Is Tulum Open for Travel Right Now? [UPDATED Nov. 2020]


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Wondering Is Tulum open for travel?

You’re in luck, because it sure is… and this blog will tell you everything you need to know about safely traveling to Tulum now.

Do I need a Covid test? Will I need to quarantine?

You do not need to arrive in Mexico with a negative Covid test, and there’s no quarantine period upon arrival. Once you arrive, authorities in the airport will take your temperature, but other than that, Tulum is open for travel with no other restrictions.

Tulum, Mexico, actually began the reopening process back in June 2020. Now nearly fully reopened and operational, this Yucatan Peninsula beach destination has also pretty much found their stride with welcoming visitors.

Keep reading to find out how to travel to Tulum right now, how to not break the bank on your trip (Side note: Tulum’s not necessarily cheap, especially not by Mexico travel standards!), where to stay and eat, and the best things to do in Tulum.


🇲🇽 #Mexico is one of the only countries open to U.S. travelers right now (w/ no #travel restrictions). Been considering a trip to #Tulum? Here’s everything you need to know… 🏝☀️

This seems like a good time to issue a disclaimer: I have lived in Mexico since April 2018. This country stole my heart, and is now my chosen home. I recognize there’s a fine line I’m toeing here by recommending U.S. visitors visit Mexico, potentially bring Covid-19 with them, and then infect locals.

I completely understand that promoting a trip to Tulum and Mexico right now could have a potentially negative outcome.

However, Tulum’s Quintana Roo state is almost completely a tourism-based economy. This is why Quintana Roo reopened long before most other Mexican states. It is also the reason I wrote this blog; Tulum locals rely on tourism dollars to live.

The fact of the matter is, Mexico is open for U.S. travelers, and there’s pretty much no travel restrictions. For those in the U.S. dying to scratch their wanderlust itch, and just a handful of countries allowing you entry, Mexico travel is quite attractive right now.

Legally, yes; Tulum, Mexico is open to tourists. Ethically… well that’s a question for each individual person. Travel is a privilege, and I hope anyone who found this blog knows to treat it that way by following all Mexican laws and traveling responsibly.

With that out of the way, let’s examine explain how to travel to Tulum during the Covid-19 pandemic, while always keeping safety in mind.

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Is Tulum safe?

Short answer: Yes!

Longer answer: Safety is a tricky subject. One, safety is a feeling, not a fact. Two, people consider themselves “safe” when nothing bad happens, and “unsafe” only when something bad does. For this reason, you’ll get many different answers on Tulum and Mexico travel safety.

However, as a general rule, the Yucatan Peninsula is considered quite safe. You’ll want to, of course, follow the general safety guidelines below… you know, the same as you would when traveling anywhere.

Register for the STEP Program

Make sure you enroll in the free STEP Program before your trip. The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, or STEP, allows U.S. citizens traveling to Mexico to document your trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. In Tulum, that’s the Consular Agency in Playa del Carmen.

After you’ve registered, a U.S. Embassy or Consulate can contact you in the event of an emergency, including natural disasters, civil unrest, etc. STEP can also put you in touch with your family and friends back home in the event of an emergency while abroad.

Tulum's famous Follow That Dream sign, located on the beach road outside of Lolita Lolita.
Tulum’s famous Follow That Dream sign, located on the beach road outside of Lolita Lolita.

10 General travel safety tips

  1. Don’t walk home alone at night.
  2. Always listen to your intuition because your intuition is always right.
  3. If you get a sketchy or uneasy feeling about a person or place, get away from that person or place asap. Don’t worry about making a kind, nice or politically correct exit from a creepy person or bad situation — Just get away.
  4. Don’t keep your phone, keys, wallet, passport, or anything valuable in your back pocket.
  5. Learn some basic Spanish. If you can’t learn it, save this infographic as an image on your phone so you have something to use even if you’re off-WiFi.
  6. Take all of your belongings into the bathroom with you, rather than asking a cafe/bar neighbor to watch your things. This is annoying, for sure, but it works to not get your stuff stolen.
  7. Speaking of bar neighbors, don’t take drinks from strangers and/or leave your drink unattended.
  8. Don’t wear flashy clothes, expensive jewelry, designer sunglasses, etc.
  9. Keep some cash in your pocket so you don’t have to pull your whole wallet out every time you need to pay.
  10. This should be a no brainer since you’re traveling during a pandemic, but get Travel Insurance!

