Why should I visit Tulum?
That was the question we were asking ourselves this Winter. We had a 3-day weekend to work with and were looking for someplace warm, relaxing, and culturally enveloping so that it felt like we were experiencing something amazing away from home.
If we had more time, we would have loved to go to Europe or Japan or somewhere 7-8 hours. Since we only had 3-day window to work with, it meant we couldn’t fly more than 5 hours.
From New York, that doesn’t live too many options.
We considered: Miami, the Caribbean, and Napa Valley.
Miami is too congested, and definitely not a unique culture or experience. The Caribbean, aside from St. Barts is nothing new to us (and the former is crazy expensive), and Napa is simply too far away for a 3-day trip (6 hour flight + 2 hours in the car).
So we settled on Tulum, but didn’t know what to expect or why.
Now that we’ve returned, here’s why you should visit Tulum:
- Prices can be extremely affordable (there are hostels for as low as $20-50/night), and food is equally as cheap (it’s 18 pesos to 1 USD)
- Tulum is extremely beautiful. The beaches are pristine, and the sand is impossibly soft.
- Tulum has some of the best food we’ve experienced in a beach-side setting. Almost everything was farm to table (mainly thanks to the fact that electricity is rare for most restaurants)
- Tulum has an amazing beach town culture. Everyone is riding bikes, doing yoga or generally just enjoying themselves. The town is extremely focused on keeping Tulum clean and preserving the ecology for years to come
- Tulum is the type of place to constantly look back on with fond memories long after you’ve visited, and this feeling is the reason we all love to travel so much anyway
So now that I hopefully have convinced you why you need to visit Tulum, here’s our luxury (or eco-focused) travel guide to Tulum, Mexico.
How to Fly to Tulum
Part of the reason Tulum is such a sought after destination is that its an area of Mexico that isn’t overrun (yet) with gringos, thanks mainly to the fact that it’s about 2 hours from a major airport.
To get to Tulum, you need to fly into CUN (Cancun), then take a taxi to get there.
How to Book a Flight with Points to Tulum
I found a great award flight from JFK to CUN for just 30,000 miles in business class on Delta.
I didn’t have any Delta points, so I transferred from my American Express card 60,000 points (to cover 2 tickets), and boom, I’m flying First Class to Tulum for free!
Where Is Tulum in Mexico?
What Is The Weather in Tulum?
The best time to visit Tulum is October-December
Tulum’s weather is beautiful. To put this 10-day weather forecast into perspective, we’re going to be having a major blizzard here in New York this coming Wednesday, and it’s so cold outside right now that I could barely feel my fingers when walking to my car. Basically, Tulum is heaven on Earth compared to East Coast winters.
Tulum’s rainiest months are June, September, and October. It is often said that the 3-month stretch between October and December is the best time to visit, because hurricane season has finally ended and the weather is warm, but not stiflingly hot as can often be the case in Mexico.
The 3 months between January and March have the most tourist activity, so do your best to avoid those months if you do not want to be overrun by Americans.
How to Get From Cancun to Tulum
Unlike most areas of Mexico, there is actually Uber in Cancun. They only have UberX, no black cars or SUVs, but the prices are fantastic.
Using the fare calculator, for a 2 hour ride to Tulum, it should clock in around $40, which is $60 cheaper than a one-way SUV ride with Cancun Airport Transportation.
Beware though, at the airport, the other drivers to do not like Uber and you should expect to have to fight your way to find your car.
If you care more about convenience, I’d go with a private SUV. We ended up reserving a roundtrip in a Suburban which cost $300, which we booked through our hotel.
USA Transfers has 5-stars on Yelp and is our recommendation.
What to Wear in Tulum
2(x)ist Ibiza trunks
Tulum Mexico Best Resorts
Casa Malca Review
With an exceptional review on Tripadvisor, Casa Malca is the premiere hotel to go to if you are looking for somewhere breathtakingly beautiful in Tulum.
The property just went through a beautiful restoration and now has 40 rooms (from an original 8).
The best way to describe the vibe is modern meets shabby chic. The bungalows are all perched along the beach, and are whitewashed concrete boxes with huge sliding windows as your entrance.
Each room has gorgeous pieces of art that bring a lot of color and excitement to the interiors. There are shabby chic armoires, armchairs and couches spread throughout the room (which make for a great setting for shooting photos).
The hotel is curated by NYC gallerist Lio Malca.
The rooms are pretty basic with no TV, a mini-bar stocked with drinks, but sadly no snacks. After a long day of eating and drinking, our only nourishment was a Toblerone bar.
There is also no room service, but one day we asked Manuel, the waiter from the beach to deliver some coconuts to our room, and he gladly obliged. So if you’re the type who likes having snacks on hand, I would recommend stopping by one of the few markets in town during the day to grab some supplies.
