What is the perfect day in Tulum? If you are traveling for the first time or are a repeat traveler, the Perfect Day in Tulum is a day of culture, beach, Caribbean Sea, great food, and of course a swim or snorkel in a cenote. Here is our Perfect Day in Tulum. Having lived in the area for almost 20 years we have many perfect days in many cities in the Riviera Maya, but Tulum does have a special place in our hearts.
We always start a fun filled Perfect Day with breakfast. For over 20 years we have been traveling down the Tulum beach road to Que Fresco on the beach. Que Fresco is located in Hotel Zamas about 2 kilometers from the beach road junction. Their Heuvos Rancheros are one of the best and the view can not be beat. If you are looking to get a quick head start in the sea, jump in to the Caribbean as Que Fresco is right on the beach. Coffee is good, service is friendly and the view…did we tell you about the view!
The Tulum Ruins are about 3. kilometers from Que Fresco Restaurant. Back in teh days we would walk to the ruins, as we got a bit older and wiser, we would bike to the ruins from Zamas. These days we take a car so that we can have a full day in and around Tulum. OUr favorite parking area is at the north end of the beach road where the gate closes the road to traffic. This secret spot is not that much of a secret any longer but if you get there early, you will be sure to get a parking spot. The walk from this portion of the road is half the distance that most tourists walk from the highway. On a hot day you will love this shorter walk. COnsidering that we encourage all visitors to arrive early (8 am) to the Tulum ruins, the distance will not be an issue. Early arrival to the ruins reaps many rewards. Less tourists are at the mayan archeological site this early, the sun is not super hot yet and your photos will be easier to shoot due to less people. Take water, cameras, and any small tour books or printed materials about the ruins that you have. Tulum is a small site, but an influential site so the information about its history is not less than other Mayan settlements.
We highly recommend not using the beach infront of the Tulum ruins but to walk the beach road 1/2 a kilometer to the second driveway. This is a public beach area that is full of locals and close to a beach club if you prefer beach chairs and cold drinks. WE love being in the sea and we also have fond memories of the old Santa Fe beach area, so we always head to the public beach area and generally find old friends doing the same. Chill, swim, read, or nap. This is one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
This is what is our most favorite thing in the world! Cenote snorkeling in a natural sinkhole just outside Tulum. Today we are going to Gran Cenote located just kms down the Coba Road west of Tulum. (thankfully we have the car today) If you need to rent snorkeling equipment, you can do so at the cenote. If you have your own, bring it! All you will need for this snorkeling adventure is a towel, snorkel equipment, a bathing suit and biodegradable sunscreen. Gran Cenote is a big ‘C’ so jump in on one side of the platform and follow the water from south to north. There are cenote molly fish, great formations, with the north side of the cenote having a sand floor. Check out the tree roots coming through the limestone and keep yours eyes open for the resident turtle that lives on the west side under the ledge. The fresh water will take away all of the sea salt that you may have encountered in the Caribbean. You will feel fresh after this snorkel in fresh water!
Tulum has three distinct sections to the area. There is the Tulum beach to the east, the Tulum Ruins which are locates on the north side as you enter the city and the Tulum pueblo located to the south of the ruins and on the main highway. This city is very different from other Riviera Maya cities and towns as the main city area is on the highway. Restaurants and shops are easy to find and easy to access as they are located on the main highway. A few of our evening favorite restaurants are located on the back streets, but EL Camellos is on the highway just south of the center of Tulum. You can not miss this restaurant on the east side. It is busy, popular and a local hang out. The food is great and the staff is hilarious. The menu is seafood and fish with a few non-fish items to choose from. This is Tulum, and a great place for a late lunch.
Our days in Tulum always end in the Sian Kaan at Cesiak with a cocktail and a sunset. Cesiak is a small restaurant just 4 kms from the Sian Kaan entrance on the Tulum beach road. The top floor of the restaurant offers stunning views of both the Biosphere and the sunset and the cocktails provide a nice finish to our Perfect Day. If you are not driving far, stay for dinner. If you are heading back up the coast, have a cocktail, take in the view and head back to your final destination. Word of caution, the road into the SIan Kaan is a little bumpy so take your time. When you enter the gate, let the guards know you are heading to Cesiak and the park fee is waived for you.
If you have never been to Tulum check out our overview of the Tulum beaches and Tulum town. If you are looking for more interesting shops and restaurants to visit, check out the Directory and search for more places to eat or local shops to visit.