Tulum - My Top Tips
We recently got back from a holiday to Tulum and loved every minute. Here are my tips and experiences:
Beach-wise there is a long stretch in Tulum from Maya Tulum hotel towards the south which is just to die for - really, it's paradise! And hardly any people. And pelicans and other big beautiful birds flying overhead and diving into the sea. The other stretch from the Tulum ruins is gorgeous too, but more people, so it depends on your preference. Accommodation-wise, there are lots of little hotels and cabanas all along the beach. If you keep heading south down that road you'll get to the Sian Kaan Reserve and you can do a tour there with a hotel called Cesiak (I think you can stay there too but it's very out in the sticks). My cousins did a kayak tour which they really enjoyed.
For cenotes (natural waterholes connected by underground river systems) you really must go to Hidden Worlds Cenotes Park - this was such a find - we had a great family day out there and it was good value for money. We did their whole day package but I think you can also just do snorkeling and diving tours. They take you into the jungle where you get to do 2 really cool ziplines as many times as you want (one of which lands you in a beautiful cenote and the other is high up over the jungle – this one really takes your breath away) and also a rappel through the ground into this dream-like cave below where the cenote is. You go snorkeling through the cavern with a guide through all these amazing natural rock formations – stalactites, stalagmites and columns and you can see the roots of the trees above. It was really cold in the water after a while but we soon warmed up again in the sun and the incredible experience was well worth a few goosepimples! Then they have a skycycle which they say is the only one in the world - It's like little individual bikes suspended from a cable over the jungle so you get to see the most stunning views, wildlife, flowers etc. You cycle along the trail to another cavern with more amazing natural rock formations and another cenote where you can go snorkeling. Then you get back on the bike and it takes you through caves and then back up over the jungle. I was traveling with my extended family (all ages and tastes!) and it was the one excursion that we all gave a big overall thumbs-up to. We visited various beautiful cenotes (you really can’t not if you’re going to that part of the world!) and the ones there at the Hidden Worlds Park were by far the most amazing we found.
A few people in our party went to Xel Ha too and had fun but that’s more your kind of tour bus filled commercial place that really doesn’t appeal to me so I skipped it. Likewise Xcaret – these places are advertised everywhere! The ruins in Tulum were also very touristy and heaving with people, but you can’t go to Tulum and not go to Tulum now, can you?! And apart from the hoards of people and the fact that you can’t actually go in the ruins themselves, it is beautiful and very interesting culturally, especially for it’s coastal location (our guide wasn’t great but we overheard another guide giving far more interesting info!) Lots of very cool iguanas hanging out there! We later heard that entry is free on a Sunday – I don’t know if that’s true or not, but that’s what I heard.
We hired a car and had a great day at the ruins at Coba – you can cycle around the site (or have someone cycle you around if you’re feeling lazy!) and you can actually climb the pyramid… the most amazing view ever! Also there’s a spider monkey sanctuary nearby but we were pretty stretched time-wise (there was so much to see at Coba!) and unfortunately we didn’t get to see any monkeys, but it was a beautiful place. And I’d much rather gamble on seeing wildlife in its natural habitat than go to one of the big zoo parks and see them in captivity. We did get to see a crocodile in the lake before the car park at Coba… wow!
Tulum town is very small (separate from the beach – a taxi or car ride away) and really nice. It’s basically one long avenue. It’s not the place for you if you want nightlife – we only saw a few bars, but there are lots of nice restaurants and souvenir shops. We had a delicious meal in a chic little restaurant called Ginger, but also had a few yummy meals in little local taco places – budget food at its best! There are lots of nice places to eat on the beach too. The town isn’t too touristy and has a really nice atmosphere. All the local people we met were lovely, really friendly and welcoming. The weather was amazing – so hot! Everyone was jealous of my tan when I got back!!
All in all we had a fantastic holiday and would love to go back there someday – I would highly recommend it! Hope you have as much fun as we did! :-)