Tulum Guide: Eat, Stay, and Play

I’ve returned from a three-week whirlwind Mexico trip to launch my new travel company, Go Tulum Travel. I discovered plenty of new things and cannot wait to share them with you. Not only that, but I’ll keep it real and succinct as possible, and if you have any questions, let me know!

Mexico is one of the few countries open to Americans without travel restrictions during the pandemic. It’s a good idea to plan ahead before arriving to Tulum. I strongly advise doing the following before you go:

  • Book airlines with empty middle seat guarantee or upgrade to Economy Plus if you can and sit by the window
  • Book private transportation (airport transfers, rent bikes, etc.) ahead of time
  • Bring extra face masks
  • Natrapel Wipes (12 count) for bug repellant, these wipes seriously works
  • Book popular restaurants on the beachside ahead of time (2 weeks in advance) if you’re celebrating a birthday, etc.
  • Pair of sturdy shoes and flip-flops and a convenient beach bag to carry

GETTING AROUND

The recent storms (Hurricane Delta and Eta) did not help with the only access beach road. On weekends, it took us an hour to drive half a mile because of potholes. So consider all of this before traveling up and down the beachside. I highly recommend booking your airport transfers ahead of time (you can book with our Go Tulum travel company here) and renting a car (if you consider yourself a good driver offensively and defensively).

Go Tulum Travel Transportation

WHERE TO STAY

There are so many places to stay in Tulum. From Airbnbs to hotels, you can spend countless hours researching. We stayed at the following listed hotels on this trip (I’m always scouting other accommodations). Collectively, I stayed over 7 nights on the beachside and 4 nights in centro Tulum, so I have a good sense of the pros and cons. I recommend splitting time between the two areas if you’re staying for a week. If you have a short weekend, either area is good, but add 2 nights on the beachside if your budget allows it.

Jashita Tulum
Jashita Tulum, front building with suites

Jashita Tulum, https://www.jashitahotel.com/. Beautifully designed and away from the public crowds. Feels like a boutique resort. Ideal for romantic couples or those who don’t want to deal with the loud party scenes or nightlife. We stayed here for 2 nights, and it was lovely. Some of the best sleep I’ve had.

Jashita Villa bedroom
Jashita Villa living room

Jashita Villa (also known as Virginia Villa) in Aldea Zama, https://www.jashitahotel.com/html_en/villa_virginia.html – A sister property to Jashita Tulum, it is an ideal stay for larger groups of 8-10 persons. The aesthetics are clean and minimal. Best of all, it’s gated, private, and super spacious. There is a rooftop pool, large dining room, and outdoor concrete baths. We ordered in and it was the best idea ever.

Papaya Playa Project Oceanfront Rooms
Papaya Playa Project Yoga mornings
Sunset at Papaya Playa Project

Papaya Playa Project, https://www.papayaplayaproject.com/ – Papaya has the best cocktails on the beachside and sustainable beautiful rooms, they are very eco-conscious and make sure their guests are happy. They have a lot of LA and NYC guests here and wealthy digital nomads who want to get away for a bit. We had a king room with a private rooftop pool, and we enjoyed the amenities and provided toiletries. I liked the complimentary masks and oils they left in our room. Recommend those who like the DJ night scene, great cocktails, and good-looking people.

Villa Pescadores Rustic Beach Bungalows

Villa Pescadores, https://www.ahaucollection.com/villa-pescadores-tulum – Rustic eco-friendly property on the beachside, near the Tulum Ruins. We stayed here for 5 nights and my husband loved the accommodation because of the onsite restaurant and the morning beverages they put out for us every morning (it does not include full breakfast). I prefer bougie, so I am less inclined to stay here next time. Ideal for those seeking a fun, beach experience (the beach is not as private as I would like). Very crowded on weekends, especially on Sundays. They do have amazing fish tacos.

Kaab Tulum Pool

Kaab Tulum, https://kaabtulumhotel.com-hotel.com/en/ – We stayed in this downtown hotel because it was basically next door to my favorite café in Tulum, the Botanica Garden Cafe (see below). It was your typical motel-ish room with basic amenities for $100 USD a night. It’s clean and modern, but very basic. They do have an onsite café for your vegan smoothies and private parking (it’s a tight squeeze between pillars) and a decent pool.

WHERE TO EAT

I love eating in Tulum! There are plenty of eating options in Tulum. From street tacos to high-end cuisine, Tulum has it all. After my recent visit, these are my personal favorites.

