By this point I am sure you have already heard about Tulum, Mexico and its perfect boho vibes, a hipsters/vegans paradise, and a handful of adorable cafes and restaurants. Tulum is literally all over social media, Instagram in particular, and is buzzing with people taking photos and selfies on every corner of the beach road. I must admit it is a super cute place and not to mention it is still pretty off the grid compared to more popular places such as Cancun. There are not very many all inclusive resorts (I think maybe one or two) in Tulum town center and on the beach road, making it feel a little more authentic. In this guide I will show you some must see cenotes in the area and the best photo spots in Tulum, Mexico.
I was in Tulum about 6-7 years ago on a tour to visit the ruins and even in a few short years that area has changed so much, partially due to the social media buzz. If you are planning on visiting Tulum at some point in your life, than I highly recommend going now because it is only becoming more crowded with tourists.
Before I begin with the must see photo spots in Tulum, I will explain how to get to this rustic/off the grid little town in the Yucatan.
How to Get to Tulum From Cancun Airport
So to get to Tulum, you have to pretty much fly into Cancun airport. Cancun is a short 1.5 hour drive from Tulum. Now I am sure you are thinking well how the heck do I get to Tulum from the airport. There are actually two really good options. The first option is to hire a reputable airport transfer either through your hotel or with a reputable transfer company. Do not be fooled as there are many transfer companies to choose from, so do your research wisely and read reviews. My husband and I used USA Transfers and could not be more pleased. We paid about $150 USD for two way transfer for the both of us. Booking a transfer allows you to have the ease of not worrying about getting lost or driving in a foreign country. Option two is to rent your own car at the airport and drive to Tulum yourself. This option is also a good alternative, as renting a car in Mexico is very cheap. You have your own vehicle to drive to any Cenote your heart may desire and you have the freedom to do whatever you please! I actually saw a lot of people renting cars and driving to Tulum from the airport. I spoke to a few that rented a car and they confirmed that it was very convenient and easy! Either option has its pros and cons, but they are both easy ways to get to this little jungle paradise.
Now that you know how to get to Tulum, your next order of business is to get settled in your hotel and start exploring! A small tid bit on the hotel situation in Tulum. If you want to stay directly on the beach, than the beach road is the place for you. The Beach road is where all of the cute cafes and restaurants are. It is also the more expensive part of Tulum, where you will be paying for food literally equivalent to USD prices in the USA. There are a ton of adorable boutique and eco friendly hotels to choose from on the Tulum beach road. If you do not care about staying directly on the beach and just plan on visiting the public beach, than staying in Tulum town center will probably be the cheaper option. Tulum town center is also much cheaper than the beach road and has more authentic food. We ate at a local taco joint in the town center for $5 USD (this included 8 tacos and two drinks, crazy right?!)
Now the moment you have been waiting for, the most Instagram worthy spots in Tulum that you must hit up including some Cenotes!
1. The Tulum Ruins
The Tulum Mayan Ruins are considered one of the most beautiful Mayan Ruins in all of Mexico, and even in the world. They are also the only Mayan Ruins that are built by the Sea. The ruins are situated on 15 meter cliffs overlooking that beautiful turquoise blue Caribbean sea. Getting to these ruins is super easy if you are staying on the Beach road. You can actually take a cab there for about $5 USD or bike to them. I suggest getting there at 8 AM when they open because it can get pretty crowded. There is a $5 USD entrance fee per person and than you are allowed to freely wander around the grounds. There are also guided tours available, but it is unnecessary honestly. Hint- the good spots are all at the top!
2. Coco Tulum Hotel Swings
Coco Tulum Hotel is located on the beach road before you get to the I Scream Bar and Raw Love (if you are coming from the side of the Ruins). We actually rode our bikes from our hotel to Coco Tulum (our hotel was also located on the beach road). To get to the swings you basically either need to buy a drink or meal from the beach bar/restaurant. When you enter the hotel, you tell the reception that you are there to eat or drink and they just let you go through. Once you walk through the little hotel room huts, you will see the all white swings and beach bar. Honestly this was my favorite spot to chill and enjoy a drink. The swings are parallel to the beach giving you the best view of that blue Caribbean sea. Most people will say that getting there early is a must because it does get crowded during the day. We actually did not get there early in the morning because we did the Ruins instead, but got there around 11 AM. There were other people there already but I was still able to wait patiently and get some good shots on the swings!
