Tulum: An oasis at the Mexican Caribbean.
I think of Tulum as the earth reflection of how beautiful nature can be and how we have to value and take care of it.
What, Where, When:
Tulum is a small coastal town south of Cancun at the Riviera Maya. It is becoming more popular year by year and has around four million tourists each year. I have been to Tulum many times for vacation and have even lived there for a year. It is a spectacular place full of Mayan culture and paradisiac vibes. Tulum is the only archaeological site with ruins located by the sea. It was the Mayan port and its original name was Zama, which means “dawn” it is impressive to imagine how the pyramids were build thousands of years ago and still remain for us to be admired every year. It has something magical to be in a town where you have a lot of indigenous people and on the other side a lot of foreigners living from all over the world. It is interesting when you walk along the streets, you will probably hear anything but Spanish, even the Mayan population rather speak Mayan on their free time. Tulum is a very save town where almost everybody is friendly, relaxed and looking for a peaceful time.
A lot of people travel to Cancun and Playa del Carmen for vacation and plan a day trip to Tulum, which you can book almost everywhere. They mostly take you to see the ruins and afterwards to spend the day at some of the beaches. I would recommend to spend more time in Tulum, the restaurants are absolutely amazing and you will be amazed by the varieties of food you can find in such a small place. For example: Real German breakfast at Azafran, which is located in the village of Tulum where you can sit between trees and plants in a nice backyard having a lovely time.
Absolutely amazing pizza at “la Nave” or a very exquisite Italian pasta at Posada Margaritha, original Thai food at Mezzanine or something Mayan/international cuisine fusion in Hartwood or Papaya playa project. If you want to go a little bit more local or fishy drive back into town and eat a wonderful ceviche at “el Camello” or “el Capitan” were you have to try their ceviche and delicious quesadillas filled with shrimp.
The best time to travel to Tulum is within finals of November till beginnings of August. From May to July its really hot, I have experienced that people enjoy Tulum most between January and April, but if you like hot weather you´ll be fine in all of those month. You will automatically see that travelling between august, September and October everything is cheaper, but you have the risk of rainy or even hurricane weather. You should know, that Tulum is not that amazing with rain and I would hardly recommend to travel outside of those month. The locals call those months the starving months and many restaurants close and go on vacation.
Let’s start this….
I would recommend staying minimum three days in Tulum: first go and visit the ruins at the beach and afterwards you can go to a beach side close to the ruins where you can find “Playa Tortugas”, “Playa Paraiso” which is a beautiful very calm bay where you can swim and even take a local snorkeling tour with the fisherman (they shouldn’t charge you more then 250$ pesos). It is the perfect spot to snorkel, the reef stretches very close to the bay and makes the ocean very calm and easy to spot fishes and even turtles. This is where I have to mention that the best place to spot a lot of turtles is in Akumal 20 minutes away from Tulum, where you can spend the day swimming with those beautiful creatures.
Tulum is ideal for renting a bike and just ride through the jungle till you arrive to the beach and after being all heated up from the sun jump into the clear waters of the Mexican Caribbean.While riding the bike or driving by car to the beach you will come to a junction and on the left side you will find the beaches I already told you about and on the right side you can find the “hotel area” where you have many restaurants, shops and boutique hotels with very unique styles, where you can also just spend the day. We often enjoyed spending time at the Zebra, but there are literally so many different nice places you won’t be wrong at anyone.
What I like most about Tulum its is bohemian chic vibe that you can feel everywhere it doesn’t matter if you are a back packer or on your finest honey moon. The concept of Tulum is based on ecology, recycle and giving back to nature and that’s something very important in our times. The world has to take care of places like Tulum and have responsible tourist visiting those sides, if you feel like a responsible tourist and identified with my words I would recommend the Siaan Kian biosphere, which is a protected area, where you can find long virgin beaches and a lagoon with manatees, the road is pretty bumpy, but absolutely worth it. After a few km you will arrive at a place called by the local people the pool and it is literally a natural humongous pool (buscar foto) were you can stand and walk in knee high water, relax and forget all the stress.
What happens when you have enough sand in your toes?
If you have enough sand or it starts raining you can visit the Coba ruins or cenotes. Coba is one of the last ruins where you can climb up the pyramid and have a spectacular view of the jungle.
after the climb you should go and refresh yourself at a cenote nearby. There are thousands of them at the Yucatan peninsula. The hole peninsula has underwater rivers and at the point where frictions break the surface, cenotes are born. They are a spectacular phenomena and must be seen on a trip to the Riviera Maya. One of my favorite cenote or subterranean rivers is “Rio Secret” they have amazing tours and ground where even national Geographic’s have filmed shortage.
If you are in the mood of something more civilized and fun you can visit xplor and enjoy their many zip lines or even if you don’t feel like being outside, you can go to the movies in Playa del Carmen- Try Cinepolis, they have the best popcorn.
The plus: furry friends…
An other subject I wanted to address is the pet friendliness, for people who are absolute dog lovers, just like me and travel with their furry buddies everywhere, should know that Mexico in general in some areas is very pet friendly and some not at all. I have a gorgeous Yorki shelter mix called Iker, with a spirit of a full grown Labrador, he has been and lived to Tulum a few times. You have to be careful if you travel with your pet on summer break, that’s when dogs are not allowed at the public beaches, but if you are staying at a pet friendly hotel at the beach you don´t have to worry and they even opened a dog beach earlier on this year near the Hotel area. It is very important to know that if you are travelling to a tropic area or beach within Mexico with your dog from Europe or the USA or other countries who don’t have the heartworm mosquito, you have to give your dog one month before travelling the heartworm pill it is very important to consult your vet before arriving. The heartworm is deadly to cats and dogs. Besides that, you don’t need to take other precautions than enjoying your holiday with or without your furry friends.
If you are lucky and have a clear sky at night, don’t miss going to Mateos and climb up to the highest part of the restaurant and have a beer or cocktail looking at a million stars.
I could write a whole book about Tulum, but I hope this short inside has infected you with my passion for Tulum and the Riviera Maya. Enjoy!