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Our trip to Tulum, was a little bit more than just a trip to the town. We actually rented a car and after a few days of exploring Tulum, drove on to explore some of the “off the beaten path” locations. I will mainly outline Tulum spots below, but at the end of the page you will see the spots that we visited after as well.

Getting From the Airport to Tulum

Since we were driving on and hitting some spots on our own, we rented a car at the Cancun airport. If you have ever rented a car internationally before, then you know that this is always a challenge. There are always hidden fees or things they don’t tell you up front- this is their way of making money. We spent hours on the phone ahead of time trying to get insurance through our AMEX and other credit cards and we thought we were set. However, when we got there it wasn’t enough coverage, so we paid more than we anticipated. I would just do your research and call around. Ask as many questions as possible, but be prepared to still pay more than what they quote you.

If you can avoid getting a rental car, I would at all costs. I have heard of some people catching a taxi, but your best bet is to prearrange a shuttle to pick you up and take you to your location. It is a 2 hour drive from the Airport and with shuttle services you can also set up your pick up location and time so that they can take you back to the airport on your travels home. We went through Happy Shuttle Cancun.

Where I've Stayed

Downtown Tulum: Era Hotel & Spa (highly recommend)

This hotel was absolutely beautiful in all aspects. The room service was incredible and always kept everything so clean and tidy. Hanging by the pool, when we had any downtime, was so relaxing and peaceful. They also have a rooftop bar where you can grab cocktails, as well as a restaurant up front that has complimentary breakfast, as long as you choose an item from the basic menu. If you choose anything else on the menu, it will just be charged to your room.

Keep in mind that this location is in the downtown area and is closer to cenotes, but further from the beach strip. I always like to map out where we want to go and things we want to do before hand so that we can see which area makes most sense to find a hotel/Airbnb in.

Taxis: If you ever need a taxi to get to a restaurant, or to the beach, all you have to do is mention it to the 24/7 front desk concierge and they can call you one immediately. As a reference, it was about 300 pesos per trip to the beach (one way), so that you can make sure you bring enough pesos.

Even after all of that, it still got better! I think my favorite part of this hotel was the Thermal Experience Flower Bath at Ritual Spa, which is a connection of the hotel, located right up stairs. They have tons of services that they provide, which I will link below, and are always open to any questions that you might have. The space is very soothing and closed off, which allows you to be fully immersed and just let go of your current thoughts and actually relax. I would reach out to them if you have any price questions and they can send you their service breakdown with rates.

Tulum Beach Strip: Sunset Tulum Airbnb

This Airbnb was perfect for our large group of 8 girls for a Bachelorette party. We had 6 rooms total, so we made 2 rooms the themed rooms for the bachelorette and then split ourselves among the others. There was a rooftop kitchen, hangout area and pool with an amazing sunset view over the jungle.

I will say that they had a power outage on the strip, when we went, so from 12-5p there was no electricity which made for really hot days. This wasn't the Airbnb's fault, but you typically can only use the electricity from 7p-7a so keep that in mind when booking. Other than that it was such a neat and affordable place.

The location was really good for things on the strip and we lucked out and found a shuttle outside that took all 8 of us up and down as needed. We took his number down so we could coordinate our pick up times, but if you need to just ride with a few people, just flag down a taxi or ask the place you're staying/nearby restaurant to track one down.

Iconic Spots

  • Ven a la Luz Sculpture

    • Which means “Come Into the Light”- Artist: Daniel Popper

    • This is outside of Ahua Hotel and Raw Love beach location

      • There is no admission and it’s just on the side of the road so you can just walk up and take a picture

      • The earlier you can go, the better- we got there before restaurants were even open (around 7AM) and had it all to ourselves. Around 8AM more and more people started slowly walking up and when we came back to the beach for dinner there was a massive line down the road

  • ‘Follow that Dream’ Sign

    • This is a road sign and iconic spot on the beach strip

    • Located right in front of Lolita Lolita Boutique

  • Crooked Palm tree @ El Paraiso Hotel

    • Address: Carretera Boca Paila Mz 3, Tulum Ruinas, 77780 Tulum, Q.R., Mexico

    • We got dropped off at the Playa Paraiso beach entrance gateway as there was no parking available down here. There’s a small lot but taxi’s park there and wait until someone needs a ride

    • Once on the beach, we walked down to the right to the Hotel and you will see the crooked palm there

  • Coco Tulum

    • There are a few beach locations and they all have white swings

    • We came here for sunset and mojitos on the beach


These are natural sinkholes and there are over 6000 cenotes all across Mexico, which means no matter where you are going, you are likely to run into one that you can stop at and explore on your travels. Some of the best ones are in the Yucatan and Quintana Roo regions.

