Living in Tulum: the Trendiest Town in the Mexican Riviera

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Where the beautiful sun-seekers go year round, where turtles hatch under the stars, where the parties last all night long… This is Tulum, the trendiest part of the Mexican Riviera.

Instagram influencers, film stars and wannabes flock to Tulum all year, but the high season is where Tulum really comes into its own. With a future international airport planned, and featuring on the vacation lists of celebrities from Britney Spears to Leonardo De Caprio, Tulum is the hottest place to be and the hottest place to invest.

Where is Tulum?

Driving down from Cancun airport along the beach, after Playa Del Carmen the next stop is Tulum. Located approximately 118 kilometers from the international airport, Tulum is easily accessible by rental car or by public transport, including colectivos and Ado buses.

What makes Tulum stand out is that the center of Tulum is not on the beach. Tulum is split into two general areas: Tulum Pueblo and Tulum Playa, or the zona hotelera. Nestled in the jungle, and with a network of dirt roads expanding outwards, Tulum Pueblo is a bustling little town with cafes, restaurants and transport links. Tulum Playa is 3 kilometers away and is a strip of incredible beach clubs and upmarket hotels that open onto the white sands of the beach. With protected jungle and archeological sites in-between, it’s unlikely that Tulum Pueblo will see any expansion up to the beach any time soon.

Tulum Pueblo is connected to Tulum beach by Avenida Coba (Route 109), which then connects to a narrow beachfront access road (Route 15). This runs parallel to the playa and is usually packed with revelers and party-goers. It’s always jammed with traffic, and the beats of the bars spill into the road all through the day and night.

‘Tulum vibes’ and the Tuluminati

Tulum is known for being hipster. Think jungle themed birthday bashes, wild beats, sunset parties and designer swimwear. It has a particular feel about it – macrame wall hangings and bikinis in shades of neutral – and a particular scene of visitors.

Fringe beliefs run wild here, as tourists and expats alike let their hair down. It isn’t uncommon to see spiritual awakenings, hear radical theories or experience a life-changing realization in the jungle of Tulum. A walk along the strip sees tanned, young people getting their latest tattoo or haggling over the price of an ayahuasca trip.

All this to say that Tulum is the place of the Tuluminati – the illuminati conspiracies, and those who believe in them, reinvented in the heat of the Mexican Riviera. Good or bad, this is the reputation of Tulum and why it is such a divisive place in Mexico. In fact for some Mexicans, the mention of Tulum is enough to see eyes rolling.

But the good news? Many celebrities and influencers are paid up members of the Tuluminati, and while there is this cool vibe around Tulum, there will always be people flocking on flights to get here. And the Tuluminati aren’t poor – they’re the wealthy, young elite of the digital economy, with online businesses and high salaries who are willing to open their wallets for a cool margarita and a spiritual clubbing experience. As long as the Tuluminati keep coming, Tulum has a bright future.

The best neighborhoods in Tulum

With Tulum being split over the pueblo and the playa, choosing the best neighborhood for you has never been more important.

If you’re looking for beach-front properties or a walkable distance to the beach, then you might want to re-think Tulum. The beachfront Tulum Playa is very small, and with only one access road and limited properties available, it isn’t a great place for a home.

Tulum Pueblo can be underwhelming for first visitors. With a busy highway running right through, and dirty, dusty houses lining the highway, you would be forgiven for thinking Tulum has lost its sparkle. But take another look – those upmarket cafes, chic farmers markets and sometimes astronomical food prices can tell you something different: Tulum Pueblo is where the tourists are. And the neighborhood of choice? La Valeta.

La Valeta, is an up and coming neighborhood just south of the highway. Jam packed with the hottest new developments, from jungle designs and luxury condos, La Valeta is the perfect place to invest in real estate and at very reasonable prices too. One thing to note about La Valeta is that where the condos are, the roads haven’t yet caught up. It’s not uncommon to see luxury blocks towering over dirt tracks, and expensive cars struggling to make it through the potholes. But that will soon be resolved and, in its prime location, La Valeta is a hot choice for the Tuluminati.

