Weekend Wanderer Vol. 6: Tulum, Mexico (Travel Tips Inside!)
There's magic in the streets of Tulum.
You can feel it as soon as you set foot on these Holy Grounds. The energy felt there is serene and rejuvenating, which I've heard before. But there's nothing like experiencing it for yourself. And after a challenging start to this year, this trip was everything I needed plus more!
Now, I don't always choose to visit certain places out of pure admiration for the city's culture and beauty. I mean, most of the time that's the case. But sometimes, I hear a little voice inside of me that tells me where to find transformation. For years, it has directed and rerouted me on the path of my own unfolding. Whenever I find myself stagnated or having feelings of disenchantment, this internal compass turns on and tells me that it is time for a metamorphic voyage. This is where I found the inspiration to visit Tulum this Spring.
After receiving this message, I instantly began to plan my trip to the Yucatan city. I started with a little research, as I always do, and found that this city sits upon some of the most sacred grounds known to man. I already knew that this is where the Mayans once worshiped and ritualized. Many of the ruins here are actually temples that were only open to the High Priestesses, Shamans, and ruler.
What I didn't know was, with it being along the coastline, the city also served as an epicenter for trading and import. That all ended when the Spanish came in and brought deadly diseases that caused the native to evacuate the land and leave Tulum to be a ghost town. However, In the past quarter century or so, people began visiting Tulum again (mostly backpackers who wanted some peace and quiet outside of Cancun) and today the city has been turned into a full beach town. Everything in Tulum screams peace and lofty dreaming. A lot of people claim they visit the sun-filled city to realign and find their light. I can say I went for similar reasons.
I wanted to share my experience (along with some tips and suggestions) for anyone who is considering visiting Tulum. Read on if you're interested.
Getting into Tulum
So, there's no airport directly in Tulum. You can fly in either through Cozumel Airport or Cancun International Airport. The flights into Cozumel are cheaper but are not on the mainland of Mexico, so you would have to take a ferry to reach Playa del Carmen then ride 30 mins to Tulum. Cancun Airport is a 1.5-2 hour ride to Tulum and this is the option that me and my friends chose because we found it to be most convenient. When you arrive, make sure you take pesos out of the ATM for the taxi you'll need to take. It is important to confirm the price of the trip with your driver (this goes for anywhere you go) to avoid last minute sticker shock. We ended up paying $3,300 pesos, which is about $150 and if you're nice enough to your driver, they'll stop for some food and drinks on the way. Be sure to pick up a couple of gallons of water, you'll need it!
Stay & Accommodations
I loved where we decided to stay in Tulum. It was a beautiful boutique hostel called Joy Tulum and the cabana rooms weren't something I ever tried before but I'm so glad I did. Hostels have such a bad rep (I'm guessing because of the 2005 movie with the same title) but I think that they have a beautiful way of connecting travelers with one another. I always meet the dopest, most interesting people when I stay at hostels, and they're cost effective? What? Sign me up. This hostel in particular was just as beautiful as it wanted to be - featuring a blue mosaic tile pool that mimicked the hues of the Mexican waters, a peaceful hammock area perfect for morning meditations, continental breakfast that actually had options for my vegan ass, and free bike rentals which saved us a ton on transportation. To top it off, all of the receptionists here were helpful and informative and ended up being our ad hoc travel guides. I'll definately stay there again in my future trips to Tulum.
Visiting the Mayan Ruins & Cenotes
I just want to know who would ever go to Tulum and not visit the ruins and cenotes. These are the key attractions of the area and honestly not worth missing! In the one week of me being there, I was able to see two of each and still wish that I would've had the time to see more. I'd say definately go and see the ones that are closer into town - these are the Gran Cenote and Ruinas Mayas de Tulum, which includes the clifftop Castillo ruin. I was astonished at how small yet impactful these structures were - I found them to be more interesting than the Roman ruins, but that's just my opinion.
