Tulum really grow super popular in the last few years and has become a synonyme of a posh westerner beach lifestyle. But there is more and also a very down to earth Tulum which i experienced during my 2 week stay there. It is also the perfect home-base for further exploring other parts of Yucatán.
Tulum is reachable via plane with the airport in Cancun and a ~1h drive down the beach road. You will pass Playa del Carmen on the trip down, which is also a very popular touristic place in that area. Staying in Tulum ends up in a very important decision: Whether to stay in Tulum town (= cheaper, more down to earth) or at the hotel zone at the beach front. There the hotels have more a feeling of a resort but with a very posh look & feel. For going around in the town I can recommend to you either to rent a motorbike or a bicycle for the more sporty way to get around. When you stay in town you will need a transport anyways as the beach is ~6km away and slightly to far for day 2 day walking. If you are into diving, I can also highly recommend the spot either for open water dives in the ocean or to explore one of the many cenotes in the area.
Tulum itself has a very big archeological sight which is divinely worth seeing. It is easy to reach even via bicycle. Tulum was an ancient port and strategic defense point so there are no big pyramids to spot but loads of towers and other smaller buildings spread over a big area. Highlight is also the playa ruinas directly blow the cliff of the ruins
The archeological sight of Cobá is around 40km north of Tulum and I took my motorbike there for a visit. Driving there was not a big deal as the road is basically all the way just straight on. The area itself is embedded in a large jungle are and it is super exiting to walk around there and explore every detail. Highlight is the 42m high Nohoch Mul pyramid deep in the jungle.
The most popular place to see in Yucatan is of course the big pyramid in Chichén Itzá. The popularity comes with the downturn of being almost overrun by tourists. Luckily the area around the bug pyramid is rather widespread and the mass spread evenly around. I choose a private tour to see this place but there are also plenty of bus tours if you prefer that cheeper option. To get there takes you from Tulum around 2h and you should invest a full day to see all areas.
There are plenty of beaches in Tulum but many of them are in private areas of hotels and beach clubs and therefore entry fee is required. I present you two public beaches that are located right before the hotel zone at Tulum beach.
This beach is directly accessible via the beach road and offers a very nice beach club if you prefer the little more posh beach lifestyle.
Playa Las Palmas
Right below Playa Paraiso you can find this long shore and super nice beach. What I observed during my stay this was the most popular public beach in entire Tulum and also my favorite. A long the coastline there are some small restaurants and on the lower end also an outdoor gym.
The grand cenote is down the road after Calavera cenote and is one of the biggest in Tulum but also quite popular and therefore little crowded. The cenote itself is quite big with 2 pools connected through a small water filled tunnel. The water is crystal clear and when having a sunny day it projects wonderful reflections. Some parts of the cenote are inhabited by small turtles which you can spot swimming around or chilling in the sunlight.
A smaller cenote right after the north end of Tulum town. The entrance is rather spectacular as it is a mid sized black hole in the ground. It also says that this is the door to the underworld,
Located quite close to the Cobá ruins this is a spot you can see also when going there. Actually there are a few cenotes around this area, so there is even more to see. This cenote is below ground level and reachable by stiff stairs. But the way down is worth it, as it has crystal clear water and a wide variety of sandstones formations to explore.
Going out & the posh style of Tulum
One serious food recommendation I want to give you, is to have a try of tacos al pastor. Highlight is the pork meat that has been grilled on a skewer and before super tasty marinated. There are several places in Tulum, just look for the skewer at the restaurant, but this is my favorite place: Taqueria La Chiapaneca.
Piramide del Pesamiento Positivo
Not a posh spot, but one worth seeing in Tulum town is this piece of art making a valid claim on plastic avoidance.
Calle Centauro Sur
In Tulum city basically all the nightlife is going on next or on this road in the city center. Also located here is the popular Batey bar with their famous bettle car placed in the bar.
Beach road spots
At Tulum beach and the hotel zone there, the posh lifestyle of Tulum is vital. There are loads of beach clubs, restaurants and hotels at a higher prize but also worth seeing.
Ahau is very know of the big wooden sculpture they have placed as one of the influencer’s favorite photo motive. Inside is a very cool beach club with restaurant and you can also make your stay there. Other places I can recommend in this area is Gitano or Ziggy’s. A very nice spot for food and a little less expensive is Mateos Mexican Grill at the upper part of Tulum beach.