Looking for a more eco-friendly experience? Aldea Zama, between the pueblo and the playa, is the place to be. Teeming with colorful, eco-friendly resorts and condos, this is a chic neighborhood for tourists. The closest neighborhood to the beach, Aldea Zama is perhaps the only neighborhood that can boast walking distance (although in the Tulum heat, we would rather get a colectivo home). A property in Aldea Zama is a great choice for investment.

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The weather and the seasons in Tulum

Tulum is hot, hot, hot – and not just in a great-place-to-invest kind of way.

It’s tropical heat, with a muggy humidity all year round that becomes especially pronounced in the summer months. It’s often rainy, but not for very long. The rainy season stretches from May to October, but there are very few total wash-out days. The dry season is from November to April, and the days and nights are cooler. This is peak tourist season and Christmas in Tulum is especially busy.

It’s rare to need a jacket at night, unless you’re planning a visit around January or February, and the beach days are gloriously sunny. The sunsets are especially gorgeous and the weather is, of course, a main reason Tulum is so popular – it’s hard to be unhappy when the sun is shining.

Hurricane Season

The Caribbean is hurricane territory, and Tulum is no exception. While strong hurricanes are rare, they do happen and it’s best to be prepared. Hurricane season is in the summer, and the most likely months for a hurricane to land are September and October.

All of Tulum’s architects factor in hurricane weather in their design, so your house or apartment should be pretty safe. Still, when hurricanes happen, take all garden furniture inside and make sure you stay away from your windows. Stock up on bottled water just in case.

Sargassum Season

Probably the saddest season in Tulum is the Sargassum season – a blanket of thick, red seaweed that lands on the white shores and covers the beach. It also stinks, can irritate your skin and releases horrible gases when it decays. Sargassum season hits in the summer, so early April till October is where you will will find it at its worst.

Sargassum is a natural phenomenon, but the climate crisis and industrial farming is making it worse. Over the last few years the sargassum is very noticeable, and means that some beaches are off limits when the red tide hits.

Fortunately, the government and local authorities are doing something about it. Early morning workers come to remove the sargassum off the beach, meaning that it’s not as bad as it might be by the time you arrive. You’ll still find some spots that are sargassum-free and they’re great. Otherwise, it’s time to hit the pool during the sargassum season!

Tulum beach

Getting around in Tulum

Tulum is a small place with many things to do within walking distance of most hotels and condos. It’s easy and cheap to get about in Tulum, and the best transport is via a bicycle or using a colectivo.

Colectivos
Colectivos are Mexico’s local answer to a bus service. They are white mini-vans run by the local people, and have their location displayed in the windshield. They are cheap and abundant in Tulum. You’ll see them on the highway and zipping back and forth from the pueblo to the playa.

The trouble with colectivos is that they’re a little difficult to navigate the first couple of times you use them. If you don’t speak Spanish it can be a challenge to understand where you’re going and how much you will have to pay, plus how to get off and on. But there is usually a good samaritan who speaks English on board if you’re really stuck: Mexicans are patient with English-speaking tourists.

Keep cash on you and, once you’ve built up your confidence, a colectivo is a great and inexpensive way to explore further afield, with colectivos heading to Playa Del Carmen for only $20 – $50 MXN, or $1 – $2.50 USD. 

Taxis
Looking for something a little more reliable and a lot less intimidating for your first visit? There are many taxis willing to ferry you around Tulum, and finding one is easy.

Despite having meters, taxis usually charge fixed fares to take you to many common destinations. Make sure you check the fare before you get into the cab – it should be around MX$60 or USD$3 for around the town and up to MX$200 or USD$10 to the beach, but not more. Be aware – taxi drivers in Mexico are notorious for inflating the prices, especially if you’re an obvious tourist.

There are no ride share apps in Tulum, or in Quintana Roo at all, such as Lyft or Uber. The local taxis are the only option. Looking for a taxi to take you a long way? Ask around for a local number of a private or an unofficial taxi in advance – they’re usually cheaper than hailing a taxi on the day and will be happy to do a day’s work for a private tour or a day trip. Plus, if you’re in a hotel, the reception will be happy to call you a taxi or give you a number.

