One of my dreams is to be able to own “something” on the beach. Only just a few years ago, I had zero inkling about Tulum, Mexico. I had been to Mexico a few times before, specifically Playa Del Carmen which is 45 minutes south of Cancun, on the Caribbean side of Mexico. Long story short, after Simon passed away, I inherited some money. Rather than spending this money on expensive cars, purses or shoes, I decided that real estate and creating memories was the way to go.
Being that Texas is my home state and I still go back frequently, finding a place in Mexico was not too far fetched. Not only could it be used by family and friends while on vacation, I could also use it as an investment property. Initially, I had considered Playa Del Carmen but deviated from that plan as Playa was becoming too busy for my personal taste. A friend of a friend had just recently acquired land in Tulum and was looking for early investors. I was pretty hesitant at first because of those nightmare stories you hear about scam investments. During another visit to Playa, we decided to drive down to Tulum to hang out with these friends and also get a tour of their properties. I must admit that I was very impressed! So impressed that I turned my initial investment (land only) into a studio room condo. While it's not exactly on the beach, it's my little piece of paradise and home away from home!
To get to Tulum, you fly into the Cancun International Airport. I always rent a car while down there so that I can have more freedom. There are shuttles available, or you can hire private transportation, but that can run about $75-$125 USD one way, depending on the size of your group. The drive is pretty easy to make, just about 1.5 hours South on the 307.
FIRST, LET ME TELL YOU ALL THE REASONS WHY YOU HAVE TO STAY AT CENTRAL PARK TULUM
Tulum is basically broken into 3 different sections: The Town, Beach Road South, and Beach Road North. My studio condo is in town and is a part of the Central Park Luxury Condo, developed and managed by Los Amigos. Once you arrive in town, it’s pretty easy to get there.
This is a luxury condo community with full-blown amenities. Concierge, security, different sized rooms that include penthouses with private glass bottom pools, room service, swimming pools, a poolside bar, restaurant, gym with a climbing wall, free bicycle rentals, shuttle services to Los Amigo private beach.
I'm including this here only because I've had a lot of friends reach out inquiring on how to book my unit. To reserve my studio unit, use this Airbnb link: https://www.airbnb.es/rooms/
All units have a sliding screen door that allows you to bring the outdoors in (or vice versa). The screen door can be used to keep bugs out. Each unit has its own Wi-Fi so your bandwidth shouldn't be too limited. The bathrooms are oversized and there is plenty of hot water! Don't want to eat out all day every day? There is a full-size stainless steel refrigerator to store your food as well as burners, pots, pans to cook them.
Being at Central Park Tulum will feel like you're a VIP. The team there is very responsive and helpful!
Los Amigos Beach is a privately owned beach accessible only to Los Amigos residents and guests. As mentioned before, they have shuttles that will take you to and from the beach. Just sign up with concierge ahead of time when you arrive.
A HIPPIE BOHEMIA
Tulum has such a great spiritual, peaceful, colorful vibe... it truly is a place you go to free your spirit and restore your soul. In Tulum, you’ll get a wonderful balance of quintessential Mexico when you're walking through the center of town, and then easily transport yourself to a hippie bohemia walking down Beach Road South. You can get your fair share of inexpensive street food but there's also a variety of flavors from around the world that will satisfy your foodie palette.
There is so much to do in Tulum. You can choose to relax seaside or in the comforts of your beachside bungalow. You can explore the town, the beach, cenotes or ruins - all within reach by foot, bike or car! I’m sharing some insider tips so that you can make the best of Tulum while you’re there!
WHAT TO DO
Walk Beach Road South. By walking, you'll be able to fully take in the different boutiques, the art and the feeling of being in another world. There is a reason why this is an Instagrammer's paradise! Life slows down along Beach Road after 10pm or so.
Party in Town in the evening. If you want some more action after Beach Road slows down, head into town and find your way to the Mojito Bar. There are plenty of alleyway parties happening with loud music, lots of people and yes, you can drink and party on the streets!
Tour the Tulum Ruins. Everyone should go at least once! If you go during the summertime, it can get very hot and there are hardly any shaded areas to protect from the sun. Grab an umbrella if you must - and don't forget to take water. If you do, there is a small souvenir shop after the entrance where you can purchase some. If you have the time, pack your bags for the beach as well. As you walk around the ruins, you'll come to a stop where you'll see a stairway leading down to the beach. If weather permits, this beach is perfect to swim and tan. Parking around the ruins is tricky. The streets are very narrow so knowing how to parallel park is a plus! Also, have some pesos on you as there are vendors outside the entrance that will have items like ice cream and fresh coconut or mangonadas to sell. Check out this site to learn more about the Tulum Ruins: https://www.playadelcarmen.com/blog/tulum-ruins/
There are other Maya ruins around Tulum that I still need to check out!
Chichen Itza is one of the seven man-made wonders of the world and 2nd highest visited archaeological sites in Mexico. I've included a link here for travel and tour tips: https://www.playadelcarmen.com/blog/chichen-itza-tour-tips/
Coba Ruins is one of the very few ruins you can still climb. Many structures are still shaded under a tree, so you'll feel like you're wandering and climbing through the forest. Here's another link for travel and tour tips: https://expertvagabond.com/coba-mayan-ruins/
Playa Paraiso is on Beach Road North, on the right if you're heading towards the Tulum Ruins. If your an avid Instagrammer, you'll know this is one of the famous IG spots of the curvy palm tree that shows up in many Instagram feeds. Depending on the season, there might be a long line of people waiting to take pictures with it...and on it. You can lounge around the beach and have food and drinks served to your chairs. Beachside massages are available, as well as an abundance of beach vendors selling trinkets.
