Oh my gosh it’s been absolute ages since I’ve sat down to write a travel diaries post, before my wedding and before Covid hit I used to do a travel diaries of all the places I traveled and it feels so good to do that again!
My husband Zain and I took our first beach vacay trip together to Tulum, Mexico this past weekend, May 14-May 18 2021, and it was the best Eid getaway! If you missed out on our travels earlier this year, once we got vaccinated we flew to Denver to learn how to Skii, and then went to Atlanta, Georgia to visit my BIL and both trips were so much fun – check them out on my Instagram!
As soon as I shared that we went to Tulum – yes, I always share once i’m back home mostly bc of safety reasons – y’all wanted all the details! So here they are, it’s honestly such a fun place to go to with your spouse, or friends! There’s so much to do, and there’s something for everyone! I wouldn’t recommend going with kids there as it isnt very family friendly, but definitely go for a weekend with friends or to get away with your s/o. I did a lot of research before our trip on google + tik tok, and the things we did or wanted to do that I saw on TT, it didn’t live up to the hype and/or was missing crucial details and the things we found ourselves and asked locals about was honestly the best! So i’ll split it up in sections so you can scroll to the section you want! xo.
THINGS TO BE WEARY OF OR CAUTIOUS OF:
honestly these are things i wish i would have known beforehand so i’m going to tell you here:
- Make sure you rent a car if you can, it comes out to be the same price and its easier to get around and visit diff places if you have a car, use Avis we had 0 problems with them but I’ve heard every other rental company has bad service
- You will have to purchase car insurance with the rental agency there’s no other way around it
- Tulum beach is a clothing optional beach, meaning women don’t necessarily need to wear tops
- The traffic is insane, if you rent a car (which we did) you’ll probably want to rent a scooter or vespa (which we had to do) bc traffic is so bad on the strip that you’ll have to either maneuver through it with a scooter or just walk
- It’s expensive if you’re going to the any restaurant on the strip
- To go to any of the hotels that you want to see like Azulik, Be Tulum, Casa Malca, there’s a minimum consumption fee, so for example Casa Malca has a $100 minimum consumption per person, and you can’t even see the entire hotel unless you stay there
- Every beach club has a entry fee or minimum consumption fee – so if you want to spend the day at the beach this is worth it, but if you just want to do a few hours then not worth it
- If you’re not going on the weekend, be sure to check what time everything closes. We noticed everything closed at 10pm on Friday, Sunday and Monday.
- Try to stay somewhere close to the beach if you’re staying in Tulum for a few days or else traffic from Tulum Center to Tulum beach can range from 30-45 min
- Lots of places don’t take credit card so make sure you have pesos if you’re trying to do street food like mangos, corn, coconut water, or visiting Cenotes.
- Azulik is not worth it, as much hype as there is around it, the minimum consumption fee is too high for what it is, and there’s better places to go
- Shopping on the strip is extremely over priced – try to do the more lowkey spots
THINGS WE LOVED:
- Cenote Dos Ojos – we were only able to go to this one Cenote but it has 4 cenotes within the property and it was SO much fun! You can snorkle in both eyes and it was unbelievable, there’s restaurants there too so it’s a great place to spend a few hours –
- The restaurants – i’ll share where we went below but it was so awesome being able to eat on the beach, and spending time at the hotel after! We only did dinner in the city the first night and after that every meal was on the beach and we loved it
- Restaurants don’t charge a minimum consumption fee usually unless you’re at Azulik
- On our way to Coba ruins, there’s so many small towns that sell handmade home decor and we LOVED stopping and shopping here
- Coba ruins – the tulum ruins were closed when we went but we biked around the ruins at Coba and there’s 2 cenotes that you can visit if you go there too
- Experience Airbnb’s – if you’re into experiences, definitely do a jungle pod or a beachfront villa, these were 2 things we did and we really enjoyed the experience!
- Sunrise at the beach – we woke up to watch the sunrise at the beach and omg it was so romantic and so beautiful! LOVED this
WHERE TO EAT:
- Pasha – omg the best aesthetic and the fooood, not only was the ambiance amazing but the food was SO good
- Tropicalove – this is a small cafe in the city and it has the best food, fresh juices, and theyre a small business so we loved it!
- Moro at Habitas – honestly you should go here just for the hotel and the ambiance, the food was not that great bc we couldnt eat much on the menu (not seafood ppl and no pork) but we were there for sunset and it’s right on the beach, so its beautiful! We chilled there for quite a while and we loved it so much, it’s the most stunning property we saw.
- Eat at Liefs – these are food truck type things and it’s in front of a hospital, not sure how else you can find it but its like 3 trucks and a few tables right along the road and it’s vegan! it was sooo good, the breakfast burritos, healthy gut shots, the coffee, the acai bowl, it was all delicious!
- Mezzanine – I found this place on tik tok and it was so underrated, it’s thai food but not the thai we’re used to, definitely has a Mexican touch to it, but it’s right along the water as well so if you can do a sunset dinner here it would be stunning, not much seating and we couldn’t book in advance but if you can get in, definitely go!
