Tulum: Our Recommendations
Mexico is a destination that never gets old. The food, the beaches, the cheap drinks, the art, and God love the people. While all-inclusive hotels and party boys are a staple in Cancun (tequila all day, son!), thankfully Tulum hasn't fallen prey to this tourist-trap. Yet. Most of the hotels are still quite small and bungalow-y, and although Tulum definitely is not the 'secret' beach paradise of olden days, it is still a beautiful, fun, easy place to vacation. We've been twice and here are our best reccomendations:
Anywhere on Boca Paila. Not in the town of Tulum. Best options:
Azucar Hotel: where we stayed! A small, five-room bungalow-style hotel with minimal frills. No breakfast, no restaurant, but clean, well-maintained rooms directly on the beach. Also, at $200 per night it's one of the least expensive options on the beach...no kidding. Spoiler alert: Tulum is not a bargain. You'll almost forget the price though as you're gently rocked to sleep in the hammock by a soft ocean breeze and sounds of crashing waves 15 steps away.
Ahau Tulum: On the same great stretch of beach as Azucar (right next door actually) but with more frills. Great restaurant, yoga deck, and swankier rooms, but muuuuuch more expensive, so keep an eye out for deals.
- Shiva: delicious Indian food, Eastern ambiance, great owner and well priced wine menu.
- Mateos: Best fish tacos. Dont bother with the chicken or beef ones. Fun, outdoor setting, great for lunch or happy hour with yummy beers...and they take credit card!
- Pizza Diavola: Simple, yummy Italian food and pizza because at some point you'll want something other than Mexican food. And the whole menu is available for take out too!
- Harwood: New trendy place. We didn't go because there was a line out the door every night and we're just not that 'foodie', but we've heard amazing things, and the menu, while pricey, looked simple and fresh.
- Tacos La Eufemia: Pretty bomb little taco spot at the hotel right next to Azucar. Local-ish, but like everything else, it's become popular. Go for lunch or happy hour.
- La Vegeteriana: right at the junction of HWY 307 and the turn off for Boca Paila. Due to its location off the beach, its much less crowded and way less expensive. Offering up some a-mazing fresh juices, eggy breakfast options, and veggie-based Mexican food, this place is a must try!
- Rent bikes: Great way to peruse the beach strip, just make sure to be alert. The road is narrow and there is a lot of traffic.
- Snorkel those Cenotes baby!
- The Gran Cenote: Our favorite, but apparently it's everyone elses favorite too, so go early.
- Dos Ojos: OK, but a bit more crowded and less 'magnificent' than the Gran Centote.
- Cenote Manatee: located in a little 'suburb' of Tulum called Tankah about 5km north of Tulum town center. Much less crowded and way lesser known, but it looks amazing! Its more of a river-y cenote that leads through mangroves to the ocean. We didn't have time to actually swim in it but we drove by and it looked beautiful!
- Wind surf: for you adventurers out there, Tulum has great wind surfing and lots of instructors. And I have yet to see anyone drown or get pulled out to sea!
- Indiana Jones some ruins:
- Tulum Ruins: close to Tulum center, wide open space, pretty well preserved. Crowded but worth it. Also theres a little beach below the ruins if you want to bring a suit and make it a day.
- Coba ruins: Our favorite! Less crowded, but a solid 45 minute drive from Tulum center. you can actually climb up to the top of the great pyrimid which stands high above the jungle which you can't do at any of the other ruins. It's a pretty incredible experience...Especially getting back down the slippery steps without biffing it or 'ruin'-ing your knees (Ha!)
- Chichen Itza: No intro needed. Only the most impressive Mayan ruin complex on the planet! About a three-hour drive from Tulum one way, so we'd reccomend making it an overnighter. We haven't been, but if we did, we'd head out early, stay the night near the ruins, then drive back the next day. Or go en route to Holbox!
- Lounge on the beach: I mean duh! That's why you're there right? Stop planning, grap a Leon (great local beer), and work on your tan!
What else to know:
- Bring pesos, but exchange them before you leave the States because you'll get a much better rate.
- While there are ATMs everywhere, they charge out the wazoo to withdraw money (we were charged $23 USD to take out $200), so beware.
- Also, most places take USD and credit cards, so no worries if you're short on pesos.
- We've eaten ice, raw salads and ceviche and have had no issue with Montezuma if you know what I mean. So don't be a freak and eat only pudding cups (Sex in the City anyone?).
- TAKE BUG SPRAY! Mexican mosquitos are out for blood (literally) and a spray with DEET in it is your only hope (sorry hippies, lemon verbena will not work).
- AND COCONUT OIL! Mosquitos suck (the puns keep coming!) BUT, It's the no-seeums that are the real shit holes. Unfortunately these little M-effers aren't deterred by bugspray, so here's a million dollar tip: slather on the coconut oil. It makes you too slippery for them to land on and is the only remedy that works. Combined with DEET, you'll smell like chemical-y island breeze, and remain (mostly) bite free!
- Brush up on your espanol; its just the right thing to do. At least learn: please (por favor), thank you (gracias), bathroom (bano), excuse me (con permiso), and beer (cerveza).
Been to Tulum or Mexico and have any other reccs? Share 'em here peeps!