TULUM TRAVEL GUIDE: Travel Like A Local

You might have seen on my YouTube vlogs that I came here with my family, with the intention to surprise my sister at her solo dance competition (we succeeded!, here’s the video), and to hang out at our hotel and maybe visit areas that we hadn’t seen yet. We also brought my Aussie boyfriend with us, and since it was his first time here we wanted to show him around. 

I was not going to blog this trip at all, since I didn’t come with touristy intentions. However, after getting many messages on Instagram, I decided to show you this area of the world in a more local way.

This area of Mexico is on my top 3 to visit. I remember coming to Cancun since I was a kid, and exploring Playa with my girlfriends in College, but there’s always something new to see and learn. 

So in this guide you will find things that you might not see on other travel blogs, since I try not to hang out where all the tourists are, but you will also see things I have done in the past. I thought I would give you a few of the MUST DO touristy things to see, and some that are becoming mainstream but are still a bit less crowded. You won’t see many hotel recommendations, or super popular areas cause well, that’s not how I roll. 

I guess this guide can be for someone that is up to something new, is not scared to get out their comfort zone, OR to someone that is coming back and wants to explore a bit more. Either way, I hope you like it and if you visit any of the places on the list, please tag me on Instagram and let me know what you thought!

tulum travel guide

1. Tulum mayan ruins. 

Starting with the most touristy thing on the list, the Tulum Mayan Ruins are a must! Avoid the crowds and the heat by getting there super early, and bring a towel so you can enjoy the beach! I recommend going with a tour guide to really know what you are seeing, but you can also just read the plaques next to the ruins. 

They are super close to downtown Tulum, and is only $75 pesos to get in.

2. Cobá mayan ruins.

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An hour west from Tulum, Coba ruins are the only pyramids that you are still allowed to climb. A bit less crowded than the Tulum ones and a bit bigger. There’s two ball game “fields” and a lot fo the ruins still have visible animal shapes and writings in them. If you can, hire a car to get there, and spend time in the town, and the cenotes around the Coba lagoon. There’s also buses coming from downtown Tulum.

We payed $50 for parking, $70 PP to get in and $200 to record any kind of video *very common in this part of Mexico*

3. Muyil Mayan ruins

A quick 18-20 minute ride from Tulum, Muyil is a small mayan ruin area that is connected to the sian ka'an biosphere reserve and the Chunyaxché lagoon. It’s not crowded at all, and you get to walk around the ruins and the jungle. 

It cost $40 PP to get in, and $50 PP to pass to the “jungle area” , where theres a look out tower. 

4. Muyil Canal and lagoon tour.

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Once passing the jungle and look out tower area, you get to the beginning of the lagoon. There, you will find tons of tour guides ready to take you to an amazing ride. The tour takes about 2-3 hours, in a small boat (max of 6 people), and goes around two canals and the lagoon. In the middle of the lagoon theres a cenote, you will see the changing blue colors right away. 

One of the canals is “man made” by Mayans, it is fascinating to see what they were able to do, and I always wonder how, so many years ago. In the canal you will see clean water, tons of fish, birds and if you are lucky, crocodiles! Don’t worry, they don’t do anything to you. You will also get to see a little mayan ruin that used to function as an immigration tax office for mayans coming from Guatemala or Belize. And on the second canal you get to swim for 1 km! No worries, besides little fishes, you won’t see anything else. BUT it is amazing!!!!

It cost $700 PP plus tip (our tour guide was amazing, ask for Omar!).

5. Sian Kaan tour to Punta Allen

I did this tour six or seven years ago, so I am not sure how much it costs now or who runs it, but I am sure you can still find it. But basically, we met the tour guide at a small restaurant and got jeeps to drive to Punta Allen, and from there we got into boats and got to see the whole Sian ka'an biosphere, swim in an ocean “pool” and saw dolphins as well. I am pretty sure you can find something similar on iTours.

6. Kaan Luum Lagoon

Kaan Luum Lagoon laguna

Around 12 kilometers after Tulum, this lagoon will blow your mind. You will see a small sign on the highway, and as soon as you get in you will have to pay $50 PP to get in. 