Travel Insurance

Want an added level of security and peace of mind during these strange travel times? Just as you insure your car, home and body, you can also insure your luggage, belongings and health while traveling.

I’ll be honest, when I first started traveling solo, I wasn’t insured. However, after years of solo traveling, I wised up… now, I even have a whole page of this website dedicated to travel insurance, because it’s just that important! If Mexico and Tulum travel safety is on your mind, get your free quote below now!

Tulum Travel FAQ

Do I need to wear a mask in Tulum, Mexico?

In Mexico, masks are legally required in all public spaces, so make sure you have one in your purse so you can put it on when you exit the plane at the airport. They will likely take your temperature in the airport before you clear Mexican Customs and Immigration. 

Note that this rule is less strictly enforced once you leave the airport. However, you will want to fully comply with everything you’re told in the airport.

I live a few hours from Tulum in Merida, but I used to live in Tulum and I still know several people who live there, as well as some travel bloggers who have visited recently. The general consensus is that masks are not always enforced.

 In Tulum’s main areas, like downtown, on the beach and in restaurants, many people seem to be walking around mask-free. This is technically illegal, so make sure you have a mask (or two) in your bag at all times, should you need to use one.

Coco Tulum beach club, known for its instagrammable, shabby chic esthetic and white beach swings
The Coco Tulum beach club, known for its instagrammable, shabby chic esthetic and white beach swings.

Do I need a visa to visit Tulum, Mexico?

No, you don’t need a visa to travel to Mexico from the U.S. This is another reason why, in general, Mexico is one of the best travel destinations from the U.S.

When you arrive in Mexico and go through the Customs and Immigration line, you’ll receive a 180-day (6 month) FMM tourist visa. This is a small piece of paper that you need to hold on to so you can give it back to Immigration at the airport when you leave the country. 

There is no charge for the FMM, but if you lose yours, there is a charge of about $550 pesos ($27) to replace it. You’d also need to get to the airport about an extra hour earlier than you’d normally have to in order to do the lost visa paperwork… the bottom line: Don’t lose your FMM!

Woman in a cenote in Tulum, Mexico
The water in the cenotes is warm all year long, and an always-refreshing escape from the Tulum heat.

Best Time of Year to Visit Tulum

You’re in luck, because winter is the best time to visit Tulum. It is technically the busy season in Tulum, though because of Covid, you’ll be able to get some great deals on flights and accommodations, and stretch your dollar further this year.

Located in the tropics, the weather is hot year-round, however, there’s much less humidity during the winter months of November-March. You’ll also have less (if any) rain, and hurricane season 2020 will be officially over!

Tulum Weather Averages

DAYTIMENIGHTTIMERAINY SEASON
January82°F63°FNo
February83°65°No
March84°68°No
April86°73°Possibly rainy
May95°80°Yes
June90°75°Yes
July92°80°Yes
August92°82°Yes
September90°79°Yes
October86°70°Possibly rainy
November84°66°No
December82°63°No
Source: Weather Spark

Where is Tulum, Mexico located?

Tulum is in Quintana Roo state, located in the Yucatan Peninsula, in southeastern Mexico. Mexico is basically a “C” shape, and Tulum is located where the “C” ends, if you’re drawing out the letter.

It is about 75 miles south of Cancun, and 40 miles south of Playa del Carmen and Rivera Maya. Tulum is about 130 miles north of Bacalar Lagoon, the “Maldives of Mexico,” 65 miles from the pueblo magico magic town of Valladolid, and 160 miles from the beautiful Colonial city of Merida.

tulum map
That red dot is Tulum, located about 75 miles south of Cancun.

What’s the closest airport to Tulum?

To travel to Tulum, Mexico, you will need to fly into Cancun international Airport (code: CUN). It is the really the only option for a Tulum airport, though it’s about 75-miles away. However, getting from Cancun to Tulum is easy and you have a few options by bus, car and shuttle.

Pro Tip: Get cash at a Cancun Airport ATM

Cash is king in Mexico, and especially in Tulum. A lot of the fancier places will take credit cards, though smaller cafes, street food stands, taxis, etc. do not. To be on the very safe side, you’ll want to take out $500 pesos ($25) to cover each day of your trip. 

Though Tulum is a pretty well known, and definitely up and coming travel Mexico destination, it still lacks certain things. Some newer homes have good WiFi, though the town in general does not. For this reason, many small businesses can’t use credit card machines.

