**Disclaimer - This is kind of a long post. I hope you'll read it all because I've tried to make it as informative as possible.**
After so much contemplation, here it is - my first ever travel post! It's something I've been wanting to do for a while, and I'm so excited to finally share this with you - I'd love to hear your feedback! I wanna start off with one of my absolute favorite quotes - "You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart always will be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place." - Miriam Adeney
I've been putting off writing this post because I still can't find the words to describe just how incredible Tulum, Mexico is. Also, because I've had a few other things going on - traveling + I'm moving apartments in less than 2 weeks. But I decided to finally sit down and work on this post. I think if I had to pick one word to describe Tulum, and my trip, I'd say it was .... magic. Even that doesn't do it justice, but it comes the closest. To be fair, I haven't even seen a fraction of the world, but I've seen a few places, and Tulum, Mexico is absolutely the most beautiful place I've ever been to. There's just beauty everywhere you look, and the people are incredibly sweet, and there's something in the air. Something that compels you to smile. On my first day there, it rained all day, and I thought, well this oughta be pretty ugly, right? So, I walked down to the beach, and took a photo. This is how it turned out ....
.... on a really stormy afternoon! It's just a relentlessly beautiful place.
Before I get into the full post, the absolute single most important thing I want to mention is this - If/when you visit Tulum, please be considerate of the environment. Tulum is an eco-friendly place, and they make a conscious effort to be kind to the environment. So, if you visit, please respect that.
How to get there: For Tulum, you'd fly into Cancun airport. From there, it's about 1.5 hour drive, with no traffic. You can always rent a car - it's a straight shot down 307. Seriously, it's the easiest drive. I took a private shuttle with USA Transfers, which was highly recommended. It's kind of pricey, but since it was my first time there, I decided I'd rather have peace of mind about my safety. However, I'd say it would be totally safe to take a shared shuttle service. If you have time, you can also do an ADO bus. It's way cheaper, and I met a few people in Tulum who'd done that and said it was safe. If you go the private shuttle route, though, USA Transfers is your cheapest option.
Safety: This was one of my biggest concerns on this trips, since I was traveling alone, and I was arriving at Cancun airport at 2am! So, I did a lot of research and asked a few people who'd been to Cancun/Tulum. Considering my situation, I stayed at an airport hotel - Comfort Inn Cancun Aeropuerto - for the night. I picked that one because it was cheap, had late check-in, and a free airport shuttle. The next morning, I took my USA Transfers shuttle to Tulum. From what I've read/heard, Cancun is pretty safe, as long as you're smart about it, as in don't get drunk and wander out on your own in the middle of the night kind of stuff. I can speak to whether Tulum is safe. I, personally, felt extremely safe in Tulum. All the hotels have security guards out on the beach, all night, and they are extremely nice. I went out for a walk on the beach, and felt totally safe. I also saw fair amount of people, generally in 2s, walking on the beach at night. I talked to people who'd been there before, and said the same thing - it's a pretty safe place. Again, you obviously have to be smart and aware of your surroundings.
Zika & other health concerns: Since Zika is the big thing right now, that was one of my other big concern during this trip. I was checking the CDC's website on a regular basis, and Tulum / Riviera Maya area were determined safe, since it's at an elevation about 6500ft (as shown on the map on the website). I would highly recommend checking the CDC's website before traveling anywhere outside of the US (or even within the US, if you're uncertain)! They have pretty much all the up-to-date information you need (they're supposed to, anyways).
Where I stayed: I did a ton of research on where to stay - online and asking around. There are a couple all-inclusive resorts in Tulum, but the common consensus was to stay at an Airbnb or a boutique beach hotel. I would confidently endorse this recommendation - I don't think I'd ever really stay at an all-inclusive resort in Tulum. I looked into 3-4 hotels and finally settled on Coco Tulum, and I would absolutely go back and stay there any time. Coco has multiple options for accommodations, starting as low as $70(ish)/night. I stayed in one of their newer cabañas, with a private bathroom and a/c. However, I met a couple girls who stayed in one of the older cabañas, with shared bathrooms and no a/c, and they said it was totally fine. Y'all can see more of the hotel here!
This was my cabaña. I spent my fair share of time on that hammock, just listening to the ocean waves & feeling the breeze.
I loved this beautiful sailor chest that was the actual "locker" in my hotel cabaña. Seriously, I asked the concierge, when he took me to my room if there was a locker, and he pointed to this chest. I love the charm of it all!
