Just got back from Tulum, and already getting so many questions on recommendations on what to do there, where to go and obviously where to eat 🙂
Thought I’d share my favorite spots with you guys.
I highly suggest renting a car when arriving in Cancun. You can rent a car for super cheap, and it gives you the flexibility and freedom to do whatever you want on your own time and not have to rely on finding taxi’s everywhere you go. Tulum is a 1.5 hour drive from the Cancun airport and it’s a straight shot on the highway basically. It’s an easy drive.
Tip: Check to see if your credit card provides rental car insurance benefits. You can decline their insurance and use your CC’s- I would print a copy of the insurance terms your CC offers and give to them in a hard copy form. Good way to save money, and most of the time you can get crazy cheap deals at any rental car company at the Cancun airport.
THE REAL SHIT
Before getting into the fun stuff and everything I love about Tulum you guys know I’m always honest in these posts lol. I do want to address a few issues I’ve had there so you guys know beforehand.
-Be careful when getting gas at a gas station- the workers pump the gas for you and they tried to scam me twice. The first time they said the credit card machines were broken so they could get cash under the table. We told them we had no cash and sat there until they said the machine “miraculously” worked again when they lost hope. Another time they went inside the gas station with my credit card and came out and gave me an identical card with someone else’s name. I didn’t bother to check the name on the card and 30 min later I got fraud text from my credit card company that whoever had my card tried to buy $700 of groceries on it in Mexico. Make sure you keep an eye on them while they fill up your tank.
-Also with rental cars, be careful because the police might pull you over because they know it’s a rental and you are a tourist. I had a bribe situation last time where I got pulled over for no reason and they wouldn’t let me go until I paid them under the table. (I got this all on video but hesitant to release the footage haha).
Now for the fun stuff!
WHERE TO STAY:
There are SO many great options to stay in Tulum. I’ve stayed at a few places and will share where, as well as places I want to stay in the future but haven’t yet.
MAHAYANA BEACH HOMES & ZORBA VILLAS: This past trip I stayed at both Mahayana Beach Homes and Zorba Beach Homes in Tulum- both properties owned by the same owner. They are not hotels, they are private villas on the beach in the heart of the best area of Tulum. I stayed in a beautiful 3 bedroom villa with a rooftop at Mahayana, and a luxury 2-bedroom sea front villa at Zorba. Both properties are great and I loved it because it felt so private. You pull up to a private gate off the main road, that are both closed off to the public. It feels like you are entering your private home right on the beach.
We were so lucky to get to Tulum right in time for the Blood Moon. We were staying at Mahayana and walked right onto the beach at sunset and the full moon was in full effect. We stayed up until midnight to catch the red blood moon too which was beautiful to see from the beach right in front of our villa.
They don’t have any food or restaurants at either properties, so you either have to go out to eat or go grocery shopping and stock the kitchen in your villa to cook. All the great restaurants are a short walking distance from both properties so super easy to walk right out and get some food. Also all the villas have beautiful & spacious kitchens so it’s nice to spend as much time in the villas as possible and cook. Every villa at these properties are right on the beach, and Zorba has a beautiful pool with comfortable lounges if you feel like a change of scenery. These villas are perfect for any occasion and I highly recommend for groups or families, but also great for a romantic getaway.
I really enjoyed my stay at both properties and I have recommended them to so many people already. I definitely plan to stay there again soon!
TRENDY TULUM BOUTIQUE HOTELS:
BE TULUM- I’ve stayed here once and loved it. Also has a great breakfast!
AZULIK- I’ve stayed at Azulik for 2 nights which was a unique experience. It’s very eco-conscious and all electricity shuts off at 6pm, and the whole property is lit by candlelight. It’s romantic to stay there with a significant other because it makes you want to disconnect from everything and just be in the moment. For work purposes, it’s not ideal when you have a million things to charge at night like camera equipment, drones etc. But still a cool experience, and one of the most photogenic places in Tulum!
DELEK- I stayed at Delek Tulum for 2 nights and loved it. Luxurious tree house vibes with a beautiful aesthetic. Also right next door to Raw Love which was my favorite spot for breakfast and lunch!
NOMADE- I’ve never stayed here but love the aesthetic. I had tea in the open-air moroccan room they have in the middle of the hotel.
LA VALISE- I’ve never stayed at La Valise but know lots of people who have. Definitely an option worth looking into for Tulum.
PAPAYA PROJECT- I’ve never stayed here either but another popular boutique hotel in the heart of Tulum. Every time I drove past there was a line of people waiting to get in- I think it’s a fun place to be at night.
CASA MALCA- You might also recognize this hotel on Instagram because everyone goes to take a picture at the swinging bench in the front of this hotel. This used to be one of Pablo Escobar’s properties, now turned into a trendy boutique hotel. I’ve never stayed here either but it’s another popular choice.
WHERE TO EAT:
There are lots of yummy food options in Tulum. Also lots of vegan friendly places too! Below are a few of my favorites and must visits when in Tulum + some great restaurants that were recommended to me.
