall lush trees and plants on either side). Luckily for you, nowadays they have safer routes and guided tours making it much safer to visit.
HIT THE BEACH
We intended on spending the late afternoon into the evening at Playa Paraiso, known to be one of the most beautiful beaches in Tulum, but unfortunately it is private and closes at 5:00 (we pulled in at 5:05). We weren’t very discouraged since all of the beaches there are pretty spectacular. We headed down the road to another admired beach, Papaya Playa, home to the Papaya Playa Project boutique hotel. We spent hours there sipping cervezas in our tiki hut day bed listening to the waves and sounds from the hotel’s DJ. The vibe of the beach here is much more laid back and cool. We even made a few friends playing frisbee and were entertained by a kite surfer doing flips and tricks down the shore.
After a full day of activities and only snacking on Doritos and some fresh fruit, we were starving. I was dying to try one of the several restaurants I had on my list but don’t forget I was traveling with my husband and his best friend who were wanting to head back to Playa Del Carmen and eat there… lame I know. We ended up grabbing a quick bite at El Camello Jr., a famous spot in Tulum for locals serving up fresh grilled fish and big plates of ceviche. I enjoyed our meal surrounded by locals but would highly recommend trying out any of these restaurants when you visit that I definitely would have dined at had we stayed longer:
Arca – this outdoor bar looks like a dream
STAY A WHILE
If you do plan on staying more than a day in Tulum, you have a great selection of boutique hotels to choose from right on the beach. I can’t wait to come back and stay at one of these unique spots on the beach:
I think the most important takeaway from Tulum is to disconnect. Tulum is a place where getting around by bike is the norm and slowing down your pace of life is encouraged. I hope this Tulum travel guide helped give you some insight as to what to expect when you visit. I know I can’t wait to go back.
If you have any specific questions regarding Tulum, feel free to leave a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for reading!