this nice cenote offers clear waters for swimming, buildings for picnic and is a popular weekend destination for tourists and local families in Tulum, Yucatan, Mexico, 2015

Tulum Travel Guide

Tulum is a bohemian paradise, bursting with immaculately designed hotels, spiritual centers, and restaurants that perfectly execute both ambiance and flavor. Of course, it was the city's inspiring Mayan ruins that overlook the clear waters of the turquoise Caribbean that brought all these wonderful things to Tulum in the first place. Humming blissfully in the background of the busy beach clubs and posing influencers, Tulum's spiritual scene is unrivaled, offering classes beyond your average yoga session, meditation practices, sacred cacao ceremonies, and many more mind-expanding activities. And surrounding all this, you'll find a dense cenote-filled jungle, and stunning nature reserves poise the opportunity for dolphin-spotting, cave diving, and ATVing.

This former fishing village's growing popularity has turned it into one of the most expensive destinations in Mexico—but there's a lot more to Tulum beyond whatever locale is dishing out the most hype. With a little know-how, you can also find authentic cultural experiences, make a real connection to your spiritual side, and find inspiration in the supreme natural beauty of Tulum, which has always been the main attraction.

Time Zone

Eastern Standard Time, but Daylight Savings Time is not observed. This means Tulum is one hour behind the East coast from April to October.

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Best Time to Go

Winter in Tulum coincides with the high season, so while the normally hot and humid weather is at its most pleasant, hotel rates tend to skyrocket, especially around the weeks surrounding Christmas and New Year's. Like the rest of the Caribbean, Tulum sometimes suffers from the scourge of sargasso seaweed. The seaweed that washes up on the shore is usually raked away by mid-day, but from May to October it tends to wash up in larger and harder-to-manage quantities. For these reasons, the best time to visit Tulum is in the fall between late October and mid-December. This gives you some time to score more reasonable rates and avoid the seaweed.

If you can plan your travels around a specific time of the month, you may want to consider the lunar cycle. Full moon parties are extremely popular in Tulum and around this time, many spiritual centers and beach clubs host special events where visitors can gather under the light of the full moon, for either a dance party on the beach or a spiritual cleansing in the jungle.

Things to Know

Currency: Mexican Peso

Language: Spanish
I don't speak Spanish: No hablo español.
I'm lost: Estoy perdido.
I would like…: Me gustaria...

Calling Code: +52

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How to Get Around

Taxis: Taxis are plentiful in Tulum, but they are also the most expensive way to get around the city. Every taxi is cash only and prices can fluctuate depending on how much traffic there is and from where you're coming from. To take a taxi from the city center to the beach, you can expect to pay at least 250 pesos ($13 USD) or on a very busy night up to 600 pesos ($30 USD) or more. Prices are negotiable but make sure to agree on what that price will be with the driver before you get in the car.

Bicycles: Biking is a very popular way to get around all the different neighborhoods in Tulum, thanks to the bike path that connects the city center to the beach road. Many hotels offer bike rentals, but you can also rent your own from a bike shop like Ola Bike Tulum.

Scooters: If you prefer not to work up a sweat, renting a scooter is a great way to get around Tulum more quickly. With it, you can more easily explore cenotes and attractions on the edge of town that would be too far to bike to. You will find the best deals in the city center where there are many scooter shops you can check out and compare prices. The typical cost of a one-day rental is 600 pesos ($30 USD).

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Best Hotels

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Nômade

Address: Carretera Tulum-Boca Paila Km. 10.5, Tulum Beach, Zona Hotelera, 77880 Tulum, QR
Phone: +52 1 (984) 803 2243
Website

Wellness-minded travelers will find inspiration along this hotel's light-dappled jungle paths that leads them to a yoga shala, meditation tent, and a gathering nest where a variety of spiritual talks, ceremonies, and classes are available. You can choose from bohemian-styled suites, a Morrocan-inspired tent with a private plunge pool, or immerse yourself in nature from the perch of a luxury treehouse. Located on the quieter more southern end of the beach road, guests are welcome to lounge beachside in whimsical hammocks and daybeds.

Cenote at glamping site
Credit: Courtesy of Nativus Glamping Site

Nativus

Address: Carretera Boca Paila Km. 10.6, 77780 Tulum, QR
Phone: +52 984 106 6110
Website

This glamping resort offers guests special access to the little-known Cenote Encantado tucked away at the end of the beach road right before the entrance of the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve. Here, you can spend the night in a luxury air-conditioned tent and start your day with a morning paddle through the mangroves before hitting the beach. All rooms have private bathrooms and a healthy breakfast is complimentary.