We had our rental so we were able to drive to these and make a short day of it, but there are tons of tour options that will pick you up from your hotel and take you to them. I've seen tours where you can do a longer tour at just one cenote, or you can explore several since there are a few that are only minutes away from each other.

  • Cenote Calavera

    • This was about 10 minutes from Downtown Tulum

    • Hours: 8a-6p but always check online and/or confirm with them first

    • Cost: 50 pesos for swimmers (less than $3)

    • You can park your car here and walk back to the swimming hole

      • Here you will find chairs to put your belongings

      • There is a ladder if you want to slowly make your way into the water, or you can jump in (yes, it’s deep enough)

      • Once in the water, there is a rope that you can sit on

      • To the side of the big swimming hole is a smaller hole that people jump through which is connected to the same larger swimming hole

    • This gets extremely crowded, so as with anything else, I like the always recommend going earlier

      • Keep in mind it will be colder because the sun won’t be out, but it’s worth it having some time to enjoy your surroundings and not be fighting over chairs or space

      • Also the hole will seem a little darker in the morning since there is no direct light on the water, but once inside you can see everything and it’s crystal clear

  • Gran Cenote

    • This was a 2 minute drive from the Cenote Calavera so we did this immediately after

    • Hours: 8a-4:45p daily but always check online and/or confirm with them first

    • Signs might read: “Ch'O' OJ - Ha”

    • You can park your car here and walk back to the swimming hole

      • They do not allow professional cameras/only phones

      • There were several tours going on, but it was much more spread out and there was plenty of room, even if there were a lot of people

  • Cenote Suytun

    • If you have a little more time, this one is about 45 minutes from Downtown Tulum

    • Hours: 10a-4p daily

    • Cost: $120 pesos per person (about $6 USD)

    • Typically between 12p-2p there is a light beam that shines right over the center section

      • This can be dependent on weather as well, so if it’s overcast or cloudy, there won’t be a sunbeam

      • Also, this is the popular time of day for tours so it gets insanely crowded

        • Best time to go for no crowd: really early or late

    • It had just rained a lot the day before we went here so the water levels were higher and looked like you see below

      • If it doesn’t rain and stays rather dry, you have the ability to walk on that walkway to the center platform

    • No matter the water levels, they give you a life jacket if you want to swim


Nice Dinners
  • Azulik

    • This place is beautiful and very popular. It’s a high end hotel as well as having several separate parts within it:

      • Sfer Ik (museum)

        • There was a small fee for this and you weren't allowed professional cameras, but it was so neat to walk around and see.

        • You will have to take your shoes off inside here and the boutique​

      • Zak Ik (boutique)

        • If you get here early you can walk around the boutique and check out some of their beautiful clothing and artsy pieces​

      • Kin Toh (restaurant)

        • No matter where you want to sit, I always recommend making a reservation because this is a popular spot

        • There is a place upstairs where you can sit down and eat and have a beautiful view for sunset which is inside the building

        • There is also a “Nest” option which is further out from the restaurant and in a small nest-like table with cushioned seats

          • To make a reservation for this, you will need to email them directly to have them send over the price breakdowns and details (below is the rental prices and number allowed that they sent us)

          • We had to email them a few times before they got back to us, but once they did, they instructed us to make a reservation on OpenTable and then email a screenshot of it so that they can update their notes on their end

          • You will have to put your card down but nothing is charged until you don’t show up it’s a $50 charge

  • Gitano Tulum

    • This is a nicer dinner for sure and more of a date night vibe- great tapas style dishes and cocktails

    • We made our reservations online

    • There are other locations as well- one being Gitano Beach which is more of a beach/day hang spot

Lighter Meals
  • Matcha Mama

    • There are 2 locations- one in town and one on the beach strip

    • Acai Bowls/ Smoothies/ Coffees (vegan and gluten free options)

  • Raw Love

    • There are 2 locations- one in town and one on the beach strip

      • The one on the beach is the one near the Ven a la Luz Sculpture

    • Acai Bowls/ Smoothies/ Coffees (vegan and gluten free options)

