Tulum is becoming increasingly popular and after my recent trip, I can see why! Planning your own trip to Tulum? Here you will find the ultimate guide on where to eat, and what to do in Tulum!
Tulum is truly paradise. There are white sand beaches, breathtakingly beautiful aqua blue water, plenty of fresh fish and seafood, and full of people who love life and care about the environment.
Tulum is located just two hours south of Cancun, making it a super easy trip from Austin. Don’t let the proximity to Cancun fool you. Tulum is not for those looking for a spring break-like vacation. Tulum is super mellow, laid back and low-key. Most places shut down around 9-10pm.
I am not one who can sit on the beach for the whole day (or even for more than an hour), but I did truly love it here! We found plenty of activites that are still relaxing. We took many long walks in the powder-like sand, checking out different hotels, restaurants, and retreats. We did yoga, swam in the ocean, got massages, hiked the ruins, swam in a cenote and ate delicious food. What more could you ask for?!
One more tip, don’t plan to a strict schedule. If you need to be somewhere at a certain time, allow plenty of time. We experienced some true ‘Mexican time’– nobody is in a rush. My impatient self kept needing more sips of margaritas!
Okay, let’s cut to the chase. The food.
Food along the beach
The beach area of Tulum is one large dirt road with beach on one side, and the jungle on the other. Essentially, most hotels are on the beach side, and most resturants on the jungle side, which makes for super unique atmospheres throughout.
The “restaurants” are unlike any other, in that there are no buildings. Most restaurants are open air, with a decorative trellis, dirt/pebble floors, billowing nature, and unique décor.
I’ll just get this one out of the way. It’s worth it. All the hype, the long wait… yes, just do it. I was worried it wouldn’t live up to the hype, but it sure did. Between the atmosphere, the food, the service and the drinks, we couldn’t have asked for more.
The menu changes every day, based on what the fishermen bring in. That night, we started the Ceviche and the Empanadas de Papaya. Both were unreal, particularly the empanadas drizzled with honey.
For entrees, we had Filete de Robolo (sea bass-like fish) and the ribs. The ribs were super tender, flavorful and fell right off the bone. Don’t get me wrong, they were delicious, however the fish. THE FISH. Oh my god. I was in heaven. It was a buttery white fish, and seared with a crispy outside that made me want to melt into the plate. Hartwood is dimly lit, so pictures didn’t turn out as well, sorry! I’m sure you get the idea.
For a high quality meal, we did not find it to be too expensive (compared to US meals). We spent $90 USD on 2 appetizers, 2 entrees, and 3 cocktails. And we were stuffed.
The wait can be unbearably long, but try to email them for a reservation in advance. And by advance, I mean 3 months in advance. I made our January reservation in October! (I actually think I made it before I booked the flights haha!)
The Kitchen Table
We opted for another “upscale” dinner at The Kitchen Table. The atmosphere has a true jungle-esque feel and the kitchen is visible to almost everyone dining.
With a party of four, we got two Shrimp Tempura Kakiage, Quesadilla de Cuitlacoche, Pulpo Rostizado (roasted octopus), Ahi Tuna Steak, and the Costilla de Cerdo (pork ribs). Everything was quite tasty, however the crowd favorites were definitely the Shrimp Tempura and the Pan Roasted Octopus. Although the octopus may look intimidating, it is so delicious and totally worth it!
In terms of pricing, it was about $70 USD per couple for all the food + 1 drink each. Super high quality food for a great price!
While waiting for our reservation at Hartwood, we walked to Cenzontle to grab a drink and we were SO glad we did. We think these were the best drinks we had on the trip.
We had to try the mezcal here– I cant recall the names of the drinks, but the Old Fashion with Mezcal is the one to get (picture on left below). It was so well balanced, strong, and smoky!
Ziggy’s on the Beach
Our first day, we had a late lunch and opted for a late dinner. Not the best decision because we realized places close pretty early. When Taqueria la Euphemia wouldn’t let us order tacos (nooooo), we headed to Ziggy’s. Ziggy’s is a hip spot with a laid back vibe. We ordered the ceviche and a few margs and beers. Although the ceviche was good, it didn’t end up being my favorite on the trip. Nonetheless, Ziggy’s was a great spot for margs and relaxing with some friends.
Taqueria la Euphemia
Beach-front, cheap tacos, cheap drinks (for the beach area), and hippie central. We walked by this place around 5pm and it was a little too crowded for us. We tried to go at night, but at 9:05, we learned they stop serving food at 9pm. The following morning, we went for their breakfast tacos, because well, usually people get breakfast tacos in the morning. Well, they weren’t open until noon!!
Don’t worry, our determination for tacos persevered!! We FINALLY had some tacos for lunch, and despite the frustrations of timing, I will say… you need to go. The fish and shrimp tacos are da bomb. Don’t bother with the chicken/pastor ones. You’re smack on the carribean, so just get the seafood, they are DELISH. And can’t hurt to have your margs with that view!
We had trouble finding the hours online (obviously), so from our experience, they are open from 12pm- midnight, and stop serving food at 9pm.
Raw Love Café
I mean, THE BOWLS. Oh my goodness. For $5 USD you can get a delicious acai bowl topped with fresh fruit, coconut, sprouted nuts, and so much raw love. We got the Green Goddess Smoothie and the Acai Bowl. You can make any smoothie into a bowl, and I highly recommend it. If I could eat here every morning, I would!
This place was a superfood and hippie heaven. Locals kept coming up to each other and hugging talking about where they just traveled to, why they were gone, what they did… and all in uniquely patterned clothes. The non-locals stood out like a sore thumb. It was pretty funny—yet also neat to get a taste of the free-spirit life.