Every morning breakfast is included at the restaurant. We ate a combination of fresh green/orange juice, cappuccino, pancakes, eggs with vegetables, egg-white omelets and on our last breakfast, a mimosa. The food was excellent and came with a freshly baked pastry basket with rotating types of breads and muffins.
We never dined at the restaurant Philosophy for dinner, but did enjoy beach-side lunch. Our favorites included the hamburger (which was easily comparable if not better than some of the best burgers in New York), and salad with steamed shrimp.
What we loved about this hotel is how close you are to the beach, and that’s really what makes Tulum so wonderful.
Our hammock outside our room
Unlike most hotels in more popular areas, like Miami, where the hotel is a good 100-200 feet from the beach (most likely for flooding reasons), the hotels in Tulum are so close to the beach, you can easily hear the sound of the waves from inside your room.
View from our Room
The sand was some of the softest we’ve ever experienced.
The proximity to the beach, plus the tranquility of the surroundings makes Casa Malca and Tulum an excellent opportunity to refresh and renew your body.
Casa Malca does not have a spa or any sort of wellness or fitness program, which is fine by us, but for some people hoping for yoga, you need to head down to one of the other eco-resorts to take this in.
I was fine doing my own sun salutations in the waves, and didn’t miss the organized yoga session at all.
We definitely plan to return to Tulum, and can’t wait for our next visit to Casa Malca.
Thanks again to Manuel who helped us expand our Spanish knowledge and for excellent service and hospitality.
For roughly $400 per night, you can stay at Azulik, a four-star hotel in Tulum. Unlike the previous hotel, Azulik takes a different approach to relaxing their customers. The hotel is primarily without electricity, which means your room will be void of any wifi. If that is a problem for you, you may want to stay away. That said, candlelit rooms are beautiful and intensely romantic, making this a perfect spot to go with your spouse if you’re looking for a romantic getaway.
Also, we stopped by the hotel on a hot day to check things out, and it was pretty sweltering making our way to the beach. Once you’re on the beach, the ocean breeze is amazing, but know going into this experience that it’s going to get extremely hot during your stay.
Be Tulum Review
The priciest of the 3 hotels we are discussing, Be Tulum can be yours for roughly $600 per night. It has a 4 and a half out of 5 star rating on Tripadvisor and has been voted the 25th best hotel in all of Tulum, making it something worth mentioning.
As described by one customer as an “incredible little oasis of tranquility”, Be Tulum is the perfect place to go if you want to unwind with your loved ones for a few days of uninterrupted bliss. Although some guests complain that the service leaves something to be desired, there is no denying that the breathtaking views and intimate setting make it something worth looking into when booking your future Tulum vacation.
Ibiza Meets Tulum
Be Tulum also has a lively beach scene. They play the most popular house/good vibes music and is definitely the best choice for someone looking for an Ibiza-like experience in Tulum.
What to do in Tulum?
Best Restaurants in Tulum
Much like Roberta’s built the Bushwick neighborhood in Brooklyn, Hartwood was the restaurant that built Tulum. Eric Werner and his wife Mya Henry opened the restaurant back in 2010 after leaving their jobs as a chef and PR-er in New York.
Back in 2010, Tulum wasn’t much to look at. Only a handful of hotels and restaurants, and almost 2 hours from the nearest airport. The success of Hartwood is what has made Tulum into what it is today.
The restaurant has no electricity and everything on the menu is either mashed, grilled, pounded or otherwise prepared by hand.
The best (and easiest) way to get a table is to show up at 5pm and wait in line for them to open at 530. We did this twice, and were among a group of 20 or so people, and everyone was able to get seated. We tried visiting one night at 7pm and were turned away. They stop seating people around 9pm, so if you want to eat here, get here at 5pm.
The menu changes daily based on the latest harvest. We had a fish filet, fresh tomato salad (that was the best tomatoes we’ve ever eaten), empanadas with pork, and an angus steak.
To finish things off, we had peanut milk + mezcal for dessert. It was amazing, and we came back trying to buy more, but sadly they were out.
We ended up eating at Hartwood two out of our three nights and can’t wait to go back for more.
Tulum Mexico Ruins
The Mayan city of Tulum has more to offer than breathtaking beach views. Roughly 130km south of Cancun, Tulum was built in the 13th Century and has plenty of stunning historical ruins just waiting to be explored.
Back in the 13th Century, Tulum was a seaport that mainly traded turquoise and jade. Not only is it the only Mayan city built on a coast, but it is one of the only Mayan cities that is protected by a wall.
Entrance into the ruins is 65 pesos, and they are open every day of the week from 8:00AM until 5:00PM. According to Everything Playa Del Carmen, you can easily visit the ruins if you have a plan ahead of time.
They highly recommend that you look at the map below and follow the numbers accordingly.
Then, follow their suggestions as best as you can to make the most of your experience.