You’ve probably heard of Tulum Mexico by now. At one point or another that “influencer” that you follow on IG has been here. It’s a town that you have to just experience to understand. So you did your research on the sargassum (seaweed) situation and you decided to go! Keep reading for our recommendations to make your trip more enjoyable.
YouTube video of affordable spots in Tulum
The most common way of getting to Tulum, Mexico is flying into Cancun. Once in Cancun, there are plenty of car rental companies that you can rent a car from. The cheapest car that we found was from Keddy. They have a shuttle to take you to and from their car lot. Also you should be aware that cars with an automatic transmission will be more expensive than a manual transmission car. Once in your car, the drive to Tulum is about an hour and a half. Don’t worry, there’s a Starbucks less than five minutes from the car rental lot.
Where to Stay
Basically Tulum is split up between awesome Airbnb’s and high end beach front hotels. The Airbnb’s are closer to the main street and downtown area, about a ten minute car ride to the beach (without traffic!). Everything else along the beach is a high end hotel. You can get lucky and hit a deal but they’re always more expensive than the accommodations downtown (for obvious reasons).
Literally any Airbnb that fits your taste and budget. Tulum is expanding at a blistering pace. So you can find brand new accommodations for very reasonable prices. Go crazy! The two best neighborhoods you want to focus your inquiry on is Aldea Zama and La Valeta. Aldea Zama is the most developed neighborhood, with all the essential and most reliable utilities (water, sewer, electricity, internet, etc.). La Valeta is an up-and-coming neighborhood where you can find accommodations at a bargain.
Our favorite and affordable accommodation close to downtown was at Mistiq. Its a condo complex that has everything you need on site. Two swimming pools, an amazing gym, a little marketplace for essentials, and a little french cafe. We found the internet to be pretty reliable here too! A nice bonus is that they have a beach club that you have access too with a free shuttle. A few people are hosting their condo on Airbnb. Here are a couple links: Mistiq Airbnb Studio, Mistiq Airbnb 2BR
The top three here (in no particular order) are probably: Azulik, Papaya Playa Project, and Nomade. We stayed at Azulik and Papaya Playa Project and out of the two we recommend the latter. We absolutely loved the entire property at Papaya. Our villa was beautiful and clean, the ocean views were amazing, and we loved the jungle vibe walking through the property. You’ll pay a pretty penny to stay here, but we thought it was the best “high-priced” accommodation we ever stayed at.
If you want something on the beach but away from the action, look no further than Mezzanine. This awesome beachfront hotel is right next to Playa Paraiso. This beach has several beach clubs here but is certainly less rowdy than the main drag. The best part here is the Thai food! We highly recommend!
Where to Eat
- Burrito Amor: A must when in Tulum. This place is located on the main strip in the town center. When we tell you these are the best burritos we ever had, trust us – they are amazing. Breakfast, lunch, or dinner, you can’t go wrong. We were here every other day.
- Bonita Burger Bar: If you want to get away from the Mexican food, look no further than Bonita Burger Bar. These are some seriously tasty burgers. The atmosphere is lively and fun. Great place for a casual bite to eat and drink. Its also located in the heart of the town center where you can go bar hopping after stuffing your face!
- DelCielo: Probably the go to breakfast and brunch spot in downtown. They have a great selection here so they will definitely satisfy whatever craving you’re having. Come here early, and you may need to wait. Its a small restaurant so the line will likely be out the door when you arrive.
- Posada Margherita: Pizza and wine on the beach. What’s more romantic than that?! We absolutely fell in love with this place, so much so that we had dinner here two nights in a row. The pizza is great here and they have a solid beer selection. Our favorite part was the nice relaxing atmosphere. We’re also a sucker for on the beach dining.
- Tuluminati Food Trucks: In the heart of the Tulum beach area is a little area carved out for a bar and a couple of food trucks. You will have your pick of pizza, tacos, quesadillas and other favorites. Let us tell you, we had all three of those and were all amazing. We are from the pizza capital of the US (New Haven, Connecticut) and the pizza here was up there with the best of them! However, the quesadillas stole the show for us. This area was our go-to spot when we couldn’t decide on a restaurant to go to.
- Xibalbar: Its popular for its hookah, but you can go for just drinks too. This place can get crazy at night! They have a wheel that you can spin for “Free Shot” or “Kiss a Stranger”. Spin at your own risk!
- La Brasa: A chique and lively environment on Calle Centauro Sur, just off the main strip. Its a perfect place to start your night with an app and a drink. Or just drinks all night here, because they’re delicious.
- I Scream Bar: Double check to make sure they’re still open. It looks like they may have moved to Bacalar. Hands down the most fun we had was at this bar. The place was packed, the music was bumping, and everyone was having a great time. Just follow the chants: “I! Scream! Bar!”
- NU: This spot is more chill and sophisticated than I Scream Bar. This place is for you, if you want to go somewhere where you can have a conversation without yelling. The music is low and the cocktails are fantastic. Actually, now that we think about it, they were some of the best drinks we had along the beach. Expect to pay a little more here.
What to Do
Cenotes, Cenotes, and Cenotes
This is THE thing to do when in Tulum. There are literally dozens of cenotes within a short driving distance. The two closest cenotes are Gran Cenote and Cenote Calavera. They are both really nice but they are very different. Gran Cenote is bigger and you can snorkel with turtles. Cenote Calavera is tiny but its a perfect for jumping in the water. They are both around $15 US for entry and its extra if you want to bring in a DSLR camera. Clan Destino is a bar/restaurant with its own cenote. Probably better known for its happy hour specials than its cenote, its still worth a visit if you’re in the area.
This place is beautiful, but here are some tips to get the full experience. Before getting tickets make sure that the beaches are open. When we went, the two beaches were closed and it was a bummer. Go early in the morning or later in the day to avoid the heat and sun. We were there in the middle of the afternoon and couldn’t wait to get out of there. Its only $5-$10 for entry which is totally worth seeing the gorgeous views.
Tulum Jungle Gym
The Tulum Jungle Gym is a fun unique way to workout and spend some time. All the weights are made out of wood and the pulley systems are really cool. We love to workout so this place was perfect!
We have more recommendations and tips that couldn’t fit in one blog post. So if you have any questions drop us a line and we’d be happy to help!
Our Recommendations Summary
Where to Stay
- Beach: Mezzanine: Affordable. On the beach. Nice and clean. Great Thai food here.
- Downtown: Mistiq Airbnb 2BR: An AirBnb that has it all: wifi, pool, gym, market, and cafe.
Where to Eat
- Burrito Amor: Should be your first stop
- Bonita Burger Bar: Delicious burgers but even better margaritas!
- DelCielo: Good place downtown for breakfast. Small so get here early.
- Taqueria La Eufemia: Popular spot closed their Tulum location
- Posada Margherita: Delicious pizza on the beach. Nice chill vibe at night.
- Tuluminati Food Trucks: Delicious and affordable food in the middle of the strip. Pizza, tacos, etc.