We are pleased to present a new Solo Travel Destination Post from Brittany, a member of the Solo Travel Society on Facebook. Brittany lives in Canada, and submitted the following report about Tulum. Do you have a solo travel destination that you would like to recommend? Submit your description here, along with a few photos, and share it with fellow travelers!
Solo travel rating: 1.5 (1 is easiest, 3 is most difficult. Please see chart below)
Languages spoken: Spanish, Mayan, English
Reasons to Visit Tulum
I visited Tulum, Mexico in the Yucatan Peninsula as one of the cities on my first solo trip.
Tulum is a small and quiet Mexican beachside town with the Caribbean Sea on the coast. Tulum consists of three areas: the pueblo (town), the beach road with many fancy restaurants and beach front hotels and cabins, and the ruins. I stayed and spent most of my time in the town.
Where to Eat and Drink My favorite local and cheap Mexican restaurant in Tulum was El Rincon Chiapaneco, located on Jupiter Sur, just south of the main avenue across from the bus terminal. They were always packed with locals and had delicious guacamole, tacos, panuchos, and aguas frescas. My second favorite restaurant was Loncheria Mati, located on Calle Sol between Alfa and Jupiter Sur. It is a hole in the wall local place with only a few plastic tables and chairs. They serve amazing, inexpensive traditional Mexican food. La Malquerida, located on Calle Centauro Sur just south of the main avenue was my favorite fancier restaurant. I had the ceviche and it was amazing. The atmosphere is pleasant and you can choose to sit inside or out. El Camello is arguably one of the best seafood restaurants in town. They are known for their ceviche and fresh fish. Calle Sol (south of the main avenue) has many local no-name eateries that are worth checking out as well. There are women who sell buckets of fresh fruit from a cart on the street corners for a delicious, cheap snack. Batey Mojito Bar is the place to be in the evenings and nighttime for great mojitos, atmosphere, and music (located on Calle Centauro south of the main avenue). Antojitos La Chiapaneca (located on the main avenue on the same side as the bus terminal) opens in the evening after 6 pm and they are packed with locals. They are known for their tacos al pastor, which were absolutely scrumptious and cheap at 8 pesos per taco. They also sell other snacks like panuchos, salbutes, and aguas frescas.
What to Do in Tulum Walking around Tulum's residential streets is very interesting, as you can see the typical houses where the locals reside absorb the Mexican culture around you. The main avenue has lots of clothing and souvenir shops for tourists. You can rent a bicycle from one of the many bike rental shops along the main avenue. I chose Kelly's Bike Rental on the main avenue just past the Scotiabank going towards the ruins, because they offer a discount of 60 pesos per day if you are staying at the hostel, Mama's Home. You can rent a bike and ride to the beautiful beach road (Boca Paila) where there are many cute restaurants along the beach.
What to Do Near Tulum The Tulum ruins just north of the town are worth a visit if you have never been before. You can easily ride a bicycle there along the paved bike path from town or take a taxi. The cost for entrance is 65 pesos. There is bike parking or you can just lock it up against a tree near the entrance. Go early in the morning to the ruins when they open (8 am) to beat the crowds and the heat (there is no shade at the ruins). The ruins are unique in that they are the only ones that are bordered by the ocean. It makes for some beautiful photographs! There are also lots of iguanas at the site.
There are many cenotes around Tulum. I went to Gran Cenote and Casa Cenote. You can get a taxi or bike to Gran Cenote and you can catch a colectivo or taxi to Casa Cenote. Gran Cenote charges an entrance fee of 150 pesos and Casa Cenote charges 30 pesos. They both have washrooms and lockers. Gran Cenote is more touristy but it is an amazing cave cenote where you can swim through narrow passageways with the stalactites almost touching your head and bats flying overhead! Casa Cenote is an open above ground cenote surrounded by mangroves and the water is a beautiful turquoise-green colour. Both are amazing for swimming and you can rent snorkel and diving gear or bring your own. You can also visit the Coba ruins, which are about 45 minutes away via first or second class bus from Tulum. The ruins cost 65 pesos and you can rent a bike to tour the site for 40 pesos. You are able to climb all of the structures and it is a less touristy site. There are lots of local restaurants to try in the town of Coba before heading back to Tulum. Check out El Faisan in the ruins parking lot for cheap Yucatecan food.
Where to Stay I highly recommend staying at Jose at Mama's Home, located on Calle Orion between Calles Sol and Venus (south of the main avenue). They have private rooms, a 6 bed mixed dorm and a 10 bed mixed dorm. The dorms cost CAN$14 per night. The hostel is very colorful (floors and walls are painted beautifully!). They have the best Wi-Fi I have experienced in Mexico, available in the common areas inside and outside. Sometimes it even worked in the 6 bed dorm. There are also two computer terminals with internet in the indoor common area. The free breakfast was elaborate and different every day – anything from chocolate cake and ice cream to crepes with a Mexican-style sauce. There are lots of charging outlets in the dorms and common areas, couches and a table in the indoor common area, a guest kitchen, hammocks and a long table in the outdoor common area, plenty of washrooms for the dorms, and the hostel was always clean and beds and pillows were comfortable. There was air conditioning in the 6 bed mixed dorm only. The hostel has two kittens which are absolutely adorable! They also have a book exchange in the indoor common area. It is very easy to meet people and make new friends at this hostel, as the staff plan nightly social activities. They had a movie night and pina colada night when I was there, but they also have BBQs, paella night, flamenco night, and more. The staff were amazing! Jose and Rachel are very friendly and helpful and they gave great recommendations and tips for restaurants and transportation options.
Tulum is a great quiet town to relax and visit some surrounding ruins and cenotes. I highly recommend checking it out!
Solo Travel Destination Rating System
Safety – 1 (1 very safe, 2 safe in most areas, 3 be cautious at all times.)
Language – 2 (1 English is first language, 2 English speakers easy to find, 3 English speakers rare)
Navigation – 1 (1 easy to navigate by transit or car, 2 poor transit, car necessary, 3 not easy to get around)
Culture – 2 (1 Similar to North America or Western Europe, 2 Different from above but relaxed and easy, 3 Challenging)
Average Rating – 1.5 (1 is easiest, 3 is most difficult)