For my birthday this year I decided to check out the ever so trendy Tulum. I didn’t realize all the planning and preparation that had to go into it…
How In the Heck will I get to Tulum?
I was completely overwhelmed figuring out how I was going to get to the beautiful oasis that is Tulum. Tulum is two hours away from Cancun, and there is no airport there so you most likely have to either a) Rent a car and drive yourself b) Hire Transportation or c) Take a Bus there. We ended up doing Option A however I will elaborate on the others so that you may have choices when you head to Tulum.
a) Rental Car- Guys, renting a car might be your best option when going to Tulum because there’s so many beautiful cenotes nearby and it is just a quick 10-15 minute drive. The only thing about driving is that you have to follow the speed limits. Speeding is not tolerated in Mexico and the Polícia will pull you over. Sometimes you can “pay them off,” (note always carry pesos) and other times they could take you to jail, so make sure to follow the speed limits. You also cannot be on your phone while driving, so have your passenger direct you. There is just one highway from Cancun to Tulum called Hwy 307, and it’s pretty safe, as you have many travelers going back and forth. Traffic can get congested around Playa del Carmen, but all in all pretty safe. The drive was something that I was extremely worried about, however it went incredibly smoothly.
Rental Car Options- Keep in mind that certain credit cards carry third party car rental insurance so be sure to contact your credit card provider before renting a car. We used the United Mileage Plus card for booking, and we use it for most vacations as there is no foreign transaction fee. Since I am a huge fan of Yelp and Yelp Elite, I consulted the website for car rentals, and went with Yes Rent A Car, a five star rating business. When we passed through customs, we saw a plethora of rental car booths, and were unable to find them at first. We finally asked an agent, and they stated that Yes Rent A Car operates outside of the airport. We then went outside to the “Friends and Family” area where we saw a gentlemen holding up a sign with my name on it. He said hello, but mostly spoke Spanish, and we followed him to the car lot area, got in the car, and started driving. It was a little skeptical at first, however after driving a few miles down the road, we pulled up to the storefront, where we met a lovely lady named Rita who spoke perfect English and helped us finalize renting our car.
b) Hire Transportation- Another Option would be using USA Transfer or NAST Transfer. It is basically an air conditioned high end vehicle that will pick you up from the airport and take you to Tulum. Round Trip it will cost you $200 USD. Our Air B&B offered this option for us, however they were trying to charge us $250 USD.
c)Take The Bus– The last option would be ADO bus to Tulum from the Airport. It’s like the Greyhound of the USA, but way better clean and comfortable buses. There is a ticket booth right outside customs on the left. You can download the ADO app to check times, and it about $13 USD, $242 pesos for a one way trip.
Where To Stay:
There were some beautiful hotels along the beach in Tulum that would be incredible to stay at, and I would recommend that if you have the pretty pennies. The must hotel to stay at is Azulik. A luxury jungle oasis awaits you at Azulik. If you don’t want to pay the price tag I still highly highly recommend checking out the restaurants for drinks. (See in What To Do) Other high end hotels I checked out in Tulum was Nomade, where LA meets Mexico, we had drinks in their teepee canopies along the beach, and hung with friends throwing back some yummy pomegranate margaritas. The last hotel you should check out is the Papaya Project which is a Starwood Property. Very stylish the place to be Saturday Night, which I will elaborate later.
With all the beautiful luxe hotels we opted to stay using Air B&B and stayed at a property called The Highline Tulum which had a 24 security guard, a concierge, and pretty much felt like a hotel. The reason why I chose to stay here was the infinity pool view! Muy muy bonita! The Highline Tulum is in an area called Azalea Zuma where you will see an enormous amount of signs for condos for sale. It’s right in the middle of Tulum, a 5 minute drive to downtown, and then about a 15 minute drive into Tulum beach. Their sister property is Los Amigos Beach Club and its located on the beach which you will have access to so long as you order a minimum amount of food and drinks. It’s a great place to sip some margaritas, have some ceviche and watch the waves go by. The swings in the bar were an added fun touch making it perfect for pictures. I would definitely stay at The Highline Tulum again.
What To Do:
Let me just tell you this, there was so much to see and do in Tulum that I honestly didn’t know where to start.
