About 90 minutes drive south from the infamous party town of Cancun is an idyllic village on Mexico’s Caribbean coastline. Tulum’s welcome contrast from Cancun’s intensity has all the hall marks of being an unmatched travel experience to any other. Here’s why.
With a location on a Caribbean coastline Tulum can initially appear like any other typical oceanside resort town. White sandy beaches, turquoise oceans lining the sand, beach cabanas and restaurants which have mastered the art of tourism, attract bronzed holiday makers in troves during the high season. But digging beneath the resort vibe surface, it’s clear Tulum is far from any typical beach destination.
Perhaps it’s because the beach is more attractive to surfers than beach bakers or perhaps it’s because most travellers don’t get past the high energy and all inclusive’s of Cancun that contribute to Tulum’s completely charming, eco hippy vibe. Moreso, this is a town built around a yoga ethos; slow, calm and eco friendly is here in abundance.
Initially Tulum’s cenotes are responsible for putting this town on the map. An underground network of tunnels and pools perfect for exploring by snorkel and fins. Tulum cenotes are home to turtles and bright coloured fish, are easy to navigate and an opportunity to experience a unique underwater experience. While cenotes were the primary attraction – alongside Mayan ruins dating back to the 13th century – Tulum is now prominently an eco village centred around yoga.
Tulum is the place to go for yoga teacher training or retreats delivered within eco resorts on the edge of the Caribbean ocean. You won’t find wifi, department stores or many motor vehicles as the town is based around the idea of peaceful eco living. You’ll ride bikes for transport around the village, enjoy perusing Mexican boutiques en route to the cenotes where you can choose to be alone or find the crowds in the Grand Cenote, and practice your downward dogs at sunrise and sunset.
If you’re someone who enjoys disconnecting with media, taking life slowly, enjoying small discreet beach village vibe then Tulum is your ideal holiday destination.
How to Get to Tulum From Cancun
Getting to Tulum from Cancun is easy. It’s as simple as a 131km drive on a straight road that runs parallel to the coastline. The stretch of road is maintained much like western parts of the world; sealed with road markings in the centre. Traffic travels orderly so taking a car is a safe option.
That said, there is a bus that will get you get to Tulum from Cancun. The timetable is regular, the buses are well maintained, and the company is reputable. The cost is around 136 pesos (USD $8) but the bus departs the bus terminal which is 17km (around 20 minutes) from Cancun airport. This bus is a good option if you have been staying in Cancun but could be a problem if you are walking with luggage form the airport. ADO buses do leave from the terminals at Cancun airport but they are difficult to find and it can be problematic buying a ticket because taxi’s are vying for business instead. Don’t trust the taxis as they are over priced, un truthful, and some are unlicensed which means if they get pulled over but the police they will be placed in jail and so will there passengers.
The best option to get to Tulum from Cancun is to take a private transfer which costs USD $99. This is a safe option with reputable drivers and company. They will collect you from the airport holding a sign with your name on and deliver you to your hotel.
Renting a car to get to Tulum form Cancun isn’t recommended. There are plenty of corrupts police who patrol the stretch of road between the airport and Tulum hoping to gain a few pesos from tourists. There is also no train service travelling to Tulum from Cancun.
Best Time to Visit Tulum
From January to March is the high season when there are plenty of crowds but if you want to avoid the crowds and still have the benefit of warm weather then the best time to visit Tulum is November to December.
From July to October is hurricane season and far from the best time to visit Tulum. Much of the beach hotels are closed and the town is in hibernation. it’s best to come back during the shoulder season even though the fares are lower during the hurricane season.
Tulum Solo Travel
While Mexico has a reputation for corrupt cops and drug warlords, Tulum is at the complete opposite end of the spectrum. Travel to Tulum solo can be thought of as a safe experience. As long as you choose the right way to get to Tulum from Cancun, then you are safe once you reach Tulum, as a solo traveller. This is a friendly, relaxed, low crime town. Apply the same caution as you would travelling anywhere – don’t show off expensive items or flash money around – and you won’t run into any issues.
While the Mayan ruins and Tulum’s Gran Cenote have long been the main attractions, Tulum yoga is what the village has become centred around. The road sign as you enter the town reads “be present” and is a good representation of how much Tulum and you are integrated. Tulum yoga teacher training is professional, international quality and a truly beautiful experience. We recommend Maya Tulum for a Tulum yoga experience, either as part of a yoga retreat or for teaching training. Tulum is certainly the place to be if you are planning a yoga retreat; the village is tailored for yogis!
Beneath the earth in Tulum are an intricate network of tunnels and pools known as cenotes. Tulum cenotes are known to be some of the largest in the world and can be considered a Tulum highlight. There are 5 Tulum cenotes each with varying highlights, structures and entry requirements. The closest cenotes can be reached by bike. Biking in Tulum is the most popular way to get around and with limited travel in the village it is safe, easy, and generally readily available a even guest house or hotel in Tulum. The Gran Cenote is the most touristy Tulum cenote which is located in the residential part of town away form the coastline where the travellers go to. This is still easy to bike to but will take a little longer as it is around 3.5km away from the coastline and across the main road. Taking a taxi is an option but have your hotel arrange it for you just to be sure you get a licensed on. Check out our Tulum Cenotes guide.
Interestingly there are some travellers who don’t like Tulum beach. Although it is turquoise green, framed by white sandy shores and under the heart of the Mexican sun there are some who find it has too much seaweed. Tulum beach does at times have seaweed wash up on it’s shores and at times it is more of a surf beach than a swimming beach. But Tulum is so much more than a beach; the peaceful yoga village vibe that is eco-friendly, somewhat cut off from the outside world in terms of wi-fi connection and too much traffic, and brimming with unique outdoor activities like underground water tunnels and Mayan ruins. It is these things combined with a tropical beach – seaweed or not – that make Tulum beach an excellent destination.