It's no secret that Mexico is my favorite place in the universe. This go round, I ventured to three separate resort locations: Excellence Playa Mujeres, Dreams Tulum, and Le Blanc. Although each location was AMAZING, it was my first time to Tulum, so naturally that was the highlight of my trip and reason for this blog :)
Tulum has gained extreme popularity in recent years, especially among millennials, perhaps due to its instagrammable nature. Just an hour south of Cancun (and 45 mins south of Playa del Carmen), Tulum is known for its uninhabited cliff-top mayan ruins (palaces, temples and pyramids), plentiful cenotes, jungles, lagoons, and its beautiful stretch of beach. Boutique restaurants, shops, and hotels line its narrow streets and since the city remains fairly preserved and underdeveloped, you get an authentic feel for the culture. On your next trip to Cancun, I would recommend either taking a day trip to Tulum, spending a night or two in Tulum, or if you're really feeling the vibe, spend your entire stay in Tulum - either way, you're in for an adventure!
**Tips and tricks**
- Rent a bike, dune buggie, mopad, or just bring comfy shoes! We walked six miles in one day and barely scratched the surface. You can arrange a formal bike tour or just bike it at your own pace. Be careful though, the roads are not necessarily built for bikers although biking Tulum is a must on my next trip.
- Visit one or more cenotes! Tulum is home to some of the most top rated cenotes in the world! We arrived to Gran Cenote around 8AM and we almost had the entire cenote to ourselves. The water was so clear that you could literally see everything below from the surface, including turtles and chipped toenail polish. You have the option to snorkel as well. Plan your time in advance by looking up the various cenotes prior to your visit. Entry was $15 pp USD. I can't swim, but I did a 15 second doggie paddle to get some great pictures here. Don't forget to pack a waterproof cell phone case or underwater camera! (cenote: pronounced "sah noe tay" - a natural pit or sink hole resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater underneath.)
- Lodging - You can either opt to stay on the strip or away from the strip.
Dreams Tulum - This is the only family-friendly, beachfront, all-inclusive in Tulum. It was lovely. It was a 15 minute drive from the strip in Tulum, but again perfect because we were mobile. This place screams authentic, historical Mexican culture. If you want to have the ability to escape the hustle and bustle of Tulum, while still being super close, this is the place for you. We were upgraded to the Preferred Club Adults-Only swim-up suite. It was super cute and even had a hammock on our terrace. (I scoped out a few wedding spots here for prospective clients)
There are many bed and breakfast boutique hotels located in the center of Tulum's happenings and also steps from the beach, restaurants and shops. You have to walk through sand to get to some of the rooms and I even saw buckets of water outside of the rooms to rinse your feet. This place is #bucketlist for me. Do your research though. Since Tulum is still developing, some of the boutique hotels may lack some of the simple luxuries that you may be accustomed to while the town is still developing its infrastructure. (Ex. you may not be able to flush toilet paper at some hotels)
- Car Rental: National Rent A Car- Please rent your car here at the Cancun airport and ask for Jhair (mention Just Book It Travel)! He was amazing. He upgraded us to an SUV and took great care of us. Total cost including ALL insurances was $50 per day. When renting a car internationally, do get the best insurance! If we had an accident or any other incidental, it would not be reported to our personal insurance and we would not owe any deductible, no matter who’s at fault.
- The Drive: The drive from Cancun to Tulum is a STRAIGHT SHOT south on Hwy 307. Close your eyes and drive straight for a SOLID hour and you’ll be pulling up. I will rent a car on every Mexico trip from here on out. Its more economical than paying for transportation as well. And it was also COVID-friendly as we sanitized the car before takeoff!
Loco Tulum - Yummmmyyy! This was our favorite restaurant! We had shrimp and fish tacos and they were loaded - seriously delectable! Overall, the local food is pretty cheap. Tip - the beachfront boutique restaurants are a little more than the streetside boutique restaurants. We paid about $10 for 4 tacos. Their cocktails were pretty amazing too! I can't wait to go back to try more restaurants - this was luck of the draw!
Lolita Lolita Tulum (@lolitalolitatulum) - Super cute family owned boutique and the owner, Lolita was adorable! Make sure to stop here and patronize. The sign outside the shop, “Follow the Dream” is iconic and it sits right outside of her boutique. Lots of tourists search tirelessly for this sign, but don't realize that Lolita's boutique is the real highlight!
Parking - We paid $8 for 4 hours. Not bad at all. There were some spots that had free parking but we opted for convenience. Not sure if this is normal pricing, or COVID pricing!
Ok I'll be honest - we went for the pictures! Ladies - pack your cute outfits and gentlemen, get those Ray Bans ready! Picture spots in Tulum can be an entirely separate blog post on its own, but honestly, its easy - Start at the beginning and walk to the end and on your reverse stride, walk the beach! In Tulum, there will be no shortage of photo opps!
I can’t wait to go back - my time in Tulum was short since it was one of three destinations on this trip. When I go back in a few months, I’m renting a dune buggie and I’m going to try more restaurants and spend more time on the beach!! Also, a little birdie told me that the Tulum night life is pretty amazing too! For the beach, I witnessed pure white sands, no seaweed, calm waters, and it was far from crowded (due to COVID). I’m also going to visit more cenotes, lagoons, and the Tulum Archaeological Site, which was closed.
Now is the perfect time to explore Tulum and other hidden gems while things are quiet and social distancing is still taking place! My highly anticipated summer trip to Barcelona was cancelled due to COVID, but Tulum was an amazing fix for my desire to take an adventurous trip, with the ability to be a beach bum at the same time!
Shonté Tepper Alcé
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