1) BEACH: Naturally I started with the beach which unfortunately wasn’t the best as it was high algae season meaning loads of seaweed. A walk along the beach never hurt anyone and if you aren’t traveling during the Summer, there shouldn’t be a problem with the seaweed so enjoy!
2) EAT: Tulum has some of the most delicious trendy food. There’s plenty of options and a lot of them are vegan friendly and I did love this place called Del Cielo that is excellent for brunch, and of course you cannot miss checking out the Matchamama. If there was a treasure map for Instagram pics Matchamama would have multiple chests on it, because it is the cutest place to take photos.
3) CENOTE CENOTE CENOTE: After reading multiple blogs about cenotes in Tulum, I knew I didn’t want to veer too far off the beaten path, and that I wanted to stay close so we decided to check out Grand Cenote and Dos Ojos. We went to Grand Cenote the first day and got caught up with many tourists. If you plan to do a cenote the best time to go especially when you’re trying to take pictures is early in the morning, or close to closing times. Grand Cenote was simply beautiful. Lots of underwater caves and lots to see. I told myself I was going to be fearless. Needless to say I wore a life jacket, so I was fearless in my life jacket. I am pretty chicken when it comes to outdoor activities and animals, but I told myself I was a year older and I needed to get out there and see the world. I put on my snorkel and started exploring. I mean it was simply amazing to see the sea turtles, the rocks’ formation in this little oasis, and to swim in a dark cave filled with bats. Grand Cenote is the perfect way to introduce yourself to Tulum and all its magical wanders.
Dos Ojos is located in near several cenotes, and be sure and stop and talk to the tour guide. They are very informative and helpful, and of course will sell you on getting a guide and checking out the other cenotes. We didn’t have a lot of time so we just went with the one ticket of seeing Dos Ojos which is Two Cenotes. It was simply beautiful, and the water was cool and refreshing. I could just put my head back, look up, and admire the majestic cave.
4) NIGHTLIFE: Have sunset drinks at TSEEN-JA located at Azulik. We had dinner at KIN-TOH, however it was incredibly pricy and not the greatest. Also if you do decide to go here, the restaurant is an outdoor treehouse and the smoke is everywhere to keep the mosquitos away, so be prepared to have a sweat filled dinner. I’d go here for drinks and take your infamous hammock picture. Luckily we stumbled on TSEEN-JA, newly opened restaurant, and got to check out the phenomenal view. The drinks are pretty pricy but delicious. We paid $80 USD for 4 drinks. Pictures can’t even explain how stunning the jungle and the ocean looked. I really enjoyed my time in the jungle treehouse, it was very romantic and tranquil experience.
For Dancing, we heard that the spot to be was the Papaya Playa Project, a beach club at its finest. Expect to wait long lines if you don’t arrive early and bring cash, because you’ll never know when the card machine will break down. Actually if you plan to go out in Tulum, bring pesos, most places do not accept credit/debit cards. Entry fee is $20 USD, and then after that drinks tickets cost $5 USD for beers and well drinks. It was confusing at first that you had to go into a drink ticket line. The music is electronica, and people are dancing it up in the sand. The club is open until 4:00AM and the crowd just kept getting bigger. I was in dire need of some Spanish music though so we ventured to Tulum downtown.
Downtown Tulum Nightlife: Wow wee, I wish we had started here to begin with because the place was alive with people ready to dance, celebrate, drink, and have a great time. We went to Batey Mojito & Guarapo Bar to start off to try the world famous mojitos, and listened to the live music. There was a group of bachelorettes dancing on the stage and needless to say it was pretty wild in the bar. With all the bumping music nearby, we ventured off to a few more local spots within walking distance to dance the night away to some awesome Spanish Music. Drinks were cheap, and our pesos were low, but we had a blast.
There were so many different factors and elements that went into planning this trip. I was constantly stressed and worried about factors that were completely out of my control. It didn’t help that co-workers, and friends were proceeding to tell danger stories of Mexico. My anxiety started to kick in. Take a deep breath I told myself, and decided to ignore the noise, and once I tuned out, I tuned into one of the most epic vacations I’ve ever had. I felt rewarded and fulfilled. In Tulum, I was not Christie corporate self, I was my best “Out of Office Chic” self, an explorer, and an adventure seeker. If you’re looking to go on trip, plan it, execute it and enjoy!
*If you would like additional help in planning a trip to Tulum, comment below, or reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org