I also made it a point to drive out 2 hours to see Chichen Itza, which is one of the 7 Wonders of the World. And when I tell you, it was worth every millisecond! It was an experience I'll never forget. We skipped the tour guide (and honestly wish we didn't) but was able to learn a few things from them just from being bystanders. For one, there's this amazing sound that echoes off of the sides of the pyramid when you clap your hands. It sounded less like a clap and more like a bird. I know it sounds crazy but the guide said that it was meant to mimic the quetzal, also known as the kuk, which inhabits the cloud forests of Central America, and its feathers, along with jade, were among the most precious commodities in Mesoamerica. To the Maya and Aztecs, the quetzal's emerald green iridescent tail feathers were more valuable than gold. I thought that was outstanding to know.
This was a good spot to pick up some souvenirs too! So make sure you have some pesos. Also, make sure you wear a hat and bring plenty of water on your trip to the ruins, the sun has no mercy on not one soul out there. Don't say you haven't been warned!
About 10 minutes away from Chichen Itza (driving of course) you can go cool off in one of the most beautiful cenotes that the area has to offer called Ik Kil. If you don't know what a cenote is, it's a natural pit, or sinkhole, resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes fresh groundwater underneath. I loved swimming and jumping off of cliffs here. I was one of the most beautiful memories that I brought back with me from Tulum.
I mean, beaches are cool and all. But those beach clubssss!! Now they're what I'd call the cat's meow. 😹 Once I got a taste of one of the beach clubs, I knew I'd never go back to a normal beach. How can you blame me? Cabanas, music, bomb ass drinks and food. I couldn't ask for much more.
My two favorite clubs were Azulik Resort and Casa Malca, which was once Pablo Escobar's mansion in Tulum. They both were on luxury resorts but had some non-luxury priced happy hours so don't be intimidated. After a few drinks, a couple of handstands, and some delectable tacos - the sun damage I left with didn't seem so bad. Which brings me to the point of NOT FORGETTING YOUR SUNBLOCK. I don't care how melaninated you are, the sun out there does not know what chill means.
Make sure you get your photo opps while you're there too. I found every square inch to be an inspiring backdrop - so you know what I did!
Food & Nightlife
Finding good food AND nightlife in most of the foreign cities I visit can be hit or miss. But I can honestly say that Tulum has a nice selection of both. When it came to food, I often found myself eating downtown (or Centralè) or at the beach clubs I informally became members of. One good one was Casa Banana (they had pretty good drinks and vegan options too) another was El Mariachi Loco, which had some bomb ass tacos and fast wifi for when you're in town.
The most popular bar scene in Tulum is probably Santino's (every time we asked around everyone was like Santino this and Santino that). And honestly, I can see why. They played the most current hits that we hear here in the US. But if you're looking to dance your pain away to some reggaeton hits until dawn breaks (like the Mexicans do it), then La Malquerida is your spot! We found this little gem while bar hopping in town one night and decided to go back on our last night in town. It's on a side street but right across from Santino on the main street, be sure to check it out. There was another little gem that we forgot to get the name of in the vicinity, but if you follow the crazy system thump, I'm sure you can find it.
Also, if you're in the mood for some live music (I don't know if it's nightly but it was going on when I was there), go to Pasito Tun Tun, grab a drink and catch a mean vibe. The band I saw was really good and played a good mix of genres in their set.
I had no idea what type of experience I would have on this trip. What lessons I would bring back with me. I just knew that I needed a little regrouping and a lot of relaxation. And I can honestly say that I got all that plus more. The energy in this city will open your heart and leave you in a winding state of romanticism. While I've returned to my day-to-day grind, my mind and heart remains in Tulum. I know that this was just the beginning of my experiences in this city. Without a doubt, Tulum has become one of my many self-care rituals. I think I'll return once per year from now on ❤️
Before I go, I wanted to leave you with a handy little travel tip sheet for Tulum that should get you through your time there. I'm also happy to answer any questions you have about my experience there - feel free to send me an email or DM on Instagram. Until next time - cheers, my loves!