Raw Love- I went here almost every day for either breakfast or lunch. It’s an all vegan menu (except for the honey). I love the smoothies, acai bowls and the avocado toast.
Antojitos La Chiapaneca- A hole in the wall which is why I love it. This place is legit and all I ever want when I’m in Mexico- tacos off the street. Get out of trendy Tulum and venture into the more local part of town for some street meat and authentic Mexican food in a casual/fast setting. I got down and dirty to some El Pastor and Carne Asada tacos, sopes, quesadillas, and panuchos for super cheap. It was the perfect fix- everything was delicious. Make sure to get everything con queso- they fry it separately on the grill and its heavenly.
Sin Yolanda Maricarmen- I’ve been here a few times and the tacos are delicious. Also the best margarita I’ve ever had. A super cute place in the heart of Tulum.
Matcha Mama- One of the most “instagrammable” places in Tulum- you’ve probably seen it a million times on IG. It’s kind of a must visit. They are known for their smoothies and acai bowls. I personally like Raw Love better, but I think everyone needs to go to Matcha Mama at least once. Especially for the infamous swing pic (haha).
Nu- Was recommended to go here by a Tulum local. Went there for dinner and it was nice. It has a cool and sexy vibe too. The food didn’t blow me away but it was a nice meal.
Arca- Never actually been but have been recommended to go here for dinner by several people. I will try next time for sure!
Rosa Negra- Went here for dinner and also another night just to go out and listen to music. It’s one of the more popular dinner spots in Tulum and has great energy. A lot of people go there to have drinks at night because there is a DJ and a poppin’ bar. The churros with dolce de leche ice cream were kind of insane. So good!
Charly’s Vegan Tacos- Another recommended place that I rode my bike to for some Vegan tacos. Super cute and casual with picnic tables, food served out of a truck. It was delicious and a great place for any vegan or non-vegan. It really tasted like real meat in the tacos. Great place for lunch, would definitely go back.
Posada Margarita- I really wanted to go here because I’ve heard amazing things. It’s also right on the beach and super vibey and cute. It’s an Italian restaurant and supposedly has great pasta, and also heard they have a good breakfast.
Coco Tulum- Another trendy “photogenic” spot. It’s all white right on the beach. It also has swings over looking the beach where you can sit and eat. I’ve been twice and they have decent drinks, and I remember eating pizza there which was good.
WHAT TO DO:
My favorite thing to do in Tulum (besides eating tacos off the street lol), is visiting the Cenotes! I absolutely love Cenote hopping and exploring the different ones around Tulum. The crystal clear blue water is great for photos, and also amazing for swimming and diving. There are so many different ones I’ve only had time to explore a handful. These are the ones I’ve been to:
Cenote Dos Ojos- This Cenote is beautiful and great for swimming. There are two big areas that are separated from eachother so it’s big enough where you can spend the majority of your day here. This was the most pricey cenote if I remember correctly- I think they charged 350 Mexican pesos which is close to $23 US dollars. It’s about a 25 min drive from the heart of Tulum.
Grand Cenote- This one is my favorite Cenote and the most well-known for good reason. It’s just so so pretty. Great for swimming too!
Cenote Calavera- This one is unique and not like the others. It’s basically one sink hole with a swing and ladder. It’s cool looking and you can also jump through a small hole and swim in the sink hole below!
Cenote Suytan- This cenote is pretty special. It’s a drive from Tulum but if you have the time I think it’s worth a visit. When I walked in I was completely taken aback by just how breathtaking it was. It’s massive and all enclosed except for one hole on the ceiling where the light comes in from the outside and illuminates the cave. I felt a spiritual energy. You can also swim in the water but its mandatory to wear a life jacket.
Cenote Il Kil- This cenote is close to Chichen-Itza and super cool. It’s touristy but also worth a visit! I went a few years ago with my family, so I need to go again.
Casa Cenote- Ok I went here years ago ( I think in 2014 or 2015), but I remember the water being really pretty and this is closer to Riviera Maya I believe as well.
Aside from the cenotes, spending time at the beach is a must when visiting Tulum. The beaches in front of all the boutique hotels are nice, and Playa Paraiso is also a great beach to visit which has a cool sideways palm tree thats cool for a picture 🙂
~RENT A BIKE & EXPLORE~
I rented a bike and explored all over the main strip of Tulum. We went to different food spots, parked our bikes to go to the beach, and did a little shopping in the boutiques! We rented it for $15 each for 24 hours. You can find bike rental shops all over the main strip.
There are so many cute boutique stores on the main strip in Tulum. A little pricey but they have really cute stuff. If you want to venture outside of the trendy Tulum strip, there are great outdoor shacks for street shopping all around Tulum in the more local parts of town. I die over all the dream catchers and hammocks everywhere!
To see more Tulum content, visit my Instagram @NicoleIsaacs.