Travel Guide: Tulum, Mexico

Good morningggg, friends! As promised, I’m back today with a full travel guide to Tulum, Mexico. Rounding up all of my Insta photos from the trip first, so scroll down if you want all the details + a VLOG I filmed while I was there!

black jumpsuit, similar here // Adidas superstar sneakers // Chanel bag // Louis Vuitton luggage

blue jumpsuit // Brixton Joanna hat

olive green bikini top (less than $15!) // bikini bottoms (also less than $15) // crochet skirt, also love this one // gold coin necklace // Brixton Joanna hat

white two piece set // similar straw handbag // sandals

Amazon visor // palm print bikini top // bikini bottoms

leopard headband // Rayban sunglasses // black bikini top // bottoms

My mom and I traveled to Tulum a couple of years ago and wow has it changed! Once a laid-back beach destination, Tulum has become a hot spot for yoga retreats, dining, boutique shopping and even nightlife. The thing that I really love about Tulum is that you don’t often take a vacation centered on health and wellness. Most of the time, I eat like crap on vacation and then come back home feeling bloated and puffy! That is not the case in Tulum. We had green juices every morning, lots of fresh fruit and veggies and practiced yoga every day. Another major draw is the town’s incredibly preserved ruins of an ancient Mayan city. Read on for my tips to help you plan the best trip to Tulum!

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Tulum is during their high season, which begins in December and goes on until about April. This is when the weather is best – the temperature is pretty steady between 70 and 80 degrees (although it can get much colder at night). If you visit during the summer months, be prepared for extreme heat and humidity! December and January are probably the most popular months, with TONS of people flocking to Tulum over New Years. Like any tropical destination, there are some occasional rain showers, but they usually come in the afternoon and pass over quickly.

How to Get There

The closest airport to Tulum is the Cancun airport. We took a direct flight from Charlotte to Cancun, it was a quick flight and if you buy tickets in advance you can get them for as low as $300! Once you arrive in Cancun, you have to drive from Cancun to Tulum (a 1.5 hour drive). You’ll definitely want to arrange transportation ahead of time. I emailed our hotel and told them we wanted to arrange a ride to and from the airport, so they booked us with a reputable company. Definitely bring cash to tip your driver!

Where to Stay

SANARA TULUM: We stayed at Sanara and absolutely loved it. When we came to Tulum a few years ago, we stayed at Azulik and although it was beautiful, it was lacking too many things (like electricity and showers) for me to consider it comfortable. We chose Sanara because we were looking for a hotel that valued health and wellness, had an amazing yoga studio and spa, and was located on the beach. Sanara checked all of those boxes, plus has electricity, showers, an outdoor private patio with a bathtub, as well as a suuuuper comfy bed. Our room was located on the beach side (they have beach rooms and jungle rooms across the street), it was only a short walk to the yoga studio every morning as well as the restaurant, The Real Coconut. The service was fantastic, everyone was so nice and genuinely smiled the whole time like they really enjoyed working there. Perhaps my very favorite thing about Sanara was the spa: I signed up for the Beauty Treatment, a THREE HOUR long treatment in the spa featuring a detox bath, cellulite massage and uplifting facial. I’m not going to lie, I kind of felt drugged when I left the spa. I was in such a state of calm, I don’t think I’ve been in since I was age 12 hahah. Another thing worth mentioning is the beach: the beach at Sanara is beautiful and if you’re staying at the resort, they reserve beach beds for you every day for free. Just walk down to the beach and scout out the bed with your name on it!

NOMADE: We almost stayed at Nomade, but read some reviews that it could get pretty loud and difficult to sleep at night – some said it was a party hotel! Although we didn’t stay there, we did go and visit for lunch and to check out their beach. The lunch was probably the best food we had the entire trip, and the hotel itself was breathtakingly beautiful.

AIRBNB: The hotels can get a little pricy during Tulum’s high season, but there are plenty of more affordable Airbnb’s in Tulum. This one is right downtown and super cute!

Where to Eat

THE REAL COCONUTThis was the restaurant located at Sanara, and we really liked it. Although beware: it’s grain, gluten and dairy-free, so it’s not for everyone (i.e. you won’t find hot dogs or french fries on their menu!). We went for breakfast every single morning and got the Macho Pancakes, made with plantains. They were some of the best pancakes I’ve ever had in my life (and healthy too!!). I would go to sleep at night dreaming about having those pancakes the following morning! For dinner we really liked the Avocado, Jalapeño and Radish Salsa, as well as the Golden Roasted Cauliflower and Broccoli Soup. If you like cocktails, you HAVE to order the Passioncolada – one of the best drinks I’ve ever had. Everything on the menu is made from scratch, and it’s evident.

