Welcome to the land of ancient Mayan ruins, instagrammable fine sandy beaches, and breathtaking aquamarine cenotes. Have you seen this seaside haven on your FYP? Has it been on your bucket list? If not, it should be, as Tulum is totally worth the visit!
This little piece of heaven in Mexico has been attracting vacationers in droves due to the social media frenzy.
Once an ancient port town cherished by locals, this bohemian getaway has now become a haven for yogis, meditators, and beach party lovers.
I find myself returning to it again and again, as this charming tourist hub always seems to have something new to offer. Let me show you what makes this beachside sanctuary truly special.
Where is Tulum?
If you touchdown at Cancun International Airport and drive 87 miles south towards the Riviera Maya, you will find Tulum. This coastal town is about a ninety-minute drive away from the airport.
Now that you’re aware of the location, the next question arises – how do you reach this destination as an International traveler?
This airport is well-served by several major airlines providing non-stop flights, including American Airlines, Air Canada, British Airways, TUI, and others.
Here are approximate direct flight durations:
From New York: 4 hours
From Los Angeles: 4 hours and 30 minutes
From Houston: 2 hours and 30 minutes
From Toronto: 4 hours and 15 minutes
From London: 10 hours and 30 minutes
The journey to this port town from Cancun Airport is a standard 1.5-hour drive. If you head there from popular tourist destinations like the Bacalar Lagoon or Cancun Hotel zone, it can take up to three hours. However, reaching there from Mexico City can be a day-long adventure by bus.
For those with broader travel interests beyond just a vacation in Tulum, it’s important to have an itinerary with enough travel time to cover the considerable distance from the airport to your hotel.
Is Tulum Worth Visiting? Pros & Cons
So, what is so special about Tulum? Whether you are in it for the turquoise waters or the delicious food, let me show you the good stuff and the not-so-great parts of this oceanic paradise.
Pros of Visiting Tulum
Once a quiet haven for low-budget backpackers, Tulum has now become quite the popular choice among all travelers. The experience is not limited to lying on the side of the Caribbean and star gazing; it has a lot to offer.
Tulum is a Tropical Paradise
The town’s seaside Hotel Zone is like a cool tropical beach haven. Think rattan huts, awesome restaurants, and Instagram-worthy hotels. A stroll or a bike ride is a must to soak in this tropical goodness.
To make the most of it, you must take a walk or hire a bicycle to immerse yourself in this tropical gem. I don’t think I’ve seen any place as stunning as Tulum (not even in the Maldives or Fiji Islands).
Before my first visit, most Tulum reviews categorized it as an expensive destination. Contrary to what some say, vacationing in this town doesn’t have to break the bank. Stay in Tulum’s El Centro for budget-friendliness and enjoy public beaches and beach clubs.
I always encourage visitors to research, ideally to match accommodations with their budgets. If you’re on a tight budget, Zona Hotelera can be a little too pricey (especially during peak tourist season). But you don’t have to stay there to enjoy it.
Never Ending Parties
Visitors frequently claim that the “party never stops” in this quaint coastal town. So, what makes Tulum such a hotspot for parties? You must witness it to believe why Tulum is labeled as the ultimate party destination.-
For an extraordinary experience, I highly recommend heading to Gitano. Visit on a Friday evening to relish tapas and cocktails.
As the sun sets, the venue evolves into a lively party hub. If you want to dance the night away, there are numerous beach clubs to explore. Tulum epitomizes the essence of partying in Mexico.
A Food Lover’s Heaven
Does the trip even qualify if you’re in Mexico and don’t stuff yourself with the best tacos? Tulum is a foodie paradise, accentuating Mexican flavors and beyond! It offers a variety of international cuisines to cater to tourists from around the globe. It’s also surprisingly great for vegans.
Tulum Has The Best Beach
Tulum boasts some of Mexico’s top-notch beaches. If you look it up online, most of the pics are of Playa Ruinas. It’s a super cool beach with white sand and is close to all the awesome beach resorts, cool bars, fancy restaurants, and spots perfect for your Instagram.
For a more tropical vibe with huts having palapa roofs, you’ve got to visit Akumal Beach. And if you want some peaceful moments, head to the calm Las Palmas Public Beach.
If you’re a beach bum like me, go ahead and book a 3 or 4-star boutique hotel near these beaches. I promise it’s going to be an amazing experience!