Front of Botanica Garden Cafe
Botanica Garden Cafe smoothie and cappuccino
Botanica Garden Café Quiche and Curry potatoes

Botanica Garden Cafe, https://www.facebook.com/BotanicaTulum/ – This is my favorite café in Tulum. I like it so much, I booked a nearby hotel, so I can eat here every day. The staff is friendly, easy going and the food is reasonably priced and oh-so-good. Best of all, the atmosphere is peaceful, jungle, and chill. To me, this is the essence of Tulum. Try any of their coffees, peanut butter, and the chia pudding dessert.

Papaya Playa Project breakfast

Burrito Amor, http://www.burrito-amor.com/index.php/en/ – We ate here twice because we’re all about clean, healthy burritos with quality ingredients. My go-to is their rib eye burrito, marinated in epazote with whole black beans, purple onion, pico de gallo, and avocado.

Verdant, https://verdant.mx/ – First, it’s cash only. Who does that, knowing the average meal is over $50 USD per person here?! Thankfully, we were prepared. My favorites were the sourdough bread and cabbage. I know what you’re thinking, bread and cabbage? Yes, try them. And the mezcal cocktails were very good.

ARCA, https://arcatulum.com/ – This is now the new Hartwood of Tulum. Make reservations in advance. Food is above average and, of course, pricey. I was meh on their cocktails, but pleased with the prawns and fish dishes. Make sure to put on bug repellant because welcome to the jungle.

Don Taco Tamales

Tamales Don Taco (no website, street food) – This is the place for homemade fresh tamales on the cheap, less than a US dollar. I love the spongey kind – colados. It’s a good snack before dinner or maybe post drunk dinner.

Fonda Huauzontle lunch special

Fonda Huauzontle (no website), near Scotia Bank – The discovery of this hole-in-the-wall tiny restaurant made my day. For $5 USD per person, you get a drink, soup, and a main entrée. And their daily dishes are so good. Try their chilaquiles.

Cetli interior
Cetli lunch with peanut mole sauce

Cetli, https://www.facebook.com/cetlitulum/ – Also cash only. It’s my favorite restaurant ambiance in Tulum. So darn pretty here! From vintage wedding photos on the walls to pretty floor tiles, the interior decor reminds me of a spacious and welcoming home in Puebla. I had the Ahuiac main dish — chicken breast with red peanut mole sauce, which was very good.

Moro, https://habitastulum.com/ Definitely my vibe, boho chic with a beautiful outdoor space. It seems secluded and special. The staff was very nice, and we had a delicious dinner (try their roasted cauliflower) and tasty craft cocktails.

WHAT TO DO

Tulum Ruins – If you haven’t been to the Tulum Ruins, do go! It’s a serene setting — the ruins overlooking the blue Caribbean waters below is a quite picturesque. It’s $5 USD to park your car and walk 10 minutes to the Ruins. I would also recommend hiring a private guide if you’re into history and culture. It’s simply fascinating.

Tulum Ruins overlooking the beach
Walking cliff side amongst the Tulum Ruins
Historical Tulum Ruins

Cenotes, https://gotulumtravel.com/tours/– Of course, visit, swim, and snorkel in a cenote or two. See our favorites here. Cenotes are water-filled sinkholes created when the roof of an underground cavern collapses. The Mayans believed cenotes to be a gateway to Xibalba, the underworld, and the god of rain, Chaac, was believed to live at the bottom of these sacred open water pools. Tip: don’t wear sunscreen and respect nature when you’re in the cenote.

Don Ojos cenote

Yacht, https://www.tulumyachts.com/ – One of the best Tulum experiences is chartering a boat for a few hours or a full day to Cozumel. Of course, browse Tulum Yachts for the best boat rentals. 🛥

Afrikat 44 catamaran by Tulum Yachts

Jungle Dinner – We recommend having a nice dinner in the jungle. Try ARCA, Casa Jaguar, Casa Banana, or the Kitchen Table. Remember to make advance reservations.

I still have so many Tulum recommendations and photos to share. Stay tuned for other posts! And follow me on Instagram at ohsobetty! ❤️

For other Tulum-related posts:

Most Instagrammable Spots in Tulum

Where Should You Stay in Tulum: Center or Beachside?

If you need help with planning your trip to Tulum, I am shamelessly plugging my travel company, Go Tulum Travel. We have a team that can help you with your Tulum travels from A-Z. Hotels, transportation, tours, we got you! 🙌

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