- Cinco – on the strip but another underrated breakfast spot, after watching the sunrise we ate here and it was so delicious! Fresh coconut water, chilaquiles, they had it all. loved it!
- Azulik – so we ate lunch here, and they did have a min. consumption fee – it was not great. The view from the nests wasn’t that great either, it’s just in the midst of a jungle so I wasn’t as impressed as I thought i would have been due to the hype around this place – def a disappointment IMO. Oh they don’t let you see anything besides the restaurant here too.
- Be Tulum – super gorgeous hotel and their restaurant is so cute! We just stopped in for coconut water here and relaxed and it was great, super nice and worth seeing, no minimum consumption here.
- If you plan to try the local food there, and dont eat pork, make sure to verify what’s in the meat in Spanish before you try – Barbacoa there has pork, the main tacos are made of pork, so use Google translate to make sure they know you don’t eat it.
- Arca is meant to be the best food in Tulum, if you can – definitely make a reservation there months in advance, everything was booked for months when I checked!
-Playa Paraiso : hang out at this beach, white sand and turquoise water (award winning)
-Mud bath in a lagoon – Laguna de Kaan (secret place) entrance fee: 50 pesos ($2.39)
/Cenote dos ojos(20 min north of the town, get there via taxi) best for divers
/Gran Cenote (most popular for tourists)
/Cenote Zacil – ha – more like a natural swimming pool
/Casa Cenote – swim or kayak on the blue water
/Cenote Calavera: more local Cenote, also has a ladder inside (popular on instagram)
/Cenote Suytun: iconic Cenote, beautiful beams of light that hit the water
/Cenote Caracol: hidden gem, rent a car or drive , caves inside water
QUESTIONS Y’ALL HAD:
- How did I know what places to visit for food/excursions?
- I watched a lot of tik tok prior to and made the list above of the cenotes/beaches, but we actually asked locals there what they recommended we do since a lot of their locals have moved from diff parts of Mexico, so from that we decided on doing 1 Cenote, Dos Ojos, bc it has 4 diff cenotes on the property so rather than going to diff ones we just did that one, and we also learned about scooter rentals that way, food places that way, we just honestly asked around and took recommendations from locals with a combination of tik tok places! The tik tok places were super booked out or too crowded and bc we didnt go to party we wanted a more relaxing beach vacay we tried to go to more low key places for sure.
- Where did we stay?
- We stayed at airbnb’s/apartments! IMO, get an apartment in Alden Zama, its close to the city and the beach and its super nice and affordable!
- Did we feel safe?
- Yes! I actually hadn’t heard anything about Tulum being unsafe and since so many people are going I didnt think it wouldnt be, but we had the safest experience, even people we asked there said it was extremely safe!
- You shared so many hotels you saw and how did you get in if you weren’t staying there?
- So this, no one told me, I kind of figured it out! I made reservations at some popular spots and they happened to be inside hotels, one of our favorites was Habitas, the restaurant, Moro wasn’t so good but it was worth eating there for being able to watch the sunset and chill on the beach for as long as we wanted, the property is gorgeous too. So definitely make reservations for restaurants inside hotels you want to see!
- Is everything expensive or reasonable since its in pesos?
- Okay everything is like equivalent or more than America because everything is really really nice in Tulum, so its expensive for sure. The airbnb’s were cheaper esp the apartments but in terms of eating out and experiences, it was probably the same or more.
- How much would you say you spent in 5 days?
- With the flights, stays, eating out 3x a day, our rentals and experiences it was about ~1500 USD
- Did you have service? Isnt it a jungle so there’s no service anywhere?
- So we have Verizon and on our plan we had service everywhere including Data! Im sure T-Mobile works there too, check with your provider, but there’s WiFi at all restaurants, hotels, bars, etc.
- What did y’all do to pass the time?
- There is honestly soooo much to do, see above!
- Would you go there with a group or as a couple was best?
- I think going as a group would be a totally different experience and different kind of fun too, as a couple it was amazing too! It’s super romantic!
- I’ve heard its a party town and if you dont go there to party its useless, true or nah?
- Not at all true, it does have its 6th street vibes at night NGL, but you get the best of both worlds in Tulum! If you’re looking to go party, you’ll find that everywhere in day clubs, beach clubs at night, etc. which we didnt do, but if you’re looking for a getaway that’s chill and relaxing, you’ll find that too! It’s a great place for people who want both too.
- Where did you take the COVID test to get back into the US?
- We were super worried about this but if you stay in a hotel – your hotel will probably test for you! If not, there’s covid rapid testing tents and trucks everywhere! They email you your results within an hour or two and its about $45 for a antigen, and it was a smooth easy process. As of now, you do need a negative test to get back into the US, not sure about what it’ll change to be like!
Thank you guys so much for reading and let me know if you have any other questions! Xoxo.