When my bestie and I booked our stay at Tunich Jungle Cabañas in Tulum we had no idea what to expect for our first time in the ‘Tulum jungle’. For 70 pesos (CAD $5), we took an hour long ride on a commuter bus -- called a colectivo-- from Playa del Carmen to Tulum. The colectivo dropped us off at the main intersection and we got a taxi into the heart of the action -- the Tulum Beachside.
As we got out of the taxi, the humidity greeted us before the friendly Tunich staff could get the chance. They helped us take off our heavy backpacks and gave us a refreshing glass of water and a game of dominoes to entertain us while we waited for our check-in.
We hit the beach as soon as we finished with the check-in, the humidity was too hot to handle! The beach was about 300 meters from the hotel (literally across the road) and it was lined up with a couple beach clubs that had that ‘beach bum’ vibe.
We had a great three night stay at Tunich Jungle Cabañas, where we explored the beachside, town, and cenotes! Cenotes, if you haven’t heard of them, are natural sinkholes that contain groundwater. They are very delicate and if you’d like to go in them, I recommend to avoid wearing sunscreen before you enter.
I have compiled a list of tips and things to do to help you make the most of your time in Tulum!
Getting around Tulum
If you don’t want to break the bank but you want to venture off to see different cenotes, try different restaurants, and escape the tourist zone, I highly recommend that you rent a bike, which cost around 150 pesos (CAD $11) per day.
The distance between the Tulum ruins and the entrance to Sia’an Ka'an is about 10km. Those 10km can feel eternal with the blistering sun beating down on your back (or face) during the afternoon. Take your time, stop for refreshments, ride on the side with shade, and be alert while you bike since it’s a busy road. If you have the chance, visit Tulum town! It is lively, there are great places to eat, and it’s inexpensive!
PRO-TIP: Pick up your bikes first thing in the morning to avoid the afternoon sun and to ensure there are bikes available.
On the Tulum Beachside, check out:
The Tulum Ruins (Go in the morning)
La Malinche Tulum (60-Peso beers)
Matcha Mama (Yummy smoothies)
Clan-Destino (Burger joint with a cenote in the middle of the restaurant)
Punta Piedra Rental (They offer a good price for bikes)
Rosa Del Viento Beach Club (It is a hotel with a Beach Club that has LITERALLY the dreamiest beach)
Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve (UNESCO World Heritage Site)
In Tulum town, check out:
Antojitos La Chiapaneca (Delicious food)
El Rincon Chiapaneca (More delicious food)
Batey Mojito and Guarapo Bar (The best Passion Fruit Mojito of your life)
Pasito Tun Tun (Try out some Mezcal cocktails)
La Malaquerida (AWESOME Happy Hour specials at night!)
Santino Bar (Great place to dance!)
Cenote Dos Ojos
Grand Cenote (Bring your snorkel gear)
Click here for a Google Maps view of all these locations! You can print it out as well for reference.
Sleeping in the Jungle
When I talk about the “Tulum jungle”, don't expect to be deep in a rainforest with no modern luxuries. You actually have all luxuries: running water, a fan, a nice bed, and light! It is kind of like glamping at your closest provincial park but swapping out pine trees for palm trees. You know what I mean? That said, if you’re a light sleeper, bring earplugs. Whether you’re staying in a hostel and need them for those who snore, OR a luxury hotel, ear plugs are needed. Many of these jungle cabanas that you’ll find in Tulum or around Quintana Roo still run on generators - very loud against the silence of the jungle.
No A/C, no problem
When we first arrived at our jungle cabana, we were intimidated by the fact that there were only fans in the room. We instantly thought we were going to melt in our sleep because of how hot and humid it was during the daytime!
Clearly neither of us have stayed in a jungle before! Even though the humidity is at an all time high during the day, the temperature drops down during the night. The comfortable breeze from the fan is all you need.
Creepy crawlies in the Jungle
At the Tunich Jungle Cabañas, we had no worries about mosquitos while we slept because they equipped each bed with huge mosquito nets that covered the bed. They were even tightly tucked into the mattress, preventing any bugs from interrupting our slumber. Personally, I was surprised at how well they worked; neither of us got stung while we slept! However, that is not the case when you are out and about during the night. Bring repellent. Bring repellent. BRING REPELLENT.
Enjoy the beach
I am not going to lie to you, Tulum is pricey. Especially if you are on the Tulum Beachside, there is no escaping tourist prices. If you are a budget traveller, take your bike and ride it to the Chedraui (superstore) or even the Super Aki (grocery store) and pick up some groceries and refreshments to spend your days at the beach! The beaches don’t cost anything if you don’t use the lounging chairs or tables of the Beach Clubs. Set up shop with your towel and you’re golden!
PRO-TIP: Buy your snorkel gear before you get to Mexico. This allows you to avoid getting sick from using a rental and keep some pesos in your pocket - they charge a premium at beach towns.
Something to note -- Sargazo.
Sargazo is a seaweed-like infestation of the shores. It requires workers to constantly remove it to keep beaches clean and pristine. While we were in the region of Quintana Roo (which includes Cancun, Playa Del Carmen and Tulum) in October 2018, they were experiencing an unusual wave of Sargazo. We still swam in the water and avoided the Sargazo patches because the water was a refuge from the humidity and heat but it is important to know so you’re not disappointed when you show up and the beaches don’t look like the pictures online. Now you know!
Please let me know by commenting if any of these tips/recommendations were helpful for your trip planning! If my IGTV video brought you here please let me know too!