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Tulum – Mexico – My Time In Tulum

Apr 2014

Before arriving in Tulum, I had heard and read nothing but great things about this town. As such, I was worried that I had built my expectations too high and therefore set myself up for disappointment. Fortunately, as it would turn out, Tulum exceeded all my expectations and became my favourite spot along the Yucatán. Let me tell you why.

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Located about 130 kilometres south of Cancún, Tulum is a small, modest town with, a spectacular coastline, impressive Maya ruins, excellent local eateries and a laid back lifestyle.

It is Tulum’s magnificent rugged coastline, gorgeous beaches, green turquoise waters, lush jungle, warm Caribbean breezes and rich Maya history, that makes it the ultimate spot for those seeking sun and relaxation, as well as a dose of Maya culture.

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While Tulum has certainly seen a spike in tourism in recent years, it has proudly held on to its small town charm. Sure, there has been some development, especially along the beach in the form of hotels and beach clubs, but thanks to building restrictions they are all low rise and low density.

I was absolutely thrilled to discover that Tulum’s stretches of pristine white sand were nowhere near as as built up or as busy as they were in Playa del Carmen.

In comparison Tulum’s beaches (particularly Papaya Playa) were positively dreamy and untouched, and somehow even more stunning than the others we’d already visited along the Maya Rivera. Papaya Playa’s beauty made it impossible to want to do anything other than swim and lay the days aways, however with a stack of sights and attractions nearby (more details further on), Tulum also kept Nick and I busy and on the move.

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Furthermore, I was delighted to see that Tulum’s township, which stretches itself along the main highway (making it feel more like a truck stop than the centre of town), had an extremely local feel to it. Apart from a handful of souvenir shops, the rest of the businesses were small eateries, bars and convenience stores.

Also to my relief, Tulum turned out to be the perfect place for Nick and I to base ourselves for ten nights. There’s always a fear when choosing to spend such a big chuck of time somewhere new, that it could wind up being disastrous. However, with Tulum’s sand, surf and proximity to a number of Maya ruins and cenotes (natural sink holes), it couldn’t have worked out better.

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Neither could our accommodation. Nick and I split our time between two hotels. Mango Tulum near the town’s centre and Papaya Playa Project, located on Tulum’s beachfront. While the two hotels were certainly very different in terms of their cost and character, both were fantastic and let us experience two distinct areas of Tulum.

Staying near the centre of town meant that we were within easy walking distance to some of Tulum’s best restaurants, while staying on the beach meant that we were footsteps away from the ocean.

While public transport, in the form of taxis and small vans (colectivos) is frequent and reliable, Nick and I decided the best way for us to get around was to hire a car. So hire a car we did! It was a great decision as it meant that we were not limited by a bus schedule and could come and go as we pleased.

Another reason why I loved Tulum so much was the food, both the quality and the affordability. Often at the end of a meal Nick and I would find ourselves saying, we would have paid triple the price or even more back in New York.

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Although our diet mainly consisted of tacos, fajitas and quesadillas (plus the odd moijto), we ate at a variety of places, from street carts to more established restaurants. A few food highlights were the perfectly grilled beef tacos at El Asadero, the sizzling chicken fajitas at La Coqueta, and some ridiculously cheap and tasty quesadillas from a tiny food stand on Satelite Street.

So, as you can see Tulum really has a lot to offer, especially for those who are in search of sun, salt and sand, without the crowds of Playa del Carmen and the excessiveness of Cancún. Nick and I both agree that it has been the highlight of our trip thus far.

If you’re contemplating travelling to Tulum, do it! It is a must for any visitor to Mexico!

Note

Tulum not only refers to the town, but also to the beach and the ruins. The beach is actually located 5 kilometres east of the town centre and is accessible by foot, bike or car (taxi). 

Posted by Jess Fleming

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