We spent a week in Tulum at the beginning of January and completely fell in love. We have travelled to Sayulita a number of times and were nervous to venture away from a town we love so much. I can now honestly say that I love both places for different reasons. Sayulita I love for its charm, surf, and walkability. Tulum I love for the turquoise water, white sand, cenotes and ruins. Both places are full of delicious and affordable tacos, not to worry.
We rented an Airbnb just outside of town, closer to the jungle. It was comfortable and quiet and allowed us to cook a little and do laundry. We made sure it had a pool and proceeded to spend so much time at the beach that we never used it. We were grateful for air-conditioning and bug screens as the mosquitoes were vicious. If I was to do it again I think I would try and stay closer to the beach. We were about a 15 min drive from the beach and a 5 minute drive to town, none of it felt too walkable with a toddler. We spent time at the beach here CoCo Tulum… and I would love to actually stay overnight there next time.
There is tons to do in Tulum but you need transportation to get there. We rented a car and I would recommend this. I saw a lot of people biking which would also work but we got a lot more done in a day with a car.
Gran Cenote - only a 5 min drive from town and 150 pesos (about $12) to access, we found the Gran Cenote to be a highlight of the trip. Deep Turquoise, cold spring water that you can swim in and a gorgeous cave setting. Theo fed the Turtles with food sold at the Cenote and still talks about it.
Tulum Ruins - While very busy and touristy we still loved the Tulum ruins for the beautiful grounds, roaming lizards and gorgeous beach. We skipped the tour guide and just paid the 65 ($5.50ish) pesos entrance fee. Make sure to wear your bathing suit under your clothes and bring water!
Beaches - One of the highlights of Tulum was paying for overpriced food so we could take advantage of beautiful beach clubs like Ziggy’s and Coco’s. Most had a minimum spend of about $20 USD per person and then you could stay all day on their comfy beach chairs, and beds under umbrellas and palm trees. This made our pretty affordable trip feel very luxurious and was super helpful to have clean washrooms and showers at the ready.
We travelled with our Foodie friends which is always a treat because they make us more adventurous with our food choices. We ate all over the Tulum town, from $1 Al Pastor Tacos to Street-side Grilled Tamales. In Mexico I always crave Choco Frappes, something about mexican chocolate and the heat makes it taste so good! Some of our favourite spots to eat were…
Tacos al carboncito - Great meat tacos in town, available To-go
Pizoleria la Mexicanita - for Sopes and Pizole, don’t miss this one! (a bit hidden at the edge of town)
Honorio - more meat tacos (rarely open so go if you can!)
Chamico's - Great fish and shrimp on a beautiful beach (we got caught in a rainstorm and still loved it)
Ki'bok- best coffee we found (we still brought our own beans and made coffee at home in the mornings
I was just out of my first trimester in this trip so I missed out on margaritas, which was very sad. But the guys had their fair share which we found to be fairly priced in town (especially during happy hours) and beers were cheap at the beach.
I would highly recommend travelling with friends who have similar interests to you and love your toddler. It is great to have extra hands and legs to chase a toddler down the beach.
Coqui Coqui - I would recommend visiting this infamous boutique hotel if only for the design inspiration. It is a beautiful space. I brought home a bottle of their Coco Coco perfume as my only souvenir. We couldn't bring ourselves to splurge on the Spa treatments this time but maybe in the future.
We generally follow the rule of all routines and schedules go out the window when you travel (and you deal with resetting everything when you get back). We got in naps when we could and let him stay up way too late and eat too much sugar. But he had the time of his life and there weren't many meltdowns.
At 2.5 years old we decided to not bring a stroller as the roads in mexico usually aren't stroller friendly and we knew he wouldn't want to be in it much. This was the right call for us. We did bring the ErgoBaby Carrier and wore him on our back a couple of times for longer walks/hikes.
Plane travel went surprisingly well thanks to an ipad and a Leapfrog Pad and no screen time rules. See previous post here for what we packed.
All things considered, we had the most wonderful time and can't recommend Tulum enough, especially for travel with a toddler.