Tulum is a DREAM! Of all the places I’ve traveled to, I can see myself returning over & over again. Despite being such a small town, it has so much to offer for every type of traveler – serene beaches, ancient Mayan Ruins, mysterious underwater Cenotes, strong Mexican culture, delicious food, and so much more.
I decided to begin my trip through Central America in Tulum. I visited for a week last December and had a blast. Despite some bittersweet memories, I thought it would be the perfect starting point for my solo trip throughout Central America. It doesn’t hurt that a one-way ticket from Houston was a steal, priced at $100. Not so bad for a flight to paradise, right?
There is no airport in Tulum, so you must fly into the Cancun International Airport. Once you are at the airport, you have 4 transportation options to get to Tulum:
Rental Car: The most expensive option, but it allows you more flexibility with exploring the area. We rented a car during my first visit and found it to be really convenient for stopping in a variety of places since taxi and uber costs can add up. You can rent online before arriving or stop at one of the rental companies before exiting the airport. The 2-hour drive is a straight shot down the highway!
Private Shuttle: There are companies that will take you to Tulum in a private shared van for around $120usd. This option is feasible for large groups.
ADO Public Bus: On this trip, I hopped on the ADO(ah-day-oh) bus right outside of the airport taxi/shuttle area. This is probably one of the nicest coach buses that I’ve ever been on. You will receive two tickets because you must first take the ADO bus to Playa Del Carmen and then take a second bus to Tulum. The ticket can be purchased at the stall/station or online(https://www.ado.com.mx/). The total trip will be around $15(USD), which makes it the most affordable option.
Taxi: As soon as you exit the airport, you will be met with a number of taxi drivers shouting out “Taxi!!” repeatedly. You won’t have any issues finding one and the one-way trip will run you around $100(USD).
Collectivo: The cheapest option typically used by locals. I was a bit apprehensive about hopping in these shared vans, but two nice Swiss girls from my hostel encouraged me to join them and I had no issues. This option is completely safe and dirt cheap, but it will take you considerably longer because of the stops that are made to drop off locals along the way.
Tulum has two different areas to spend time at – the beach and the town center. I haven’t seen this information shared much online so I want to give some general tips about both sides of town.
During my first visit, I stayed along the beach in the hotel zone. Some may argue that this isn’t the “real” Tulum, but I can’t lie – I’m a fan! I love beautiful spaces and it’s quite obvious that many hotels in this area have put thought into every aspect of their design to capture the essence of Tulum. The hotels aren’t traditional big & fancy resorts, as there are hardly any in the area. They are typically cabanas, bungalows & eco-lodges meant to mimic traditional Mayan huts. You’ll find that most of the hotels line the left side of the road which faces the beach. While there are plenty of lodging options/hotels available along the strip, they are well hidden so you must venture inside to have a look around. Here are some general tips about the area:
On my most recent trip, I spent the majority of my time in Tulum Pueblo and had a blast. Aside from the shops on the main strip, this part of town is underdeveloped in comparison to the hotel zone. This is where the locals live and work. Wander a few streets back and you’ll need to know Spanish or even Mayan to get by. You’ll see many authentic & cheap local restaurants where they grill up your food right in front of you. While staying in town, I used a bike & the local collectivos to get around/to the beach.
You can’t visit Tulum without swimming in a Cenote. Sacred to the Mayans, Cenotes are natural underwater caves found exclusively in the Yucatan. There are over 6000 in the region, and quite a few are accessible in & around Tulum.
These are the only seaside ancient Mayan Ruins to ever exist. The ruins aren’t massive, but the grounds are well maintained. You’ll find the most beautiful beach right below the cliff-side ruins. Be on the lookout for Iguanas!
From cheap eats to world-class restaurants, Tulum has an endless amount of restaurants for any foodie to choose from.
Despite being on “vacation”, we woke up to catch the sunrise every morning while staying at Azulik. I’m typically a sunset girl, but the beach faces sunrise and the incredible colors are worth every lost minute of sleep.
An art gallery AND coffee shop in one beautiful building? Yes, please! I was wondering around Tulum Pueblo and decided to walk into Tulum Art Club. I spoke with the events director & she explained that they bring in international and local artists’ for a residency program so many of the pieces sold here are one-of-a-kind.
Climb ancient Mayan pyramids in Coba, party all night at Playa Del Carmen, or relax at Isla Holbox – the opportunities for quick trips to the surrounding areas are endless!
Thanks to some big celebrities and Instagram, Tulum is growing quite rapidly. Put this town place on your bucket list before the magic disappears!
Hey, I'm Ciara. I’m a global citizen and lover of travel. Want to know more?
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