  • I Scream Bar

    • We stopped here to grab some ice cream one night before dinner

    • They have vegan/dairy free ice cream options

    • I also saw people drinking at the bar and some sitting down and eating

  • Downtown is easier to find local spots/ taco trucks where tacos are SO delicious and SO cheap

  • The Beach is more of a touristy spot now and mostly everything is built up and pricier, but keep an eye out for random food trucks on the side and they usually have cheap/authentic foods. You can also usually tell which establishments are more expensive and which are more affordable, but if in doubt you can always ask for a menu before hand


Day Drinking

There are an endless amount of places to day drink, whether you're in town or on the strip. Any restaurant you stop into is bound to have a bar where you can get an ice cold beer or mojito, but some of the more "popular" places are the ones listed below. A lot of these places have a "minimum" fee associated with them and you basically have to pay an entrance fee per person and then half of that cost goes towards food and alcohol. If you are in a larger party, they have VIP tables that you can request pricing for and the same applies. Some of these places are very expensive, especially on the weekends so I would always reach out prior to going so you aren't blind sided when you get there:

  • Coco Tulum

  • Taboo

  • Tantra

  • Conestestia: Bunny themed

  • Vagalume: White Hand Bridge

Night Drinking
  • Batey Mojito & Guarapo Bar

    • Popular on Tuesdays & Wednesdays

    • You can watch them use fresh sugar cane for their mojitos in a VW Beetle transformed bar

  • Gitano Tulum

    • You can go here for casual sit down dinner and cocktails

    • Friday night is their main attraction when they have a DJ starting at 11pm

    • Sunday/Wednesday/Thursday- they have a smaller party with live music

    • There are other locations as well- one being Gitano Beach which is more of a beach/day hang spot

  • Papaya Playa Project

    • This is where you want to be on Saturday night for the Full Moon Party

    • Reach out to them for pricing and availability

  • Kin Toh

    • They also have a bar in their restaurant and you do not need reservations. The bar is inside the restaurant does not have sunset view and it has a cost of $600 pesos per person and includes a complimentary drink

  • Tantra

  • Taboo

  • Rosa Negra

  • Confessions

Day Trips

  • Laguna De Kaan Luum

    • Hours: 9a-4p but always check online and/or confirm with them first

    • Entrance fee: 60 pesos per person ($3)

    • Can swim in the shallow parts

    • Mud bath in the lagoon

    • CAN fly a drone here for extra money: 150 pesos ($7)

  • Cenotes

    • There are several within 15 minutes of downtown, but there are day tours that you can take to Cenote Suytun and others that are further out

  • Chichén Itzá

    • This is 1 of the 7 Wonders of the World, so this was a no brainer for us that we had to visit while nearby.

    • We had our own car to get here, but if you don’t have a rental there are tons of tours that you can take for all different times of the day, even through the night.

**Everything beyond this point is not in Tulum and were extra parts of our road trip that we visited**
  • Valladolid

    • Colorful streets and shops

    • Iglesia de San Servacio

      • This cathedral was completed in 1570

  • Iglesia De Uayma

    • This church was built in 1646 and is insanely beautiful

  • Izamal (The Yellow City):

    • Visit the Convento de San Antonio de Padua

    • There is a local market right in the center of town near the convent

  • Merida:

    • Monument to the Fatherland (Monumento a la Patria)

  • Pink Lakes: 

    • Laguna Rosada​

      • We drove all the way here just to find out that you can't walk passed and can't use a drone​

    • I found a similar spot on Google Maps so we put in 'Manglar de San Crisanto' in our GPS and drove a little passed it for off-the-beaten path pink lakes (pictured below)

      • surprisingly there was one car that pulled up when we were leaving, but other than that we had the place to ourselves​

    • The pinkness of them can depend on the time of year, time of day and weather

    • The most popular of the pink lakes is Las Coloradas but this has become extremely populated with tourists due to social media so you now have to get a tour guide to go, you can no longer get in the lake (one of the main reasons for the tour guide is to keep an eye out for this- and to make money) and you cannot fly drones here

  • Cancun

    • Our finally stop was an all-inclusive resort for the next 2 nights at Iberostar Selection Cancun

      • We don't typically do spots like this on our trips so it was so nice to sit back, relax and just enjoy drinking and eating all day

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