Tulum, Mexico is the perfect vacation for an adventure in the Yucatan! Tulum is located about an hour and a half south of Cancun. It is easy to get to from the Cancun airport, by either rental car or a private shuttle from the airport. It is a smaller town than Cancun, and has a laid back, easy going, beach vibe to it. I took a vacation to Tulum for spring break with my two teenage sons, Andy and Tom. We had fun discovering some of the adventures in Tulum, including the vibrant town, tropical beaches, and ancient Mayan ruins.
Tulum – Beach and Town Separated by Jungle
The defining characteristic of Tulum is the town is to the West and the beach is to the East. From a map, (especially those cartoon ones intended for tourists), it looks very walkable between the two. It isn’t, really. We were staying in town, and our first night we walked along the bike path that connects to the beach. The walk took us longer than we thought, after leaving town we had to pass a huge stretch of thick jungle, probably for at least a mile. Even though we enjoyed the walk, we decided that it would be better to take a cab or rent bikes for our next trek between the two.
The Town of Tulum
The town is filled with lots of restaurants and shops, with hotels tucked within and on the side streets. Our hotel was just one block away from all of the town action. We had our choice of several restaurants, coffee shops, juice bars, bars, and shops. It was fun walking up and down the streets enjoying everything the town had to offer. It was also really easy to catch a taxi, and there were several places to rent bikes for 24 hours (for less than $7!). The Tulum ruins were a short trip north, less than 3 miles away. We were really happy with our stay in town, for us it was the center of everything we wanted to do! Beach to the east, Ruins to the north, and cenotes to the west.
We stayed at the Hotel Posada 06 Tulum, and were very happy with this choice. It is a block off of the main street, so it was quieter than staying on the main road. Most businesses in Tulum are open air, with breezy spaces open to let in the tropical breeze. (Also means no air conditioning). Our hotel was partly open air, with the lobby always open and flowing into the pool and courtyard area. Our rooms, however, provided air conditioning for comfort. We loved looking out of our balcony towards the center courtyard with the pool. It was so tropical and peaceful! Hotel Posada 06 Tulum was immaculate, and the 24 hour staff was friendly and helpful. We also loved the complimentary home cooked breakfast that was provided every morning.
The pictures you see of the Tulum beaches are 100% accurate! The water is a vibrant blue, the sand is perfection, and all the hotels, shops, and restaurants have a very bohemian hippie-vibe. The main beach road is a route carved through the jungle, with thick vegetation on both sides. You can catch glimpses of the beach through the open air hotels and restaurants, and there are also several public access points to get to the water.
Riding up and down the beach road takes you to a different world! With lots of fresh juice bars, bicycle rentals, coffee shops, spas, and beach hotels, it is a paradise waiting to be explored. You can easily spend all day enjoying the beach and everything else that the Tulum beach area has to offer. The tropical style of thatched tiki huts is predominant here, and in fact most hotels offer rooms that are a rustic beach hut.
Tulum Ruins – The Ancient Mayan Ruins
One of the biggest draws to choosing to stay in Tulum, was the ruins that are directly on the beach. The ruins are less than 3 miles from the town, and easy to get to by bike or taxi. Outside the ruins, there are some vendors selling crafts and souvenirs, and a few restaurants as well. This is mostly because big tour buses come into Tulum ruins for a visit, from the cruise ships or surrounding Cancun areas. The ruins open at 8:00am, and I recommend getting there early! It gets busier in the afternoon with the tours, and can also get hot walking around the open grounds.
The grounds of the ruins are pristine. You can opt for a guided tour, or just tour the grounds on your own. Admission to get in for a self guided tour is about $4. There are plenty of informational signs that walk you through the history of the Tulum ruins and the Mayans that lived there.
The ruins also have access to it’s own private beach area. There is a long, wooden staircase leading right down to the sand and ocean. If you wore your swimsuit, or brought it along, feel free to cool off in the ocean! It was spectacular being on the beach with the towers of the ruins rising above on the horizon.
What Else To Do in Tulum?
Besides visiting the town, the beach, and the ruins, what else is good to do in Tulum? There are several cenotes (natural sinkholes with crystal clear water) where you can swim, snorkel, and scuba dive. There are also bike rental shops everywhere, and Tulum is the perfect city to explore by bike. It’s much easier to bounce between the town, beach, and ruins on a bike! You can also book tours in town to nearby attractions such as Xel-Ha and Xcaret parks.
The local foods of Tulum are delicious! Both beach and town have local restaurants lining the streets. The Mexican foods are authentic – from fresh guacamole, to enchiladas and street tacos, we did not go hungry! There was an abundance of fresh, tropical fruits. We enjoyed tropical fruits at breakfast and also enjoyed a fresh squeezed juice at one of the local juice bars. The tropical treats also included fresh, cold, coconuts! The vendor chopped the top off with a machete, inserted a straw, and handed us a refreshing coconut water.
The shops in Tulum offer souvenir favorites (sombreros, Mexican blankets, and maracas), hand crafted wares, and chic clothing. We had fun seeing everything the vendors had to offer, and also had fun checking out the local grocery store. There really is a lot to do in Tulum!
Tulum – Naturalmente
Tulum is the perfect blend of tropical beaches, ancient ruins, and lively town. My sons and I enjoyed our stay here. Tulum is a friendly destination for anyone looking for an adventure in Mexico!