Tulum is the destination on everyone’s lips right now, and although the tourist boom has already started in this once entirely unspoilt beach town, you can still get there and grab a slice of the action before it becomes as commercial as nearby Cancún. If you’re still not convinced, though, here are nine reasons you need to visit Tulum.
It’s home to some of the most pristine beaches in Mexico
If you’re a beach bum through and through, then there’s arguably no better place in Mexico to visit than Tulum. In fact, so idyllic are the shores of this formerly sleepy beach town, even non sand-in-the-bikini-bottom lovers will be sold on the idea of lounging around on the beach all day. Undoubtedly one of the most iconic beaches in Tulum is the aptly named Playa Paraíso (Paradise Beach) which has stunning azure waters, practically-white powder sand and plenty of swaying palms.
You’re close to some of the country’s best cenotes
The Yucatán Peninsula as a whole (the region in which Tulum is situated) is well known for the sheer quantity of cenotes that are dotted across it, from those that are hugely popular with tourists, to those that are practically virgin or even yet to be discovered. When in Tulum, it’s impossible to not stop by one or more of these gorgeous sinkholes with their rugged walls and transparent waters, and you’ll definitely welcome the refreshing coolness of the water in the baking hot heat. The biggest and closest to Tulum is Cenote Dos Ojos.
Cenote Dos Ojos, Carretera Federal Cancún-Tulum, Quintana Roo, México, +52 984 160 0906
It has world class nightlife
Aside from natural wonders and gorgeous beaches, Tulum has some of the country’s best nightlife, from full moon beach parties at the legendary Papaya Playa Project to the uber popular Cuban bar on the central strip, Batey. If you want great mezcal, you can’t miss the underrated hidden gem known as Nakawé, or perhaps you’d prefer to drink some exquisite cocktails in a lush outdoor seating terrace at Gitano. And these are just some of Tulum’s many excellent options!
Papaya Playa Project, Tulum National Park, Tulum, Quintana Roo, México, +52 984 871 1160
Batey, Calle Centauro Sur, Tulum, Quintana Roo, México, +52 984 745 4571
Mezcal Nakawé, Beta Sur, Tulum, Quintana Roo, México, +52 984 209 3936
You can see sea turtles in their natural habitat
If you prefer turtles to tequila and are looking for an eco-friendly reason to visit Tulum, then surely the fact that you can see sea turtles in their natural habitat will sway you. Each year from May to October, many of the beaches in the area see the arrival of thousands of turtles who come to lay their eggs in the powdery sands after nightfall and you’re sure to see them if you keep your eyes peeled. Alternatively, you can head to nearby Akumal to swim with them instead.
The food is to die for
Tulum may not have the fish taco reputation of the Baja Peninsula, or the taco tradition of Mexico City, but the food here is fresh, inventive and to die for – especially the ceviche. If you’re a fan of food this is honestly one of Mexico’s top destinations to get stuck into the culinary scene, whether you like seafood (head to El Camello) or vegan and vegetarian options, there’s something to suit all tastes and palates in Tulum. Hartwood is also a top choice, serving up a shifting menu each day according to the available products.
It has spectacular Mayan ruins
Tulum is blessed not only with great food, coastline and nightlife, but also with some truly historic sites that have pretty spectacular backdrops and stories behind them. The most iconic of all the Mayan ruins you can find in and around Tulum and the surrounding areas is easily the eponymous Tulum Ruins site, which perches precariously on the craggy rock above the beach. Get there early before the hordes of visitors arrive and ruin your picture-perfect views. Alternatively, Cobá is just an hour from Tulum and boasts a spectacular 138-foot pyramid.
Cobá, Carretera Federal 307 Cancún-Chetumal, Cobá, Quintana Roo, México, +52 55 3033 5552
It’s not as touristy as nearby Playa or Cancún
Tulum is definitely touristy, make nony mistake, but it still maintains more of a small town feel than neighboring tourist resorts like Playa del Carmen and Cancún. However, this is unlikely to continue and you’ll undoubtedly see more hotels popping up in the near future in this picturesque part of Mexico, so that’s why you should ideally visit as soon as possible. Plus, it feels good to be in on the secret of one of the coolest places in Mexico.
Tulum is one of Mexico’s more eco-friendly escapes
As mentioned above, Tulum’s not as touristy as other places and, perhaps as a result, is great for those looking for an eco-friendly stay in this area of the country, rather than a chain hotel experience. With plenty of world-class sustainable hotels and accommodation to choose from, most notably the fabulous Casa Malca with its locally crafted buildings and use of organic materials, Tulum is great for those conscious about their environmental impact. Alternatively, you could try out Posada Dos Ceibas near the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve.
You can visit the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve
Speaking of Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, this is most certainly one of the top reasons you should consider adding Tulum to your bucket list in the near future. A sprawling protected area – the largest in the Mexican Caribbean, actually – it’s home to tons of wildlife, particularly birds and flamingos, but you can also spot monkeys, jaguars, ocelots and pumas here too. It’s also an official UNESCO World Heritage Site and offers great diving and snorkelling options, too.