La Valise Tulum's suite can have the bed moved to the terrace
Credit: Photographer Muz Najim, La Valise Tulum

La Valise

Address: Carretera Tulum-Boca Paila Zona Hotelera, Km. 8.7, 77780 Tulum, QR
Phone: +52 (55) 80 60 27 45
Website 

Filled with furniture and artwork handcrafted in Mexico, the ambiance here is a mix of pure jungle glamour. There are just 11 bungalows in this boutique, but the most-coveted room is the beachfront master suite, where the bed rolls out onto the balcony, so you spend the coziest night of your life beneath the stars. All rooms are spacious with a light natural design and jungle-side suites have minimalistic and private outdoor showers.

Ikal

Address: Inside Tulum Ruins National Park between Playa Paraíso and Playa Pescadores, Zona Hotelera, 77780 Tulum, QR
Phone: +52 984 239 0929
Website

Offering both glamping tents and bungalows with individualized character, this ruins-adjacent hotel delivers on the magical nature-obsessed dream Tulum often inspires. In addition to yoga classes, this hotel and wellness center also offers many community-centered events and gatherings from volleyball to music nights and meditation sessions. There is a saltwater pool just for guest use and the swinging daybeds on the beach are a glorious place to sit and watch a Tulum sunrise.

Hotel Bardo

Address: Rio Otate & Rio Basca, 77760 Tulum, QR
Phone: +52 55 8390 7489
Website 

Tucked away far from the busy beach zone and city center, this deeply embedded jungle paradise, Hotel Bardo offers an array of luxurious and spacious lofts, each with its own private plunge pool. The main pool, fringed with greenery and plush daybeds, sits in the center of the hotel's main social area where a stone fire pit adds to the liveliness surrounding the bar and restaurant. Every day at sunset, guests are welcome to participate in an intention-setting ritual and throughout the week the hotel offers sound healing, yoga, and temazcal ceremonies.

Encantada

Address: Carretera Tulum-Boca Paila Km. 8.7, Zona Hotelera, 77760 Tulum, QR
Phone: +52 (984) 114-7525
Website 

Hidden at the end of a long thatched-roof corridor, Encantada is an eight-room boutique hotel that offers simple serenity and a very short walk from your doorstep to the ocean. Every room features a lusciously soft king-sized bed and a front porch with a hammock and thoughtfully practical details like a rack to hang wet towels and a seashell water basin to clean the sand off your feet. The hotel restaurant is only for guests, which results in reliably prompt and friendly service.

Aloft

Address: Av. Coba Sur Mz 5 Lt 1 Smz 1 Region 14, 77760 Tulum, Q.R.
Phone: +52 984 689 0431
Website 

The Aloft offers something more familiar for traditional travelers but stays true to the Tulum aesthetic with its private jungle courtyard and an adults-only rooftop infinity pool with uninterrupted views of the Tulum's national park. Rooms are colorful with modern amenities, nature-inspired décor, and very strong air-conditioning. Located halfway down the road to the beach zone and around the corner from Aldea Zama, it's a shorter ride to the beach than if you stayed in town.

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Best Restaurants

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Tables ay WILD Tulum
Credit: Courtesy of WILD Tulum

Wild

Address: Carretera Tulum-Boca Pailla Km. 10, 77880 Tulum, QR
Phone: +52 984 130 8295
Website

Underneath a stone canopy of Wonderland-sized concrete leaves, this stylish beach road restaurant serves up a cocktail and food menu that emphasize local Mexican ingredients like huitlacoche (fermented corn) and hoja santa (Mexican pepper leaf). With the aroma of copal, the iconic pre-Columbian incense of choice in Tulum permeating the space, the ambiance is warm and inviting. Reservations can be made online.

Hartwood
Credit: Moses Berkson

Hartwood

Address: Carretera Tulum-Boca Paila Km. 7-6, 77780 Tulum, QR
Website 

Dinner reservations are highly recommended for one of the most talked-about restaurants in the beach zone, where the menu is based on the daily catch and all the cooking is done over an open fire. Ingredients are sustainably sourced from markets around the Yucatan and the open-air restaurant uses solar panels and composting methods to reduce its carbon footprint. Lunch reservations are not accepted but walk-ins are encouraged.

Ciel Rose Sunset Bar

Address: Carretera Tulum-Boca Pailla Km. 5.5, 77880 Tulum, QR
Phone: +52 984 186 1152
Website

Watch the sunset over the jungle from this towering multi-level bar hidden at the back of the Pura Corazón Restaurant on the beach road. This is the perfect spot for a pre-dinner drink (and appetizer if you're hungry) but you should plan on arriving early if you want to get a seat. Once the sun goes down, the bar usually empties out but if your timing is right, you can sometimes catch a bonus spectacle of the moon rising over the ocean.

El Camello Jr.

Address: Chetumal-Cancun Locales 1 y 2 Lte 3 Mza 40, Centro, 77600 Tulum, Q.R.
Phone: +52 984 871 2036
Website 

If you prefer to eat where the locals eat, you'll find fresh seafood and friendly service at this main road restaurant. The ceviches are the most popular dishes here, but you can't go wrong with the garlic octopus or fish tacos. Portions are huge, perfect for large groups and big appetites.

Mestixa

Address: Avenida Satélite Entre Av. Tulum, Calle Polar Pte. y, 77760 Tulum, QR
Phone: +52 984 182 7283
Website 

Combining the best flavors of both Asian and Mexican street food, this restaurant in the city center serves the umami and spice-packed flavors found across Asian cuisine styles with Mexican dishes and vice versa. The menu is constantly changing, but you can expect to find tasty pork belly bao buns, plus curiosity-inducing dishes like shrimp dumplings topped with tamarind sauce and a grasshopper garnish. Reservations are recommended.

The bar at Verdánt Tulum
Credit: Courtesy of Verdánt Tulum

Verdánt

Address: Chemuyil St. Km 227, 77760 Tulum, QR
Phone: +52 1 984 1328378
Website 

One of the most stylish restaurants in Tulum is hiding away in the city center, where it has enough room to grow its own veggies and edible flowers in a garden adjacent to the restaurant. Verdant's menu highlights these garden-to-table ingredients which are often paired with fresh seafood dishes, alongside an intriguing offering of cocktails with flavors worth experimenting with like curry and burnt mango. Reservations are recommended.

Italdo

Address: Avenida 5 Sur Manzana 892 Lote 6, Local 7, La Veleta, 77760 Tulum, QR
Phone: +52 984 122 1319
Website

You can pick up freshly-baked loaves for your morning breakfast at this La Veleta bakery, but don't leave without trying the desserts. You'll find the most unique and beautiful pastries, layering scrumptious flavors in traditional styles and experimenting with fun Mexico-inspired shapes like tacos and cacao beans. If you'll be celebrating a special occasion, custom cakes are available to order.

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Things to Do

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Art walk at Wellness Holistika
Credit: Courtesy of Wellness Holistika

Walk the art walk at Holistika

Address: Avenida 10 Sur Lote 4, Zona 11, Manzana 902, 77760 Tulum, QR
Phone: +52 1 984 280 4128
Website

Tucked away in the middle of this La Veleta wellness center, Holistika's art walk is a short circular jungle path that will lead you past interactive sculptures and murals that seem to have crash-landed in the jungle. While you're there, be sure to take advantage of one of the many yoga classes, ceremonies, or spa treatments on offer—especially if it takes place in the sparkly and acoustically impressive meditation dome.

The World's Coolest Caves: Cenote Dos Ojos
Credit: Reinhard Dirscherl

Go cenote hopping

You'll find many of the Yucatan's famous natural swimming holes around Tulum, which can be visited as either part of a day tour or on your own. Gran Cenote, Dos Ojos, and Laguna Kaan Luum are some of the largest but don't overlook the value of smaller cenotes like Cenote Dos Palmas which is looked after by a local Mayan community.

Main Temple of the Ruinas de Tulum
Credit: Atlantide Phototravel/Getty Images

Visit the Tulum Ruins

Address: Carretera Federal, Cancun - Chetumal Km. 230, 307, 77780 Tulum, QR
Website

Tulum's Archaeological Zone encompasses an ancient Mayan city that was once a seaside port. There are multiple buildings and temples in the walled fortress, but the most picturesque is the God of Winds Temple that sits atop a mossy cliff overlooking a small protected beach.

Yoga class at OM Collective Tulum
Credit: Courtesy of OM Collective Tulum

Take a yoga class at Om Collective

Address: Avenida Coba MZ 09-LT 1-2, Tulum Centro, 77760 Tulum, QR
Website

This yoga studio in the city center offers a wide range of classes and is the most affordable in Tulum, with a donation-based payment system. The small and stylish studio has a community-centered feel and offers a wide range of classes and yoga styles from vinyasa to acro yoga.

Mexico Hotel Spa temazcal
Credit: Courtesy of Casa de Sierra Nevada

Sweat it out in a Temazcal

This cleansing ritual is believed to have detoxifying benefits and involves sitting with others in a stone dome, like a sweat lodge, that is heated and filled with invigorating scents while a spiritual guide leads you through a series of chants. You can find temazcal ceremonies all over Tulum in hotels and spas, but you will have to reserve a spot in advance as it is not usually a daily offering.

Take a ceramics workshop with a Mayan family

Website

Authentic Mayan experiences can be hard to come by, but Tulum Art Club offers a unique day trip to the inland city of Valladolid where you can learn about Mayan pottery from a family that has kept the Mayan methods alive for centuries. During the workshop, you can learn more about the spiritual traditions of the family's process and will get to take home your own creation.

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Best Shopping

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La Madre Tierra

Address: Avenida Tulum, Centauro Norte Esq, 77760 Tulum, QR
Phone: +51 984 135 5923
Website

At this organic beauty shop in the city center, you can find all-natural soaps, oils, and creams, plus organic cosmetics. Beauty treatments are available and all products are made in Mexico.

Exterior of Claude Tulum
Credit: Courtesy of Claude Tulum

Claud

Address: Carretera Tulum-Boca Paila Km. 7.5, 77760 Tulum, QR
Phone: +52 984 151 5715
Website 

This slow-fashion brand specializes in gender-fluid resort wear made with linens sustainably sourced within 100 kilometers of Tulum. All pieces are designed and hand-crafted in Mexico.

Mixik

Address: Avenida Tulum MZA 6 LTE 22, entre Jupiter y Alfa Norte, 77760 Tulum, QR
Phone: +52 984 871 2136
Website 

Inside the bright pink walls of this city center craft store, colorfully painted folk art, ceramics, and clothing are all in the mix. It's a great place to pick up a unique souvenir that feels traditionally Mexican.

Spiritum Tulum

Address: Carretera KM. 10, Tulum-Boca Paila, 77780 Tulum, QR
Website 

On top of a great selection of flowing bohemian dresses, kaftans, and kimonos, this sustainable fashion brand also offers a great selection of casual and formal menswear. All materials utilize a fusion of indigenous textiles and modern designs and everything is handcrafted in Mexico.

Zac Be Tulum

Address: Carretera Tulum-Punta Allen, 77760 Tulum, QR
Website

There's nothing subtle or minimal about these jewelry pieces that combine geometrical trends with natural elements, invoking an aesthetic that feels royal and pre-Columbian. The silverwork is this shop's specialty.

Cafe Ku'un

Address: Calle 2 Oriente entre Calle Cecilia y Calle 4 Oriente, 77780 Tulum, QR
Website 

If you have a taste for artisanal coffee, you'll love this hidden gem in the city center where you can get your grounds straight from the roaster. The beans are 100 percent pure Arabica and grown in the region of Coatapec in Veracruz using chemical-free and eco-friendly methods.

Neighborhoods to Know

Beach Zone: Split up into a north side and south side, this is where you'll find all the top hotels, restaurants, and beach clubs in Tulum, stretched out along a busy main road. The north side of the beach is quieter and closer to the ruins, while the south side has more hotels and restaurants. This also makes it a little more difficult to get on the beach if you're not a guest or paying customer.

Aldea Zama: Halfway between town and the beach, this gated neighborhood is full of luxury condominiums and has its own shopping and dining area. An upscale residential neighborhood, Aldea Zama is a great place to find a large vacation rental or a quieter hotel room.

La Veleta: Located on the far side of Tulum, but connected to Aldea Zama by a shortcut, La Veleta is a neighborhood in development with a few modern apartment buildings and hotels already established, but more still under construction. The neighborhood is evolving and road conditions can be on the rough and muddy side.

Centro: The main town is the center of daily life in Tulum where you'll find the best local restaurants, plus fun finds like bookstore cafes and tons of souvenir shops. There are more affordable accommodation options here from hotels to hostels and you're more likely to find better prices on tours, bicycles, and moped rentals than down at the beach.

Villas: This is a small residential neighborhood that has few restaurants and no hotels, however, it may pop up if you're looking for a vacation rental. Here you'll find quiet local streets filled with larger-than-life murals. It's off-the-radar located in a convenient spot, just behind the main intersection where the main highway meets the road to the beach.

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Weather

High temperatures in Tulum fluctuate between 80 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the year, but winter offers some of the nicest weather with warm sunny days and cooler nights. Spring can still be warm and quite dry up until May when the rainy season begins. The rainy season lasts until the end of summer, making hotter temperatures even more uncomfortable due to the high humidity. As fall begins in September, temperatures and the chance of rain start to drop and the weather gets nice again as winter approaches. Hurricanes do not often affect Tulum, but tropical storms of any size are most likely to occur between July and November.

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Apps to Download

XE Currency Exchange: A must-have when negotiating taxi rates, this app is the best way to check exchange rates, even if your phone is offline.
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ADO Boletos de Autobus: If you plan to travel along the Riviera Maya, you can see times and book your tickets through the app.
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Whatsapp: Many businesses use this texting app to communicate with customers, so having an account set up before you arrive will come in handy.
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