Tulum has got it going on!
I read a couple of blogs before heading to Tulum, a lot whilst there, and a few since I’ve left. These are some of the words used to describe it: Rich (in culture, beauty, history), cool, incredible, magical, a tropical paradise.
I am still working on the word I would use to describe it. But for now I’ll say it is a ‘grower’.
It grew from mild dislike to “could we move here?” very very quickly. I hope to explain in this post how Tulum managed to induce this rapid turnaround.
As you can tell I wasn’t a big fan the first time we were there, 3ish weeks earlier. We had been staying in Cancun and headed to Tulum for a day trip. There was no denying that the beach was stunning, the colour of the water and sand are amazing. Enough for me to send off jealousy inducing photos to as many people as possible, as quickly as possible.
But I didn’t want to walk past or lie in front of beach restaurant after beach restaurant playing the same generic chillout beach music. Or see a guy with 20 friendship bracelets around his wrists and ankles playing a didgeridoo. Obviously to some this sounds like heaven, and I get that. That’s exactly what I was doing 10 years ago In Sri Lanka….every other weekend. And I was LOVNG IT!
But now I just don’t want that. Maybe it’s age or an aversion to something you’ve had too much of. So at the end of the day I left appreciating the beauty of the beach, but thinking I wouldn’t be heading back there anytime soon.
Skip forward 3 weeks and I’m on a flight to Mexico City after 3 nights in Tulum and I just do not want to leave. So what is it that makes me want to stay?
I think it’s a combination of there being some absolutely beautiful areas to explore, the ease of arranging things, and that I didn’t feel pressure to do and see everything. Tulum made me want to relax, not something I always find easy.
Here are my tips of things to do whilst you’re there. Hopefully you’ll leave as chilled out as I did.
Stay in a villa away from the town and beach areas.
Yes this does mean that you can’t run straight into the sea, but it does have its benefits. You will get more for your money and more peace and quiet. You’re likely to have a garden you can chill in and a pool you can jump straight into.
We stayed at Loto Tulum in an area called Colonia La Veleta. We had a whole apartment, which was great for us, as we could do some work and cook there. If you’ve read our Mexico City post you’ll know we love to save a bit of money, but also treat ourselves. A self-catering apartment was great as it meant we could cook dinner at home and spend what we had saved on cocktails! One of my favourite things ever! We also had a cute back garden just for ourselves. As well as a garden with pool and hammocks that we shared with the 5 other rooms.
Rent a bicycle
This is a necessity really if you are going to stay in town or in a villa. From town (which is situated on the main road that runs down along the coast) it’s about 6km to the beach. From the villa area it’s about 8km to the beach, via town. Bikes can be rented everywhere and cost about 100 pesos (4 euros) for 24 hours.
By having a bike you have independence and the possibility to explore more. We used them to go to restaurants and the beach, but also to head further afield. One afternoon we made a cycle trip into Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve. Which leads me to my next tip….
Visit Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve
It is jungly, beautiful and empty!
We almost didn’t visit as it seemed extremely expensive from the research I’d done. But don’t let the online tour prices put you off! We hopped on our bikes and off we went!
We paid 35 pesos each (1.5 euros) to enter and you can arrange a tour on the lagoon inside the reserve. The lagoon is about 4km along the road on the right hand side. You’ll see boat drivers sitting at the little turn off for the lagoon and you can negotiate a price with them. We were told 1000 pesos (43 euros) for the boat for about 2 hours. This is significantly cheaper than what you’ll pay for a tour you organise onine. Very sadly we hadn’t brought any cash with us, so we just had to admire the tranquil and perfectly still lagoon from the jetty.
About a kilometre before the lagoon on the lefthand side is a stunning and empty beach. There is a restaurant which charges you 100 pesos (8 euros) to access their beach or you need to order something off their rather expensive menu. We were poorly prepared and didn’t have snacks or water so took a pit stop there. But all beaches are public access in Mexico. There shoud be a path that takes you the 50m from the road to the beach and you’ll have this place all to yourself.
Hit the beach
This goes without saying really. The fisherman’s beach is a good one, even though the name might not be the most appealing. You can walk to the rocks to check out the Mayan ruin from a distance. Or get an awesome bird’s eye view if you have a drone.
It’s clean and lively, but you can still find your own spot. And you won’t feel like the staff at the fancy hotels are urging you to keep on moving. Which is what can happen further up the coast towards the hotel zone.
I suggest bringing snacks, food and drinks as the beach restaurants are a bit expensive.
Eat at Taquerias El Nero
Go and eat tacos al pastor at this taco joint on the main road. AMAZING! Instead of a pub crawl we did a taco crawl on our last night in Tulum. This place stood out as one of the best from our 3 months in Mexico. mmmmmmmmmmm I want one (or five actually) right now.
Sadly no photos from El Nero as we were too busy tucking in. But below are some more photos from our great 3 day stay in Tulum.
Our brilliant apartment in La Veleta – website
If you’re a fan of Mexico and the beach check out this article about our road trip in the beautiful Baja California Sur