You might have never heard of this cozy little town named Tulum, alongside the Rivera Maya; when most people talk about the state of Quintana Roo, they automatically think of Cancun! Party central and home to some of the most beautiful resorts.
I wanted to learn more about Mayan culture and its beauty, so I knew I had to take a trip to a place I could interact with locals and still be able to enjoy some much needed time off during my birthday. My cousin Blanca pointed me in the right direction and sent me all kinds of pictures and links to persuade me to go and explore Mexico, yet again. I began doing research about Tulum and learned that there were not any big name hotels in this town, only small boutique hotels and other small accommodation options. I opted to stay at an Airbnb, which I felt would be taking a big risk, with all the stories you hear on the news about terrible things that are currently happening in Mexico.
I found a placed with great reviews on the Airbnb website and with very reasonable prices for the dates I was traveling. I decided to book a condominium located in a building called Los Amigos. The pictures on the Airbnb website were also amazing and so I didn’t hesitate much. When I travel within the United States, I chose to fly using Southwest airlines and when traveling internationally to Mexico, I like Delta and AeroMexico. I have had great experiences using these airlines.
So, now that I told you all about how I came to the decision to go to Tulum, it’s only fair for me to tell you about this magical town.
Tulum is approximately a 2 to 2 1/2 hour drive from the airport in Cancun. I, personally, do not like how driving is done in Mexico, and so I chose to have a car service pick me up at the airport. I had a fabulous experience using tripallied.com; I paid $80 dollars round trip (from and to Cancun airport) you can receive a discount when booking on-line if you chose to pay in cash at pick up. What I liked about them, is that you can pay them in U.S. dollars or Mexican pesos. They were easy to find once you exit the airport and their customer services is right on point. The cars are clean and they use newer models. The driver was very friendly and gave me tips on places to visit during my stay. The drive to Tulum went smooth, with very minor traffic encountered. By the way, you go pass Playa del Carmen, pay attention to the resort entrances. They are magnificent.
Note: Tripallied.com will email you directions and advice you not to stop and talk to the vendors as you exit the airport, please listen to them. They were right! I will tell you in another blog what happened when I stopped and talked to one of them.
The Airbnb condo for Los Amigos was everything I expected in terms of size and cleanliness. I stayed in the “Happiness” suite and was pleased. The condo offers a bedroom with a King size bed, a small balcony, ample spaces to store your travel clothing and items, a wall closet and a safe. The bathroom is very spacious, with a very nice shower and places to hang toiletry items. The living room and kitchen face each other. The living room is very cozy, with a futon, a flat screen TV and basic cable, a mini kitchen bar as well; the kitchen offers a refrigerator, dishes and other small items you might need, shall you decide to cook your own meals. The building also offers bicycles to its guest, free of charge, but if you lose the bike or it gets stolen, you are responsible for paying it. There is a nice size roof top pool with views to the jungle. It was nice to get some relaxing time after a day full of activities around town. The pool area does need to get its wooden floors updated, as there is some damage to the wood, but very minor. The building was quiet and I felt secure staying here. I received daily room service and sets of clean-fresh washed towels, which is a plus. Communication between the hosts and myself was 100% satisfying, always communicating through Airbnb and they would email me reminders about my stay and provide me suggestions of things to do in Tulum. They have a ‘Welcome’ book with important information and taxi service suggestions. I used one of the recommended person’s services and he was very pleasant and nice. This condo also offered Wi-Fi, which in my opinion, was a bit too slow.
Positive: Large condo for up to 4-people with plenty of space and very clean, lots of amenities and bikes free of charge for guests. The rooftop pool to watch the sunset is definitely a plus.
Negative: To get to the main road, is about 3/4 of a mile, so if you consider utilizing this condo, I would recommend renting a car, unless you truly enjoy walking after a long day of activities. I didn’t want to misplace the bicycle and be held financially responsible for it, so I didn’t use them.
Tulum is a small town. Safe, small town. It is not yet inundated with tourists, so it’s very easy to maneuver yourself around the local shops and places. The best way to get around in Tulum is by bike. That’s right, a lot of visitors travel by bike or walk down the main road. I did a lot of walking.
On the first day, I had lunch at a restaurant called Los Aguachiles. The restaurant is out on the open and in my opinion the food was average. I had fried fish, which came with rice (the rice was really good), beans and pico de gallo. There were a lot of flies around, so my main focus was being able to keep them off my food, rather than just focusing on enjoying the food. My friend had a shrimp cocktail and a shrimp tostada. She said both were delicious. I could have skipped that horchata drink I had. The best part about this place are their margaritas. REALLY GOOD! And you can take them to go.
When I left the restaurant, I decided to walk down the main road and stopped by quite a few shops. About a mile and a-half from the restaurant, we found the main plaza, where the building Municipal (very similar to a Sheriff’s office) is located. This is a very nice little plaza for picture taking and there’s also a huge TULUM sign and many other shops you can wonder around in. I saw some of the most beautiful pottery and hope to some day return to buy these wonderful pieces of work. See for yourself!
These are a few of the pictures of my first day in Tulum. In my next blog, I will tell you all about visiting the Tulum Ruins and snorkeling at the beach right below the ruins! I will also share other restaurants I dinned in, transportation and how to find the best deals for guided tours; oh! And the story about why it’s not the best idea to talk to the vendors as you exit the airport in Cancun.
I hope you found this piece about Tulum as magical as I did.
And for the record, Mexico, is a safe place to travel to. But, you have to be smart and take precautions as you would traveling any other country.