What to Do and Photograph in Tulum, Mexico (part 1)
One of our favorite places to vacation is the slightly off the beaten path city of Tulum, Mexico (about a 1.5 hour drive from Cancun). We like like the fact that you can get a bungalow steps from the beach in a relatively non touristy area. The area is known for “eco hotels,” hip restaurants, and spectacular becaches and cenotes (underground freshwater lakes inside of caves).
If you ever find yourself in this slice of paradise on the famous Riveria Maya, you’ll find plenty of things to photograph whether it’s wildlife, town life, ancient Mayan ruins, or the beautiful beach.
During the day, the palm tree lined beaches are full of tourists, joggers, sunbathers, and locals. There are plenty of opportunities to eat, drink, take a stroll on the beach, or simply relax. You can hire boats to go snorkeling for relatively cheap, and there are lots of sea turtles in the region during certain times of the year. The beaches on the Tulum Playa are great for people watching. We love just relaxing on the beach and watching the people go by… occasionally playing in the clear blue water. If you get bored of hanging out on the beach or tired of paying hotel prices for food, you can head into the small downtown area of Tulum to do some shopping or to eat some local, inexpensive grub. There are tons of souvenirs all along the main street that runs through the town.
There are lots of colorful houses an hole in the wall restaurants all around the small city center. Most folks at the touristy spots speak English well, but you might have to resort to pointing and using Spanish in the places frequented by locals.
The beaches are absolutely beautiful at sunset, and you can find lots of people hanging out at all times during the day. Here on the northern side of the beach closer to the Mayan ruins, there is a makeshift beach soccer goal made out of wood and a fishing net.
The Mayan ruins are one of the main attractions in Tulum, and while not as impressive as Chicen Itza (which is a 2.5 hour drive away) – it is the only Mayan Ruin that’s on the beach, and it is walkable from the North side of Tulum Playa.
The ruins in Tulum are home to lots of iguanas, who love sunbathing and posing for photos like this one. They come in all sizes and they’re often just relaxing on the side of pedestrian paths.
Traditional fabrics are typically very colorful and most hotels have these very photogenic hammocks hanging from porches or palm trees.
Sunrises in Tulum provide opportunities for very directional, dramatic light that make almost anything look more interesting. If you happen to visit Tulum in the summer, the early morning is the best time to go to the beach because of the intense afternoon sun.
Boats like this are common on the north side of the Playa Tulum (in the national park area). They make great backdrops for photos.
Seaweed sometimes washes up on shore and makes for interesting photos.
Many Tulum beach restaurants offer great views of the beach, but you have to pay a little extra. One thing to watch out for during the evenings are mosquitoes – especially in areas near any large shady areas or on the jungle side of the beach road.
The Vita e Bella Hotel has some beautiful bungalows that are just about 10 steps away from the beach and reclining chairs where you can relax, people watch, or spend all day reading.
Palm trees abound everywhere on the beach and in the jungle in Tulum.
Friendly dog at Cenotes Labnaha – one of the underwater caves best in the region… offering private tours through the completely dark cave.
Sunrise on the Playa Tulum
Tulum is also known for it’s nightlife. This tiki drink at Gitano, which is basically a nightclub in the middle of the jungle, was delicious and innovative. You can see a burning cinnamon stick for ambiance on the side of the drink. This spot is a little pricey and very hipster, but have you ever been to a restaurant with live music and a disco ball hanging from palm trees?
In conclusion, Tulum is an amazing place to visit. Its tropical location provides warm temperatures even when it’s freezing further north. It is a little cheaper to go during the summer, but you’ll have to prepare for scorching hot temperatures. The best times to go to Tulum are in the fall, winter and spring.
Do you have recommendations for things to do or photograph in Tulum? Let me know in the comments!