Activities: Ok, so I was only there for 3 days, but feel like I squeezed in a fair balance of activities & beach time. First up - the infamous Tulum ruins, or rather the Mayan ruins. They are even more beautiful in person. I would absolutely recommend getting there first thing in the morning - they open at 8am. That's what I did, and by 9am it was extremely hot and crowded. Be sure to wear a bathing suit, because you can climb down to the beach, and trust me when I say - you're gonna wanna spend a good amount of time in that water. FYI, this photo was taken on my iPhone -
Another thing you can't miss in Tulum, Mexico - Cenotés. Essentially, when limestone bedrock collapses, it creates these huge sinkholes, exposing groundwater underneath. In Layman's terms (or my simple understanding), they're giant swimming holes. Some of them are more open while others are under caves, and you can go swimming, diving, snorkeling, etc. Unfortunately, I didn't have enough time to make it to one of the bigger ones, but I did at ATV tour one of the days, and got to visit a smaller, private cenoté, which was still an incredible experience. Again, I'd recommend going first thing in the morning, because I was talking to some other hotel guests who'd gone and they said the cenotés also get crowded later in the afternoon.
Apart from these two major attractions/activities, trust me when I say you're gonna want a couple days of just laying on the beach. As cliché as this will sound (it absolutely did when someone said it to me) - Tulum will make you zen the f*ck out. Also, do me a favor and walk out onto the beach at night and look up. I went to dinner on my last night there, and the restaurant was steps from the beach. So, as I was waiting for my food, I decided to walk out onto the beach, and what I saw took my breathe away. Looking at the moon rising and the sky covered entirely in stars, as you feel the ocean breeze and listen to the waves. I was truly amazed at the vastness of what was around me, and realized just how little I am (in the best way possible). So, after dinner, I went out and just laid on one of the lounge chairs for probably an hour. You know at the beginning of the post when I said Tulum was magic? This was that moment for me. So, yea, do that.
Food: So, I'm not the best judge of this because I'm vegetarian, but I talked to some people I met so these are some suggestions based on my experiences and their recommendations, in addition to my experiences. I had a couple meals at Juanita Diavola, the restaurant at my hotel, and everything was really good. They also have live music there all the time, if you're looking for something to do in the evening. For brunch, one of the days, I went to Posada Margherita and I'd definitely recommend it - the food & view were both great! I spent a couple hours just sitting there so, you can always bring a book and just hang out for a bit. They also have accommodations, so it's another hotel option.
Some of the other highly recommended restaurants are Casa Banana, Casa Jaguar and Hartwood. For Harwood, be sure to make reservations in advance. Real Coconut is great for health food/smoothies. I also had lunch at Ahau Tulum one of the days, and I'd totally recommend it, especially if you're looking for veggie options. I had the goat cheese rolls, and they were really good. Of course, the gorgeous view didn't hurt (photo taken on my iPhone).
If you want "authentic Mexican food", or as they call it .... food, I'd recommend going into town. I went with some people, and they didn't have any veggie options, but the people I was with said the fish tacos were really good!
Other important tips: I'd done quite a bit of research and talked to people, to make sure I was as prepared as possible. However, there are a few things I wish I'd done differently. One of the biggest things is with money. I was told they accept US Dollars there, and that there are ATMs for Pesos - both true. However, a lot of the ATMs for Pesos don't work, and if you use US Dollars, you'll get screwed on the conversion rate, and I think it varies by days. For instance, the conversion rate when I took cabs on Friday was reasonable. However, when I took cabs on Saturday, the conversion rate was ridiculous. I took a cab to the ruins Saturday morning, and the guy said 100 Pesos, which would've been like $6-$7, except when I got there and gave him $8, he said it's $10. I told him that's ridiculous, and then he said (this was my absolute favorite line from my trip, because it's so boss!) - "Well, I am doing 10 Pesos to $1." Luckily for him, I had 100 Pesos from some change I'd gotten the night before. Anyways, I didn't take any Pesos with me, and I regretted that. I'd highly recommend carrying Pesos with you. Also, everyone there pretty much expects a tip, so it would be helpful to bring a stack of $1 bills.
The other thing is that I carried bug repellent, but it wasn't fully effective. Also, they prefer that you use deet-free bug repellent, as it's better for the environment. I met someone there who'd bought local bug repellent, and it worked way better than the stuff I'd brought with me.
Oh, Tulum. I can't wait to be back. (PS - this photo was also taken on my iPhone! #TanOnFleek #ThatView)
And I think that covers everything! I hope this helped. If you've been, and have anything to add to this post, please let me know! Also, let me know if you have any other questions!
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