Tulum Travel Guide
Oh my gosh I can’t believe the honeymoon is already over. I have SO much to share here about so many topics, but I’ll start with our honeymoon for now as I anxiously await photos from our wedding.
I haven’t blogged in so long I feel like I have SO much to say about even our honeymoon, but it probably makes sense to dedicate this solely to a Mexico travel guide and share the other stuff for something different. So, here we go!
Our honeymoon included 3 nights in Playa Del Carmen and 6 nights in Tulum.
After sitting on the tarmac for 4 hours due to frozen pipes, we were off!
Cancun was the airport to fly into for the two cities we were visiting in Mexico, so we had a car waiting for us at the Cancun airport to bring us to Playa del Carmen, and then actually used that same car service to get from Playa del Carmen to Tulum and then from Tulum back to Cancun to fly back to the states. Car service information here!
Cancun to Playa: 1 hour Playa to Tulum: 45 minutes Tulum to Cancun: 1 hour and 45 minutes
Playa del Carmen
In all honesty, I don’t have a ton to share about Playa, so if you’re traveling to Tulum just keep scrolling. Unfortunately, Luke got super sick on the plane to Cancun so our first 1-2 days we pretty much stuck around the hotel and just lounged. We stayed at The Fives Downtown but in all honesty we didn’t leave the hotel much. Ah, I’m sorry! We also didn’t have the best weather when we were in Playa, but we had a beautiful room with an outdoor Jacuzzi so just relaxing and having room service after the crazy wedding was a perfect way to spend our first few days!
We did take a day trip to xplor which was super fun! A lot of people seemed interested in that on my IG. Xplor is an adventure park full of four wheeling, zip lines, caves, rafts and more. It was a great way to spend a cloudy/rainy day for us!
We absolutely fell in love with Tulum. From the moment we arrived, to the moment we left everything was so picturesque and perfect. I would recommend Tulum to anyone and I’m already trying to figure out an excuse to get back there.
If you follow me on IG, you know we ate & drank our way through Tulum and got as much sun as possible. You also know that every single place we went to was literally MADE for Instagram. There is not a detail that was missed in the whole city. It’s seriously just incredible.
How long should I stay?
We stayed in Tulum for 6 days & 7 nights. I think the length of our trip was perfect for our honeymoon, but Tulum is not cheap. Hey, they know what they have and they aren’t afraid to charge for it! I think you could do everything we did in 4 nights and 5 days. This would save you on basically 2 full days of meals.
I also think Tulum is a great city for a long weekend! You can definitely hit the highlights and get an amazing feel for the city in 3 nights and 4 days which would help save even more! It’s a super small town, so everything is very close together which makes it easier to hit a bunch of spots in one day.
Do I need a car?
So I personally would say “no” to this question. Taxis are EVERYWHERE in Tulum and they are super safe. We always felt VERY comfortable getting in every cab that we took. You can get around the city for $6-$8 one way. I personally think this is you best bet, as parking seemed to be very tough and I saw a lot of signs that places charged to park anyway.
We rented bikes one day, I believe this was $150 pesos each, which was also a great option. Many places offer discounted rates if you rent for multiple days. Bikes are very safe in Tulum because there are speed bumps all through the city so cars really can’t go more than 10 mph anyway.
After being in Tulum for 2 days we ended up renting a moped for the remainder of our trip. This cut down on taxi rides which was nice, but also mopeds can be parked anywhere so you don’t have to worry about parking. This was nice as Luke ended up going to the gym and gave us a little more flexibility to get around to some spots that were further away.
Again, I think taxis are a great option in Tulum, but a bike/moped do make for great back-ups!
P.S. see above for the car service we used to get to Tulum. You may want to compare prices for that (we paid $60 USD) vs. renting a car.
Where should I stay?
Okay, so ocean front hotels are going to cost you more. For the most part, 99% of Tulum sits on one street. It seems like the more expensive options were in the middle part of the street and down (towards Be Tulum & Nomade) and seemed to be a little less to the right (which is where we stayed).
