In my years of exploring, I had yet to travel internationally. When one of my friends invited me on a girls trip to Tulum, I knew I couldn’t pass up the chance. The quickest and easiest way for me to get that stamp in my passport was to travel south of the U.S. border to Mexico! In recent years, Tulum has become a staple for tourism in Mexico. It has beautiful beaches and a laid-back atmosphere to match. If you’re looking to enjoy some much needed rest & relaxation in Tulum, this blog will help steer you into the right direction.
Where we stayed
We stayed in a lovely, 3 bedroom and 2 bath, Air BnB rental in the heart of Tulum. To be honest, it was kinda odd to see a modern and some-what new building sitting in the middle of a neighborhood that needed some TLC, but as we learned during our trip, this was the norm in Tulum. That being said, we had no issues whatsoever with the area. Our Air BnB host left helpful tips and information for us, including informing us that we should not flush anything down the toilet. Yes, you read that correctly. Tulum does not have the best indoor plumbing situation. Hopefully, this is something they will improve upon since tourism is growing there. The Tulum infrastructure is still developing which effects the roads, buildings, and the aforementioned sewer system.
Scooter and bicycle rentals are available in Tulum. Many of the locals use scooters and bicycles to get around the city. Car rentals are also available. If you choose to drive, be aware that Tulum traffic can be quite busy. If you’re not an aggressive driver you might feel overwhelmed quickly. Taxis of all sizes are also pretty popular. If you choose to use taxis, please remember that you can negotiate your fare. Tourism is very big to the economy in Tulum, and the taxi drivers know that as a tourist your money will go much further in their pockets.
Watch the vlog for all the cool views!
Things to do
One of the biggest draws to Tulum, Mexico is the beach. The beach was our first major attraction visited. You have the option to visit the beach for free. However, if you are wanting to eat and drink and be catered to, a beach club may be a better option for you. There are several beach clubs, some of which cater to a younger party vibe while others are super chill and relaxing. You have to pay to enter the beach clubs. You can enjoy food and drinks at the beach clubs. The beach club we went to, Playa Paraiso, offered a menu that featured North American style food. The beaches located in Tulum are Coco Beach Club, Taboo, Tantra, Gitano, and Playa Paraiso and the list goes on and on (believe me there are plenty to choose from). We decided on Playa Paraiso and had a lovely time relaxing under the big umbrellas and tall coconut trees. You may have heard about the seaweed in Tulum. It has been an issue for sometime. Officials have made an effort to clean the beaches regularly so everyone can have an enjoyable experience. Thankfully, when we were there it wasn’t too bad.
Since we only had about 3 days to actually enjoy Tulum, we decided on the most economical way to see the things we wanted to. The Instagram Tour provided transportation, a bilingual guide, and lunch. We visited the Mayan ruins (Tips on surviving the Mayan ruins here), one of several large Tulum city signs, the giant sculpture at the Raw Love restaurant, and then we cooled down at one of the many cenotes that Tulum is known for. The tour included a stop at the shopping district in Cancun but our guide allowed us to skip that part since it would’ve been out of our way.
If you’re looking for something more adventurous, there are several companies offering zipline, atv, and cenote tours. There is Xel-Ha, which is a water park located in Riviera Maya. It is somewhat pricey, around $90 for adults and $45 for children. In my opinion the water park isn’t the best option in the same location of beautiful beaches, but it’s up to you.
Where to eat
The food on a trip can be the determining factor as to whether or not a trip is a success. Let’s face it, where you eat and what you eat matters. Make the wrong choices and you can feel like you wasted your money or worse you can end up with an upset stomach.
Luckily, we made some good choices on where to eat in Tulum, Mexico. I’m not going to lie, it did start out a little rocky with our first choice, Kalhua (I think that’s the name). The food was just okay. Nothing to write home about. I had a torta filled with ham and cheese, with a side of fries. The torta lacked much of the filling and seemed to be more bread than anything else. The bread itself was nothing special and the bottom became soggy quickly, due to the beans within. The fries gave me the much needed carbs after a long travel day. Overall, the meal was forgettable. To give them some benefit, it appeared we were a part of their early morning crowd. I think they cater more to the dinner crowd. Later in the trip, I noticed they had a much bigger crowd in the evening.
Thanks to a quick Google maps search we were able to locate a restaurant named, Encanto Cantina. We made a reservation, through their website. The place was located on the main “tourist” street of Tulum. Encanto’s menu consisted of various seafood-centered dishes. The restaurant itself is an outdoor and indoor blended space. Which means you can be seated inside or outside. Whether seated indoors or outdoors the place had an earthy yet sophisticated vibe. We sat indoors near the bar. The service at Encanto Cantina was great. Although our waiter spoke mainly Spanish, he really tried his best to communicate with us and he had one of the other staff members, who was fluent in English, read over our order to make sure it was accurate. The steak tacos were calling my name, so that’s what I got. I also decided on the fried plantains with a drizzle of chocolate syrup. One of my friends had a plate of sautéed shrimp with sweet potato. That’s a combination I didn’t know existed, but boy am I glad I had the chance to try it. It was so good!
We also got the opportunity to try Encanto’s restaurant neighbor, Burgerito. We stopped in Burgerito on our last day in Tulum. We wanted a good spot for brunch, and Burgerito delivered. They offered the typical brunch options like avocado toast, French toast, and breakfast burritos. Our waitress stated that they had recently re-opened after being closed for sometime. I’m not sure of the reason for the closure, but they seemed to want to really impress us. At one point they brought us the Egg-Bacon-Pancakes plate and said that it was on the house, but they encouraged us to post a review for their restaurant. We devoured it. The bacon was crisp, the eggs were the right consistency, and the pancakes were so fluffy. Coincidentally, the Egg-Bacon-Pancakes plate was what I had ordered, so I knew what to expect once mine arrived. One of my friends got the avocado toast which was on a hearty piece of sourdough bread. There was definitely beauty in the simplicity of the toast, and she enjoyed it. What’s brunch with out drinks? Burgerito featured several boozy beverages on their menu and at the time they were running a 2-for-1 special on select drinks. It was a girls trip, so of course we went with the drink special. We ordered mojitos and one of us got margaritas. The drinks were refreshing, but not very strong. Burgerito was a restaurant that featured indoor and outdoor seating.
The blended indoor and outdoor theme seemed to be very common at restaurants in Tulum. This does have a few draw backs. First the lack of air conditioning, but we were in shaded areas so that helped a tiny bit, but not quite enough (Personal fans helped too). Also there were ants everywhere. They did dissipate the longer we were seated, but it was a little annoying initially. Due to Tulum needing tourism, there are people selling souvenirs and unfortunately that means they may interrupt your meal in an attempt to sell you their items. The restaurants allow this so it’s up to you to handle the situation. Typically a few “No’s” is enough if you’re not interested in buying anything.
So…what do you think?
We definitely needed more days in Tulum in order to truly get all the details on the growing city. It really is a beautiful place. However, like I said it is still growing. So if you’re from a location that is more advanced when it comes to infrastructure, you may have to lower your expectations. If you’re into a slower pace, then you won’t have any problem fitting in with the laid-back lifestyle of Tulum.
Have you been to Mexico? How about Tulum? Comment below!
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