Once a sleepy little beach town, Tulum has become one of Mexico’s most popular destinations with a thriving travel, party and (more recently) co-working scene. A spectacular coastline, the Caribbean sea, not to mention a dramatic Mayan ruin, go some way to explaining why. But is it still worth the trip? Here’s everything you need to know in our Tulum travel guide.
Tulum time zone
Tulum sits on the southeastern edge of the Yucatan Peninsula, about 2 hours south of Cancun. The time zone of Tulum is Eastern Standard Time (GMT-5).
Best time to visit Tulum
November to May is the best time to visit Tulum but be aware prices are higher and the beaches will be crowded. Between June and November is the rainy season and it's best to avoid August-October when hurricanes can cause electricity and water outages.
Things to know when visiting Tulum
3km walk to the beach
The beach is 3km from the center of town and although not far it can be a very hot walk.
Tap water isn’t safe to drink in Tulum
Most hotels provide filtered water or you can order huge bottles called garrafones to private accommodation. It’s useful to travel with your own water purifier so you won’t run out, and it saves plastic waste too.
Card won't be accepted everywhere
You won’t be able to pay by card everywhere in Tulum so arrange a debit card with no ATM fees before you go.
Don't take taxis!
They are very overpriced.
How to get around Tulum
Tulum is a great place to hire a bike and it will allow you freedom to travel between the pueblo and the beach for just $10 a day. You can reach some of the closest cenotes too.
Car rental is a good idea if you want to do some day trips, and you really should as there is so much to see in the area. Expect to pay about $60 a day and make sure you get full cover. You can also rent scooters for around $45 a day.
Best Hotels in Tulum
The best hotels in Tulum are in the Zona Hotelera next to the beach. La Valise is a small luxury hotel with beachfront and jungle side suites, private beach access and even its own cenote. Featuring king size rolling beds that can be wheeled onto private terraces, allowing you to sleep under the stars and listen to the sea.
For more affordable options try the town center. Teetotum Hotel is a uniquely decorated boutique hotel just off the main road and walking distance to all the restaurants and bars. It has a spa, restaurant and rents bikes too.
Things to do in Tulum
Explore the Tulum Mayan ruins
Perched 12 meters above the sea, these Mayan ruins are some of the most spectacular in Mexico. They can get extremely busy with tourists so if you want an atmospheric experience go as early as possible.
Cenotes are freshwater sinkholes formed when the roof of limestone caves collapse, providing amazing swimming opportunities. The Mayans used them as water sources for their cities and they believed they represented the gateway between life and death. Look out for bats on the roofs and sea turtles swimming in the water.
Take a day trip to the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve
A reserve of extreme natural beauty featuring a natural lazy river, tropical forests, mangrove swamps and coral reefs. Manatees, marine turtles, jaguars and pumas have all been spotted within this incredibly diverse ecosystem.
Visit Akumal Lagoon
Another natural paradise near Tulum. People spend the whole day snorkeling with tropical fish, turtles and even small crocodiles.
Best shopping in Tulum
The best shopping in Tulum is found in Tulum Pueblo around the main road through town. Local food, artisanal crafts and clothes can all be bought. You should also check out the local mercado where the locals shop for some bargains and an insight into the local culture.
Neighborhoods in Tulum
The Zona Hotelera is where you’ll find the most instagrammable beachside bungalows. Most have access to private beaches and prices start at $100 but can get up to $1,000 a night. If you want to be right in the action and next to the beautiful white sand beach, choose a hotel here.
If you’re looking for a more budget, local vibe, stay in the pueblo where you’ll find excellent restaurants, bars, and great shops. You will also be close to public transport and tour offices if you want to arrange day trips.
Weather in Tulum
The weather in Tulum is tropical and hot all year round. May to November can be rainy and muggy with chances of hurricanes.
Long story short…
Tulum is a tropical paradise with a fascinating history, picture perfect beaches, diverse wildlife, colorful local culture and delicious Yucatan food. Some may be put off by its increasing popularity but it is more than worth a trip and still possible to avoid crowds if you choose the right time. We hope this Tulum travel guide is just the beginning to exploring this amazing part of the world!
Written by Laura Sedlak