Welcome to Tulum…
Tulum is divided into two areas: the downtown (pueblo) and the beach (playa), where the house is. Both areas are about 6 km apart. The town is inland. The beach is, uhm, along the beach. The town has cheaper and often better food (especially if you’re looking for authentic Mexican food and tacos). Even with cab fare to town and back ,dinner especially for more than two will be cheaper in town then at the beach extinguish restaurant.
The town also has more shops and 3 large grocery stores (The Chedraui is the most convenient for the beach.) At least once is very nice to plan afternoon/evening in the town. Eat well, get some souvenirs, try night street food and grab a nice drink or ice cream.
Bank machines are found everywhere in Tulum, both at the beach and in town. However we would recommend you to use those in town. You will find plenty in Chedraui Supermarket, as well by every bank in the town. Those are bank machines, not commercial, high commission beach zone ones. You will be charged 1-2 USD for transaction plus commission from your bank if there is so.
CiBanco has the best exchange rates in the area. There are ATM machines there too. Take your Passport if you wish to Exchange. If not there, you will find plenty of exchange places called CASA DE CAMBIO by the main street downtown and few at the beach.
Taxis go up and down the beach strip. Probably you won’t have problem catching one in front of the property any time of the day. Regular fare from the house to downtown is 160-180mx (ADO, any of restaurants or bank mentioned). Ask for price getting in.
Colectivo – basically a shared mini-van/bus and the cheapest way to get out to the beach (besides riding a bike). Unfortunately for you, they have preference for locals who work at the beach zone of Tulum, so not always will pick you up. They have not regular schedule so catch them by the street seeing one No way to catch the wrong one. All go downtown
There are also similar vans running from main avenue downtown to Playa del Carmen. They can stop wherever you wish on the way (Akumal, Xel Ha, Puerto Aventuras…)
If you are comfortable with hitchhiking it’s a good option too. Have you ever drive back of the pick up ?
Bikes – are everywhere in Tulum. They’re easy to rent and cost about 150 pesos a day (less if you rent for multiple days). We normally have some bikes at premises too. Offering the rent for our guests for lower price than anywhere else. Ask if available.
There’s a bike path from town all the way out to the beach (near Azulik).
From this spot there is no path along the beach road but traffic moves slowly and it always feels safe to be on your bike as long as it’s not dark. The road along the beach is flat. There’s a slight incline as you start into town (from the beach, as the bike path starts) but most of that route is flat as well. Along the beach road car traffic can stop for 5 to 15 minutes for seemingly no reason at all. If you’re on a bike you sail right by all the traffic and are happy for not being in a car. The bike ride from the house to town takes up to 35-40 minutes depending on your biking skills ;) If you need a bike downtown, trailers, baby carriers, or scooters then try iBikeTulum. If you book in advance they’ll even deliver the bikes to our place. If it’s a day or two of rental grab them at the beach. If longer might be convenient to get better rate downtown…Biking downtown for a dinner is not a great plan.
Pool is the grocery store with the best selection of fresh fruits and vegetables. The Chedraui (a huge modern grocery store) is on the road outside of town on the way to the beach and is the best place to buy beer, wine, alcohol. As you have a fridge in the house we would recommend to check what little store across the street offers and things you won’t find there, buy making a grocery trip once during your stay downtown.
Eating cheap is easy in Tulum town (and typically much more expensive out at the beach)…
Taqueria Don Honorio – I would simply say that if you haven’t eat there, you have ever had a good taco J My personal must to go place at least once a week. Don Honorio is in Tulum since I remember and the taste haven’t change during years. That is a morning place! You wont find it open afternoon or at night.
El Cielo – If looking for something more “fancy” for breakfast downtown try it! Great breakfast and coffee place! Home made bread tartin with salmon rocks!
Antojitos la Chiapaneca – One of my favorite and oldest taco shops in town. Nothing changes there, not even prices over the years. Cheap, safe and just drop-dead delicious. Salsa bar is separate so don’t fear spicy surprise. Get ads as you like. Typical TACO Del PASTOR costs 8pesos which is around 0.50 US Having a taste for authentic Mexican sea food visit
El Capitán – (there are two downtown, my favorite in front of Chedraui supermarket) or El Camello are great seafood places in the town. Great spots to eat a lot in a fair price. Perfect place to pick different meals and share.
El Asadero – Magical meat place. Everything served is prepared at the grill. Try stuffed potatoes too…
Mil Amores – St Av. Satelite in Tulum Town is a good Mexican restaurant with a mix of authentic dishes and international food. A good place to go if someone in your group wants traditional food, someone else wants a chicken quesadilla and guacamole and someone else good Italian pasta.
