Recently named the “Top Destination on the Rise” by TripAdvisor, the eco-chic beach town of Tulum is also a much-loved destination of celebs and the fashion elite, who come to enjoy the world’s most beautiful beaches and explore the clear turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea.
Situated less than two hours south of Cancun and less than one hour south of Playa del Carmen in Mexico’s Riviera Maya, Tulum has also become known worldwide for its laid-back lifestyle, world-class restaurants and beach clubs, as well as the long list of activities and adventures available here, which include exploring ancient Mayan ruins overlooking the sea and snorkeling along the world’s second largest barrier reef. If all of that’s not enough, here are 18 fantastic reasons Tulum is one of the world’s most popular vacation destinations that we think this list will have you making travel arrangements soon!
Okay, we already mentioned that Tulum is home to the most beautiful and best beaches in the world, but that’s exactly why we had to mention it again! Unlike Cancun, which can be very crowded and has developed an international reputation as a party town, the Tulum lifestyle offers a more relaxed getaway option and mile after mile of pristine white-sand beaches and warm Caribbean waters, leaving countless opportunities for relaxation and exploration.
Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve
As the largest protected piece of real estate in the entire Mexican Caribbean, the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and lies just outside of Tulum. Here, you will discover lush tropical forests and marshes, along with a wide range of animal species, including monkeys, flamingos and more than 300 other species of birds.
A cenote (pronounced seh-no-tay) is a type of naturally occurring freshwater underground sinkhole that can be found throughout Mexico’s Riviera Maya, including Tulum. Cenotes range in size from very small to extremely large and are often very clear with excellent underwater visibility, offering a unique array of opportunities for swimming, snorkeling and diving.
El Gran Cenote
Of course, all cenotes are not created equal. El Gran Cenote lies just over two miles from downtown Tulum, along the road to the ancient Mayan ruin of Coba. Here, swimmers and snorkelers can explore a variety of caves that hold enormous stalactites.
Dos Ojos Cenote
Speaking of cenotes, Dos Ojos is a flooded underground cave system situated just 10 miles north of Tulum proper. As one of the longest underwater cave systems worldwide, Dos Ojos is home to the deepest known underwater passageway in the entire state of Quintana Roo.
Tulum Mayan Ruins
It just so happens that Tulum was also popular among the ancient Mayans, who were the first to build a settlement here. Today, the remnants of this one-mighty Mayan seaport can still be seen, perched upon a limestone cliff overlooking the white-sand beaches and Caribbean Sea.
Healthy Dining Options
All the exploring is bound to work up an appetite, so it’s a good thing Tulum is also home to some amazing and healthy dining destinations. Co.ConAmor is a vegan / vegetarian restaurant with killer fresh guacamole and soba noodles to die for, in Tulum there are ample options for even the most sophisticated palate.
Dine with a View
If feasting on scrumptious food while enjoying breathtaking beach views sounds like fun, check out Hotel Zamas, which is also home to an unforgettable bar and restaurant. Whether you visit for breakfast, lunch or dinner, this renowned dining establishment won’t disappoint.
Of course, no visit to Mexico’s Riviera Maya would be complete without sampling the ceviche. We are obsessed with El Camello Jr., a favorite spot for seafood lovers from the local area and around the world, which serves up amazing fresh ceviche made with a variety of fish, octopus and shrimp.
The avant garde open-air Hartwood Restaurant serves an ever-changing menu based on what the local sea and land offer up. Definitely a “must-try” restaurant in Tulum, Hartwood is also one of the region’s most popular dining destinations and prepares each dish using a handmade wood-burning oven and grill.
Pork Tacos al Pastor
The cuisine in Tulum is not only about the seafood, however. We love the pork tacos al pastor found at Antojitos La Chiapaneca, which is a casual but delicious local taqueria that has become famous for its amazing food.
If you’re in the mood for some food and fun, head over to Casa Jaguar, which offers European-style lounge music, an innovative cocktail menu and dancing. Located in the jungles of Tulum, this chic spot also attracts visiting celebs!
Not surprisingly, the accommodations in Tulum are also amazing. Developments like the Mezzanine Boutique Hotel – which has only nine rooms – treat guests to a variety of special perks, services and amenities, such as fresh coffee delivered right to the rooms, locally-inspired Yucatan toiletries, private plunge pools and amazing snorkeling sites located near the hotel’s very own beach.
If your perfect vacation is also designed to keep you in shape while you enjoy some rest and relaxation, Tulum also has you covered. Destinations like the oceanfront Maya Tulum Resort offer a wide variety of activities that will have you feeling refreshed and renewed.
Tulum is also a global yoga destination, so many of the hotels and resorts in town offer some amazing classes. The Maya Tulum resort also incorporates amazing settings, such as the beach, and even offers a paddleboard yoga class!
Situated about 30 minutes north of downtown Tulum, the seaside town of Akumal is also a popular destination for day trippers in Mexico’s Riviera Maya. Akumal is best known for its large population of sea turtles, offering visitors the opportunity for unforgettable close-up views.
If you enjoy some serious retail therapy, Tulum has you covered! In fact, shopping in Tulum offers an experience like no other, with small boutiques like Mr. Blackbird selling luxurious jewelry, leather goods and an eclectic array of clothing, while La Llorona offers a large selection of Mexican art and Josa Tulum has a wide array of gorgeous kaftans.
Although Tulum is decidedly more laid-back than Cancun or even Playa del Carmen, there is still a lively nightlife scene if you know where to look. Places like Gitano Tulum offer more than just a club scene, with creative cocktails and a unique jungle vibe.
Don’t forget to subscribe to our Lifestyle and Business blogs!