Tulum: Travel Guide
Writer Kristina Kulyabina @kristinakuly
Resting on 39-foot-high cliffs, the seaside site of Tulum, Mexico protrudes from the Yucatan Peninsula with sweeping views of the Caribbean Sea. This ancient Mayan city and current resort town offers so much more than just a white- sand beach to get your tan on.
Located in the state of Quintana Roo, Tulum balances that relaxing, ‘treat yourself’ vacation with adventurous and culturally engaging opportunities. Discover the City of Dawn, named after its position facing the sun, through the 11th century walls encapsulating stucco figures and temples.After dropping your jaw at the impressive pre-Columbian ruins, head over to the glistening beaches to chow down on some of the best tacos in town.
With it’s bohemian-chic vibe, while surrounded by a lush jungle, Tulum will get you rooted back to nature and into a tranquil state of mind.
WHAT SHOULD I KNOW BEFORE GOING TO TULUM?
The two most important items on your last minute, pre-departure checklist are swimwear and a passport. Luckily, with a U.S. passport, a visa is not needed in order to enter Mexico. A tourist visa is required only if you are planning on staying for more than 180 days, according to the U.S. Department of State passport and international travel requirements.
WHY SHOULD I GO TO TULUM NOW?
It’s the latest mecca for celebrities, fashion bloggers, artists, and adventure- seekers. The miles of pristine beaches create a beautiful environment, which is only enhanced by the stylish crowd and boutique hotels. Tulum also serves as a peaceful escape from the busy touristy scene of Cancun.
The best time to visit Tulum is from November to December because of the comfortable temperature range of 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit. Although it’s post hurricane season, this time of year is actually the calm before the storm – that is, before all of the tourists get in, causing hotel prices to soar and beaches turning into jam-packed cans of sardines.
HOW DO I GET THERE?
American Airlines, Delta, and United are the biggest airlines flying into theCancun International Airport, which serves as the main airport closest to Tulum, about 75 miles away. From the Los Angeles International Airport(LAX) to Cancun, expect a 4.5 hour-long non-stop flight. After claiming
your baggage filled with your favorite sundresses and beach hats, there are four options to get to your destination: taxi, resort shuttle, private airport transfer, or bus. If you’re looking for something personal and easy, Tucan Kin(tucankin.com) offers efficient private transfer service with options to book in advance online.
WHERE SHOULD I STAY?
As a family owned eco-hotel, Luv Tulum is an oasis located directly on the beach with 12 ocean-front rooms and cabanas, designed in a traditional Mayan style. The creative photo team for LEFAIR Magazine had the pleasure of staying at this sweet sanctuary. We loved the vibe and the people who work there. Carlos, Raul and Deysi are part of the hotel’s extremely hospitable staff who always treat their guests as family. This is a very intimate accommodation that doesn’t use third-party booking websites and typically receives visitors through word of mouth. We’ll be telling our friends about it!
Carretera Tulum-Boca Paila, km. 8.1
Meaning ‘you will heal’ in Spanish, Sanará is a luxury eco boutique hotel situated in front of the Caribbean Sea. The hotel includes a yoga studio, wellness center, and a restaurant serving healthy delicious meals. In addition to healing therapies, Sanará also offers a range of spa treatments for the ultimate zen mode.
Carreterra Tulum-Boca Paila, km. 8.2
DREAMS TULUM RESORT & SPAReady to be treated like royalty? Dreams Tulum has some of the most elegant accommodations including 432 guest rooms, each with a balcony or patio. Besides wining and dining on the beach, guests can enjoy the refreshing pool and occasional theme parties. An all-inclusive option is available along with ‘adults-only’ rooms and suites.
Carretera Chetumal-Puerto, Juárez km 236.7 No. 1
WHAT SHOULD I SEE?
What more do you need than white sand, crystal clear waters, and sunshine? Well, free parkingand public beach access are always a plus, which you can find at Playa Paraiso. Relax on one ofMexico’s most impressive beaches with a massage or a refreshing drink underneath the endless leaning palm trees. For the more active beach bum, snorkeling tours via boat hire are available for a chance to swim with sea turtles over a gorgeous reef.