Panna e Cioccolato – Gelato shop has really nice ice cream. You can find them easilly by the main avenue. Look for colorful cute monkeys ☺
Late night drink? Batey, Pasito Tun Tun or Encanto Cantina, Amapola ☺
When you buy a chicken (a lot of places downtown which sell it over the day) they’ll also throw a stack of tortillas and salsa into the bag. It’s quick, cheap, and delicious food. (Once again, you’ll only find freshly roasted chickens in town, not at the beach.)
There are also places we would strongly recommend at the beach stripe ;) Little more fancy ones but really well prepared food and drinks…Starting from the closest to the house:
Agua beach club – Offers nice guacamole and ceviches. It is just in front of our gate so convenient for a good breakfast too.
La Zebra – Great spot for enjoying the day and lunch. Great beach. Must to go for Sunday night (might be for dinner too) as its Salsa classes starts around 7 pm and live band and salsa party around 9☺
Casa Banana -Great slow fire cooking! Nice for dinner. Grilled fish is delicious, meet too!!! Really good ambiente at night…
Rosa Negra – Great quality food, professional service, beautiful place, with a cool vibe and great night show. That is place more for celebrating. Super option for birthday dinner with friends ;)
Coco Tulum hotel & Juanita Diavola – In my opinion, the best beach place for pizza in Tulum.
Coco Tulum, getting through reception offers amazing open public beach club where you will find great view, swings, natural showers, great beach bar menu and lounges. Photo session in this place? Great idea!:)
Ziggys – Great Mexican fusion kitchen… especially for romantic dinner. Little brother Frescos just in front offers variety of fresh prepared delicious breakfasts & ceviche’s too.
Screem Bar,La Eufemia & Clandestino – One of the more authentic and local places at the beach zone of Tulum. Affordable tacos? That is the place!!! :) Clandestino offers free cenote swim too!
La Eufemia – Less than 3 minutes walking from the property so great option for beach day with cheap tacos.
Mateo’s – Sports bar, typical tex-mex, live music and much more in one place. Great vibe and cool atmosphere!
Maria del Mar & Mina – I can definitely say that I love this place… Especially for the dinner. Meat lovers, you must try the pork ribs Flintstones style hahaha But seriously slow cooking open fire meat prepared in this place will blow your mind.
More food tips:
There are three traditional natural nonalcoholic Mexican drinks you’ll find in the Yucatan, all really tasty and most restaurants will have them even if they’re not on the menu:
Cenotes – Tulum is surrounded by cenotes that are great for fresh water swimming. The Gran Cenote is the most famous but wouldn’t say the best as each has its own charm. Others within easy reach are Manatee (towards Playa del Carmen), Carwash, and Zacil Ha (towards Coba), and Crystal and Escondido (south of Tulum Town). Tell the name of any of these to a taxi driver and they’ll take you there for less than 300 pesos. Most cenotes have a charge of less than 150 pesos. Just take a towel, some money, and snorkel-mask (optional) and you’ll have an amazing time at any of these cenotes. Cenotes don’t have much around besides a basic kiosk that sells refreshments. It’s just swim for an hour or two then head home. If you do only one thing during your time in Tulum visit a cenote! You can go by car or take a cab. Make sure it will wait for you as those places are normally outside of the town. Ask if we can take you too. Sometimes it’s a great escape for us if having day free. Can visit few of cenotes one day and stop for nice lunch on the way back.
The best day trips from Tulum in my opinion are:
The Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve – There are two ways of exploring it. One, getting to Sian Kaan by the arc close to the house and driving around one hour and a half into the reserve. You reach Punta Alen fishing village where taking the boat tour over the sea and lagoon. There is an option of bird watching; sometimes you will see free swimming dolphins or manatees… That is whole day adventure going really early i the morning and getting back not earlier tan 5-6pm due to the distance too…
Second way to visit Sian Kaan is to reach it from Muyil side. That little village outside of >Tulum town has archeological site and a boat access to Sian Kaan Lagons. Great option for those who like adventures. There will be climbing to the wooden view tower, speed boat trip and free swimming in mangroves sweet water Canals.
Akumal – A home of big turtles. An easy access from the beach to swim with them and explore the reef. No need of taking an expensive tour. You can reach it by yourself by the car and rent snorkeling gear there or go with us. (On the way back we can make little additional trip to Puerto Aventuras, have a lunch, visit dolphins and seals).