Also, Tulum does have ATMs and a few banks in town. However, after living in Mexico a while now, I do recommend showing up with cash and not waiting to get to your destination to use their ATMs. This has never happened to me, but I’ve heard of Tulum’s ATMs running out of money.

Cancun to Tulum

How do I get from Cancun to Tulum?

From the Cancun Airport, you can rent a car, hire a private shuttle or take the ADO bus to Tulum. This drive is about 1.5-hours by shuttle or car, and you basically just take Highway 307/Carretera Cancun-Chetumal south, and it will bring you right to Tulum.

Is there Uber in Cancun?

Wondering if you can take Uber from Cancun to Tulum?

Unfortunately, no, at this time Uber is not legal anywhere in Quintana Roo state. This also means there’s no Uber in Tulum itself, though there are plenty of taxis. Pro tip: Cancun and Tulum are both in Quintana Roo state.

Cancun to Tulum Map

Cancun Car Rental

The easiest, most convenient way to travel from Cancun to Tulum? A rental car, of course.

Start your car rental search with Discover Cars. This company has several Cancun locations, including at Cancun International Airport. Pro tip: Save yourself time and use a rental car company at the airport.

Is it safe to drive in the Yucatan?

Short answer: Yes!

Longer answer: As a general rule, the Yucatan Peninsula is considered safe, and the drive from Cancun to Tulum is also safe. However, there’s the obvious caveat to that…

Since you will be driving in another country, you should take the time to research Mexico driving laws, or ask the agent at your car rental for advice. Below are some practical driving tips to help you.

Useful Mexico Driving Tips

1. Rent with a reputable company! I’ve tried cutting corners with rental car costs, but as they say, “you get what you pay for.” For a reliable Cancun/Tulum rental car, I recommend Discover Cars.

2. Avoid driving at night, if you can. After several years traveling and living in Mexico, and hearing this same warning over and over, I’ve had to accept that there’s truth to it. If you do drive at night, stick to only main roads and highways.

3. Always use the couta, or toll, roads. Yes, they cost money, but they are much better maintained and generally considered safer. Pro tip: Bring cash for the tolls.

4. Download any offline map you’d need for travel. I recommend Google Maps or Maps.Me’s offline maps. Pro tip: Your signal will go in and out as you travel through the rural areas. You’ll also want to download some podcasts and music while you’re downloading your map.

podcast cover-woman on a colorful colonial street

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5. Mexico’s speed limit signs are in kilometers per hour, not miles per hour. You don’t have to worry about conversion math here; just make sure the speed limit sign number matches your speedometer number.

6. Do not use your cell phone while you’re driving! Not only is this unsafe, it is also illegal. In fact, even having your phone in your hand is a ticket-able offense, so try not to even hold your phone while driving.

7. The rumors are true about the cops expecting bribes! If the cops pull you over, and they only will if you give them a reason to, they will expect a cash “payment” in exchange for not ticketing you.

8. Mexican roads are notorious for their abundant amount of topes (speed bumps). Make sure you keep your eyes on the road, as topes don’t always have signs alerting you to them.

Highway 307/Carretera Cancun-Chetumal, goes from the Cancun Airport to Tulum
You’ll take this road, Highway 307/Carretera Cancun-Chetumal, from the Cancun Airport straight to Tulum.

9. Mexico’s gas stations are not self-serve. When you stop for gas, an attendant will pump it for you and take your payment. These people don’t actually work for the gas station, and rely on tips. When they finish, it’s customary to tip them at least $10-20 pesos ($0.50-$1).

10. Mexico’s traffic lights go from green to yellow, to flashing yellow for a few seconds, to finally, a red light.

11. Make sure you purchase Mexican car insurance. You are generally not covered in any way through your U.S. company when you drive in any other country.

12. Most travel insurance policies cover driving. In case you’re wondering Should I get Travel Insurance?… The answer is hell yes! I have a whole page of this website dedicated to travel insurance, because it’s just that important — maybe even more so when traveling during the pandemic.

Tulum Ruins Mayan archeological site, located on the beach in Tulum
The Tulum Ruins Mayan archeological site, located on the beach in Tulum.

Bus from Cancun to Tulum

If you’re taking the bus, first know this is a luxury class bus with big reclining seats, AC, outlets to charge your phone and a bathroom — this is not a “chicken bus,” common throughout much of Latin America. Mexico’s buses are great, comfy and inexpensive.