Added bonus: the adorable little shower on the beach by the swings has water coming out of a conch shell! Totally cute and Instagrammable!
3. Follow that Dream Street Sign
I am sure you have seen a photo with this sign all over Instagram! There are actually two of them on the Tulum Beach Road. The one that is shown in the photo is actually located right down from Raw Love. You will totally see it when you pass Raw Love and I Scream Bar heading toward Nomade and Casa Malca! I had to put the brakes on my bike and get a photo by this sign, only because it is so Instagrammable.
4. Raw Love
Raw Love is also located on the Tulum beach road and has all of the Boho vibes you could want! Lots of hammocks, cute little spots to sit, and a fun vibe make Raw Love a place you do not want to miss. If you are obsessed with anything smoothie like I am than you totally have to go! Raw Love has the best smoothie bowl I have ever had and It was so refreshing in the heat! I mean I am getting hungry for one just thinking about it! I tried to get some good photos of my smoothie bowl because yes it really was that pretty but it did not turn out exactly how I wanted it to and I was too hungry to keep trying!
5. Matcha Mama
Matcha Mama is definitely one of the cutest little cafes in Tulum! It is also located on the beach road a little farther down from Raw Love, toward Nomade and Casa Malca. Matcha Mama has everything from Matcha lattes, smoothie bowls, smoothies, acai, kombucha, etc. We actually passed by it a few times, but each time the swings were occupied! We finally got lucky when we were passing by one early afternoon and saw that the swings were empty. We decided to take our opportunity. I have heard from others that the smoothie bowls are delicious! I decided to try the matcha because I have never had it before, and boy do I wish I would have just gotten a smoothie or smoothie bowl. Totally not into matcha, it is just not my kinda drink.
6. Azulik Hotel
Azulik Hotel is the “tree house” like hotel you have seen all over Instagram. It has become increasingly popular among Instagram influencers and travel bloggers in the last year. Just like most of the hotels on the Tulum beach road, Azulik is also very eco friendly. By very eco friendly I mean if you stay there be prepared for no air conditioner, electricity in the rooms, or wifi. Also be prepared to spend a whopping $800 USD per night!
Needless to say the hotel truly is magical and so unique! I have never seen a place like it, yet! So here is the deal on how to see the Instagram famous nets, nests, and everything else in between at Azulik. If you are like me and will not pay $800 USD to stay there per night, there is a way for you to walk around this jungle tree house paradise without breaking the bank too much! When you enter the hotel, just tell the reception that you are there to either eat at the restaurant or grab a drink at the bar. Someone will walk you up to the bar and restaurant, which is also where the nets are located. Drinks start at around $20 USD per drink and the restaurant is also pretty pricey.
The nets are super interesting and over look the jungle and if you look hard enough you can see the Caribbean sea in the distance. Now they are not very easy to walk on, believe it or not. Especially not easy to walk on if you are wearing a dress in the unreal Mexican heat. If there are people sitting on the nets, be assured that its probably just for a photo and they will be out of your way in no time!
Now we talk about the nests at Azulik. Unfortunately for me, I was unable to take a photo in the nests. There was an unoccupied nest but the staff would not let us take a photo in it. If you want to reserve the nests for dinner, be prepared for a minimum tab of $1000 USD. Needless to say, we did not reserve a nest and were just hoping to quickly jump in one, grab a photo and exit! You might be more lucky than me when you go, I have talked to people who had no trouble just taking a photo and others who had a situation similar to mine.
There are only a few places that you can visit at Azulik and most of the really beautiful spots are roped off for guests of the hotel. Luckily for me I got to meet some really awesome Instagrammers earlier that day who let me crash their pad! I was able to get an inside scoop of their room and some cute areas around the rooms.
7. I Scream Bar– The Blue Tuk Tuk
The famous blue tuk tuk that has been moved several times! While I was in Tulum the blue tuk tuk is right in front of the bar. We actually stopped early afternoon before it became crowded, the only people I had in the background of my photos were the employees. The light probably was not the best due to the shadows from the palm trees, but either way I got my Instagrammable shot! I actually did not try the vegan ice cream, only because I am ice cream obsessed and I could not image not having that milky and creamy ice cream. What I did try though is the tacos at La Eufemia directly behind the bar! Let me tell you, those were some really delicious tacos! I recommend eating there for sure, either for lunch or dinner!
8. Nomade Hotel
The Nomade Hotel is a Boho lovers dream come true! I actually loved the decor of the entire hotel, it gives me a very Moroccan vibe with the colors and style of the restaurants.
