My first time in Tulum, Mexico

My first time in Tulum, Mexico

Tulum is a beautiful town in Quintana Roo, Mexico full of smiles, bicycles, awesome food and carefree spirits.  I returned from this trip feeling like I hit the reset button on my well-being. Now I know, if I ever need a break from everything, Tulum is where I need to go back to.

The reason for this trip was to get away from it all for my birthday. Boyfriend and I have been traveling for our birthdays since we started dating and it’s honestly one of our favorite traditions. Tulum had been on my bucket list for quite some time so this was a no brainer. Here are the highlights of our trip! Hope this helps you plan your Tulum experience.

How to get there:

The closest airport is located in Cancun (CUN). We flew from NYC and there were tons of direct flights available from JFK. The flight was only 4 hours.

We also rented a car at the airport since we didn’t plan our transportation ahead of time. If you choose to rent a vehicle, bring a credit card because they’ll probably hold between $500 - $1,000 USD in case anything happens to the car. The actual cost of the rental was $130 for 5 days though.

If you don’t want to drive in a foreign country, I recommend booking a shuttle ahead of time. There are shared and private options available. I recommend (I booked them for a one way transfer from Tulum back to the airport since my boyfriend had to take a super early flight on our last day). I chose the private transfer and was picked up in a white air-conditioned van. The driver was really nice too.


Expect humid and tropical weather all year. Temps were in the 80s during our stay and we had a passing shower on our last day which lasted about 10 mins.  Tulum’s rainiest months are June-October due to hurricane season. The town gets most of its visitors between November and February (Shocker! Everyone’s running away from the miserable cold temps in the states)

 Local Currency:  

Mexican Pesos (MXN). At the moment 1 MXN = 0.053 USD

Where to stay:

You can stay in town or at the beach. It depends on your budget really. You can find amazing condos in town for half the price of what you would pay for the boutique hotels on the beach.  We chose the beach because it was my birthday and I wanted to spoil myself a little. When I go back I might stay in town though just so I can get a different experience. Don’t worry, Tulum town is just as wonderful and has lots of bars/ restaurants to choose from.

We stood at Chiringuito Hotel which has only been opened for a few months. It’s located towards the end of the beach strip and has 13 rooms, a pool, beach beds and a restaurant. The staff was so sweet to us and made us feel at home. We were so sad when it was time to come back to NYC.

Where we ate and danced:

Breakfast -

·     Ki’Bok Coffee: Located in Tulum town. We loved their breakfast menu.

·      Del Cielo: Also in Tulum town. Awesome for breakfast, the food here is so colorful and on the healthy side. If you’re vegan you must go here!

Lunch -

·      Taqueria La Eufemia: Beach club/ taco restaurant. Cheap prices for beers and food and attracts a cool crowd.

·      Coco TulumBeach club. The tacos are so good here!  Amazing décor, music and vibes. This is the place to be on Sunday afternoons.

·      Mateo’s Mexican Grill: Restaurant located on beach strip. Always busy during lunch hours.

Sweets –

·      Sugar Shack: Beach strip. Located next to Mateo’s. Grab an ice cream cone and be happy!

·      Panna e Cioccolato: Tulum town.  So many gelato flavors to choose from. You’ll love it! 

Dinner –

·      Casa Jaguar: Beach/Jungle side. We went on a Thursday and every table was full. Luckily we had a reservation. Food was delicious! Order the octopus and get the Guava Mezcal cocktail. ($$$)

·      Gitano:  Beach/Jungle side. They say Friday nights this is the place to be! It was really busy when we went so reserve your table ahead of time via e-mail. ($$$)

·      Hartwood: Beach/Jungle side.  If you don’t eat here during your stay did you even go to Tulum? Make a reservation ahead of time. ($$$)

·      Antojitos la Chaipaneca: Tulum town. Cheap, delicious tacos! Bring cash! ($)

Party –

·      Papaya Playa: On the beach. Excellent on Saturdays. I don't really recommend high heels. Most people were dancing barefoot on the sand.

·      Kiki: Tulum town. It gets good really late at night.

What to do:

·      Rent a bike – Tulum has plenty of bike rental places.  If you don’t have a car or want to save some money on taxis this is definitely a good choice.

·      Visit a Cenote – I wanted to avoid crowds so I chose Cenote Naharon (Cristal & Escondido).  Other options:  Dos Ojos, El Pit, Ik Kil and Gran Cenote. My advice is to get there early. Bring cash and towels.

·      Visit a lagoon – The receptionist at out hotel recommended Laguna Kaan Luum and OH MY! Seriously one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to. The water was unreal! There’s nothing to eat there (my guess is they want to avoid trash as much as possible) so make sure you eat before getting there. Bring cash and towels.

·      Ruins of Tulum - Ruins of a walled, ancient Mayan city, located on a bluff overlooking the Caribbean Sea. Wear sunscreen, comfortable shoes, get there early and bring a bikini in case you decide to go for a swim after!

·      Shop – Town and the beach side have some amazing shops, but if you’re looking for better prices I definitely suggest shopping in town.

·      Relax – You’re in paradise.

 Final thoughts on Tulum:

I’ve been to Mexico 6 times and have visited different parts of it. Every time I think “Ok Farah, after this trip no more Mexico for a while. You have other countries on your bucket list!” I end up discovering another town and fall in love with it before I even get there. Tulum had been a dream of mine for years and after visiting, I’m now even more obsessed with it. As I mentioned above, I came back feeling so at peace and happy. I hope I’m lucky enough to go back soon!

Ways to save towards your next vacation:

  • Sign up for easy savings accounts like Digit and Qapital.
  • Digit - checks your spending habits and moves money from your checking account if you can afford it. Easily withdraw your money any time. It's so painless! Sign up
  • Qapital - has a similar concept except you choose your goals and set up rules to trigger deposits into your Qapital account! Sign up
  • Use Ebates when booking flights and hotels, my favorite site to book with is Expedia. They give 10% cash back once you've completed your trip. Pretty sweet! Sign up

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