The largest bus company is ADO, and you can take one straight from Cancun Airport to the main bus station in Downtown Tulum. Prices will of course vary, but figure about $650 pesos ($32) for a one-way ticket, which you may want to consider buying online here.

Once you arrive in Downtown Tulum, walk outside and grab a taxi to your accommodation, or if it’s close by, you can walk. If you’re taking a taxi, note that you must negotiate the fare before entering the taxi. Pro tip: There’s no Uber in Tulum, but there’s always taxis outside of the bus station.

Now that you know know how to get to Tulum from Cancun Airport, let’s get to know Tulum’s main areas so you can decided where you want to stay.

Where to Stay in Tulum

Downtown Tulum, Aldea Zama and Tulum Beach

Tulum is a small town, think three-miles in size from one end to the other. It is basically divided into Downtown Tulum, Aldea Zama and Tulum Beach. There’s only one road that goes through downtown, and one road that goes up and down the beach.

Downtown is on the northwest side of town, the beach is all the way west, and Aldea Zama is located between the two. Below is a Tulum map so you can visualize the town layout.

Keep scrolling to understand each area of Tulum, and some of the pros and cons of staying in each one.

tulum map
Tulum’s three neighborhoods: Downtown Tulum, Aldea Zama and the Tulum Beach.

Downtown Tulum

  • Pro: Inexpensive
  • Con: Not very pretty

There are quite a few hotels and hostel options here, and some Airbnbs — though Aldea Zama has the better Airbnbs in Tulum. Downtown is a fun place to stay with some great, local, cheap places to eat, cool shops and more.

It is, however, not the prettiest place to stay in Tulum. Since this is such an Instagram famous destination, those seeking the Tulum they’ve seen on Insta won’t exactly find it in Downtown Tulum.

If you want to save the most money on your Tulum lodging, opt for a hostel in downtown Tulum. 

Boho shopping in downtown Tulum
Staying in and eating in Downtown Tulum is a great way to save money if you’re traveling to Tulum on a budget.

Aldea Zama

  • Pro: Luxurious yet affordable accommodations, with modern amenities and strong WiFi
  • Con: Has a bit of a residential or “timeshare” feel to it

I generally recommend this area to visitors for a few reasons:

First, Aldea Zama is located between downtown Tulum and the beach. You can easily access all parts of Tulum and its nearby cenotes from here.

Also, Aldea Zama is the newest area of town. The buildings are all new and newer construction, at only 10 or less years old. This means you’ll have all the modern amenities and conveniences in your home.

As mentioned, Tulum as a whole doesn’t have great WiFi… and yes, this even applies to many of the expensive hotels on the beach. Since Aldea Zama is more residential, you’ll get a good signal, and a nice place, for about 25% the cost of a beach resort.

Pro Tip: You can still go in the resorts and take your instagrammable Tulum photos, even if you’re not staying at that resort.

bike rentals on the beach in Tulum
Pro tip: Look for an Airbnb that offers complimentary bikes. Biking is one of the most popular ways to get around in Tulum.

Best Airbnbs in Tulum

Tulum has gorgeous, affordable Airbnbs in Aldea Zama and Downtown Tulum. There are no Airbnbs on the beach; only resorts.

Pro tip: Some Airbnbs offer complimentary bike rentals, so be on the lookout for those. However, even if you can’t find one, you can still rent a bike in Downtown Tulum. Rates vary, but average about $200 pesos ($10) per day. Renting a bike will save you money by not having to take taxis.

Aldea Zama is only about one-mile from both downtown Tulum and Tulum beach, so it makes the perfect home base if you’re planning on biking around. Downtown Tulum to the beach is about 2- to 2.5-miles each way.

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Papaya Playa Project bungalows on Tulum beach
The Papaya Playa Project bungalows; these private home-suites cost upwards of $3,000 per night.

Tulum Beach

  • Pro: Gorgeous resorts, staying right on the beach
  • Con: Really expensive, many hotels have electricity restrictions, WiFi isn’t great

This is the instafamous part of Tulum, where you’ll find all the beautiful hotels, large-scale art installations, high end restaurants, and all the most instagrammable places in Tulum.

While there are beautiful places on the beach, I tend to recommend saving money by staying in an Airbnb in Aldea Zama. The hotels are gorgeous, don’t get me wrong here, but there are a few cons to them also.

As mentioned, the WiFi on Tulum Beach is really bad.

