Tulum sounds like it should be the answer to a Jeopardy question, “What is Mexico’s trendiest resort?” Located 120 km south of Cancun, the Riviera Maya is a stretch of coast that includes beaches, jungles, and Mayan ruins. Tulum is the ultimate spot for those seeking an easy, cost-effective trip to Mexico but would rather die than be seen at some theme park all-inclusive.
When it came time to book a last-minute sun getaway, Tulum ticked many boxes. It was a comfortable 6-hour non-stop flight from Vancouver to Cancun. With an additional two-hour drive to the coast of Tulum. Having never visited, I really didn’t know what to expect. Except for what I’ve read on various travel blogs and word of mouth from friends.
I determined Tulum was a super laid-back destination. With hammocks, massages, and yoga on the beach, shoes are definitely not required. Keeping my expectations to a minimum, I was prepared to live in my swimsuit and flip-flops.
I love a laid-back kind of holiday, and our accommodations at COCO TULUM didn’t disappoint. However, we arrived late at night, so it was hard to see the lay of the land. But, opening the drapes first thing in the morning, was all I could do not to squeal with delight. The water, the beach…AMAZING!
Tulum is off-grid, eco-friendly, with a cohesive, slightly manufactured look. This means hotels run on generators, and toilet paper goes in the trash, not the toilet. As well, most resorts seem to be channelling similar cookie-cutter styles.
It’s fine. Honestly, I could be anywhere in the world. I’m not feeling that true Mexican vibe, which is okay? Forget about cheap Coronas and Tequilla, WAIT, don’t they make this stuff in Mexico? They have you by the balls, and the price is the price. Thankfully, there’s always happy hour, load up!
A girls gotta eat. And, I’m here to say that there are enough restaurant options to satisfy all cravings, dietary restrictions and food allergies. If you’re dining in the resort area of Tulum, expect to pay New York City prices.
Instead, try the local bars. There are many options offering simpler fare. ICE CREAM BAR is one of those options; cheap and cheerful, with delicious tacos too.
When we arrived late at night, this lovely Italian restaurant PAROLE RESTAURANT was thoroughly enjoyed after a long day of travel, regardless of the high prices. A shout out to JUANITA DIAVOLA, our restaurant at COCO Tulum; we were pleasantly surprised each and every time.
If you have time…
CASA MALCA AKA Pablo Escobar’s Mansion in Tulum (Quintano Roo), grab a $20 cocktail and imagine what might have gone down back in the day. You might even spot a few ghosts. Eerily good!
A quick drive into the town centre of Tulum will definitely find you better value. We ate twice at LA HOJA VERDE, which serves up flavourful vegetarian/vegan food. Especially good washed down with some yummy margaritas. Now we’re talking!
For something entirely different, why not check out the ruins? The MAYAN RUINS are approximately a 45-minute bike ride, give or take a few minutes, depending on where you’re staying. This 13th-century Mayan archaeological site at Tulum National Park has beautiful views overlooking the sea. Honestly, It’s a quick visit, 80 pesos entry, and expect to spend an hour or so. Easy!
Therefore, if you plan to visit Tulum, prepare to spend more than you bargained. Decide on a budget and stick to it. Otherwise, it can go sideways very easily. We were visiting off-season, which was ideal. So, I can’t imagine what the prices might be like during the high season. Yikes!
Unfortunately, I fear Tulum has grown beyond trendy proportions, with its busloads of travellers and Instagram posers. Even so, It would be sad to think that this gorgeous resort of Tulum would someday become just another Mexican city.
Tulum, you’re gorgeous. I loved the great weather, your beach and the plethora of options you offer the traveller. But, whatever you do, please don’t lose your identity. I craved some Mexican culture that has somehow gotten lost in the shuffle. Stay true to yourself.