My wife recently decided to spend a week in Tulum. After a ton of research, we had an amazing trip and wanted to share our findings/suggestions for future travelers.
The best way to get there is to fly Cancun and then take the 90 min trip south to Tulum. We rented a car from Hertz but you can have your resort arrange a transfer from the airport (~$105/person). We found the rental car to be great in terms or flexibility because we wanted to explore the various ruins, but you could easily rely on taxis or rental bicycles for the remainder of your trip.
Places to Stay
We really struggled to comb through all the TripAdvisor reviews to find a place we wanted to stay. Honestly, any place that you stay along the beach will be nice if you are paying in the $150/night+ range. The quality was pretty consistent and most of the places we saw seemed nice and clean (if not luxurious). We would definitely recommend staying along the beach as opposed to the pueblo/town. We never found a reason to head into town.
Know for their bikini-bootcamp fitness program, this is where we stayed. You don't have to participate in their fitness programs (which run Tue - Wed each week), but it is a little weird if you aren't. They ring a gong each morning at 7 am and there is only 1 yoga class a day. That said, we loved the property and rooms were exactly what we were looking for. We had a 2nd-floor cabana looking to the sea which was amazing. The breakfast is great (fresh fruit, scrambled eggs with corn tortillas) and the beach setup is top notch. We would definitely stay here again.
This is a yoga-focused resort with a vegetarian restaurant on the beach. Each room is a small bungalow with immaculate walkways connecting everything. It is two resorts north of Amansala, so you can sign up for yoga classes here ($15/class) ahead of time to get your yoga fix if you are staying elsewhere.
This was another beautiful property that we walked through, but didn't check out the amenities.
This is a very popular property with a fun beach-side bar (Stair to Heaven) and a restaurant (Villa Des Estralles).
Places to Eat
Here is our stack-ranked restaurants from our trip. We thought all the online lists we found were terrible, so this is based on talking to the locals. We never went into town to eat.
- Hartwood - It's a complete pain to get in line at 5 pm (they open at 6 pm), but the food is worth it. It's wood oven grilled food with no help of electric appliances. You have to be in line by 5:30 to get a reservation around 9 pm. It's on the jungle side of the road, so bring bug spray. There is a small wine shop called "Le Tente Rose" that sells small bottles of Corona if you ask, so you can enjoy a roadie whlie you wait in line. The cocktails are pretty amazing as well. I recommend "The Hartwood".
- Gitano - Also jungle-side on the beach road. Great food (fish and shrimp tacos) and fun atmosphere. Great bar scene and a decent wine list (which is surprisingly hard to find)
- Posada Margarita - Open-air restaurant in and old house on the beach. Run by a crazy Italian man that sits at your table and explains the menu to you (it hasn't changed in 14 years). Very romantic and solid poached fish dishes.
- Mateo's - Know for the world's best fish tacos (Zamas was better), they have an express bar to grab a breakfast burrito in the morning (before 11 am). Great food and casual atmosphere. Amazing mango margaritas.
- Zamas - Our favorite lunch spot to eat fish tacos while sitting next to the beach watching the surf.
Places to Drink
Here are the places we enjoyed:
- Mateos - They do a sunset drink on the top of a wood structure facing west. It's 5-7 pm and an interesting experience.
- Adelita - This is a total gem at the end of the beach. Bike down there or get a taxi and enjoy sunset drinks. It's mostly locals and has all the fishing boats on the beach in the evening.
- Retiro Bar - This is a beach side bar at the Retiro Maya resort that is open until 8 pm. Great end of day place with swings that is always empty.
- Ahua Tulum - Great sexy resort with a solid hotel bar scene. The bar, restaurant and yoga studio are all in the same space with a fun energy.
Things to Do
Here are a few ideas of things to do:
- Tulum Ruins - A truly beautiful place to go and explore. Rent bikes and ride down or get a taxi. The beach is beautiful and accessible, so bring your bathing suit.
- Coba Ruins - It's a 45 min drive or taxi ride from Tulum. It's a real hike to get between the sites through the wooded paths, so rent a bike or go with a group tour.
- Mexidivers - This is the dive shop on the beach road in Tulum. There is another shop in town but I thought these guys were great and I did my PADI certification here.
- Akumal - It's a 30 min drive or taxi ride. There is an amazing lagoon where you can rent snorkeling equipment and swim with sea turtles (reportedly, we didn't see any).
- Cenotes - There are cenotes everywhere which are basically limestone sinkholes filled with fresh water. I really liked the Casa Cenote which has an outlet to the sea via a series of tunnels, so you get mixing of fresh and salt water.