Beyond that, Tulum’s beach hotels try to lower their carbon footprint by only offering electric and AC for 12-hours per day, per room. You’ll want to check individual resort policies, but most only allow for “AM” hour electricity, or “PM” hour electricity, and you’d choose.

Casa Malca beach club in Tulum, Mexico
Tulum has some epic beach clubs, like this one at Casa Malca.

Tulum Beach Club Entry Fees

Finally, Tulum’s beach clubs usually cost about $500 pesos ($25) to enter. Now, don’t fret because this money is applied to your food/beverage tab, so you’re essentially just pre-paying your tab and you’re allowed to use the hotel facilities.

As a Tulum beach resort guest, you’d have complimentary beach club access to that one resort.

However, as a town of about 30+ beautiful beach clubs, you’ll want to check out more than just one, right?! It seems if you’re paying $300-$3,000+ per night for a beach resort, you’re less likely to spend more money to enter other resort beach cubs.

Now that you know how to travel to Tulum and where to stay in Tulum, let’s look at the best things to do in Tulum.

Azulik Resort in Tulum is one of the most beautiful eco-hotels in the world.
Azulik Resort in Tulum is one of the most beautiful eco-hotels in the world.

Best Tulum Beach Hotels

Azulik: As far as Tulum beach hotels go, Azulik is the one that started all the hype. This resort is the gold standard for Tulum’s boho chic vibes, and it’s the one all the other hotels want to be.

Casa Malca: Once owned by Pablo Escobar, this beachfront mansion-turned-resort is the brainchild of NYC art dealer, Lio Malca. As you’d imagine the whole place is basically a work of art.

Be Tulum: If you’re looking for the perfect combo of luxury and privacy, Be Tulum is the place. Here, you’ll find exclusive suites nestled between the jungle and the sea, which each have their own private pool.

Papaya Playa Project: This resort combines all things Tulum in one place for its guests. At Papaya Playa Project you can take yoga class in the morning, lay in a hammock on the beach all day, take a disco nap in your oceanfront bungalow, and hear a famous DJ spin live music at night.

Coco Tulum beach club with white swings in Tulum
Coco Tulum beach club in Tulum.

Coco Tulum: While staying at a Tulum beach resort doesn’t come cheap, Coco Tulum is known as one of the nicest of the less pricey resorts. They also have one of the most instagrammable beach bars with their famous white swings.

La Zebra: This beautiful hotel is part of the Colibri Boutique Hotels group, and they allow guests to enjoy the facilities at all of their properties. If you opt for a room at La Zebra, you can also enjoy Hotel Mi Amor, El Pez and Mezzanine Hotel.

Pro tip: These resorts rent at anywhere between $300-$3,000+ per nightwhich is why I always suggest people stay in Aldea Zama to save some money, but still have a gorgeous place.

Things to Do In Tulum

Mayan Ruins Near Tulum

Tulum is an amazing mix of posh hotels, instagrammable art along the beach, boho chic beach clubs with oceanfront swings, gorgeous cenotes, amazing restaurants and cafes, fun bars, historic Mayan ruins, and so much more.

In total, there are about 100 public Mayan archeological sites in the Yucatan Peninsula. While most people don’t make it to all of them, there are some noteworthy Tulum pyramid sites which you can get to in two hours or less.

Here are the four most visited Mayan sites near Tulum:

Tulum Ruins: If you head to the Tulum Beach road, and turn left, you’ll end up at the Archeological Zone of Tulum-Mayan Port City Ruins, AKA the Tulum Ruins. This smaller site is very conveniently located, and most Tulum travelers will visit these beautiful ruins that overlook the Caribbean Sea.

Chichen Itza: Does Chichen Itza need an introduction? As one of the Seven Wonders of the World, seeing Chichen Itza is high atop many travel bucket lists. Located about two hours from Tulum, you can drive there with your rental car, take the ADO bus from Downtown Tulum, or opt for an Airbnb Experience group tour.

Coba: Coba is unique in that it’s more or a whole Mayan city, versus a pyramid site. It is located deep in the jungle, about an hour from Tulum. With many traveling for a limited amount of time, if you’re considering Chichen Itza or Coba, many opt for Coba to avoid the crowds at Chichen Itza and because you can climb Coba’s pyramids. Pro tip: You can not climb the pyramids at Chichen Itza.

