It’s finally here! My Tulum travel diary.
If you are anyone that checks social media/pinterest or has friends that do or follow influencers, you know that Tulum is the IT place to be. Full of charm, boho vibes and tons of matcha/vegan and hand crafted cocktails, it’s no reason Tulum is on everyone’s radar.
I’m here to tell you everything you’ve heard is true… well with a few exceptions.
If you read my previous post, you read briefly about my experience in Tulum and encounter with influencers E V E R Y W H E R E. And again, no surprise why this destination is so popular; wherever you turn, you have a gorgeous photo opp! But, quickly upon arrival to Tulum, I decided I wasn’t going to spend my vacation shooting content. I spent my time in Tulum actually vacationing and took photos as they felt natural and organic with our holiday. So here’s my Tulum travel diary… fair warning, I did a lot of lounging and relaxing.
We arrived early afternoon to Cancun airport- this is the closest international airport with direct flights from LAX. Customs was kind of a mess and took over an hour to clear. After a lot of back and forth, we ultimately decided to rent a car for our entire stay as it was about the same price as a roundtrip airport transfer. We figured, if we used the car even once while in Tulum it would be worth it to not have to wait for a bus or taxi and we could be on our schedule.
Renting a car was a great choice, we used it to go to the cenotes one day, and the other side of the Tulum strip for dinner on another day. Would definitely recommend.
The drive to Tulum took just under 2 hours and it was easy!
We arrived at our hotel just before 6PM which was perfect timing.
We stayed at La Zebra which was an amazing choice! I highly, highly, super duper recommend this hotel. Everything about it was exactly what I hoped and more.
Upon arrival we were greeted with our choice of cocktail, check in was super easy, we changed into our swimsuits, and headed down to the ocean. Weather was superb! Really could not have been better that evening. We walked up to the hotel’s restaurant/bar to enjoy a cocktail in the beautiful weather and ended up staying all the way till dinner. We enjoyed gorgeous sky/ocean views (because the sun sets on the west and we were looking out east); and even got to see a moonrise, which was amazing!
On relaxing vacations, I like to plan activities every other day, with the first full day usually being a lounge one around the hotel or airbnb we stay at. So this day we enjoyed the ocean and beach service. In the early afternoon we rented bikes from the hotel and took a ride along the road to find a good happy hour spot and ended the night with watching baby sea turtles being released to the ocean- right from our hotel- this was a big highlight for me!
Started the day with breakfast at Ziggy’s then headed back to our hotel for more beach, relaxation, and beach service. Ended the day with dinner at a sister hotel on the opposite side of town.
After much research for a good ‘ol avocado toast, finally found Tunich- great spot for breakfast and brunch! Started the day here with a delicious breakfast and coffee then headed to Gran Cenote. Having our own car was key here! We were on our own schedule, and able to stop for lunch on the way back. There are many cenotes really close by, like 20-40 minutes. Ended the evening with some street tacos across the road from our hotel.
Loving Tunich so much, we came back for breakfast again. Being our last full day here, we spent the rest of the day lounging and enjoying our hotel’s beach and amenities. Then had dinner at Bal Nak which was amazing! If you are looking for a true culinary experience with hand crafted cocktails, don’t miss this spot.
Time to go home 😦
We sadly packed up our bags, enjoyed one more breakfast at the hotel and headed to the airport.
- Definitely rent a car! The airport transfer will cost you just as much as renting a car for 5 days and even if you only use the car for airport transfer purposes, it is nice to be on your own schedule. The drive is super easy!
- If you are like me and interested in true authentic Mexican food, it will not be easy to find in Tulum… do your research. There is a ton of actual, authentic Mexican food in the downtown area, but not an easy commute from the hotel strip.
- Make sure you have cash in Mexican pesos! you can pay via credit card or US dollars everywhere, BUT they will charge you ridiculous fees or take your dollar for well less than the current exchange rate. ATMs in the hotel strip only give you US dollars, so stop by a bank on your way in and get your Pesos before arriving to your hotel.
- Tulum is expensive! I love Mexico, and often reference it as “such an easy and cheap trip!”- not Tulum. On these 5.5 days we spent more than we did in Europe for 10 days! We didn’t splurge, but didn’t deprive ourselves either. Overall I would say we were definitely more cautious of our spending this trip than we typically are when we travel. When we got home and realized how much we spent, I was shocked! But looking back, it’s true- everything was pricey. 3 street tacos across the street from our hotel were $18 US dollars! Of course, you can get much more budget friendly options in downtown, but again, this isn’t an easy trip from the hotel strip.
- Seaweed- everything you’ve heard is true unfortunately. While I did my research and found the area we stayed in actually didn’t get nearly as much seaweed as the norther part of the strip, we did get 2 awful days where the beauty turquoise water had turn dark brown for many yards starting from the beach. Conditions were not good for swimming or even dipping your feet in the ocean. Seaweed conditions are unpredictable and can change any time so looking at forecasts or checking how it’s been lately, unfortunately doesn’t mean much. The hotel we were in, really does a great job and have a whole team dedicated to cleaning the beach- but again, 2 full days it was just so much nothing could be done about it.
- Most places here are eco friendly, meaning, you won’t find plastic water bottles. Most public places have refillable water bottle stations and work hard on repurposing waste. Loved this was about Tulum!
I truly had an amazing time, and most importantly, a relaxing one. It was like being inside instagram; everywhere you looked was adorable and could be a photo opp.
Having said that, I feel like I missed a lot (even most of) the spots everyone talks about. The reason; it is not easy to get around, even within the hotel strip. Also, the weather was extremely humid, which made it nearly impossible to bike or walk anywhere. If you drove, most places do not have public parking.
Would I go back? That’s really a toss up. There are so many things I loved about Tulum, and at the same time, things I really did not. The seaweed is a big one for me. I love tropical vacations because I love being in the ocean. Having those 2 days where we couldn’t even dip our feet was a big bummer. The second big one for me is the price- when I think Mexico, especially going from LA, I don’t think that kind of spending. We could have certainly done a lot more elsewhere with that money and enjoyed it just as much. Finally, food options were kind of an issue for me. While I knew Tulum is known for its vegan cuisine, match and smoothies (and while I do enjoy those types of food also), I was in Mexico hoping for some chilaquiles and homemade flour tortillas.
So to answer that question, I’m not sure I’d go back any time soon as I feel I can get much more elsewhere, but I did have a great time and glad I went.
Hope this was helpful if you’re thinking about or already have a trip booked to Tulum. You will really love it! And I hear while there is no bad time to go to Tulum, now until February is the best time to go! All the shops and restaurants are back open and it’s the least humid!
If you’ve been or planning on going, I’d love to hear from you and your experience!