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The Truth about Tulum - Is Tulum Worth Visiting?

For my Ultimate Yucatan Road Trip - I spent a long time researching where to stay along the Maya Rivera, and in the end, Tulum seemed to be the best place to use as a base.

If you have read my article - Is Bali Worth Visiting in 2024? - you may have an inkling of where this post is heading, but I'll start off by saying some nice things about Tulum.


Is Tulum Worth Visiting? The Positives...

The design of the boutique hotels and restaurants, with their minimalist style and use of wood, plants, and lights, is very beautiful. The 'Tulum aesthetic' as it is called is quite stunning.

There is also a great selection of restaurants, and the white sand beaches with that dreamy shade of turquoise sea would have been magical if we had visited outside of the smelly seaweed season.

Tulum is also fairly close to a few really unique and worthwhile places, like Coba Ruins and Laguna Kaan Luum.

That's where I'll stop.

A man posing at Cenote Suytun

Cenote Suytun: What you don't see in this photo, is the large queue behind to take your picture here, and the fact that the water in this cenote is too dirty to swim in.


Is Tulum Worth Visiting? The Rest.

Ahh Tulum, where spiritual enlightenment is advertised to you on a billboard.

Where the out-of-touch go to play, masquerade as hippies and life coaches, or declare themselves as 'healers'.

Where the wannabe celebrities 'find themselves' in overpriced resorts and pass their time in foreign-owned vegan cafes, heavily editing their Instagram photos.

Just a few decades ago Tulum was a sleepy little town surrounded by nature, but now it is a mecca for jet-setting millennials, who come to do all the things they can do back home, but for less money and in better weather.

The Bali of Latin America - where you can eat smoothie bowls during the day, and party all night long, surrounded by people just like you.

These people come to Tulum and pretend they are on some magical spiritual quest whilst working remotely - but all they do is stick to their own Westernised bubble. Don't get me wrong, being a devoted yoga practitioner I also consider myself a spiritual seeker, but I also see through the bullshit, and if you are filming yourself meditating, you are kind of missing the point.

The military presence in Tulum is huge, as the National Guard patrol the streets in armoured cars 'to ensure safety and tranquillity for locals and visitors'. No locals are living in Tulum, they have all presumably been out-priced, and could it be that the drug gangs are rife in the area to feed the demand of the visitors themselves?

Tulum is also expanding. When I was there in May 2023 the place was practically a building site, for wider roads, more resorts, and more money, I highly doubt any of which goes into the hands of people whose families are from this land. For me, the eco-boho-spiritual vibe completely contradicts the mass unsustainable development that is clearly happening here.

During my 10 years of travelling, Tulum is up there with New Delhi and Bali, as being the only places that I couldn't wait to get out of.

This area was once a place of outstanding natural beauty, but now, well they really have paved paradise and put up a parking lot.

One of the 7 wonders of the world and a popular day-trip from Tulum: Chichén Itzá
One of the 7 wonders of the world and a popular day-trip from Tulum: Chichén Itzá

Stinky seaweed that plagues the beaches of Tulum every year
Stinky seaweed that plagues the beaches of Tulum and the rest of the Maya Riviera every year


Thank you for reading my short post on the truth about Tulum, where I hopefully answer the question, Is Tulum Worth Visiting? The answer is No, it is not.

To be clear, this is just one person's honest opinion, and if you want to visit Tulum and see for yourself, please be my guest. If you're into boutique hotels and lifestyle retreats, maybe it's for you! It's just not how I like to travel.

All I'm saying is that Mexico is a fascinating and beautiful country, and there are many more interesting places to explore. Check out my city guides on Mexico City and Oaxaca de Juarez for more positive travel inspiration!

Happy Travels!




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