Approximately two hours from Cancun airport, on the Riviera Maya, lies Tulum. This small town on the Yucatan Peninsula has been booming in recent years with the growth of boutique hotels, restaurants, and a quiet, relaxing atmosphere. You can also find plenty of yoga retreats and beautiful beaches with the beautiful turquoise color of the Caribbean Sea.There are lots of things to do, and you can visit in a variety of plans, such as family or couple, luxury or low budget, alone or accompanied. Follow these tips to have the best experience in this magical town.
Preparing for your Trip
Tulum is a small town, so we recommend considering certain safety measures to have the best experience. First, it’s important to get travel insurance, since the hospitals in the area are private and in case medical attention is needed, you will have to pay in full to be able to leave.
If you are going on a beach plan, it is also recommended to check beforehand the sargassum or seaweed season. In the last few years, a large amount of seaweed has been seen on the shores of the Riviera Maya beaches. Most of the time the beach is free from this seaweed, butit’s better to check before planning in order to get the best experience.
Another way to prepare is to use pesos and not dollars.Some hotels in Tulum, restaurants and boutiques accept dollars, however, most of the time the exchange rate is very high. It is best to exchange dollars for pesos at the airport where it’s cheaper or withdraw money from an ATM. It’s also recommended to use only bank ATMs, as they have a better rate and are safer.
Visit the Archeological Area
It’s easy to forget the archaeological area while planning a trip to Tulum. However, it’s a place that shouldn’t be missed. A wall that’s still preserved, runs along the site, in addition to different pyramids and buildings that are part of the Mayan history of the peninsula. A pyramid castle and different temples are part of this archaeological site, but what distinguishes it from all others is the view. The contrast with the blue Caribbean Sea, the sand and the ruins are a sight no other site in Mexico has. This area is located around twenty minutes away from many of the Tulum hotels.
Traveling on a Budget
Prices in Tulum have gone up in recent years. Filled with boutique hotels and high-end restaurants, it sometimes seems it’ll cost lots of money to go, however there are many recommendations to visit on a budget.
Hotels in town. Most of the hotels on the beach are boutique hotels that can be very expensive. By staying in town, you can save a lot of money, since the hotels in Tulum, Mexico are cheaper, besides being in less crowded areas, which can be very helpful during high season.
Biking everywhere. Tulum is very small and there’s a short distance from downtown to the beach. There are many establishments and hotels where you can hire or rent bicycles. It’s an inexpensive and fun way to get around that can save a lot of money.
Eating downtown. If you want to save on food, as well as the hotels, it is recommended to look downtown, off the main avenue. You can find small local restaurants or taco stands with very different prices than the high-end restaurants on the main streets.
Cenotes and other Activities
In addition to luxurious restaurants, yoga classes and retreats, ruins, walks on the beach and in town, in Tulum you can also enjoy nature in many forms. Starting with a type of sinkholes called cenotes, these subterranean lakes are found throughout the Yucatan peninsula. It’s important to choose carefully which one you want to visit. The Caracol and Dos Ojos cenotes are the best known, so they’ll be the most crowded. It is advisable to consider visiting others that also vary in size and depth.
Another activity that can be enjoyed throughout the Riviera Maya is snorkeling. This whole area is full of different marine species and corals. Some of them are endemic, so it’s recommended to do this activity with a guide who really knows the species of the area.
There is also the possibility of different daytrips from Tulum. You can visit the sea turtles in Akumal (half an hour drive) or Valladolid (an hour and a half drive) and Chichen Itza (about two hours’ drive) if you are looking for more ruins and cenotes. Chichen Itza is the ancient Mayan capital and the most important archaeological site on the Yucatan Peninsula. During the equinoxes, on the main pyramid you can see the movement of the shadow of the stairs. It is said to be the god Kukulkan coming down to fertilize the earth. This site was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.