The water is crystal clear and a green blue color that you won’t forget. It is not that deep and you can easily swim to the cenote that is in the middle of the lagoon.

Highly recommend to bring food, water, towels and a hat since there’s nothing there besides a long boardwalk. 

7. Akumal beach

tulum travel guide akumal bacalar

Visited Akumal many years ago, and even though it is very popular now, it is still beautiful. It became mainstream due to the turtles that you can see in the water. Can’t tell you if you can see many now, but there’s small preserved areas where you can. The beach is beautiful, so even though you don’t get to see any turtles, you will still be in paradise.

8. Cenote El Eden

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You can’t travel this way and not visit a cenote.

According to wikipedia, a Cenote is a natural pit, or sinkhole, resulting from the collapse of limestonebedrock that exposes groundwater underneath. Especially associated with the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico, cenotes were sometimes used by the ancient Maya for sacrificial offerings.

Don’t worry, you won’t find dead bodies anywhere. But you will find crystal clear fresh water, fish and some cool birds and even bats. 

Although I love the white sand blue water in Tulum, the cenotes are my favorite part. There are over 350 km of tunnels connected underneath, making it the coolest thing to dive in (if you are into that), but also the coolest swimming pool. 

There are over 6000 cenotes in the area, but El eden is one of my favorite ones. It is not as popular, but you need a car to get there, since is like 15-20 mins north from Tulum, but it is really big, and you can enjoy a good swim without feeling claustrophobic, since is an open cenote. It is $200 PP to get in, but you can stay there all day or get out and come back. They sell food inside, and offer the option of diving lessons.

9. Cenote Calavera

If you want something closer to Tulum, and a bit more like a cave, this is the one for you. It is pretty small, and it does get crowded, so get there as soon as they open. But is a cool one to see. There’s a main hole where you can get in or jump, and two smaller holes you can jump through.  We got there at 9am, and we got to swim with tons of fish and birds flying out the cave.

It costs $100 PP to get in. Bring food, water and towels. 

Please avoid using sunblocks to avoid contamination in the water. 

10. Holbox Island

This one is far away from Tulum, and closer to Cancun. But it is worth it. 

This island is in between the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico and is full of flora and fauna. 

You need to take a boat to get there, and you will usually find “water taxis” that take you there, but I recommend taking a tour with a local. Our guide took us around the island to see some turtles, and to a small area where they cooked a special meal for us, gave us time to explore the island and took us back to mainland. This was also six years ago, but I am sure there will be plenty of local guides. 

EXTRA TIPS:

tulum guide coba

I have stayed in Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Tulum many times, in all inclusive resorts and hostels, I don’t have a specific favorite one but here are some we have liked:

In Cancun: Barcelo hotel and resort and Park Royal hotels.

In Playa del Carmen: Hostel 3B, is my favorite. Close to the main area, but far away enough to avoid noise, It has a cool rooftop and fair prices.

In Tulum: Tube Hostel is a cool little spot close to the main beach area, and super close to cenote calavera.

If renting a car, my friends have recommended Hertz as the cheapest option, but we used Alamo. Not as cheap but you can pick up in Tulum/Playa del Carmen and leave it at the AirPort.

For workouts: I didn’t visit any gym or studio to be honest, but I have heard Tulum has many yoga studios. In Playa del Carmen you can visit Muscle beach and Barbell Playa and the Om Studio.

For Food: 

  • Suculenta Tamaleria in Tulum offers really good vegan tamales and ice cream.

  • Charly vegan tacos in Tulum for really good street food Mexican food.

  • Raw Love in Tulum for salads and other healthy options.

  • The Pitted Date in Playa del Carmen for good sandwiches and Tacos.

  • Fresco Habito in Playa del Carmen for amazing Buddha bowls and juices.

  • And If you to Muyil, cross the street and eat the little restaurant there. They made yummy vegan food for us.

AND bring cash! Tulum is still very small and sometimes the wi-fi connection sucks, so in doubt bring cash. If you are in Playa del Carmen or Cancun, you will be fine with credit/debit card.

Want to see more? Check out my youtube channel