Do you need a car in Tulum?

The honest answer to this is: it depends.

If you’re visiting Tulum for a short period of time during the holiday season, then colectivos, your bike and a couple of taxis will do. But if you’re setting up home in paradise, then a car might not be a bad idea.

Overall, driving in Tulum is a bit of a hassle. There is a lot of traffic, and not that many traffic rules it seems! Plus many of the roads are in a poor condition, with dirt roads making up the majority of the smaller roads in the neighborhoods of Tulum. On the beach there is almost no parking available, and it is much easier to simply hop on a collectivo to take you up to the pueblo.

Buying groceries and going for longer day trips could require a car. If you’re living in a glorious condo, the chances are it might be a long walking distance from a reasonably priced supermarket, so having a car is a necessity. In many condos underground parking is available and secure, so storing your car at home won’t be too much of a challenge. Finally, at the beach clubs on the playa there are a few parking places, so if you fancy a luxury beach day then the chances are you will be able to drive.

Whether you’re up to the challenge of navigating the Mexican roads, however, is another question!

bike-tulum

Everyday Life in Tulum

While Tulum is a great vacation spot for a few weeks, many of us call this little piece of the Mexican Riviera home. Behind the bustling tourist scene there is a quieter pace of expat life. Most of the things you have at home you will be able to find here in Tulum, at the standards you’re used to.

Can I get good medical care in Tulum?

Mexico is well known for being a medical-tourism destination, and for good reason. The medical care here in the Mexican Riviera is excellent and many tourists come here to benefit from the weather and the low costs of cosmetic and dental surgery.

While Tulum is a part of this, and has excellent doctors and emergency care, if you’re seeking cosmetic or dental surgery, head to Mexico City. You’ll find prices there much cheaper than Tulum, and expert doctors who speak English well.

This is also true when it comes to pharmaceutical products and medicines. You’ll be able to fill your prescription in Mexico much cheaper than over the border, and it’s common to see people stocking up before their flight home. The chances are you’ll be able to find exactly what you need at a pharmacy in Tulum.

Are there good English speaking schools in Tulum?

It may seem at first glance that Tulum is just a party place, but with a thriving, young expat community, Tulum has also got some fantastic schools for your little ones and not-so-little ones.

Semilla Dorada, a kindergarten and elementary school, is a Waldorf school that has an impressive reputation and is located in the heart of Tulum. It’s expressive and focuses on creativity and problem solving through play. In the gorgeous Tulum surroundings, the school’s values place it close to nature and imagination, giving a creative space to discover.

Colegio Ingles Tulum (English College Tulum) is a bi-lingual kindergarten, elementary and high school that provides a holistic education to the children of expats and locals alike. With yoga breaks and journaling assignments, Colegio Ingles is a popular choice for parents who are looking for mindful education. As well as the innovative curriculum of wellness, the school also offers a robust curriculum of academics in English and in Spanish.

Green School Tulum is an exciting jungle school in Selvazamá, a sustainable residential area nestled in the lush, Tulum jungle. As you might expect from a jungle school, its focus will extend beyond the traditional academic focuses of English and Math. Supplementing their syllabus with topics like entrepreneurship, environmental studies and mindfulness, it’s a unique approach to learning which is very popular in Tulum. The only trouble? It’s in the building stages and it’s unclear when it will be open. It’s an exciting project, though, and it’s certainly got the Tuluminati’s attention.

Instituto Vittorio Monteverdi, a middle and high school, is a Catholic school with traditional values. With a traditional curriculum and Catholic doctrine, plus a calendar full of religious events throughout the year, it’s a different feeling to the jungle schools. But with a stellar reputation for academic excellence, plus a more traditional understanding of academia, it’s a great choice. It’s also a local school – it’s free and aims to offer education to everyone, exclusive of sus salarios.

Finally, Korali is a Montessori kindergarten and elementary school in Tulum. It is also bi-lingual and offers Montessori based activities to challenge young children. In English and Spanish, it gives children the opportunity to explore and learn through play, in the Montessori learning theory.

