Contrary to what you may have heard about Mexico, I found Tulum to be a very safe and friendly place. The thing you have to watch out for here is the sun. I know I keep saying this, but I don't care how dark your skin is, use sunblock or you will end up in the emergency room packed in ice. And don't forget to do your feet. That's it.
If you live in cabañas on the beach you have to look out for all kinds of animals. Like bats coming inside your place, crayfish in the toiletbag, termittes in your bag, crabs on the floor and of course the mosquitoes. Bring a mosquitonet so you can sleep without worrying too much about who you might wake up with the next morning... ;)
This isn't exactly a Danger tip, it's more like a warning for those more "sensible" to some animals, such as snakes and iguanas.
I saw some snakes in the ruins and around them. They were very thin and didn't look dangerous, ... but i don't like snakes, so i kept my distance. :-)
And that place is full of iguanas. They are everywhere! Sometimes you don't even notice them since they have the same color as the ruin's stones, ... iguanas don't seem to be dangerous, they just look like they are quietly enjoying their place while loads of tourists get excited about them and shoot their cameras and try to feed them with flowers, ...
Tulum isn't exactly like Cancun or Playa Del Carmen where you find a little shop every few steps where you can sit down to rest in the shade and buy a drink. The heat can be excruciating in Tulum; especially on a windless day, and you can sometimes find yourself a good 30-minute walk from a source of fresh water. This includes being at the ruins. I recommend you carry a litre bottle of water with you at all times to stay hydrated. I also suggest you have a bag of chips with you to replenish the salt your body loses through sweat. I did some fairly serious nerve damage in Mexico once by losing too much salt at the ruins of Chichen Itza. I got nerve twitches in one eyelid, in my arm, and chest--and they lasted on-and-off for 4 years. Backpackers should be extremely cautious when deciding to walk even several kilometers during mid-day.
Bonus Tip: At the far southern end of the ruins (to the right when facing the ocean) there is a tree grove and some small pavilions where you can rest in the shade.
This is likely the safest place in Mexico to drink the water. That is because it is utterly unpalatable. It is so brackish that if anyone dared to serve it to you, you would spit it out comically. Everyone drinks bottled water all the time.
A waiter in a restaurant told us about this "afternoon" party at a new hotel. It was a way to introduce us to the hotel. His friend worked at the hotel. Even though they don't call it a "time share" we knew that was probably what it would be. We enjoyed all we could drink and eat and full use of the beach with waiters for a day. It was enjoyable - but it was a lot harder sell than I thought it would be.
Something about dropping $40,000 while on vacation for a timeshare just doesn't sit well with me!
Keep in mind that Tulum is a jungle out there and chances are you may run into a bit of the wildlife. I'm personally scared to death of spiders and the one's I've seen in this area had me frozen with fear. Them sucker's are bigger than my hand and hairy too boot. To be honest I have only seen five of them in my three visits to the area but if your afraid of spiders its something to be aware of, specifically if your staying in one of the more rustic beach cabana's. I had one rather hair raising experience of sitting on the toilet in the open air shared bath facilities of my cabana and having the misfortune to look up at the thatched roof and was greeted with the sight of a massive tarantula playing peek a boo. The mosquito's are the real thing to watch out for. They are insatiable in their quest to suck you dry and leave you scratching at yourself like you were a leper. Bring lots of Deet Mosquito spray and lather yourself with it. Also bring anti-itch cream as no matter what precautions you take you will get bit here and there so be prepared!
When you're wearing sandals while you tool around the ruins in the Yucatan, use a little caution where you put your feet. While I was carefully framing a gorgeous shot of a sunning Iguana I felt a burning sensation on my right foot and it was crawling with fire ants! After that I saw them all over the place and was MUCH more careful. The pain fades pretty quickly and they didn't leave any marks, but it sure hurt while they were biting me!
In your innocence you may decide to take a bunch of traveller's checks in the touching belief that restaurants and merchants will take them. Sure, about 50% of the time but no more than that. Go to the ATM near the St. Francis grocery store to get pesos instead. It costs $1.50 per visit but that way you avoid having too much cash on you at any given time. I wouldn't recommend trying to use your credit card, again, that works about 50% of the time or less. They really prefer pesos or u.s. dollars.
I wish we had gotten more pesos or cash, it would have spared me the comic but hair-raising experience of trying to cash a traveller's check by buying a small souvenir near our restaurant so we could pay our half of dinner (nice place but they don't take traveller's checks or credit cards). Picture a gringo lady with long blonde hair speaking extremely limited spanish to shopkeepers who are desparate to make up for a dissappointing day of sales . While you may not be such a soft target, trust me, you might still regret it. Not that I won't always treasure my authentic mexican calendar bracelet with turquoise.
p.s. Tulum is not inexpensive, you will need more pesos or us. dollars then you thought...
I was on vacation in Tulum with my husband and kids ages 3 & 9 Feb 2008. We have been to Tulum before and have felt very safe. The night before our departure 3 armed Mexican men climbed up to the 2nd story balcony of our rental house, robbed us at gunpoint, locked my 3 yr old daughter in the bathroom and tied up my husband and me while my 9 yr old slept through it all. Took all valuable, non-traceable items and the rental car. I speak fluent spanish, so things went as smoothly as possible.
TIPS: lock your doors, scope out your place for unsecure areas. Report all crimes to the authorities and take the time to make a formal statement. The Consulate office (American is in Playa del Carmen) can send a local translator to facilitate communication, the Judicial Police contacted them for us, and while I did not need the translation services, they have been helpful as liasons.
Watch out for iguanas... not because they are dangerous.. but because you could a dangerous for them... Tulum iguanas are quite small, and if you are not careful you might walk over one of them.
Also beware of fenced areas... most are there not only to protect monuments but also the little creatures.
WARNING...this resort is lacking of trustworthy managment! 1) We had money stolen from our 'locked' room safe (we had the key) so someone has access to safe locks (we set them up) 2) An extremly overwhelming stench of sewage the whole time we were there 3) Food poisoning from the Asian restaurante (other guests as well) 4) Clock in room not working and took 3 days for them to bring us a new one 5) Shower head broke... no one bothered to fix 6) We paid for oceanfront jaccuzi suite and ended up with garden view... a very big difference considering quality of suite and PRICE, with no compensation 6) managment avoid helping or finding solutions to problems
Although the beaches are wonderful and the resorts are top notch the Mayan Riviera caters mostly to couples, families and seniors. The single groups of the young men and women are few and far between.
FACT: There was a group of young. canadian men on our trip and my boyfriend and i felt very sorry for them. They were never with girls and they probably ended up playing pool with themselves for most of the vacation...
Tip: Stick to Cancun...much more party oriented!
Watch what you touch. We were warned not to touch the trees at Coba as some of them are poisonous. Our guide explained what would happen and let me tell you it was not pleasant!
Some updated info from VT'er Zahirah:
"The "poisonous" trees are called che chen, and the nasty rash can only be healed by a mush made of the bark of a chakah tree, which is always found near a che chen, a good thing!"
It's not a danger or a real warning, just an advisory about their mail service. My friend and I mailed postcards at the end of November that arrived at their destination in middle of January. And some were only going to the US! I think they walked them there. So if you're waiting for someone to say 'Got your postcard' you could be in for a long wait!