We stayed at Zamas Hotel which was a great affordable option for an ocean front property (we stayed in an Ocean View room). It’s very close to everything, basically 1-3 miles from most things you’ll want to do in Tulum. Zamas was super cute and clean and is significantly less than other ocean front hotels in Tulum. If staying in a more expensive place is in your budget, go for it! I think Zamas was a great “middle of the road” option, but there also seemed to be some super cute places away from the beach that were significantly less!
If we have an opportunity to go back to Tulum, I think we would look into staying off the beach just to save some money. A lot of hotels allow you to use their beach for just a small food & drink minimum. In fact, our favorite day was spent on the beach beds at Be Tulum hotel – and it’s between $800-$2,000 (+) to stay there per night!
Where should I eat (+ drink)?
Holy crap where can I even begin!? Okay first, get chips + guac and ceviche as often as possible, just trust me.
Also, for all my GF friends, there were a TON of options for us! I made sure to just let them know about my allergies up front so there was no confusion, but every place had a ton of options which was super refreshing!
The best thing about Tulum is how amazing the food is. Everything is made with such wonderful ingredients that never left one meal feeling like “ughhhh full grosss”. AKA no “heavy” meals. We were happy and satisfied with every meal which was such a wonderful feeling. Okay recommendations:
Gitano – we went here for dinner our first night and then back for drinks on our last night! It’s a super cute spot but I would recommend going here for just drinks & maybe apps and then head somewhere else for dinner. Definitely worth checking out for drinks though!
Hartwood – hands down the most popular place in all of Tulum. Apparently you can make reservations in advance, but everyone I talked to said they never reply to the email account. Your best bet is to go at 4pm on Wednesday-Sunday to see if they have any availability for the nights you’re going to be there. If not, try going right at 5:30 because they have open seating at that time. We went right at 5:30 on our last night and were seated right away. The food was great but we had great food at a lot of other restaurants too, so if you can’t get it in don’t sweat it too much! **pesos only
Casa Violeta – this place was recommended to us by another blogger and I’m SOOO glad we tried it out. The food was amazing, probably one of our favorites in Tulum. I’m so surprised by how quiet it was on the night that we went because the food is delicious. I definitely recommend trying this place out! They have indoor and outdoor seating but it was pretty cold the night we went so we stayed inside.
Casa Banana – if you like steak definitely try this place! Everything is Argentinian style and to die for. This was Luke’s favorite restaurant that we went to! **cash only
RawLove – delicious bowls for breakfast or lunch!
Frescos – a DELICIOUS and AFFORDABLE spot! After our visit we went back here for breakfast two more times. We got so much food for like $30. It was so good. This was the place I was raving about their GF bread for avocado toast (switched out the regular bread for their homemade bread switch is GF) and banana pancakes on my IG story!
Posada Margherita – although it seems funny to go to Mexico for Italian, this place is awesome! Also highly recommended by locals. Their food was amazing and their décor was even better. I would definitely recommend this place!
Be Tulum – gorgeous beaches! We went here for breakfast and then went back and spent the whole day here (breakfast and lunch). The property is amazing so I definitely recommend spending a day there to use their beach.
Matcha Mama - the cutest place to stop for a snack or lunch! A great Instagram spot too! ;)
Should I exchange USD for Pesos?
A lot of places in Tulum are cash only. While a majority of them do take USD, there are a few that take only pesos. There are ATMs located all over the city, so you do have access to money (machines dispense both pesos and USD depending on what you choose), but there are fees associated with withdrawing cash. We ended up finding a grocery store right outside of town (benefit of having a moped) that had the cheapest fees we had seen anywhere else. I would recommend bringing USD with you as most hotels have safes in the room. I would either hit up a money exchange or take out pesos in a larger sum one time so you can avoid multiple ATM fees.
Random travel tips
Ruins You can do the Mayan Ruins in about one hour. I highly recommend getting there right when it opens at 8am. Luke & I got up early and went over on the moped. We pretty much had the place to ourselves. By the time we were leaving (around 8:50-9am) buses were bringing people in and it was insanity!
Cenotes Absolutely beautiful! We hit up the Cristal Cenote, but there are a bunch to choose from!
Bugs We didn’t find the bug situation to be TOO bad unless we were hitting up a restaurant that was surrounded by trees (RawLove). I would recommend bringing bug spray with you, but we really didn’t run into problems with the bugs at all!