One final thing to note – not many schools in Tulum have very comprehensive websites online, and in English it’s even harder to find information on the web. If you’re thinking of bringing your children and making the move to Tulum, it’s worth bringing and visiting, plus asking around the community of other parents in Tulum before you settle on one. Korali and Semilla Dorada, for example, are great schools and popular, but have almost no information on their websites.

Do I have to speak Spanish to live in Tulum?

Similar to life in other parts of Mexico, speaking Spanish is not compulsory, but it will help you get around a lot easier if you do have practical Spanish skills. In Tulum, many of the locals speak great English and English is, of course, the lingua franca of the expat communities.

If you’re ready to get stuck into local life, however, there are some awesome Spanish schools in Tulum. Meztli Spanish Language School offers online and in person classes and is highly rated. Close to Aldea Zama it’s a great central spot, and teaches the kind of Spanish you can use on the street. Alternatively, The Spanish Lab Tulum is a great little school run by the friendly Yulio. With a rustic little classroom and a great teacher, The Spanish Lab is where a lot of the expats love to learn. Where better to learn Spanish than the gorgeous beaches of the Mexican Riviera?

Are there good gyms in Tulum?

Tulum is a health haven, with many yoga classes, dance teachers, spiritual guides and a host of health shops and restaurants. And the beautiful sun-seekers need to work out.

To cater for the muscled bodies on the beach, there are a host of excellent gyms available in the center of Tulum. Tulum Evolve is one of the most popular gyms, with branches throughout the Mexican Riviera. It’s well-stocked and with some great personal trainers to help you on your fitness journey in your new home. Some locations of Evolve are better stocked and have more modern equipment than others, though, so check out a few locations before you sign up!

Los Amigos Gym is the ‘cool gym’, with an indoor climbing wall. It is fitted out with brand new machines and also offers personal training and climbing classes too. UNITY Fitness Club & Gym offer yoga, pilates and cross fit as well as their gym. Looking for a gym with a beach vibe? Tulum Jungle Gym is right on Tulum beach, so you can tone up and get tanned at the same time.

If you’re looking to buy in a condo, however, the chances are that there will be an excellent gym inside your condo building or residential block. Some residential buildings even have yoga classes and wellness projects for residents!

The cost of living in Tulum

With a whole host of wealthy visitors and celebrities, plus accommodation and cafes available on a budget, Tulum is a place where budgets adapt to what you want to pay. If you’re looking for a cheap vacation, you might be able to find it here. If you’re seeking luxury, boutique experiences then you’ll find those too. Tulum caters for every taste and wallet.

Realistically, an average US wage stretches further in Mexico and, with fewer bills to pay, lower electricity costs and cheaper prices on the essentials, you’re likely to need less here than back home. Having said this, condo rents are soaring as investors pour into Tulum. In just a few years rents have almost doubled and post-pandemic inflation is bringing much higher prices to the whole Yucatan Peninsula.

Working in Tulum

Fancy yourself as a digital nomad? You’re not alone. Since the pandemic and the rise of remote working, digital nomads and beach-side offices have been on the rise. Tulum is a dream location for digital nomads, and you’re in good company here.

Tourists can get a 180 day visa on entry in Mexico, and it’s easy to apply for residency if you decide to settle too. There are many helpful lawyers who will help you navigate the red tape and the challenges of residency and they make it very easy to get your paperwork in order.

Tulum also has great wifi and excellent phone signal, in most places! In condos and in Tulum Pueblo it’s very common to have free wifi, and most cafes and restaurants will happily give you the password to connect. Running a business from Tulum is easy, although power cuts and hurricanes do disturb the connection occasionally.

There are also some fantastic co-working cafes and spaces that make meeting people easy – great if you miss the commute to the office. Los Amigos, Bucko Tulum and Cowork Tulum are all coworking spaces that have mixed reviews.

Is Tulum safe?

On the whole, Tulum is safe and if you take common-sense precautions then your trip to Tulum, and your home in Tulum, will be trouble-free.

For the majority of tourists and the thousands of visitors that flock to Tulum every year, their visits are without problems. Like all places abroad, travelers should exercise caution when they’re out and about. Where alcohol and cash are involved, the likelihood of crime increases, and visitors should be aware of scams and petty theft.

