Tulum is divided in two parts: the city – very warm and busy, and the Hotel zone – very trendy and expensive. To be honest, the main reasons why I came here were 1) to finally see in real life the iconic picture of the ruins by the Caribbean sea and 2° to visit the Sian Ka’an natural reserve. Otherwise, the vibe of the Instagram restaurants and bars is definitely not mine. Let’s see if it’s yours!
What to do in Tulum?
- Maya Ruins: I’m sure you have all seen pictures of Tulum and here it is! A few Maya ruins on a large green space right by the sea. Nice if you haven’t visited any other ruins yet, otherwise they may disappoint you a bit.
- Entrance is rather cheap compared to other ruins: MXN 80 – no card, and try to have the exact amount, they may not give you change back. If you want to see the site with less tourists (and you don’t mind waking up early), you’ll need to pay a bit more.
- To get there, I took the collectivo heading to Playa del Carmen from the main street in Tulum (MXN 20). Ask to get off at the ‘Ruinas’ and walk about 1km to the entrance. The taxi is about MXN 150-200 depending on your negotiation skills. Another option is to rent a bicycle if your… cycling skills are good!
- You can theoretically swim below El Castillo, but it was closed when I went. Anyway, after your visit, you can head to Playa Santa Fe, north of the main Playa Paraiso and open to everyone (unlike those in the Hotel area). If you go early, you will only need to share it with a few yoga addicts and local fishermen.
- Coba ruins are not far from Tulum, and can be reached with ADO bus or collectivo. However, in December 2021, the site was unfortunately closed.
- Sian Ka’an Biosphere: a major highlight of my trip – in less than two hours, I saw a crocodile, pretty birds, dolphins (including a babyyyyyyyy), and a turtle. There are also manatees in the UNESCO reserve but the guide straight away warned us that they are unfortunately pretty shy.
- Programme of this wonderful day: Pick up at the hotel, Boat ride, Crocodiles, Birds, Dolphins & Turtles watching, Snorkeling on the reef, Relaxing in Natural pools, Lunch at Punta Allen, Visit of the tiny village.
- After doing some careful research, I booked the tour with Pixan Ka’an especially because you spend most of your excursion on boats rather than mini-vans on bumpy roads. The price was 149 US $, not including tips to drivers, captains, cooks and guide!
- Cenotes: several Cenotes (Gran Cenote, Cenote Calavera, Car Wash – yep locals used this one to wash their car) can be accessed around Tulum by bicycle, scooter or car. I unfortunately wasn’t able to go.
Where to eat in Tulum?
- Mexican food at Yaax Ik – ideal to strike an Insta pose or two while listening to nice live music
- Real Italian food (sorry, was craving for it) at Acqua & Farina – it tastes so good you may need to wait in line for a bit! But worth it!
- Veggie food at Ajala recommended by some vegetarian US guys on the tour
- Nice ice-cream at Panna & Cioccolato, served with a big smile!
Where to sleep in Tulum?
I stayed for two nights in a Deluxe King Suite at Nuee Tulum for about MXN 3 000. The suite was spacious and pretty, and located on the top floor at 20 seconds from the rooftop pool. I was very happy with my choice, even if, as I’ve discovered during my trip, some small things here and there could be better (shower seals are never completely hermetic, balcony doors/windows rarely completely close).
- Bring earplugs as the hotel is situated close to two gentlemen bars (but I felt completely safe walking in the evening).
Useful tips in Tulum:
- I arrived in Tulum with ADO from Bacalar (See: 2 days in Bacarlar). It took about 3 hours for MXN324.
- Be ready to pay a nice additional 5% in Tulum if you use credit cards!
All recommendations are mine, no ads. Prices from December 2021.
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