A Tale of Mexico: Tulum Travel Guide

All You Need to Know Before your Spring Break Trip to Tulum

Posted by Ceylan Ersoy on June 30, 2022 · 8 mins read tulum Mexico

As the beginning of March comes around every year, headlines like “Spring Breakers Take Mexico” start occupying online newspapers, as well as numerous photos from the beach, bars, restaurants start overburdening your social media feeds. You might have found yourself particularly questioning this year: What is this place called Tulum. Tulum is a Mexican city only an hour drive away from the college student Spring Break hotspot Cancun. This relatively newly found gem has become extremely popular for famous people weekend get aways as well as many Spring Breakers. After drooling over photos of <1 dollar tacos, turquoise water, underwater cave escapades and temples last year, my friends and I decided to choose Tulum as our Spring Break 2019 destination. (Shout out to Dominican Republic, the second runner up in our decision making process).

2 years after this trip, the experience I had in Tulum still feels surreal. One way to summarize the week is very high highs. Here is a list of places and activities that I 100% recommend.

1. Cenotes: Dos Ojos

A cenote is a naturally formed “underground” pool created when the roof of an underground cavern collapses. Tulum is famous for its cenotes as they are not only a once in a lifetime experience but also a great photo opportunity (although make sure your phone is water proof, one of my friends lost a phone due to the water damage). I particularly recommend the tour we went on through Dos Ojos; we were greeted by a friendly staff and got to see two cenotes for 30 dollars. The first part of the tour includes a private tour with a guide where you go into the cave with lifejackets, snorkels and and flashlights provided to you. The guide leads you to a cave where you make your way through the depths of the underground pool through swimming. Here is a poorly lighted photo that we took in the cave. Quick disclaimer: those who are scared of the dark or confined spaces might want to rethink the first cenote called Monkey. Without the flashlights, no natural light has access into the cave. Yet, a claustrophobe myself I managed to survive!

The second cenote involved in the tour is an outdoors cenote with a height from which my friends performed backflip jumps into the perfect green-blue water. I can’t say my cannon ball jumps were as aesthetically pleasing…


2. The Mayan Temples

I know what you’re going to say: you went all the way to Tulum and didn’t go to Chichen Itza, one of the 7 wonders of the world. Well, we had a limited number of days and it was a near 3 hour drive from our Airbnb. I do recommend that if you are staying longer than I did that you definitely make the trip! But, I did go to the second best option there is: Coba. It was a whole different experience as it was 1) in the middle of the jungle (we rented bikes and made our way through the ruins singing at the top of our lungs on the bikes), 2) you can actually climb the biggest temple: Nohoch Mul, the highest pyramid in the Yucatan Peninsula. I may look happy on the photo of us on the top of the temple; but, let me tell you I was definitely not happy as I was making my way up given my minor panic attack due to my fear of heights). I am so proud of myself for making it though, it was a breathtaking view!

Group Photo

3. Food, food, food...

Tulum is not just immensely aesthetically pleasing; it is also a haven for amazing restaurants and bars. Oddly enough, top on your itinerary shouldn’t be one of the fancy restaurants that are a little high on the price range. The second you step foot on Tulum you should find yourself a mini street peddler “Marquesita” truck. Marquesitas are a special Mexican crepe/waffle with a variety of topping options including Nutella, dulce de leche, peanut butter, bananas, or even cheese. You’ll see how delightful it is to munch on one of these as a post-drinking snack.

Bar Photo

For the bars you will see that each bar has a signature day they are popular for: Gitano for Thursday Casa Jaguar for Friday. Locally recommended for its passion fruit mojito was Batey, which me and my friends mispronounced the entire trip. Some beach/hotels that are highly recommended by other visitors of Tulum is Papaya Playa and Azulik; however, noticing the immense touristic interest in their hotel, they had increased their entrance fee to 40 dollars when we went there. One place I recommend spending an entire day is Pablo Escobar’s mansion: great food, great staff, great visuals and great sea. It has access to the long beach strip, so while you’re there take a long walk in the beach during the sunset and watch the kite surfers.

Beach Photo

Beach Photo 2

As for the restaurants:

  1. Rosa Negra: very classy, top-notch service, great cocktails! Kind of pricy, but worth every cent. They even serve you champagne as you leave the bathroom (you can imagine me and my friends had a couple extra visits to the bathroom). Accompanying the dinner is light and costume shows by the staff. You can peek at our food below.
  2. Matcha Mama: great acai bowls!
  3. Taqueria Honorio: top notch local taco place (only serves pig meat)
  4. Campanella Cremerie or Origami ice cream: loved the pistachio ice cream
  5. Burrito Amor: small portions, but creative and tasty burritos
  6. Taqueria La Eufemia: catch the happy hour for 2 for 1 margaritas and people dancing around the tables. Doubtless one of the best meals I had in Tulum.

Cocktail Photo

A couple other recommendations:

  • Definitely rent a car or bikes to make the most out of your trip.
  • Rent an Airbnb in the area of Aldea Zama(amazing houses, good rates, especially for big groups)
  • Everywhere operates with cash. For a week long trip expect to spend at least 300–400 dollars and convert it to Pesos before hand.

As you can imagine, I felt like I was walking in some form of college student’s paradise throughout the highs of the trip: great food, great company, no stress, no care. To this day, Tulum is number 1 on my list of places I would revisit. Download Pin Traveler now, and add it to your wishlist!