Tulum: So Much More than a Beach

Jun 16, 2017

When I found out my friends were getting married in Tulum, Mexico, I couldn’t wait to spend every second on those beautiful sands and in that crystal water. After planning my dream beach vacation, I remembered that I wasn’t going alone – it was my first vacation with a new boyfriend.

As it turns out, my new beau wasn’t that into spending every single second covered in sand and salt water. Luckily for us, Tulum is the perfect beach town for people who aren’t actually that into being at the beach, and luckily for you, we have an exclusive Travelzoo deal on a yoga retreat at Maya Tulum that saves more than 40%.

Gran Cenote

Located 2.5 miles from the city, this park’s entry fee is about $12 and gets you snorkel gear, a locker and this incredible view – which only gets better once you’re enjoying the sight of wildlife swimming below you. This is the closest and best one by far, but there are many cenotes in the region worth experiencing.


Photo credit: Lauren Totten

Approximately 45 minutes from Tulum (rental cars are about $20/day) and home to the tallest Mayan pyramid in the Yucatan peninsula, Coba is unlike Chichen Iza in that you can climb to the top. The view of the wide expanse of the jungle is breathtaking – as is the climb down. I was not above the sit-and-scoot method, and neither should you be. It’s about a 3-mile walk from the entrance of the massive park to this specific pyramid. Not into all that walking? No worries: There are pedi-cabs - as well as bike rentals - readily available at the start so you can casually enjoy the jungle as you’re pedaled around.

Photo credit: Lauren Totten

Akumal Monkey Sanctuary

Just 25 minutes from Tulum, this sanctuary costs $65 for admission. My boyfriend and I decided to do this on a day that we had rented a scooter – 17 miles on a scooter was not the best idea, but we had a blast. This place doesn’t rescue only monkeys, but also birds, reptiles, zebras and more. You get to tour the large grounds in a group with very friendly and knowledgeable staff.

All of the food

There are two main drags in Tulum, the beach road and the city’s main road, and you can spend days eating your way up and down them. Of course, the No. 1 item on my list was tacos, second being … tacos, and third, tacos. Two places you MUST try include Taqueria la Riviera Costena, specifically the el pastor masters. I suggest going later in the evening because they make this fresh every day starting around 4 p.m. – so going around 10 p.m. means you’ll get some taste bud-busting flavor. Note: This is not the place to go for ambiance – it’s a hole in the wall with plastic chairs and paper plates, though there’s some good people watching since you’re right on the main street of Tulum.

Taqueria La Eufemia is not just on the beach road – it’s on the actual beach, with seating in the sand, but sand haters shouldn’t fret, as there is plenty of seating away from the shoreline where you can still enjoy the view. We were here for the “rehearsal dinner,” which my boyfriend and I took to mean “let’s see how many tacos we can eat.” I think I put away about 10 fish tacos before realizing there were other options – don’t forget your $5 margarita!

Photo credit: Lauren Totten

Rooftop sunsets like you’ve never seen before

Mateo’s is on the beach road, and they have an entire roof deck dedicated to watching the sunset, complete with buy one, get one drinks – I suggest sticking to the margaritas or beer. After the sun has set and you’ve slurped your way through a few cocktails, head downstairs to order the ceviche; you can thank me later.

Photo credit: Lauren Totten

The Mayan Ruins of Tulum

This is the most obvious choice of something to do other than going to the beach while still enjoying an absolutely gorgeous vista of the white sands and turquoise waters. Incredible history is not only found in the ruins but also in the mini dragons running around everywhere. The animal- and ”Game of Thrones”-lover in me thoroughly enjoyed watching the ctenosauras scurrying the grounds.

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