Roughly a 25-minute taxi ride away from Tulum, Akumal Beach is a must-see for its endangered green sea turtles. Snorkeling equipment can be rented right at the bay and guides are not required as you can just swim out from the shoreline. However, guided tours are available if you prefer a more structured experience while swimming with these majestic creatures.
Whether you are a history buff or not, the cliff side Mayan ruins (one of the most visited archeological sites in Mexico) are an astonishing combination. The best time to visit and avoid huge tour crowds is before 9:30 a.m –the park opens at 8 am. The entrance fee is 64 MXN with a possibility of camera equipment fees.
Also, each part of the ruins is roped off, so you won’t be able to hang out on them or attempta selfie pose on the stairs. Leave the drone at home too, as it is not permitted on the ruins’grounds.
Carretera federal Chetumal – Cancún km. 230
CENOTES SAC ACTUN CAVES
Venture out into the jungle of Tulum to swim through the world’s second largest underwater cave system, also known as the Pet Cemetery due to its fossilized animal skeletons. The crystalline, mineral-rich, freshwater is accessible through cenotes – natural sinkholes formed by the collapse of porous limestone bedrock. Guides are always required for snorkeling and scuba diving expeditions, which can be hired at any of the agencies in the Riviera Maya.
WHERE SHOULD I EAT AND DRINK?
If you need a break from solely eating Mexican but are still craving international cuisine, this urban Argentine restaurant serves delicious food made with local ingredients amongst a beautiful setting and excellent service. From the wood-fired oven and grill, try the filet mignon, rib eye, and the tender chicken skewers, all cooked with passion for flavor. Also, don’t miss out on the homemade chorizo along with tequila cocktails from the bar’s mixology program. Credit cards are not accepted so don’t forget to bring cash!
Carretera Tulum Boca Paila km. 8.5
ANTOJITOS LA CHIAPANECA
It’s usually crowded in here, and that’s a good thing – Antojitos is a place that allows cheap andgood quality to be used in the same sentence. Visit this local joint after 5 pm (opening time) for the best al pastor pork tacos, handmade right in front of you and starting at seven pesos each. The menu also offers empanadas, tortas, sopes, and vegetarian tacos with a variety
of toppings. Warning: the habanero-based red sauce may cause severe crying and sweating, depending on your spice tolerance.
Cancun – Chetumal Mz 6 Lt. 8
TAQUERIA LA EUFEMIA
Yes, another Taqueria, but you can’t visit Mexico without trying beachside tacos. This small and yet energetic restaurant offers inexpensive bites and an awesome 2 for 1 cocktail happyhour. Indulge in the shrimp or fish tacos loaded with onion and cilantro along with a varietyof salsas. Vegetarian options are also available. This isn’t exactly a quiet location and might be best to visit when you are in the mood for a few beers, some fun music and a lively crowd.It is cash only! This establishment is also one of the best in town for its reliable Wifi.
Carretera Tulum Boca Paila km.10
Open for dinner with an impressive selection, this restaurant follows a farm-to-table philosophy behind its fresh cuisine. Chef Maya intertwines culinary inspirations from
her childhood in Mexico and cooking career in San Francisco. Although Arca’s menu is constantly changing with the seasons, the most popular items are the grilled octopus and the lamb shank when available.
Carretera Tulum-Boca Paila km. 7.6
Looking to sing, dance, and partake in the fiesta nightlife of Tulum? This bar has some of the best live music with local bands and DJ sets playing a range of electro, dance, funk, and reggae beats. It’s open Mon-Sun from 7pm-2am with a really unique setting decorated from recycled materials. Make sure to try the specialty daiquiris and mojitos, like the mojito with rum or mescal, made with strawberry, passion fruit, mango, and tamarind.
Av. Tulum Esquina Beta, 120