Ek Balam: Those headed to the pueblo magico (magic town) of Valladolid, known as one of the most beautiful Colonial cities in all of Mexico, might want to add Ek Balam to their itinerary. This site has a unique look, unlike all the others on this list, and as it’s slightly off the beaten path, you might have the whole place to yourself.

Mayan ruins of Tulum Ruins on the beach
The Templo del Viento (Wind Temple) at Tulum Ruins.

Mayan Ruins Tours

The easiest way to see all of Tulum’s Maya sites and pyramids? On an Airbnb Experience tour, of course.

Never heard of Airbnb Experience? You’re not alone! While most people have heard of Airbnb for home/apartment rentals, Airbnb Experiences are newer and lesser-known — but just as awesome.

Basically, these are small group tours; though I’m actually a bigger fan of Airbnb Experiences! I’ve done several of these all over Mexico, and think they’re great because:

  1. You’re directly supporting a local and the local economy; not a corporate tour company.
  2. They are smaller groups, which means a more personalized experience.
  3. You can instantly book them online, so you won’t have to spend your precious travel time finding a tour company.
  4. Like with an Airbnb stay, the guide gets rated at the end, motivating them to do a great job.
  5. They are a great and easy way to meet fellow solo travelers — even for introverts!

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Instagrammable Tulum Places to See

Raw Love Tulum: Perhaps the most famous of Tulum’s large art pieces, the giant “Ven a La Luz” (Come to the Light) sculpture by South African artist Daniel Popper, might as well be a postcard. Walk through this giant, wooden man sculpture to enter the Ahau Tulum resort and Raw Love Cafe.

Follow that Dream Sign: Located on Tulum’s Beach Road in front of the Lolita Lolita shop, this instafamous street sign is a popular photo spot.

Azulik Hotel: There’s so many instaworthy spots in Azulik — starting with the hotel’s shop right when you walk inside, and continuing all the way through to the nest tables at Kin Toh Restaurant.

Casa Malca Couch Swing: Once owned by Pablo Escobar, this hotel is tropical sexy all the way. Don’t miss the hanging couch, black and white Keith Haring bar and Moroccan-style chandelier room.

Matcha Mama: Home to the famous “I Love Tulum So Matcha” sign on a surfboard, hit up this popular spot on Tulum Beach for both photos and a matcha smoothie.

Coco Tulum Beach Swings: There’s so many beach clubs with swings to check out in Tulum, but none more famous than the boho chic white swings at Coco Tulum.


📸 #Tulum #Mexico is a photographer’s paradise! Here’s a list of it’s most insta-famous things to do and see… 🏝☀️ #TravelPhotos #TravelPhotography #Mexico

Best Cenotes in Tulum

What is a cenote?

To make a long story short, cenotes (pronounced sen-no-tay) are basically underwater sinkholes containing crystal-clear, freshwater.

They are only found in a few places on Earth, with the largest concentration located in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, where there are about 6,000 cenotes.

We can see and swim in them because the limestone once covering the water has collapsed and/or eroded throughout Earth’s existence. ⁠

Woman floating in a cenote in Tulum

Tulum Cenotes

Tulum has so many cenotes to see within just minutes of downtown. The five on this list are located just off Highway 109, all within 25 minutes or less of Downtown Tulum. You could ride your bike, hire a taxi or drive your rental car, but don’t attempt to walk to these Tulum cenotes.

If this will be your first visit to a cenote, check out this Cenote FAQ to ensure you’re a responsible visitor.

Cenote Azul: Cenote Azul and Cenote Calavera are the two most instagrammable cenotes in Tulum. This one is more of a swimming pool cenote, with onsite amenities like bathrooms and snacks for sale.

Cenote Calavera: Unlike Cenote Azul, Cenote Calavera is less “swimming pool” and more “hole you jump in.” This cool natural phenomenon is super popular, so try and arrive early to beat the crowds.

Cenotes Tankah: This cenote has a zipline! It’s a large, open cenote, so you can zipline right into its beautiful blue water.

Cenote Car Wash: Located right next to Cenotes Tankah, this one has a much more chill, lagoon vibe.

Cenote Santa Cruz Tulum: This one is just stunning, and also very conducive to hosting visitors with onsite bathrooms, shaded palapas, grassy areas to relax in, and more.

Tulum Cenote Tours

The best way to see some of Tulum’s off the beaten path cenotes? On an Airbnb Experience tour, of course. Since these tours are led by Tulum locals, they know better than the internet to guide you to the coolest cenotes that won’t show up in Google searches.