We didn’t actually go here, but my friends RAVED about Posada Margherita. I wish we had more time to eat there. I also recommended it to another friend who recently went and loved it. Word on the street is the shrimp pasta is to die for!
Food in Tulum Town:
Town is legit. We walked around during dinner hours and restaurants were bustling with locals and tourists alike. Live music is performed at some places, food is cheap, and food is authentic. It’s the real deal.
This was our first meal in Tulum. We arrived from the ADO bus and walked a few minutes down to La Barracuda. We started our trip with 3 shrimp tacos, 3 fish tacos, chips and salsa, and Mexican beers. The set of 3 tacos was 95 pesos… that’s about $4USD…. right??!! Each taco came with a slab of white fish and shrimp. YUM. Lunch in total was about $10USD, what a steal.
Although La Coqueta is located off a pretty busy street, you won’t notice when you’re eating. It feels very homey, the decor is fun and bright, and THE SHRIMP. I heard about the shrimp from my friend, but I didn’t envision this.
Our massive burrito was barely keeping form with these gigantic meaty shrimp. Seriously, heaven. This honker came packed with black beans, guacamole and rice. We had to take it to-go, but it was still just as good!
Street Tacos– anywhere
Even though we had reservations at The Kitchen Table, we stopped at a small taco joint because we couldn’t resist! We got two small tacos to-go for 20 pesos. We took a few steps and 1 bite… and turned right back around to order more. They were fresh off the schwarma machine, topped with salsas, dirt cheap, and SO good. We wanted to go to Antojitos la Chiapeneca, a popular local place, but were satisfied with these guys.
If mojitos are your jam, Batey’s is your place. Right outside, they had the sugar cane truck where we saw this guy compressing the sugar cane for the mojitos. It was super intriguing to watch him cut the sugar cane and compress it. Our drinks came with sugar cane sticks too! Beware: drinks are strong and the “Maya” has no shortage of jalapenos!
Go here for the waffles for breakfast, or waffles for dessert! You can’t go wrong. You can choose from decadent waffles with maple syrup, whipped cream, toasted nuts, fresh fruit, and more. The sandwiches that came out also looked delicious! We opted for the healthier waffles, made from oat flour, topped with fruit, nuts and honey.
Frutas y Verduras Pool
Something about grocery shopping in other countries is so exhilarating to me. I wanted to buy everything in here! Unfortunately, we didn’t do much cooking, but we did buy some fresh fruit here. Mangoes, coconuts, papaya, bananas, and pineapples fill the store with a tropical aroma that I couldn’t pass up. Definitely stop by to pick up some fresh fruit. Just make sure you buy foods with thick skins, or sanitize properly. If you are looking for groceries outside of fresh produce, the Chedrai is your spot.
Yoga: You will find signs along the beach for yoga session dates and times. We stayed at Alaya Tulum which has daily yoga at 9am for it’s guests.
Massages: We got massages along the beach with the waves crashing in the background. I mean, come on. Pure heaven. We got a couples massage for 70 minutes for $70 USD. That’s only $35 per person for 70 minutes. Did I mention you’re on the beach?
Coba: We hired a driver for the day (hi Gerardo!), and he took us exploring for the day. First stop was at the Coba ruins, where the steep climb is worth the beautiful view. He then took us to a lesser known cenote. We were the ONLY ones in there! It was so crazy and such a cool experience. He then took us to some local food, a local beach and an amazing ceviche joint. I won’t divulge his secret spots, you will need to inquire with Tulum Juan. See if Gerardo is free– he is so friendly, laid back and knows his stuff.
Cenotes: We went to a lesser known one with Gerardo, but there are over 40,000 in the region! Popular ones include Gran Cenote and Dos Ojos.
Make sure you enjoy some fresh coconuts, lay in the hammocks and eat fresh ceviche!!
For those looking to estimate costs (or am I the only crazy budget person?), here is what we found. This is from January 2017, when $1 USD= ~21 pesos.
- Taxi transport from town to/from beach: 100-200 pesos
- Entrance to Coba: ~70 pesos/pp
- Entrance to Cenote: 55 pesos/pp
- Cocktails (beach area): 145-175 pesos
- Beers (beach area): 90-100 pesos
- Cocktails (in town): 60- 80- pesos
- Beers (in town): 35 pesos
- Cheap tacos in town: 3 med size for 95 pesos, 5 small for 48 pesos
- Nice dinners (beach area): appetizers 125-165, entrees 210-265
Getting to Tulum from Cancun Airport:
Now that you’ve read all the amazing things to do and eat in Tulum, here’s how you get there from Cancun International Airport!
- ADO Bus: One way cost per person 228 pesos (around $12 USD, $24 round trip)
- Private Transfers: USA transfers or Canada Transfers, for 3 people $175-200 USD round trip
Because we were on a budget, we decided to take the ADO bus. I did consider buying a last minute transfer the night beofore. But I am glad I didn’t because the ADO bus was so easy. It has AC, was perfectly clean and an easy ride! We caught the direct bus from Cancun to Tulum. Although there was a stop in Playa Del Carmen, we didn’t have to transfer.
You can look at the bus times at this website, but you can only buy online with a Mexican credit card. I was a little worried to show up and buy tickets there, but there was no problem at all. There were plenty of seats. You must pay in pesos when you arrive, so make sure you exchange your money before you leave.
That’s a wrap from our Tulum trip!
Move Tulum to the top of your travel list and get away for a long weekend! The popularity is already sky rocketing, so go while it’s still young!
With only 4 days and 3 nights, we couldn’t hit everything. What did we miss on our trip? I’d love to hear your experience!