A Place for Yoga Retreats
As much as I love to explore, party, eat, and shop, I can’t keep up for more than a few days. It can get exhausting after a hectic schedule of trying to see and do as many things while you’re in Tulum. And what better way to recharge yourself than with a sunset yoga session?
Tulum offers fantastic spiritual experiences with various sessions, timings, and locations. You can also explore a mix of international, Mexican, and Mayan spiritual activities.
If you’re considering whether it is the right place for personal growth on a wellness-focused trip, you’re in for a treat. There are excellent yoga and wellness retreats to choose from.
Amazing Place to Explore
People keep asking me why I keep returning to Tulum. My answer to everyone is that it’s got everything wrapped in one neat bundle. You get to do much more than just partying and “beach.”
I’d recommend hiring a car and driving around to explore the place. The first place to start has to be their Mayan Archaeological site.
While visiting Tulum ruins, you can explore it on your own, but consider hiring one of the guides who hang around the entrance. They can give you a deeper insight into its historical significance.
One particular thing about this town that has attracted much attention is its breathtaking cenotes. You can find many of these enigmatic underground water bodies and sinkholes within the land’s ancient caves. The locals oversee and preserve these cenotes, so follow their rules when you visit!
Cons of Visiting Tulum
Although most are subjective, no place can be without its shortcomings. With rapid and sudden growth in tourism thanks to the internet, Tulum will need time to keep up with this inflow of visitors.
Limited Internet Connection
As it’s a remote town, a speedy internet connection isn’t its strong suit. Finding reliable high-speed internet might be a bit challenging. But fear not, there’s a solution!
You can use coworking spaces if you need to work or check your emails. Some good hotels have okay internet speed, but it’s not the best.
Personally, I always get an international phone plan when I travel. This beach destination isn’t ideal for workaholics who are always glued to their phones. So, while you are there, put work(and social media!) aside and consider taking a break to enjoy this little paradise fully.
Town Full of Contrasts
Social media has multiplied tourism for Tulum, rapidly becoming a hotspot for enthusiastic travelers. The sudden surge in visitors can be challenging for any destination. Beaches may get crowded, roads could be somewhat populated, and you might come across litter in public places.
However, it’s not entirely that bad. It’s up to us to ensure we’re respectful when visiting other countries.
That’s why I recommend fellow travelers always carry a trash bag in their beach bags or purses. These small actions contribute to making the world a better place.
A Drug Hotspot
This Boho destination is known for its vibrant party scene, and there’s a growing presence of drugs. Yet, you can steer clear of these encounters, and it won’t affect your enjoyment.
Just as any other hotspot, this beautiful place also has its downsides. But you can easily sidestep the cons by being a vigilant and responsible tourist.
Taking care of your safety and well-being means you must do your research and make the right decisions.
Accommodation Options are Limited If You’re not into Party
Tulum is a true party hotspot for most of the year. You can almost feel the high energy when you reach this party destination. It’s really that infectious.
And, to tell you the truth, finding accommodation might be tricky if you’re not into the party scene. Opt for places at the quieter end of Zona Hotelera or Sian Ka’an reserve.
You can also opt for a good hotel in Pueblo/El Centro to get a more rustic and local Mexican experience.
For disconnecting from the world and enjoying the serene, secluded beaches surrounded by forests, you can check Palaya Paraiso. Or even stay in La Velveta if you’re not too keen on staying so close to the beach.
Are The Hype and Fame Destroying the Environment of Tulum?
Tulum is now a mecca for millennials, celebrities, hippies, and all other jet-setters. A lot of visitors consider it to be a place where you get to do all the tropical beachy activities, partying, shopping, and other things at an affordable price, in great weather, surrounding a diverse international crowd.
Some hotels are very respectful of the environment, while some aren’t. But with a rising population and increasing tourism, more hotels and resorts are emerging by clearing parts of jungles and forests.
This is why it’s super crucial to respect the environment and have a greener footprint while you visit. We must do our part to help the locals preserve the natural gifts of the town.
If you have been wondering what makes Tulum so special, I hope now you have a better idea of whether this place lives up to the hype.
Whether you’re into breezy bicycle rides, spending the day sunbathing on the beach, vibrant nightlife, or refreshing yoga retreats, this small town has something for everyone.
I wholeheartedly recommend the place for its unique atmosphere. This coastal paradise on Riviera Maya can give you the ultimate Mexican beach experience.
People come here for the boho vibes and the lively parties but stay for the scenic beaches and the immersive spiritual harmony in nature.