For those looking for the most instgrammable cenotes in Tulum, know that for the most part, they are all gorgeous with the same crystal-clear water.

The one thing that might make one more photogenic than another is getting those coveted shots without people in them! For this reason, you’ll want to venture to the hidden gem cenotes.

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Cenote Azul in Tulum
Cenote Azul, located only about 5-10 minutes by car from Downtown Tulum.

Best Restaurants in Tulum

Tulum has a nice mix of fine and finer dining, and authentic Mexican food street eats. This list will help you make sure you experience both while traveling to Tulum, because while fancy food is great and all… Did you even really travel to Mexico if you didn’t eat street tacos!? (Hint: No!)

While tacos and Mexico go together like milk and cookies, they aren’t actually a Yucatan food. While in Tulum, make sure you sample some traditional Yucatcan cuisine, like cochinita pibil (slow cooked pork), ceviche (citrus marinated seafood), and lechon (pork with crispy skin).

Fine & Finer Dining: $$$-$$$$

Arca Tulum: Looking for a chef-driven restaurant? Look no further than Arca, led by Mexican/American Chef Jose Luis Hinostroza. He once worked at what is considered the best restaurant in the world, Noma, in Copenhagen. In 2015, Hinostroza brought his skill to Tulum, and opened this foodie favorite.

Hartwood: The “wood” in Hartwood is no lie. This place is all about wood-grilled everything. Opened in 2009 by wife/husband duo, Mya Henry and Eric Werner, Hartwood’s menu changes daily, as the focus is on freshness and seasonality in this solar-powered eco-kitchen.

Casa Jaguar: This quintessential boho chic Tulum spot is rustic elegance all the way. Enjoy fresh ceviche and grilled items, and then wash them down with Casa Jaguar’s innovative cocktails.

Gitano: Sure, the food at Gitano, which means “gypsy” in Spanish, is delicious, creative and fresh — but this restaurant is all about seeing people and being seen. Those in the know head to Gitano to eat one small tapas plate, and then indulge in their yummy mezcal cocktails in a beautiful beachy-garden setting.

Pro tip: You’ll want to make a reservation to eat at all of these places.

Matcha Mama is one of the most photographed cafes in Tulum, Mexico
Matcha Mama is one of the most photographed cafes in Tulum.

Cheap Eats on Tulum Beach: $-$$

Match Mama: Among the most instgrammable places in Tulum, Matcha Mama also serves up smoothies, acai bowls and healthy fare, in addition to their famous and photogenic swings. Head here to take a photo next to their famous “I Love Tulum So Matcha” surfboard sign.

The Real Coconut: Commonly known as one of the best vegan restaurants in Tulum. It’s also located right on the beach and has some amazing views that overlook the Caribbean Sea.

Clan-Destino: Known for having the best burgers in Tulum, Clan-Destino restaurant also has a cenote you can jump in after eating.

Taqueria La Eufemia: The best restaurant on the beach to eat some Tulum tacos, in a fun, festive atmosphere.

I Scream Bar: I Scream is as much a feast for the eyes, as a feast for the stomach. Enjoy tacos and vegan ice cream by day, and one of Tulum’s best bars by night.

Cheap Eats in Downtown Tulum: $-$$

Taqueria Honorio: Where the locals go to eat the best tacos in Tulum. This is a no-frills restaurant, and it’s all about the food. Try the cochinita pibil and lechon, and wash it all down with an agua fresca (fruit water), just like the locals do.

El Camelo Jr.: Known for their fresh seafood plates and ceviches, El Camelo Jr. is a Tulum institution.

Antojitos La Chiapaneca: While not authentic to the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico and the taco al pastor are synonymous. Try this Mexican food staple at Antojitos La Chiapaneca, a late night favorite for locals and visitors.

Burrito Amor: The place for the best burritos in Tulum, with meat, seafood and vegan options.

Batey bar in downtown Tulum
Batey bar in downtown Tulum is famous for their mojitos.

Best Bars in Tulum

Batey: The best bar in Downtown Tulum. Really, there aren’t all that many great bars in Downtown Tulum, but Batey’s would still be the coolest even if there were. Head here at night to hear live music and sip on one of their famous mojitos.

Gitano: As far a the best cocktail bars in Tulum goes, there’s really only one place to indulge, and that’s Gitano. Now, said cocktails don’t come cheap, but it’s worth it to even have just one so you can see this gorgeous restaurant/bar. 

