things to do in tulum
America,  Mexico

What to do in Tulum, Mexico

Only a 2 hour drive (bus journey) from Cancun airport, sits the town of Tulum. With a reputation for it’s boho feel, the Mexican beach destination now offers so many tourist attractions and things to do, that it’s fast becoming a popular stop site for backpackers.

Stay in a Ahau Tulum’s budget beach huts

tulum beach hut

Tulum is notorious for its elaborate $400 a night beach cabanas (waaaay out of my usual budget range). However, whilst scouring the internet/Pinterest for deals, I came across this little beaut. At £80 a night, it’s still not technically  ‘budget’. However, with a premium private beach location on the main hotel strip, the Ahau Tulum beach huts are an absolute steal for a one/two night relaxation treat.

Hire a bike and explore

bike tulum

If you’re backpacking, chances are you’re staying in a hostel in the town (as opposed to one of the hotels near the beach). I don’t think we fully appreciated the distance from the town to the beach (the 3km’s look a lot smaller on the maps that are handed out), and we were quick to hire bikes.
Everywhere in Tulum was (relatively) flat, and having bikes meant that we were able to cycle to all the main tourist spots without spending a fortune on transport. There was also something quite satisfying/relaxing about peddling down to the beach each day.

Get up early for yoga and sunrise

tulum yoga

If you’re going to watch a sunrise anywhere, make it Tulum. I would roll down to the beach as early as 5.30 am (not my usual wake up time, I promise). Empty stretches of beach; perfect for a bit of quiet yoga, or simply watching the sunrise. Remember that bit in Forest Gump where he says ‘I couldn’t tell where the sky ended and heaven began’…?

Eat like a vegan king

vegan tulum

Tulum stays true to it’s boho/hippie vibes with an absolute ton of vegan food and restaurants, so good that even the meat eaters amongst you will love it! Check out my full post about vegan and vegetarian eats in Tulum.

tulum food

Explore Tulum’s ruins

tulum ruin beach

The East coast of Mexico sports a shed load of Mayan Ruins, but Tulum’s are literally on it’s doorstep. Take your bike for a pleasant cycle along the lush green roads of the town, to the only Mayan ruins built on a coast. They may not be the grandest of the ruin sights but they’re worth it for ease of accessibility from town, and beautiful coastal views from the wall.

Visit the cenotes

tulum cenote

Cenotes (sink holes) originate from the collapse of rock that exposes the groundwater underneath. They are particularly infamous around the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico, and were sometimes used by the ancient Maya for sacrificial offerings. Now, they are beautiful (and refreshing) stops for tourists, and in abundance around Tulum (we visited 4 in one day alone!!). We were lucky enough to find a local taxi driver who was friends with entrance guards, meaning we were allowed entry alone before opening!!

Get a boho cocktail

nomade tulum

Tulum is teaming with beautiful hotels, but we got full boho vibes from the Turkish style set up of Nomade Tulum’s bar area. Plump floor cushions, wooden tables and chiming music made for the perfect place to relax during the mid afternoon heat. The hotel can be found at the end of the main hotel strip.

Hit the town centre bars

The big hotels host a good few beach/bar parties, however, we found them to be overpriced and pretentious (think Cancun spring break), playing nothing but dull pre-club house music. We found the famous Papaya Playa Project to be especially disappointing. It took us a few days to figure out that the real parties (and atmosphere) were in the town centre itself.

Head to Batey bar for live music, a re-purposed VW Beetle drink stand, and the towns most famous flavoured mojito bar. Clientele is made up of both travelers and locals alike, and had a much more natural buzz to it.

Get a crystal massage

massage tulum

You know what they say (‘when in Rome’). I had a couple of very rude encounters with some of the ‘top’ spa’s in Tulum, with on in particular telling me they wouldn’t give me the treatments I wanted because I wasn’t spending enough money (my bill at that point came to $145!). We found that some of the best treatments were available at the hotels, at half the price of the stand alone spas. I chose Ahau Tulum for my crystal massage.

The treatement room is set up in a jungle beach hut, just out of the way of the main beach strip (but still close enough to hear the waves). The massages incorporate sacred crystals to align your chakras in geometric healing with Quartz, Amethyst, and Labradorite (to name a few). I’m known for my love of crystals, but was skeptic when the receptionist told me that she’d also taken the massage and was so overwhlemed that she’d cried. However, the skeptic in me was put to rest as I burst into tears at the tap of a crystal to my forehead as my masseuse finished. A complete soul searching experience, not to be missed, they even let me take one of my crystals with me.

Have you been to Tulum? What was your favourite bit? Did you stay in any beautiful locations on the East coast of Mexico? Tell me your stories people!?

Travel writer, marketing adviser and blogger based in Edinburgh, with a focus on budget and vegan travel. 39 countries to date, with extensive knowledge of travel within Asia, particularly within Thailand.


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