RAW LOVE CAFE: This restaurant makes entirely raw foods, meaning nothing is cooked. It might sound weird, but give it a chance. They have DELICIOUS açaí bowls and tons of them to choose from. We ordered a bunch of items to share, including an açaí bowl and a few salads. Just be sure to bring cash if you go here, because they don’t accept credit cards!

MATCHA MAMA: You probably wouldn’t order a full meal here, but Matcha Mama is a MUST while you’re in Tulum! They serve açaí bowls, fresh juices as well as a variety of matcha teas and lattes. I thought their matcha tea was really tasty, and you can sip it on one of the adorable swings attached to the restaurant.

MACONDO: We had the best lunch at Macondo – perhaps the best of our entire trip!! The whole menu is infused with superfoods but it all tastes delicious – we ordered guacamole and a few different dishes – I can’t remember what mine was called but it had quinoa in it and was SO GOOD! The atmosphere in Macondo is also beautiful – there are beautiful rugs on the floor and you sit on cushions. One thing to note if you’re a photographer or blogger: don’t try to bring your camera for photographs – we did and they said if we took a picture in the restaurant they would have to fine us $2,000!

POSADA MARGHERITAItalian food in Mexico doesn’t sound like the best idea, but don’t knock it before you try it. All of the pasta is handmade, and after reading reviews, some say it’s the best pasta they’ve had their entire life! The actual restaurant is located right on the beach and the decor/ambiance is quaint and cozy. Grab a bite to eat for lunch, then relax all afternoon at one of the restaurant’s beachside cabanas.

What To Do

EXPLORE: Tulum has a long strip of road that runs parallel to the beach, and this is where all the action is! You’ll find all of the shops and restaurants along one side, and all of the hotels along the other. Our hotel had bikes to rent for $15/day, so we rented bikes every day. It was fun riding around exploring (the shops and restaurants are SO unique and cool-looking!) and it’s also how we got to and from our lunch and dinner spots. Just be careful while you’re riding bikes, the road is quite narrow and cars can get quite close to you!

BEACH: This one is quite obvious: the beach is absolutely beautiful and you’ll definitely want to spend most of your time here. The water is crystal clear, although it’s more turquoise in some spots than others.

SPA: Tulum is known for having some of the best spas in the region, so definitely take advantage of that while you’re there. I lovvvvved our spa at Sanara, I had one of the best massages of my entire life, followed by a relaxing facial. Yaan Spa is also known for being amazing, although you have to make reservations far in advance. Most of the spas here offer holistic healing treatments, like “sound healing” and foot reflexology. It’s a great time to try something new!

YOGA: There are tons of yoga studios all over Tulum, many offering yoga classes on the beach. We took yoga classes right at our hotel in a studio looking out on the turquoise water. We walked away feeling strong but SO peaceful.

TULUM RUINS:  One of the really neat things about Tulum that you absolutely cannot miss are the Tulum ruins. I’ve actually been twice before, so we didn’t go on our most recent trip, but I highly recommend going! It’s a great way to get to know some of the history of the area. The ruins are perched on a hill right above the beach, just a few miles from Tulum town. Keep in mind that if you plan on bring camera or video equipment you may have to pay an extra fee.

CENOTES: Cenotes are collapsed sinkholes that expose fresh water below – they are absolutely beautiful, and there are thousands of them around the Yucatan. The Gran Cenote is only about 5 minutes outside of Tulum. You can either take a taxi there on your own, or sign up for one of those group tours. I personally feel safer on the tours, but they can get quite crowded and you don’t have as much freedom! Be sure to take your own mask and snorkel (there are lockers and restrooms). If you decide to go on your own, I recommend getting the taxi to wait for you which will double the price but beats waiting on the highway trying to hail a taxi.

What To Pack

Tulum definitely has those yoga/hippie vibes, so think about that while you’re packing! Caftans, flowy dresses, head wraps and gold jewelry are all seriously in style here. I wore a lot of casual clothes during the day (mostly swimsuits with coverups) but got a little bit fancier for dinner at night – usually a dress or a maxi skirt and crop top combo. Take my advice and don’t even bring high heels – you will NOT wear them! We walked on sand, gravel or pathways made out of tree branches the entire time we were there, and it would be easy to twist an ankle if you’re wearing heels. On that note, comfortable shoes are a must, because you’ll be doing a lot of walking! These sandals are my favorite and they go with EVERY single outfit. Bring a cardigan or sweater for nighttime (it can get cool when the sun goes down), and please, please, please don’t forget to bring both sunscreen and bug spray.

Is it Safe?

This is one question I got over and over again on social media – is Tulum safe? We felt incredibly safe in Tulum – we walked or biked everywhere, even at night, and never once felt unsafe. Like always, just practice common sense while you’re traveling! Don’t over-consume alcohol and become belligerent or walk around alone at night – these are recommendations I would give no matter where you are in the world. I think there’s an unnecessary fear of traveling to Mexico – crime happens wherever you go, just look at the United States!