There have been some high profile cartel incidents in the state of Quintana Roo, but it is safe to say that issues such as shootings and kidnappings are not at all common. Tourists, expats and visitors can keep themselves safe by not engaging in illegal activities and taking precautions in busy areas.

Unfortunately, however, there are problems in Tulum with drugs. It is common to be offered drugs on the streets and it is very frequent to see tourists under the influence of drugs and alcohol – it’s part of Tulum’s party reputation, after all. But taking illegal drugs in Tulum is not safe and comes with high risks. The drug laws are different here; marujana is still illegal and you could be at risk if you choose to buy it and consume it. Indigenous hallucinogenic drugs (such as ayahuasca and DMT) are common and they are not illegal to consume. This doesn’t mean that they are safe to consume – the industry is largely unregulated and the consumption of any hallucinogenic drugs comes with a high risk of unpleasant side effects. While there are many ayahuasca experiences for sale openly, proceed with caution.

A further issue in Tulum is the police and corruption. With Mexican salaries so low, police officers are often on the lookout for an easy way to make a quick buck. Stopping tourists on imagined crimes and then demanding a fine is a common occurrence in the whole of Quintana Roo. Avoid carrying large amounts of cash, as these ‘fines’ are often dependent on how much money you have available on you. Keep large bills at home, and keep a second wallet on your person with smaller bills as a good distraction.

The bottom line is that Tulum is safe for the many thousands of people who call this paradise home. Exercise common sense and keep away from dangerous activities and the likelihood is that your trip will be trouble and incident free.

tulum-pool

The best beaches in Tulum

¡Vamos a la playa!

First up is Playa Paraíso, consistently ranked as one of the world’s best beaches. Think spectacular white sands nursed by the gentle lapping of clear turquoise blue waters. This is what you came to the Caribbean for. Playa Paraiso is a family beach, which is often less busy than Tulum Beach. It’s free to enter (all beaches in Mexico are public beaches by law) and free to enjoy if you bring your own drinks and beach towels. If you fancy some icy margaritas on a sunbed under an umbrella, you can rent one of the sunbeds on the beach for a fee. With plenty of locals selling their wares up and down the beach you’ll never go short of snacks and cool drinks.

Looking for something a little more cultured? Just up the coast from Playa Paraíso is Playa Ruinas, where you can soak in the sea, sand and stunning views of the Tulum Archaeological Zone. This is the shot that made Tulum recognizable the world over: the azure sea, the towering Mayan ruins and the bluest skies, glimmering in the sunshine. This beach offers a unique glimpse of the history and culture of Tulum.

Get to Playa Ruinas before 10am for the best, and quietest, views – before the archeological site opens. Take your camera and your snorkel and enjoy discovering your own Instagram-worthy shots. Take a boat to see the ruins from another perspective.
After you’ve spent an early morning exploring, grab some brunch at popular spots like El Camello, for excellent local seafood, or Don Cafeto’s, a relaxed place with delicious coffee.

Head south from Playa Ruinas and you’ll discover the public beach Las Palmas. A little more secluded than the other beaches in Tulum, you’ll need to bring your own towels, snacks and drinks. But if you don’t need the shade and you’re ready for a sunbathe, then Las Palmas is a gorgeous place to wile away an afternoon to the soft lapping of the waves.

What about the best beach clubs in Tulum?

If you’re looking for a beach club, the Zona Hotelera is the perfect place. With probably the best beach clubs throughout the whole of the peninsula, Tulum Playa is packed with gorgeous sunbeds with delightful cocktail menus. Stay and watch the sunset and, if you’re lucky, catch a nest of turtles hatching under the stars.

Straight out of Instagram and Pinterest, Coco Tulum Beach Club is the gorgeous backdrop to your insta-story. With beanbags, chilled beats and powdery white sand, this is a luxe beach club with an awesome menu and deliciously cool mocktails and cocktails. Beach towels, umbrellas and table service is provided, so open a tab and relax.