Kaan Lum & Cenotes Cristal & Escondido – Our favorite water place. First is hidden into the jungle sweet water lagoon, very shallow over 100 meters which makes it a great spot for families and those who don’t feel very strong swimming. Lagoon muds by the entrance are full of minerals great for your skin. Make you a body moisturizing mask ☺
Coba – One of my favorite archaeological sites. What makes Coba ruins so interesting is the fact that it is in the jungle and the ruins are spread out with connecting trails. You can sightseeing by foot, biking or taking a Mayan “taxi” ;) The best as always at the end… You can climb on the highest ruin and see amazing view over the jungle. There are also big underground cenotes few kilometers from the archaeological site. Taking a tour you will possibly visit them too (which is great and refreshing after jungle walk)Ask if you are interested in tour. Maybe will be free to go with you…
Chichen Itza and the enchanting town of Valladolid – (Not necessarily together) UNESCO archeological site of Chichen Itza is one of the most famous spots of Yucatan peninsula. One of biggest too however not as charming as Coba in my opinion. What is interesting about the place is not really what you can see visiting but all the constructional details, connection between “the Mayan capital” and other archeological sites in the region and all amazing effects which you might observe few times during a year. I hardly recommend reading about that before if you decide to visit Chichen Itza. Makes the experience way more interesting… Closet o archeological site there is also one of the biggest and most famous cenotes called IK KIL. Place where Red Bull world Cliff Jumping competition took place. Great place to have a swim after sightseeing. On the way back home or before as well Valladolid is good option for a meal and have a walk. That charming colonial town is great for souvenirs shopping too. Original leather shoes, bags, hammocks and artesanals you will find there in a very good Price comparing with Tulum.
Please let me know which of places you wish to visit so I can help you to book the best deal tour if you don’t want to explore by your own. We can also take you to each place to make it cheaper than regular tour but easier for you not worrying how to reach it etc.. Maybe some of our other guests can join us to share the cost? We may ask if you wish ☺ If you decide to make alone adventure we can meet to discuss how to do it easiest way by yourself.
If you are an active person you couldn’t choose better place for vacation then Tulum. You are in the water activities center☺
KITEBOARDING – Tulum is famous from its kites too. Kite boarding is a safe sport as long as you take a lesson from certified and experienced instructors. Yes, we know of course IKO certified (International Kite surfing Association) ones. Whether it’s your first time or you’re a professional, we’ll contact someone can walk you through the local conditions and cover all safety measures. When will I ride may be your first question… and the answer is, you’ll fly! Personalized classes so you can move at your own speed, and hey! There’s time in paradise. If you get hooked, like most, you’ll find it to be an awesome sport you can practice in most places that have water and wind.
PADDLEBOARDING – If you love taking a good yoga class, lying under the sun, snorkeling, taking a walk, having family fun or even extreme sports(?!)… paddle boarding is for you. It’s a bit like a meditation session at sea… Instructors know the waves, the reefs and the best spots to chill. Rainy day? Perfect day! Tour to a lagoon or a cenote, which are natural sinkholes that were sacred for the Mayans. Because there are no currents or waves, these tours are ideal for families, for people who’ve never tried standing on a board and for everyone ready to enjoy what may otherwise seem like a gray day.
DIVING – All you need is an Open Water PADI certification to discover some of the most exhilarating and relaxing places you’ll ever dive in. If you dive or want to try it first time let us know. There are plenty of places offering different cenotes and open water excursions. We do know those who can pick you up and drop to the house after diving too. Diving in cenotes is thrilling, safe and recreational. Cenotes are natural sinkholes that were sacred for the Mayans and, although they’re connected through caves, you’ll always dive in cenotes where there is an exit point and a source of daylight. Each cenote is different, stunning and a unique experience where you’ll encounter history and even yourself! Check out some of the ones we recommend: Casa Cenote: Open cenote, a bit like a mangrove. (manglar) Dos ojos: It’s a cavern! Gran Cenote: It’s a cavern! Car Wash: Open and cavern cenote Calavera (temple of doom): A cavern The Pit: Deep diving Angelita: Deep diving
Talking about YOGA – You are in yoga’s meka ☺ Walking distance you will find plenty places offering different classes. If you like a place and plan to do it frequently in the same spot ask for few days passes. Most of places don’t have fix schedule for classes. Normally you will see blackboards by the street with hours and type of yoga. There is also very good friend of family running professional yoga studio reaching downtown. You can visit Tribal Tulum or contact them to check schedules.
What else to do in Tulum?
More and more places offer that unique experience. One of places more traditional other ones very trendy version of it.. There are also ones in the jungle, where you can swim in cenotes after all and make it even more special then the ritual itself.
I WILL BE MORE THAN HAPPY TO HELP ORGANIZING YOUR TULUM TIME. WE CAN SCHEDULE TOURS AND EXCURSIONS BEFORE YOUR ARRIVAL OR JUST MAKE PLANS DAY BY DAY.
Carretera Tulum-Boca Paila km 8.5 77780 Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico