Checking things off of your bucket list is one of the best feelings ever. Especially if you love to travel and have a few destinations you dream of going to. Almost every beach lover and Instagrammer has Tulum, Mexico on that list, and rightfully so! It’s boho-chic vibe and extraordinary eco-friendly architecture will capture your heart the way it did mine! This is why I decided to create the ultimate travel guide to Tulum so that you can maximize your visit and enjoy this beautiful city as much as I did!
“The purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
Back in February of 2020 — right before COVID-19 caused a global pandemic — my boyfriend gifted me with the best birthday gift ever: the perfect getaway! He knew how badly I needed this, due to me juggling a new job and handling a wild toddler at home, so he came to the rescue.
I’m pretty sure most of us are idealizing our next getaway once we’re out of quarantine. If Tulum is on your list, then you’re in the right place! We spent 5 days there and maximized each day with activities and sight seeing to really capture the full experience. Now lets get into our complete guide to Tulum:
It all depends on what kind of vacation you’re looking for. Tourists typically go to Cancun or Playa del Carmen to party. If you’re looking for more of a relaxing vacation with a splash of turn up, then Tulum is the ideal destination for you. They have a great nightlife scene, but they also have exciting day parties at beach clubs.
Keep reading for a day-to-day guide on what to do, and where to go! Also, some helpful tips that I definitely wish I would have known beforehand.
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Where is Tulum?
Tulum is a gorgeous beach town located about 2 hours south of Cancun along the coastline in the Yucatán Peninsula. It’s located in the province of Quintana Roo and known for their crystal clear turquoise water and white sand beaches. There’s definitely a reason it has become such a popular destination amongst the travel enthusiasts and influencers of the world.
How do I get there?
There is no airport in Tulum, so your best bet is flying into Cancun International airport and catching a shuttle bus or renting a car to Tulum. It’s almost a 2 hour drive straight down the 307 highway.
Flight + Rental: We booked our flights through Kayak, which is a great travel engine and provides some of the best deals on the internet! You can also rent a car through them as well, so you’re all set when you land.
Airport Transfer: This can be arranged through your hotel, or you can book through trusted transfer companies like Happy Shuttle Cancun. You can also catch a bus from Cancun Airport via Ado which is super safe and affordable. Book ahead to confirm your seats for a round trip with no worries!
I guarantee you’ll fall head over heels with the scenery surrounding you along the hour and fourty-something minutes drive.
Where to stay?
Tulum has some of the most beautiful boutique hotels in the world!! There are so many to choose from, but to be honest they can get quite expensive because of how luxurious they can be.
If you’re going on a group trip with a few friends, I’d suggest renting and AirBnb. They are absolutely stunning and insta-worthy! You’ll probably also save a few bucks, which just means more tacos and margs for you! *cue happy dance*
Recommendation: We stayed at Copal Tulum boutique hotel which was honestly a dream! They have a very well deserved 4.5 star rating. The staff was amazing and super helpful with accommodations and assistance with booking excursions at 2am on a weekend when everything is closed (because I’m extra annoying ☺️).
** Quick Tip: Being that you’ll be on international grounds, Make sure you download WhatsApp and create an account with your phone number so you can communicate with the staff and taxi drivers through text. It’s super helpful!
The staff even helped Ty discretely decorate the room with rose petals and balloons for my birthday while I was tanning. He’s literally always up to something, I should’ve known!
Copal Tulum was about 10-15 minutes from the beach and the main strip with all the local restaurants and beach clubs. I’m almost positive all hotels in the area offer bikes and scooters you can rent for the day for less than $10usd. Transportation via taxi is also easily accessible, reliable and affordable.
The local currency in Mexico is pesos. With that said, definitely make sure you convert some cash at the airport or local currency exchange. We happened to find one in the supermarket (Chedraui), as we were going for snacks and alcohol. It came in handy to have on hand for taxis and small local businesses or restaurants you may go to that don’t take credit card or USD.
A good majority of taxis and almost all restaurants and beach clubs take card/USD so it shouldn’t be much of a hassle, but it doesn’t hurt to be prepared just in case.
Day Time Activity Guide For Tulum:
When you think of yourself in Tulum, your mind likely imagines you laying on the beach with a frozen drink in your hand. Although that situation is guaranteed, I’m here to inform you that Tulum is more than JUST a beach-town. There’s so many fun and adventurous things to do as well.
A MUST-SEE while you’re in Tulum. If you don’t know what a Cenote is, they’re the earth’s natural water sink-holes. There are hundreds of cenotes in the areas surrounding Tulum, so there’s no excuse to miss out on an adventure like this.
Recommendation: We went to Casa Tortuga Tulum, which was about 30 minutes from our hotel. They offered 3 different types of cenotes, some exposed and some inside of a cave. Sooo thrilling, and beautiful!
If you love a good history lesson and incredible views from what feels like the top of the world, then add a trip to Coba or Chichen Itza to your itinerary. Coba is about 45-minutes from Tulum center, and Chichen Itza is closer to 2-hours away so consider it an all day excursion. They offer informative tours and bike trails along the archeological sites on your way to the main pyramids where you can climb to the top for a mouth-dropping view. It was such a blast, definitely one of our best day’s of the trip! Highly recommended.
Drake said it best when he said “You can’t drink all day if you don’t start in the morning”. The best way to do that is starting your day at a beach club!
Many of the popular hotels along the strip offer really fun day parties, such as
Night Life Guide To Tulum:
Nights in Tulum have a very magical feeling to them. All along the beach strip, you can see every single hotel, restaurant and bar illuminated with lights. It’s actually quite stunning, and sets such an amazing tone for all tourists and locals to enjoy the vibes.
On different nights of the week, certain hotels and bars have their most anticipated parties. That’s where you can find the best party scene. It took a few days for us to learn which hot spots to go to on which nights, but luckily for you I gathered together a list in this guide to Tulum so you never miss a beat!
- Wednesday: Batey or Meze
- Thursday: Gitano
- Friday: Papaya Playa Project
- Saturday: Casa Jaguar
- Sunday: Zebra or I Scream Bar
With this guide to Tulum, you are guaranteed to have an incredible trip. It’s almost impossible not to in such a memorable place! Be sure to pack comfortable sneakers, and flat sandals as you will be doing lots of walking on your daily adventures.
I know we’re all anxiously awaiting the green light to travel worry free again, and I’m hopeful that day will come soon. Until then, lets day dream and create mood-boards to manifest the realities we desire!
I hope you guys enjoyed this guide to Tulum and stay safe, and may all your bucket-list wishes come true.