Here’s my VLOG from Mexico, and be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel here because I’ll be coming out with more videos soon!

If I didn’t answer your question about Tulum, be sure to leave it in the comment and I’ll get back to you! Overall we had a WONDERFUL trip and I would highly recommend Tulum. My one caveat is if you aren’t a health freak and don’t really vibe with the hippie/yoga lifestyle, Tulum might not be the place for you. For instance, I can’t say that my husband would love Tulum, as he would rather go on vacation somewhere and eat french fries and drink beer! 😉 xoxo

Leave a Comment

20 Comments

  1. This travel guide is amazing compared to other Tulum guides I’ve read. It looks like an incredible trip!! Definitely want to go!

    http://www.rdsobsessions.com

    2.5.19Reply
  2. Laura Leigh

    Amazing post Caitlin! Really great details and OMG I want to go eat at all of those places right now!

    xo Laura Leigh
    Louella Reese

    2.5.19Reply
  3. Does azulik have a day pass, trying to book a trip there + like you I need electricity! However I still would like to visit the hotel and see what it’s all about! TIA 💕

    2.5.19Reply
    • Hey! Azulik doesn’t have a day pass, but you can make reservations for their restaurant Kin Toh ahead of time. We tried to visit Azulik one night and it was kind of a disappointing experience! We didn’t have reservations, we simply wanted to get a drink at the bar, so they put everyone in two lines and made us all wait until 5:30pm to let us in (we got there at 5pm). Then they charged us each an entrance fee, escorted us to the bar (so that we couldn’t go explore the hotel) and crammed everyone in to a really tiny space. When I tried to take out my camera to get an Instagram picture, someone rushed over and said I wasn’t allowed to use my camera there! Maybe you should book a room just for one night? I think that’s the only way you would get to explore the hotel!

      2.6.19Reply
  4. This was such a comprehensive and helpful guide! I’ve been so intrigued by Tulum but found it a bit intimidating so I loved reading your insight. Heading over to Youtube to check out your vlog now 🙂

    Xo, Kacie | theprettylittlehustler.com

    2.5.19Reply
  5. I’ve always wanted to visit tulum and you’ve just sold me! Are the beaches still quiet and peaceful? As I realised a lot of people are visiting these days! Xxx

    2.5.19Reply
    • Yes the beaches are still very peaceful!! Sanara is a pretty small hotel so no matter what there aren’t a TON of people on the beach.

      2.6.19Reply
  6. Beautiful travel guide! Those photos are absolutely stunning and Tulum sounds so interesting with that healthy/yoga/hippie vibe going on. Your restaurant recommendations made me hungry haha 🙂
    Thanks for sharing lovely, sounds like you had an amazing trip!
    xx Janine
    https://walkinmysneaks.blogspot.com/

    2.5.19Reply
  7. omg tulum has been on my travel bucket list for SO long and now i’m even more convinced i have to go!! obsessed with all your photos and vlog – can’t wait for more 🙂

    2.5.19Reply
  8. It looks breathtakingly beautiful there! Sign me up for all acai bowls and yoga classes!

    2.5.19Reply
  9. Maria

    What color are your nails for this trip!? Love!

    2.5.19Reply
  10. Tulum is so fun and exciting. Gorgeous photos.

    || The Neon Factor, by Diana 🦄 ||
    💜 http://www.TheNeonFactor.com 🌈

    2.5.19Reply
  11. Beautiful travel guide! Tulum is now officially added to my bucket list!

    Sarah Lillian | https://livinglifewithsarahlillian.blogspot.com

    2.5.19Reply
  12. This seems so pretty and such a fun place to visit. I definitely need a beach vacation soon.

    Jackie
    http://www.fashionxfairytale.com

    2.5.19Reply
  13. Amanda Dowd

    Caitlin, I love the video!! Very well edited and so cute and funny 🙂 Definitely make more videos! Where did you get the beautiful bracelet you were wearing on the beach when you showed us your Amazon visor? It looks like a gold coin bracelet and I’ve been looking for one just like that! Thank you!! Xo

    2.6.19Reply
  14. Kathryn

    Beautiful photos!! May I ask where you were in your insta stories with the high jungle views? I also heard that most hotels will let you walk around and use their beach access if you eat and drink. Did you find this to be true? I’m staying in an air bnb that’s a good bit of a drive to the beaches.

    2.6.19Reply
  15. Your photos are STUNNING from Tulum!! It makes me want to go back, I was only there during a day trip from Riviera Maya last year. Yoga and yummy food every day sounds Ah-Mazing!

    Amanda @ Cupcake N Dreams

    2.8.19Reply
  16. OMG! I absolutely love this. This travel guide is definitely inspiring me to plan a vacation. What camera did you use to take this video? I would love to find a camera with good stabilization (instead of what I have a GoPro).

    2.11.19Reply