By this point, I am sure you have already heard about Tulum, Mexico, its perfect boho vibes, a hipsters/vegans paradise, and a handful of adorable cafes and restaurants. Tulum is all over social media, Instagram in particular, 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 areas such as Cancun. There are not many all-inclusive resorts (I think maybe one or two) in Tulum town center and on the beach road, making it feel 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 plan to visit Tulum at some point in your life, 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 must fly into Cancun airport. Cancun is a short 1.5-hour drive from Tulum. Now I am sure you are thinking, how the heck do I get to Tulum from the airport? There are two excellent options. The first option is to hire a reputable airport transfer through your hotel or 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 USD 150 for two way transfer for 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 car at the airport and drive to Tulum. This option is also a good alternative, as renting a car in Mexico is cheap. You have your vehicle to go to any Cenote your heart desires, and you can do whatever you, please! I saw many people renting cars and driving to Tulum from the airport. I spoke to a few who rented a car, and they confirmed that it was convenient and easy! Both options have 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 tidbit on the hotel situation in Tulum. If you want to stay directly on the beach, then h road is your place. 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 equivalent to USD prices in the USA. There are a ton of adorable boutiques and eco-friendly hotels to choose from on Tulum beach road. If you do not care about staying directly on the beach and plan on visiting the public beach, then staying in Tulum town center will probably be the cheaper option. Tulum town center is much more affordable than beach road and has more authentic food. We ate at a local taco joint in the town center for USD 5 (this included eight 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 the world. They are also the only Mayan Ruins that the Sea builds. The ruins are situated on 15-meter cliffs overlooking that beautiful turquoise-blue Caribbean sea. Getting to these ruins is super easy if you stay on Beach road. You can take a cab there for about USD 5 or bike to them. I suggest getting there at 8 AM when they open because it can get pretty crowded. There is a USD 5 entrance fee per person, and you can 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 rode our bikes from our hotel to Coco Tulum (our hotel was also located on the beach road). To get to the swings, you need to buy a drink or meal from the beach bar/restaurant. When you enter the hotel, you tell the receptionist 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 did not get there early in the morning because we did the Ruins instead, but we got there around 11 AM. There were other people there already, but I could still wait patiently and get some good shots on the swings!
Bonus: the adorable little shower on the beach by the swings has water coming out of a conch shell! 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 two of them on Tulum Beach Road. The one shown in the image is located right down from Raw Love. You will 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 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, you 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 it 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 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, acai, kombucha, etc. We passed by it a few times, but the swings were occupied each time! We finally got lucky when we passed by one early afternoon and saw that the swings were empty. We decided to take the opportunity. I have heard from others that the smoothie bowls are delicious! I decided to try the matcha because I had never had it before, and boy, do I wish I had just gotten a smoothie or bowl. Not into matcha; it is just not my kind of drink.
6. Azulik Hotel
Azulik Hotel is the “tree house” like the hotel you have seen all over Instagram. It has become increasingly popular among Instagram influencers and travel bloggers in the last year. Like most of the hotels on 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 USD 800 per night!
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 famous Instagram nets, nests, and everything else in between at Azulik. If you are like me and will not pay USD 800 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, tell the receptionist 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, where the nets are located. Drinks start at around USD 20 per drink, and the restaurant is also pretty pricey.
The nets are super exciting and overlook the jungle, and if I; look hard enough, you ca,n see the Caribbean Sea in the distance. Now they are not easy to walk on, believe it or not. Incredibly not easy to walk on if you are wearing a dress in the unreal Mexican heat. If people are sitting on the nets, be assured that it’s 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, I could not take a photo in the nests. There was an unoccupied nest, but the staff would not let us take pictures. If you want to reserve the nests for dinner, be prepared for a minimum tab of USD 1000. We did not book a nest and hoped to jump in one, grab a photo, and exit quickly! You might be luckier than me when you go; I have talked to people who had no trouble just taking a picture and others who had a similar situation.
You can visit only a few places at Azulik, and most of the beautiful spots are roped off for hotel guests. Luckily, I met some awesome Instagrammers earlier that day, letting me crash their pad! I was able to get an inside scoop on their room and some cute areas around the rooms.
7. I Scream Bar– The Blue Tuk Tuk
The famous blue tuk-tuk has been moved several times! While I was in Tulum, the blue tuk-tuk was right in front of the bar. We 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 did not try the vegan ice cream only because I am ice cream obsessed, and I could not imagine 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 delicious tacos! I recommend eating there for sure, either for lunch or dinner!
8. Nomade Hotel
The Nomade Hotel is a Boho lover’s dream come true! I loved the decor of the entire hotel; it gave 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 to the reception and tell them you are there to grab lunch or dinner, and they will just let you in. We ate lunch at the Beachfront restaurant, La Popular, and enjoyed the lovely view of the Caribbean sea. We both ordered the seafood tacos, and two coronas also came with chips and an assortment of salsa. The lunch was delicious but pricey, especially for Mexican standards! After lunch, we walked around the hotel and got some super cute shots! We also got a picture of one of the beachfront 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; you have seen it all over Instagram with the iconic shot of the couch between the drapes of wedding dresses. Sound familiar now? Well, it is not that easy to find Casa Malca at all. It is a hotel, but there are NO signs anywhere! We rode our bikes back and forth from Nomade and could not find them. We did not see the large potted plants and massive gates everyone talked about. There was also a lot of construction going on a few doors down from Nomade, making it even harder to find.
I added Casa Malca to the most Instagrammable list because it looks stunning in all 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 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 beach road. I recommended renting some bikes; bike rental shops are everywhere, and cruising down the beach road. You will be surprised at how many cute places and spots 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, then 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 Tulum beach road, and it is actually on the side where the Ruins are. This leaning palm tree is pretty famous, and when we arrived in the dead of the afternoon (bad idea), many people were already trying to take a photo of it. After some patient waiting, I was finally able to get a picture! I recommend getting to this one in the morning to avoid waiting 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 essential if you want to get some good shots!
There are two entrances to get down to the actual cenote itself. The first entrance is the staircase to the left, which we went to first. At first, I was confused because it did not look like any of the photos I had seen, but I jumped in anyway and got some pictures. Not until 20 minutes later did I realize that there was another part to it. There are two ways to get to the other part of the cenote (the spot where you see all of the Instagram photos). 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 double staircase past the first entrance to the right. We walked down the stairs and jumped in! The water in this part of the cenote is also much more shallow, making it easy to walk around and float. Either way, both sides of the cenote are 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 worth a drive over to it! There are several cenotes that are Dos Ojos, and you can buy tickets to just Dos Ojos or all of them. We only bought tickets to the Dos Ojos cenotes because that was the one we were 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 has intense parts. You can rent snorkel gear and snorkel around if you are into that. I 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 patient to get some good shots without others in the background.
So this sums up the 13 most Instagram-worthy spots you do not want to miss in Tulum! There are tons of pretty little sites in Tulum and on the beach road, but these are the ones you do not want to miss!