I first learned about Tulum 2 years ago from an article listing most favorite vacations spots for solo female travelers. I became obsessed with Tulum ever since and added it to my destinations list. When 2 months ago I found a $254 United flight to Cancun, I knew that was the universe making a way. I talked my sister into joining me and we were ready to spend Christmas week in Mexico. Here is what we learned, the places we ate and the activities we did:
1. Getting to Tulum
There is currently no direct flight to Tulum. Most people fly to Cancun and take the bus to Tulum. You can arrange for private transportation (vans) directly to Tulum which is much faster (a little over an hour) but also much more expensive (+$100 round trip). I think private transportation makes more sense for bigger groups. We took the bus right outside the airport for $15/person which took about 45 minutes to Playa Del Carmen (first stop) and another hour to Tulum. The bus was very spacious and comfortable and although it took longer, we weren’t in any rush.
2. Getting Pesos
This is one I wish I had better information about before travelling. We read a lot of conflicting information about where to exchange money and ended up exchanging some of it at the airport to get us going. We found out that the exchange rate at the airport was not great – much less pesos for your buck. I recommend going to the exchange stores in town for a better deal, or even checking at banks. We exchanged the rest of our money in a little exchange store next to the bus station in Tulum.
3. Where to stay
We stayed at Posa Luna Del Sur, a small, cute and very affordable hotel in downtown Tulum, about 10 minutes drive from the beach. We originally wanted to stay by the beach but most hotels were sold out in December. I was very happy we ended up staying in town, close to many restaurants and nightlife. Tom, our hotel owner was an amazing host who checked up on us every morning. He took us through EVERYTHING there is to do in Tulum and arranged reservations for activities, transportation and dinner. The hotel also had free breakfast in the morning with a pretty good menu.
4. Where to eat
There are so many great and affordable places to eat in Tulum. I wish we had more time so we could hit all the spots on my map. In general, we noticed that many restaurants by the beach were more expensive than the ones in town. We learned that is no electricity by the beach so places run on generators; therefore the overhead cost built in overpriced dishes in some of those restaurants. Per the advice of our lovely host, we still found some great spots with amazing views definitely worth trying:
Mezzanine: Thai Cuisine, great menu and amazing smoothies. Good one, especially if you want a break from Mexican food ;).
Ziggy’s Beach Club: Hang out for lunch or grab a book, sip on some delicious margharitas and snack on a big bowl of guacamole and chips.
Mateos: Best place on the island to see the sunset. Get some drinks and climb to the 3rd floor. I am a sucker for sunsets and this is so worth it.
5. What to do
Beach (obviously): We were in “lazy mode” and laying on the beach all day is all I needed and wanted. So we laid on the beach for most of the day.
Ruins: We visited the Tulum Ruins one day. It is recommended to get there very early before 9:30am to avoid crowds brought by tour buses. We went to bed the night before determined to wake up at 7am which didn’t happen. We ended up getting to the ruins around 11am and I honestly didn’t mind the crowd. It was still a beautiful site worth the trip.
Water Sports: I took paddle boarding lessons in Casa Ceynote which was a great way to tour the Ceynote and also get my work out in. Note that biting fishes live in the Casa Ceynote, so float there and get a free spa treatment.
Spa: I got a full body treatment and massage at Maya Tulum which I am still smiling and will never forget about. The :Maya Kaaten Kuxtal” speciality massage uses agave plant extracts, lime and lemon, aloe vera, cacao and honey, and mud mask for exfoliation and drawing out impurities. Let go and treat yourself.
There is so much about Tulum that I can’t possibly fit into one post. But I invite you to consider this little paradise on your list if you haven’t seen it before.