Updated: Nov 13, 2021
Recently, I went on my second trip abroad to Tulum, Mexico to celebrate my 25th birthday! As someone who doesn't travel much, especially to other countries, I had to do so much research in order to properly prepare for this trip. While there, although I had an amazing time, I noticed some helpful tips I could share to help the next person interested in traveling there. In this blog, I'm going to share my experience as a whole including my flight, airport transfer, hotel stay, itinerary and more! At the very end of this blog I'll include a gallery of photos and videos from my trip, so be sure to read through.
In order to go to Tulum, you must fly into Cancun Airport. I got my flight through JetBlue, and they were super affordable (around $260 roundtrip/nonstop). The flight itself was OK, but please do keep in mind that JetBlue Airways is only booking 70% capacity, but there is a possibility that you will be sitting next to someone you don't know as they've resume booking middle seats. The flight was a comfortable 3.5 hour trip, and I had absolutely no complaints. All passengers were required to keep their masks on, which the flight staff enforced & other than the fact that I had to sit so close to a a stranger, the flight was great. Upon arriving in Cancun, we had to fill out some forms for COVID-19 and a declaration form, both of which no one really checked. Ahead of time, I decided to book airport transfers to and from the airport to our hotel. I booked through Cancun Airport's official shuttle. Both there and back, our drivers were punctual and super professional. I highly recommend using them!
The hotel I booked was called Copal Tulum, located in Aldea Zama; a neighborhood of many apartment complex styled hotels and air bnbs. Our hotel was absolutely beautiful; the architecture was built around jungle so there were lots of greenery. There were two pools, one on the ground level and a rooftop infinity pool. The staff was great, from the front desk, to housekeeping, restaurant staff and massage therapists. They assisted in making reservations, calling taxis, and answering other general inquiries. I did have some minor complaints; for some reason our room had a curtain that was basically see-through while other rooms had another curtain that stopped others from seeing into the room. As we made complaints about this several times, it was never resolved. The Wifi service was VERY spotty in the rooms, which made watching TV difficult. Only in common areas such as the restaurant could you find some consistent connection. The hotel has bikes that you can rent for the day for only $12USD which was very convenient. There were many other Black travelers at our hotel which made us feel at home, and it was also nice sharing the experience with them. Overall I would give Copal Tulum 4/5 stars for service and 3.5/5 stars overall experience.
There are many different things to do in Tulum, depending on your personal interests. My boyfriend and I were going for a more relaxed and calm trip, so we didn't do any adventurous excursions (minus our 2 mile bike ride into the town). We mostly went to restaurants, beach clubs and hookah bars. The places we went to were:
Taboo Beach Club (overpriced, untasty food but a beautiful scenery and vibe)
Ahau Beach Club/Raw Love (The vibe was giving café/coffee shop vs. beach club)
Chacabar (The BEST food we had our entire time in Tulum. Their food is so fresh and their mimosas are the strongest you will ever have, but delicious)
Azulik (Great architecture for taking pictures! The restaurant portion was closed when we went, so I didn't get to try the food)
Mistico Hookah Bar (Small, but great hookah bar. We had two hookahs, shots and drinks for about $23USD. I also convinced the manager to connect my music to bluetooth so it was LIT ok?!)
RosaNegra ('upscale' steakhouse with a club vibe. There were DJ's, great drinks and it was very crowded. It seemed like the place to be for special occasions. We had drinks, steaks, sides, dessert all for about $165USD. USA could never!)
What I wish I knew before going to Tulum
Now here is where I get transparent. This is just my personal experience, and I do not speak for all of Tulum or anyone else's experience there. But as someone who has not traveled often, I didn't really know what to expect. As Tulum is on the rise as a frequent vacation destination, I want to make sure I include things I wish I knew before traveling there.
Tulum is one huge construction site. I was under the impression that everywhere in Tulum was easy to get to by foot or by bicycle. Every other plot of land is a new construction. It isn't as beautiful as I thought it would be because there is work being done everywhere you go. You will also hear a lot of construction being done from your hotel which can ruin the vibe.
It is VERY expensive. Because Tulum is on the rise and mostly owned by non-Mexicans aka gentrifiers, many of the prices for food, experiences, hotels, taxis etc. are almost the same as if you were in the USA. Taxis averaged at about $15 per trip, even if you were only going 8 minutes away from your hotel. Experiences such as Casa Malca (Pablo Escobar's mansion) are $100USD per person, and the value of these experiences aren't matching the prices. Be prepared to spend at least $1000 USD for a 4-5 day trip, not including actual excursions like zip lining, jet skis etc.
COVID? What's that? While in Tulum, I can count on one hand how many people enforced COVID-19 guidelines such as wearing masks or social distancing. If you're someone who is still following safety guidelines, Mexico might not be the place to go. We were in very crowded spaces where people were not wearing masks at. all. Of course it is a risk you take while traveling, especially abroad; but everyone's comfortability level varies so be mindful of this.
Overall my trip was absolutely amazing! I got to do what I came there for, and my boyfriend and I were able to unplug and spend some time together away from the election tension. I do wish I would have done some more research prior to going, because there were some hours during our 5 day stay where we had no clue what to do or where to go. Who you go with definitely makes a difference also, because if you're going with friends to turn-up you might want to detour to Cancun or Cabo. One very important thing I want to mention is how vital it is to speak Spanish or travel with someone who does. There were many circumstances where people tried to dismiss our concerns or issues while speaking English, and once I spoke Spanish their entire vibe changed. Plus, it's very American and entitled to travel to other countries not even attempting to speak their native language.
I hope anyone looking to go to Tulum has gotten some useful information from this read! Check out my photo dump from my trip below and as always thank you SO much for reading!
Be sure to follow me on instagram @soshable to see more highlights from my trip