Just like with Azulik, to walk around Nomade you must buy something. Just go up to the reception and tell them that you are there to grab lunch or dinner and they will just let you go in. We actually ate lunch at the Beach front restaurant, La Popular, and enjoyed the nice view of the Caribbean sea. We both ordered the seafood tacos and two coronas, also comes with chips and an assortment of salsa. The lunch was very good but pricey, especially for Mexican standards! After our lunch we walked around the hotel and got some super cute shots! We also got a shot on one of the beach front net teepees! Usually there are people in them all the time, but as soon as I saw someone get up and leave I took my opportunity.
9. Casa Malca
Casa Malca is Pablo Escobar’s old house and is located right past Nomade (so they say at least). Here is the deal with Casa Malca, I am sure you have seen it all over Instagram with the iconic shot of the couch in between the drapes of wedding dresses. Sound familiar now? Well it is not that easy to find Casa Malca at all. It is actually a hotel, but there are literally NO signs anywhere! We rode our bikes back and forth from Nomade and could not find it. We did not see the large potted plants and huge gate that everyone talks about. There was also a lot of construction going on a few doors down from Nomade at that time making it even harder to find.
The reason I added Casa Malca to the most Instagrammable list is because it truly does look stunning in all of the photos I have seen. My husband and I were already super tired and hot while looking for it, so after possibly passing it several times we were just over it. I hope that you have better luck finding it, and when you do let me know its exact location!
10. Tulum Beach Road
So as you have read so far, all of the super cute spots are located on the beach road. I recommended renting some bikes, there are literally bike rental shops everywhere, and just cruise down the beach road. You will be surprised at how many cute places and spots that you may find! This beach road is also lined with palm trees and the farther you go down the road, toward the Sian Khan Biosphere the more secluded you feel.
11. The Playa Paraiso Leaning Palm
Shout out to my girl Samantha’s Suitcase for blogging about this leaning palm in Tulum! Tulum has a ton of beautiful palm trees, but very few leaning palm trees! If you are like me and have always wanted to get that perfect leaning palm tree photo, than you are in luck in Tulum! Check out Samantha’s guide to Tulum on the other palm tree you can climb up aside from the one on the Playa Paraiso.
Playa Paraiso is the public beach on the Tulum beach road, it is actually on the side where the Ruins are. This leaning palm tree is pretty popular and when we arrived there in the dead of the afternoon (bad idea) there were already so many people trying to take a photo on it. After some patient waiting, I was finally able to get a photo! I would totally recommend getting to this one in the morning to avoid having to wait for a long time.
12. Grand Cenote
This is one of the more popular Cenotes in Tulum so getting there as soon as they open at 8 AM is important if you want to get some good shots!
There are actually two entrances to get down to the actual cenote itself. The first entrance is first staircase to the left, which is the one we went to first. At first I was confused because it did not look like any of the photos I had seen, but jumped in anyway and got some photos. Not until 20 minutes later did I realized that there is another part to it. There are two ways to get to the other part of the cenote (the spot that you see all of the Instagram photos from). The first method is to swim through the cave to the other side to reach that more “famous” part of the cenote. I did not go this route because it is dark and the top of the cave is pretty low. The second method is to walk to the second staircase past the first entrance to the right. We walked down the staircase and jumped in! The water in this part of the cenote is also a lot more shallow making it easy to walk around in the water and float. Either way both sides of the cenote are absolutely beautiful and surprisingly the water is not nearly as cold as I imagined it would be.
13. Cenotes Dos Ojos
Cenotes Dos Ojos is a little farther than Grand Cenote from Tulum beach road, but it is totally worth a drive over to it! There are actually several cenotes are Dos Ojos and you can buy tickets to just Dos Ojos or to all of them. We only bought tickets to the Dos Ojos cenotes because that is the one we were really interested in, and it was already 10 AM so the crowds were starting to show up. Dos Ojos is just as beautiful as the Grand Cenote, but it also has very deep parts. You can rent snorkel gear and snorkel around if you are into that. I do suggest getting to Dos Ojos as soon as they open around 9 AM because if you get there even an hour later, there are already dozens of people. We had to be really patient to get some good shots without others in the background.
So this sums up the 13 most Instagram worthy spots that you do not want to miss in Tulum! There are tons of adorable little spots in Tulum and on the beach road, but these are the ones you do not want to miss!