Hidden Gems in Tulum, Mexico

Mayan Ruins Tulum

About 1 hour south of Playa del Carmen lies Tulum, a small town with famous Mayan ruins. 

Tulum has three major areas: The town, the beach, the ruins. Each of these areas are separated by a few miles. As a result, bike rentals are very common here. Thankfully, our hostel had free bikes for us to use! (Martin is imitating a black panther because of his ferocious bike.) The bikes were rusty, my chain fell off, and Martin’s back tire was anything but straight, but they were free and they got us around just fine.

Martin Biking in Tulum

Jill Biking in Tulum

The Mayan ruins in Tulum are a historical marvel.

I loved being able to walk through so much history. The site opens at 8 a.m., but busses from neighboring towns don’t arrive until mid-morning, so we had the place to ourselves for much of our time there. Arrive early! 

Guided tours are plentiful, but we just wanted to meander at our own pace. Still, we were able to pick up a few tidbits of the Mayan culture as we lurked by the tour groups.

Mayan Ruins Tulum Mayan Ruins Tulum Mayan Ruins Tulum Mayan Ruins Tulum

The beach is beautiful, but was too windy for swimming.

The public beach is actually quite close to the ruins. The rest of the long beach is covered with private property and hotels. While we weren’t able to go swimming, we were able to enjoy the picturesque view and listen to the waves crashing into shore. 


The town revealed hidden gems around every corner.

Not 5 minutes off the bus and we discover mojitos for 40 pesos. What?! In Playa del Carmen, we hunted nearly all night for mojitos and paid 100 pesos for it! Even thought it was just 2:oo in the afternoon, we ordered up some mojitos and guacamole, watched American football on the TV, and planned the next few days of our trip on a napkin.

Tulum has a vegetarian restaurant. Vegetarian is still a foreign concept in Mexico and here we were in a small town with a delicious, albeit expensive, vegetarian restaurant. And I forgot the camera at the hostel… I had a poblano pepper stuffed with tofu and vegetables.

The vegetarian restaurant wasn’t the only place overpriced. We paid double for our meals in Tulum than what we paid for in Playa del Carmen (mojitos excluded, of course). I tried to eat at a street cart, but all I could find was meat. 

Eventually, we found El Capitan. I inhaled my Tacos Pirates and Martin loved his Pescado Tostadas too. 

Tacos Pirates Pescado Tostadas

We practiced our elementary Spanish on our friendly waiter Javiar, who told us that the police parade we had witnessed was because the police got new cars.

Then Javiar convinced us to stop in Bacalar on our way to Chetumal. This is where he goes to vacation. We said OK arrived in Bacalar a few hours later. Simple as that.

The next time we visit Tulum, we want to go snorkeling in a cenote (cave). If you have your diving certificate, don’t miss out on the cenotes in Mexico! We hear they are THE place to dive! 

Jill and Martin Tulum

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2 Responses

  1. mom-in-law says:

    Lovely pictures and you two look so colorful and cute!

  2. Krissy says:

    Did you take a picture of the iguana on the ruins just for me? ((((((hugs)))))))