If you’re a digital nomad (and let’s face it, in Tulum who isn’t?) then your office by the beach is at
Selina’s Beach Club. With an exquisite menu and extra comfy day beds, plus fast wifi and a few table spots for those who have to pop online for a few hours, Selina’s is a crowd-pleaser. And with these fantastic backgrounds for some photo-ops, you’ll be glad you came dressed in your Tulum-best.

Looking for an early start to your beach-day? Beat the heat, and the crowds, and get to Ziggy’s Beach Club, opening at 7AM. Stop for breakfast, brunch, lunch or drinks on the terrace, then grab a sun-bed to lounge in the afternoon. With rustic decor and softly swaying palm trees, Ziggy’s is a great place to spend a day relaxing and making friends at the pool table.

Getting bored of Mexican food? Can’t stomach another taco? Head to Taboo Tulum, the beach club with a great Mediterranean menu to twist things up. Lounge in sunken pools, drape yourself over sofas and sun loungers and don’t forget to take your camera because Taboo Tulum is more than delicious food – it’s a gorgeously designed space too.

tulum-beach

The best restaurants in Tulum

All that sunbathing has got us hungry…

While great beach clubs serve excellent food, it’s also worth checking out the abundance of outstanding restaurants that Tulum has to offer in Tulum Pueblo. With cheap restaurants, expensive up-market eateries and health food places open all day, there’s something for everyone’s palette in Tulum. Walk down the main street in Centro and you’ll find a mix of cafes, bars and restaurants, including some of the local street food options. Extend your restaurant search into the edges of Tulum, and into a couple of chic neighborhoods, and you’ll find some hidden gems.

Our favorites include La Gloria de Don Pepe – a cute little Spanish restaurant with some awesome tapas and great wine, El Asedero – for succulent steak that’s cooked to perfection, and Del Cielo for some outstanding brunch options. Fancying a little trip to somewhere new? Cetli, a hacienda turned restaurant, delivers great mole dishes ( a Mexican delicacy – a saucy mix between chocolate and chili). On the outskirts of town and served in candlelight, it’s the perfect date-night getaway.

While the town offers some fantastic places to eat, the Zona Hotelera has some especially fabulous restaurants to discover. If you’re looking for upscale, you will find it here. Tulum Playa, or the Zona Hotelera, is split into the North, Middle and South sides. Up in the North, near the Tulum ruins, you will find more chilled, relaxed places to eat. The Middle is the party zone, with jungle electric beats and fantastic nightlife, plus decadent restaurants. The South (if you make it that far!) has more family friendly beaches and restaurants.

With that in mind, discover Clan-Destino, a burger joint in the Middle Beach Zone built around a hidden, private cenote. With juicy beef burgers, or delicious vegetable patties available, you’re guaranteed to get the burger of your dreams here, in a dreamy location too. Also in the middle beach zone are MEZE, serving Greek meze, and Hartwood, for seasonal produce and a select menu. Thirsty for cocktails? Head down south to Gitano, a veggie-friendly, Mexican restaurant with an awesome array of mezcal-cocktails.

fruit-bowl

Things to do in Tulum

Tulum is more than just beaches, good food and dancing, although that’s why most people come. It’s also in a unique, natural place of beauty and there are lots of incredible cultural and natural phenomena to explore.

Visit the archeological ruins

Of course the most famous Tulum thing to do? Visit the Tulum Archaeological Site. A stunning site that dates back to the 13th century, the Tulum ruins overlooks the shimmering sea and is an incredible backdrop for photos. Get there early to enjoy the ruins in peace, and hire an English speaking guide for your first visit so you can truly take in the history of this magical place.

Tulum isn’t the only place of historical Mayan importance on the Mexican Riviera. Chitchen Itza is only a short tour bus ride away. One of the seven wonders of the world, a trip to Chitchen Itza is guaranteed to impress visitors, and the way there is lined with fantastic local handicraft shops which sell Tulum souvenirs at local prices. Make sure you bring cash – local shops are very unlikely to take card.

If you’re heading out of Tulum then make a stop by Coba Ruins. These tall pyramids are hidden in the jungle and are connected by a network of paths that mean your visit is almost like you’re exploring too. Feel free to climb on the Coba pyramids – take your pictures and enjoy, it’s a much less travelled and more relaxed archeological site than some of the more popular tourist destinations.

