Total trip, we were in the Yucatan for 8 nights, and the first 3 of those we spent in a great AirBnB in the town of Tulum. On a tiny side street, it was quiet enough to get some sleep or plan out our next day, but still close enough to walk into town and sniff out whatever smelled best for dinner.
Although the beachfront is dominated by hotels, similar to Cancun or Playa del Carmen, the town is pretty slow-paced. Staying in town allowed us to feel at least a bit more local, which I love. If you want a spot to take it slow for a bit while traveling the Riviera Maya, Tulum is a great option.
If going slow isn’t your thing, still stop by Tulum. It has some great ruins, beaches, and is in the perfect spot to explore other nearby sites.
Tulum Archeological Site
The ruins at Tulum are one of the most frequently visited ancient sites in the Yucatan, and it shows. Luckily, we got there early. By the time we left (around 11AM) the site was packed. To be fair, it’s a beautiful site, complete with its own beach, so I see why people want to go.
We got to the ruins right around 8AM when it opened, and explored the ruins for maybe 2 hours. The site is large, and there are plenty of structures still in great shape. That’s thing about ruins…they’re not really “ruined.” These things were built to last. When you’re hiking through stone walls built 1,000 years ago, you can’t help but be impressed.
After seeing Machu Picchu last year, I can’t say I’m surprised everything is still standing.
Simply in awe.
Advice for Tulum? Get there early. It gets busy. Such a bittersweet thing, seeing so many people exploring the ruins. I felt the same about Machu Picchu. On one hand, I’m so happy that people still value these places, and travel so far to see them. The problem is, the enjoyment of the site has a bit of a negative correlation with the amount of people there at the same time. Something about weaving through crowds really takes away from the magic of the site.
Get there right at 8AM, and you’ll have a solid hour to explore the area without too much interference. We had the same plan for Chichen Itza, and it worked out well.
After walking around the Tulum archeological site for a while, the water just looked so inviting…
Tacos in Tulum
Since we picnicked in the Sian Ka’an, and spent a day in Akumal, we really only got to eat twice in Tulum. What we lacked in quantity, we sure made up for in taste!
We arrived the first day in Tulum around 6PM. We were also starving, so we unloaded the car, and went to find food. The first night, we snagged some dinner at Don Cafeto’s. The chicken mole and tacos were delicious, and the salsa was hot. Just my kind of place!
On a recommendation from a friend, we also stopped by Antojitos la Chiapenaca. If you feel like you’re in the wrong place, it’s the right place. Filled with local families and only open for dinner, you know it has to be good. I wasn’t disappointed.
I have never had better tacos in my life, and the slaw on top is absolutely amazing. Get this too – multiple tacos, drinks, for 3 people? 100 pesos. Not even $6 US for arguably the best meal I had while I was in Mexico. If you go, you absolutely have to try the tacos al pastor. The meat is cooked on an open flame all night, and then sliced thin from the outside. It’s a great fire-roasted flavor to go with the spicy salsa verde and fresh slaw, all wrapped up tight in a small tortilla.
Tulum was a huge success. Not only was it my son’s first taste of international adventure, but we all ignited that flame for exploring again.
And that’s what travel is all about, wouldn’t you agree?