Ziggy Beach Club: One of the best low key beach bars, Ziggy’s is a locals favorite with a great Happy Hour. Chill out on one of their beachfront hammocks and sip on a tropical adult beverage. 

I Scream Bar: In a town full of instagrammable places and visual eye candy, I Scream Bar gives everywhere else a run for their money. This place is super fun, super cool to look at, and also, they serve tacos, so win-win-win.

Mateo’s Mexican Grill: Mateo’s is one of the best places to watch the sunset in Tulum! Head up to the top floor deck and enjoy some Happy Hour 2-4-1 drinks as you watch the sun set into the Tulum jungle. 


Have any tips for a traveling to Tulum, Mexico?

Please let me know in the comments down below!


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17 Comments

  1. Karen

    I was fortunate to visit the Yucatan and Tulum in Feb. before the whole lockdown started. Loved it. This is a very complete and informative post. I also like that you presented some of the ethical dilemmas as well as updates on COVID 19. Great post.

    Reply
    • Shelley

      Thank you for saying that… I know travel right now is such a grey area. I hope I navigated the minefield well🤞

      Reply
  2. amy

    I have always wanted to go to Tulum! My home country is on lockdown right now but I will definitely go to Mexico when it’s lifted.

    Reply
  3. patti

    Wow, your post has so much good information. I haven’t visited Tulum in over 15 years! I’ll bet it has changed so much.

    Reply
  4. Taylor

    Helpful content! Your drone footage is amazing. I have many friends flying out to Tulum as one of the few places Americans can travel to this winter, for better or worse.

    Reply
  5. Cristina

    This blog is absolutely amazing! There is so much helpful information 🙂 I would love to visit Mexico, I’m craving beach and tacos.

    Reply
  6. Krista

    Love how thorough you are in this post about visiting Tulum. Lots of great information for people who are wanting to travel there!

    Reply
  7. Catherine

    It’s so interesting how Tulum is blowing up with visitors right now. I can’t blame anyone… I’d love to lie on a beach or explore the surrounding cenotes, too! This is such a thorough post on how to visit Tulum during the pandemic.

    Reply
    • Shelley

      Hey Catherine: Yeah, I think everyone’s headed down to Tulum to get their Vitamin D. Winter is technically “season” for Tulum, and the weather’s perfect right now. I just hope everyone travels responsibly🤞🤞🤞

      Reply
  8. Elizabeth Hilton

    I visited Tulum 14 years ago. I think it is time for a return trip. This post is very helpful since it seems that a lot has changed in the past 14 years!

    Reply
    • Shelley

      Elizabeth: I first visited 2 years ago, and it’s almost a different world… I can only imagine from 14 years ago!

      Reply
  9. Portia Jones

    Your posts are always so incredibly detailed and informative. When I plan my first ever trip to Mexico I will be reading every single thing you’ve written to plan it! xx

    Reply
  10. Emma

    I would love to visit Tulum, it looks like an incredible place. While I’m not ready to travel yet, mostly because although I would be able to leave Canada it would be difficult getting back in without quarantining, if this goes on much longer I might have to think about doing something. Great advice and tips on Tulum and how it is right now. I’m always interested with how other places are dealing with the current situation

    Reply
  11. Emma

    I would love to visit Tulum, it looks like an incredible place. While I’m not ready to travel yet, mostly because although I would be able to leave Canada it would be difficult getting back in without quarantining, if this goes on much longer I might have to think about doing something. Great advice and tips on Tulum and how it is right now. I’m always interested with how other places are dealing with the current situation

    Reply
  12. Ildiko

    Beautiful, thorough, and informative post. Also, perfect timing because my husband and I were recently discussing a possible trip to Tulum during the winter. I think I would want to stay on the beach , since I see beach so rarely living in Kentucky. Also the cenotes were very interesting. I did not know about them. They look beautiful. Definitely will visit a few. Of course need to go to Chitchen Iza too. Thanks for all the great tips!!

    Reply
  13. Patti

    I’ve never been to Tulum except via a Cruise decades ago. I’ve been itching to travel and thought maybe Mexico would be good for Winter but my hubby is still anxious about flying during covid. So now we wait some more…..

    Reply
  14. Nathalie Bolet

    A place in paradise. Adding this to my list. It looks fantastic and so beautiful. Thank you for sharing all the updates regarding the current situation

    Reply

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