Sian Ka’an Biosphere

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve is a beautiful place to experience for yourself the incredible natural wonder of this part of the world. Experience gorgeous flora and fauna, and take a tour guide to the boundaries to experience this ‘gate to heaven’.

Check out the nightlife!

Ok, maybe we will party a little bit!

Every weekend, and some weekdays, it’s a party in Tulum, and the bars and clubs get crowded. As well as the usual bars, there are also festivals, dance events and more happening in Tulum, with jungle parties attracting famous faces and famous DJs. There are many things to discover in Tulum, and not all of them are advertised on the web. Pick up local magazines, chat to the friendly expats and make friends with those who call this place home to discover just what is happening and where.

Discover a cenote

Tulum is surrounded by cenotes – beautiful underground freshwater pools that provide access to an underground network of rivers and waterways. These are true natural wonders, with archealogical sites inside, incredible species of animal, plant and fish life, and many opportunities to make a discovery for yourself.

As well as the super popular cenotes with the queues of people seeking that instagram picture, there are also hidden cenotes which are a lot cheaper and quieter. Gran Cenote is the most popular place, with tour buses frequenting it and a $500MXN entry fee ($25 USD), but if you’ve got a car and some basic Spanish skills, why not venture further in land and discover the cenotes frequented by the locals. Cenote Secreto is a great place to visit, with caves on site and beautiful eco-lodges, it’s hidden and doesn’t attract the crowds. An afternoon there, especially mid-week, likely means you’ll have the rope swing and the whole cenote to yourselves.

Cenotes aren’t just for swimming – you can scuba dive them too. Calavera, the Temple of Doom, is a favourite for divers as it resembles the shape of a skull from beneath the surface, and Cenote Taak Bi Ha is super popular with cave divers for its crystal clear waters. Yal-Ku Lagoon is another popular attraction – a cenote that flows into a lagoon and then into the sea. Perfect for sunbathing and snorkeling!

Get active!

It’s not just swimming, snorkelling or diving that you can do on that Carribean Sea, but there are so many options for paddle boarding, canoeing, kayaking, wind surfing, and even sailing. Kite boarding, or kite surfing, is also popular, and you’ll find many people selling lessons and renting out equipment on the beach and in the pueblo.

On land, there are many activities to get you moving and exploring too, including zip lines and jungle tours. Head up the highway to one of the Xcaret Parks and explore the jungle, go swimming and come face to face with fantastic wildlife.

The future of Tulum

Tulum seems to be unstoppable, with more visitors coming to enjoy the azure sea and the gorgeous nature every year. With vacation rentals selling out every Christmas, the demand for accommodation and properties is sky-high, and there is a building boom. Tulum’s special natural and eco-friendly vibes mean that architecture here is outstanding, and the type of properties that are being built have some breathtaking features.

On the horizon, things are looking bright. There are two major infrastructure projects which are coming – the Maya Tren and a future international airport in Tulum. Building on the Maya Tren is already underway, and is expected to be completed in 2023 (if you believe the hype – we think post-pandemic recessions will cause some delays). The Maya Tren will link Cancun, Playa Del Carmen and Tulum by high speed rail which will extend into the jungle up to Chiapas. Previously remote areas in Chiapas and in the jungle will become easy to reach from the tourist hotspots in Quintana Roo and is guaranteed to attract more visitors with more dollars to spend.

The international airport, on the other hand, is still in the proposal stage. Debate surrounds the issue – whether a new carbon-emmitting airport is necessary when Cancun is only an hour away is a hot question. With the new Maya Tren the demand for this airport may subside: with high speed rail direct from arrivals to Tulum, who needs another runway in the jungle? But for the time being the talk around this airport is attracting investors and making waves.

With these developments on the horizon, and the outstanding developments in Tulum that are coming on the market, Tulum is a place with a glowing future. There’s something special in the atmosphere here, a sense of excitement, hedonism and spirituality and a heady sense that something incredible is being built. Tulum is more than just another beach town, it’s a way of life for many of the people who live here. It’s certainly a great spot to build your home away from home.

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