when we’ve been: feb 2020, nov 2021, feb 2022

What to eat & do  


the hotel zone

This is the part of Tulum that’s right on the beach where most of the action is (I recommend you stay here if possible – more hotel recs below)

Raw Love → Raw, vegan smoothie bowl place right on the beach

Fresco’s → One of our favorite spots for breakfast

Ziggy’s → Another great breakfast spot

Delek → Stayed here once – the food was great for breakfast, lunch, + dinner

Hartwood → Sooooo good. Make a reservation the month before by emailing reservations@hartwoodtulum.com. (For example, if you’re going sometime in February, they start taking reservations January 1st). 

Atila → We stumbled upon this place one night and I honestly thought it rivaled the famous Hartwood. The food was so good, plates meant for sharing, natural wines. Reasonably priced for the area and CC accepted

Bal Nak → A quieter, unassuming place that has delicious food & cocktails and wonderful service. Highly recommend this place for a nicer and more relaxed dinner. 

Posada Margherita → Italian place on the beach with good pastas + pizzas, and cool vibes. 

Kitchen Table → Another delicious option for an outdoor dining experience on the jungle side of the road. Make a reservation! 

Gitano → A very large restaurant and bar with great cocktails. Becomes a bit sceney later in the night.

NÜ Tulum → This is where we had our rehearsal dinner. Food was so good!

Yoga at Ahau → (As of Feb 2022) Everyday at 9am. $20 USD. Mats provided. You don’t have to sign up beforehand—just show up 10 minutes or so before class. You get a lovely view of the beach + ocean, and Raw Love is right below it so you can grab a coffee and a smoothie bowl when class is finished. 

Yoga at Sanará → (As of Feb 2022) Mon–Tues at 8am + 9:30am. Wed–Sun at 8am, 9:30am, and 11am. $25 USD.

Yäan Wellness → Fancy spa day for a special occasion


aldea zama

This is a quiet, nice neighborhood in between the Hotel Zone and Tulum City (El Centro) with upscale, affordable Airbnbs. Good if you have a bigger group, are on a budget, or are staying for a longer period time / are working. Rent a bike so that you can easily get to where you need to go (taxis are expensive and traffic is bad). Here are a few spots if you’re staying there – no need to go out of your way for these places though. 

Rossina Café → Cute café with a full breakfast menu. They also have decent wifi if you need to get some work done. 

Matcha Mama → A good spot to get smoothies and smoothie bowls.

Ola Bikes → This is where we rented our bikes when we were staying in the neighborhood. There are also a lot of cute restaurnats near this spot, but we didn’t try any. 

Tomate.mx → Their version of Seamless, if you need quick food delivery


el centro 

AKA Tulum City, the more bustling part of town. There are definitely places to stay (and authentic tacos to eat), but I’d generally recommend the Hotel Zone or Aldea Zama for your accommodation. It’s worth visiting one night to try some authentic Mexican food though. 

Tulum Taco Tour with Victoria → This is a great way to explore Tulum Town (El Centro) while trying some authentic Mexican tacos. We had the best time!

Burrito Amor → Ordered this on tomato.mx one day and the burrito was delicious. 

Don Cafeto → Authentic, no frills Mexican food on the main road. 


touristy things

Bike to the ruins → About a half hour bike ride from the Hotel Zone, and then you can explore the archeological site.

Visit a cenote → We visited the Gran Cenote once, it was cool. 


Hotels

  • My favorites that we’ve stayed at are Ahau and Delek – really nice and in the prime location
  • We stayed at Hotelito Azul the very first time we came in Feb 2020 – super cute and towards the beginning of the Hotel Zone, which is a quieter part of the strip
  • Other places our friends have stayed and enjoyed: Casa Ganesh, Coco, Radhoo (not on the beach side), Selina (coworking hostel)


Logistics

Pros + cons of the different neighborhoods 

Hotel Zone

  • Pros: private beach access, super cute / quaint / trendy
  • Cons: Expensive, parts can be loud, everything runs on a generator so wifi / hot water can be touch & go


Aldea Zama: 

  • Pros: super affordable luxury apartment buildings on Airbnb, many have pools / jacuzzis, good for longer term stays, quieter but safe part of town
  • Cons: no direct beach access so you need to go to a public beach or beach club (where there may be a cover or minimum consumption), need to bike or taxi around, taxis are expensive (usually $20 one way to the Hotel Zone)


Money

Get Mexican pesos at your bank before your trip. Tulum (and the Hotel Zone in particular) heavily favors cash. Many places don’t even accept credit cards, but if they do, they mark up your bill significantly. They accept USD but the conversion rate is horrible. ATMs are few and far between and unreliable. For our last trip, we got $20,000 pesos (a little less than $1,000 USD) at our bank ahead of time for a weeklong trip. We had a lot leftover at the end of the week, but we go back to Mexico a lot so we didn’t mind. 


Book transport from the airport

Tulum is about 2 hours south of Cancun. We book Cancun Vans for getting private transfer to & from the airport – easy and reliable and nice to have someone waiting at the airport when you land. 


Download WhatsApp

Most hotels and restaurants use it to communicate.


Cell phone service

Is shotty all over Tulum – so you’ll have to rely mainly on Wifi


Taxi drivers

If you’re in the Hotel Zone there will be taxis all over. If you’re staying in Aldea Zama, here are a few taxi drivers you can reach out to via WhatsApp to schedule a ride (English or Spanish is fine)

Sergio → +52 984 228 1346

Mary → +52 984 593 2429

Vincente (van, larger groups) → +52 984 130 4218


Other

  • Buy your sunscreen in the states – it’s a lot more expensive when you get there
  • Mosquitos get bad at night – bring bug spray
  • Don’t drink the water

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