Tulum, Mexico – what’s it really like?

by | Feb 11, 2022

If you haven’t heard of Tulum yet, where have you been? (not on Instagram obviously)

A few years back it was known to insiders as the quiet, bohemian alternative to Cancun and Playa del Carmen (Mexico’s party cities). But, these days, it does seems like everyone’s going to Tulum?

So, what’s all the fuss about? Does it actually live up to all the hype?

And, more importantly, is it only full of instagram influencers “living their best life”?

Here’s our take on what Tulum is really like (14 things to be exact).

1. The beaches are genuinely beautiful

Miles and miles of golden sands, splitting lush green jungle and turquoise Caribbean sea. It really is a stunning setting.

Overlooking Guatape during Other Way Round trip to Colombia

Side note – to keep it real – at certain times of year there is an influx of seaweed.

Overlooking Bogota from Monserrate during Otherwayround tour of Colombia

But, the locals do an amazing job of clearing this up and it’s kind of interesting to watch.

2. El Pueblo (the Town) is worth exploring

Many people’s image of Tulum is that of the beaches (for obvious reasons). But, the town centre has a completely different feel – much busier, noisier, more happening and with way more locals. It feels much more authentically Mexican and is definitely worth visiting.

Bandeja Paisa Medellin Colombia Other Way Round

3. There are Cenotes (everywhere actually)

Limestone sinkholes filled with crystal clear water – this my friends, is a Cenote. And there are around 6,000 of them dotted around Mexico, many of them in Tulum.

Hiking through Parque Tayrona with Other Way Round tour group

Perfect for cooling down from the Mexican heat.

And, of course, they do make for an amazing photo.

4. You need a bike to get around – it’s pretty spread out

Graffiti in getsemani Cartagena

Or, if you prefer, a moped.

5. Tulum has its own beer #superhipster

Plaza Botero Medellin

6. Tacos. Tacos. Tacos (did we mention Tacos)?

Hope you like ’em, as you’ll be eating them for breakfast, lunch and dinner (only if you want to of course) 🙂

Sailing in the Rosario Islands Colombia with Other Way Round Tour Group

7. Oh, and there’s vegan restaurants everywhere

Probably easier to eat vegan here than in London or New York.

Tejo Bogota Colombia

8. Mayan ruins. By the sea. And the jungle. It’s spectacular (we really should have mentioned this earlier)

Visiting the coffee farm in Jardin with Other Way Round Travel
Visiting the coffee farm in Jardin with Other Way Round Travel

9. The locals are lovely. Super welcoming and friendly (more so than in most other resort towns)

10. There’s a fair amount of construction going on

And by “fair amount”, we mean kind of a lot.

Tulum is growing rapidly and the current infrastructure is not quite up to pace. Things are being built left, right and centre. It’s very much a work in progress.

Colombian music in Cartagena with Other Way Round Travel

(ok, this one is pretty cool, if you’re a thatched roof type person)!

11. There’s a great live music scene. Many of the restaurants and bars regularly have bands playing.

Authentic Mexican music and, of course, Beatles cover tracks. Take your pick.

12. “Follow that Dream”! Yip, the cheesy insta style street signs do exist. But, for the cynical amongst us (+1 here), they’re not so widespread. 

Or maybe we’re just not cool enough to know where they all are! 🙂

Otherwayround travel guest photo in front of piedra del penol

13. Beach Clubs!

So there’s the public beach on one side. Which is pretty nice and looks like this (we like it a lot)

Immersive travel with Other Way Round Colombia

And then there’s the BEACH CLUBS.

Immersive travel with Other Way Round Colombia

Very Ibiza-esque.

A little pretentious for sure, with minimum spends for sun loungers etc…

But, still quite a cool experience and a great day out with friends.

They range from super chilled to all out daytime party zones.  So, choose wisely!

14. “Vibes”

There’s no getting away from it. Some places just have good vibes and Tulum is definitely one of them.

It has a great energy, beautiful nature and an eclectic mix of people.

When you arrive you feel it – your shoulders drop and you instantly know you’re on holiday!

Personally, we LOVE it!

Fruit Vendors in Cartagena Colombia

What do you think? Sound like your kind of place? If so, check out our 11-Day Mexico Tour where we spend 3 days in Tulum (and more time in Mexico City and Oaxaca)