Tulum is a true gem. Tourism is increasingly growing because the secret is getting out about how beautiful and affordable Tulum is. It’s about an hour and a half away from Cancun, Mexico. I’ve been twice now because I just can’t get enough of it! Tulum is filled to the brim with the sweetest + kindest humans, incredible food (a Vegan’s paradise), beautiful beaches with crystal clear waters, and swimming holes called cenotes.
My first time in Tulum, a friend and I rented a car, but in all honestly, you really don’t need to. We barely used our car while we were there. We biked everywhere! If you do rent a car, please be aware of the car insurance fees. Even if you purchase insurance online when making a reservation, they will charge you for another (unless you turn it down and go without full coverage) and it is an extra 100+ dollars on your total.
For my second trip to Tulum, we decided not to rent a car and take the bus from Cancun airport. There is a direct bus that takes you from the airport to Tulum City Center. A bus ticket is $15 USD one way. You can get tickets when you arrive at the ADO bus area, but I recommend purchasing it in advance here. The buses were super clean, had AC, and a bathroom too!
While in Tulum, you can either rent bikes to get around, walk, or take taxis. The hostel we stayed at came with a free bike rental, so we just biked or walked everywhere! Bikes are the best way to get around as long as you don’t mind a little exercise.
FAVORITE THINGS TO DO
Cenotes. You absolutely, positively MUST go explore as many cenotes as you possibly can while visiting Mexico! Cenotes are natural swimming holes filled with fresh clear water. Each one is different and unique and have their own things to offer which is so cool. You usually pay anywhere from $5- $10 USD to enter. Most have showers, locker and snorkeling mask rentals for you to swim around to see all of the fish! The most popular one is the Gran Cenote, and in all honesty, I think it’s a wee bit overrated. It’s so beautiful, don’t get me wrong, but since it’s the most popular cenote, everyone goes there. It was just too over crowed even though we went extremely early. They do have turtles though and that was freaking cool.
My favorites were Cenote Carwash and Cenote Calavera. Cenote Calavera is the one with the rope swing everyone takes photos on (you can see the rope swing in the first photo on the top left left row). Spoiler alert: no one warns you that there are fish that bite and that it is nearly impossible to pull yourself up on the swing. I got rope burn on my hiney and it was so hilarious but also the worst. Don’t always believe the fashion bloggers ;) ALSO. Go as early as you possibly can! The earlier we went, the better! We had some of the cenotes all to ourselves.
Hanging at a beach club on the beach road. I’m sure as you have done your research, you have seen out of this world, beautiful hotels and resorts in Tulum. They really are incredible. Tulum’s main 2 areas to hang around in is the city center and the beach road with all of the resorts. I personally loved the city center so much more than all of the spots on the beach road, BUT, if you plan on spending a lot of time on the beach, you will surely find yourself stopping at one of the incredible spots on the beach road. If you go left on the beach road, that’s where the public beaches are. If you go right on the beach road, you’ll find the fancy resorts and restaurants.
If you want to hang and spend the day under a tiki on the beach, you have 2 options: you can either go for drinks + food OR you can pay to rent one for the day. With the first option, a lot of places will let you come and order food or drinks and use their facilities at the same time. My favorite spot for this was Coco Tulum. There are some places though that have a minimum limit of how much you can spend to sit there (because they know cheapo, stubborn people like me exist). So just make sure you ask but they usually will tell you in advance.
For the second option of renting chairs or a tiki at a beach club, they all vary in price. I didn’t actually ever rent one for the day (because I am a cheapo) but a lot of people recommended Ziggy’s, Habitas, Nomade, and Tata Tulum.
CLICK ON THIS GOOGLE MAP LINK TO SEE MY PERSONAL MAP CREATED WITH ALL OF MY FAVORITE TULUM SPOTS! IT'S LINKED WITH THE EXACT ADDRESS TO MAKE IT A LOT EASIER FOR YOU TO PLAN YOUR ADVENTURES.
Where to stay
I don’t have enough kind words to describe Lum Hostel. Truly, my favorite hostel I have stayed at to this day (and I have stayed at so many hostels while traveling). It’s under a year old and it every single nook and cranny is BEAUTIFUL! I mean look at the courtyard! There is a small little bar where they have fun drinks every night and ping pong. Lum is only $19 a night (cash only) AND it comes with free bikes! You can’t beat it. I’ve stayed here both times I’ve come to visit Tulum. Would tell everyone to stay here!
Lum was so welcoming and kind to us. They have activities lined up all day everyday. The staff members there are truly the best. We left with so many new friends and spent most of our free time hanging with everyone.
You can book a stay at Lum here!