Cenotes are natural pits, or sinkhole, resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater underneath. Especially associated with the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico, cenotes were sometimes used by the ancient Maya for sacrificial offerings. There are over 4,000 known cenotes in the Riviera Maya region and so far, seven of the world's ten longest mapped underground waterways exist beneath the Yucatan Peninsula. Source: Wikipedia
First thing you should know before visiting a cenote is that you will be asked to rinse off. Some places will require that you also wash your hair to help keep the waters clean. I have a couple favorites, of course!
Gran Cenote. Just three miles (five kilometers) from central Tulum. Here you can swim or snorkel your way around. Of all the cenotes I've visited, this was probably the warmest one - but that's not saying much! You can rent snorkels and lockers there, and if you're lucky, you may see marine life wandering around - like cute baby turtles! Entrance fee is around $10USD
Cenote Kape-Ha. This cenote is more of a lagoon and it's on the southern part of Beach Road South. Here, you can grab any of the available kayaks and paddle your way around. When I was there, there was also a wooden structure you can climb up on and jump off if you dare. Entrance fee is around $10USD
Dos Ojos Cenote is located right off Highway 307 and about 22km north of Tulum. This cenote has a lot of natural light but what I loved about it was the moss hanging off the trees. Entrance fee is around $14USD
Cenote Cristalino is about 18 minutes south of Playa Del Carmen and right off Highway 307. This cenote is very open and gets a lot of sunlight. There is a small cliff that you can jump off of! If you don't feel like swimming around, you can sit on the edge and have little minnows nibble at your toes. There are more mangrove plants surrounding the cenote and feels lusher than others I've visited. Entrance fee is around $10USD
Cenote Multum Ha Coba is an underground cenote that wasn't too crowded when we were there. It's about an hour from Tulum but is really close to the Coba Ruins, so this would be a perfect spot to wind down and cool off. You walk down a long spiral stairwell onto a platform with cenote water surrounding it. We actually stumbled onto this cenote with the intent of going to a different one close by. It was a bit chaotic trying to figure out how to get entrance tickets. One useful tip from a Trip Advisor reviewer was to buy the tickets to Multum-Ha in at the entrance to the Choo-Ha and Tamcach-Ha cenotes - the ticket will get you into all three.
WHERE TO EAT and Drink (Beach Road South)
Zamas: Right when you get onto Beach Road South, you'll see Zamas on the ocean side. They have the best passion fruit mojitos!
Mateos: They are on the jungle side of Beach Road South. They have two sections, the bottom is a full restaurant or you can go upstairs and enjoy some appetizers, drinks and catch a beautiful sunset.
Amansala: This is on the ocean side of Beach Road South. They have a gorgeous view and grilled octopus that's to die for!
Posada Margherita: This is on the beach side of Beach Road South. It's small, quaint and so adorable! They serve Italian there but the best meal we tried was the fresh catch of the day.
Canopia Tulum: This is on the jungle side of the road. It's a blend of American and Southeast Asian food. We tried something that was similar to larb and it was not horrible, but my spicy Asian palette is hard to please!
Raw Love: This vegan restaurant is cash only and so adorable! You'll love the chill, hippie outdoor vibes. They serve a variety of dishes (including pizza) but we stuck with their acai bowls, fresh fruits, and yogurt.
WHERE TO EAT and Drink (Beach Road North)
Mezzanine: This is a Thai restaurant/resort. You don't have to be a guest there to dine with them. I love that their outdoor seats overlook the cliff side of Tulum. The food was amazing my first time there but isn't always consistent.
Hotel Diamante K was a stop we made for breakfast. Walk around the property and towards the ocean for a breathtaking view of waves crashing up against rock formations. There are cute magenta lounge beds as well, but I believe they're reserved for guests only.
Ziggy's Beach Bar: This is a little bit further down Beach Road South. Their vibe is so fun and it's probably because of the bartenders. They serve a full menu there as well and the portions are pretty big! I got their chicken alfredo (yes!) and it was so good!
Papaya Play Project: This is probably the only beach club I'm aware of. I've only been once and during the night when they play straight EDM all night. To get drinks, you have to buy tickets and then exchange the tickets for drinks at the bar. The vibe is cool but probably more fun if you like EDM.
Coco Tulum: This beach bar is one of the hot spots you want to hit up! It's white decor is so dreamy and perfect with the contrasting turquoise water in the background. They have a full menu and a full bar, and you can just frolic around on the sugary soft sand, hang out at the bar swings or lounge around while listening to chill house music. Make sure you have cash on you, if not, there is a cash machine, however.
SOME TRAVEL TIPS
Carry bug spray wherever you go. Sometimes you forget that you are in the midst of the forest!
Always keeps pesos on you. In fact, I always get my pesos from an ATM. Most restaurants/souvenir shops in town prefer pesos and in some areas, you'll get a better exchange rate.
The roads are narrow, especially up and down Beach Road - not to mention parking is hard to find. I prefer taking a cab there and walking around as it's less stressful than trying to zig-zag your way around.
Tulum is one of my favorite places, and I think you'll love it too! It's the perfect paradise get-away that will enrich your mind, body, and soul. It makes my heart happy that I'm able to share this space with family and friends. It's where you can go with friends for a great time or on your own for a more spiritual experience.
Have you been to Tulum? Do you have any travel tips or things you'd recommend doing that I haven't mentioned?