Tulum is a great beach town in the Mayan Riviera that can be a bit difficult to understand for the first time visitor. Many visitors think that Tulum is just the Tulum Ruins, and that is the extent of this pretty and precious little town. For visitors that stay at small hotels in Tulum, they hear references to the Tulum ruins, Tulum town and Tulum beach. Huh? Tulum is Tulum right? Yes, and no. Tulum is a less developed city in the Mayan Riviera and locals have created distinct words or references when referring to areas in Tulum.It is all Tulum is just is a better way of explaining the different areas.
Understand the 3 ares of Tulum before you arrive for your Tulum vacation
When people refer to the Town of Tulum they are referring to the pink portion of Tulum. This is where the banks, municipal offices, shopping and off the beach hotels are. If you are needing to shop for food, shop for gifts or just have a break from the beach, Tulum town is the residential portion of Tulum where staff, owners and Tulum residents live. It is a real community that looks after their people and work slowly to make sure that community services and infrastructure are in place for residents. Houses and businesses in Tulum have access to internet, water and electricity.
The second area that people refer to are the Tulum ruins which is the first stop in Tulum in the north end of town. On this map you will see the Mayan ruins in the bottom right hand corner. This is the archeological site of the Tulum ruins which are located on the beach. There is a small mall that has restaurants, craft stores and convenience stores. At the entrance to the ruins you will find a row of artisans that sell Mexican crafts and art.
The third area that confuses most people and is hard to find for new visitors to Tulum is the Tulum beach. The Tulum beach can be reached by car if you take the ‘beach road’ the road that intersects Hwy 307 at the Super San Francisco, 7-eleven (yes there is one) and the new but hidden grocery store Chedraui. This road is labeled Hwy 109 in the map (no one will refer to this road as the 109 by the way) and leads you to the Tulum beach at a t junction. The T junction will lead you to the north part of the Tulum beach, and the south part of the Tulum beach, entrance to the Sian Kaan and eventually Punta Allen. South of the T junction is where most of the Tulum small hotels are on the Tulum beach. There are few hotels to the north but there are some still to the north and one or two restaurants. The fisherman’s coop is also to the north.
Why is Tulum so confusing?
Tulum is only confusing to new visitors, but rightly so, it is confusing. The confusion comes from the large distances in between the three areas. Unlike other beach towns in the area, Akumal, Playa del Carmen or Cancun, Tulum has large areas in between the beach, the town and the ruins that have little development making the surrounding areas seem uninhabited, or just nothing to see.
Boy could that be far from the truth. There are 3 kilometers between the Tulum ruins and Tulum town. The town is a great little town that is residential on the back street and business focused on the main highway. There is 4 kms between Tulum town and the Tulum beach T junction where the Tulum beach road that runs along the Caribbean coast for over 10 kilometers. If you are feeling adventurous and have a whole day, you can venture the 40 additional kilometers to Punta Allen. The road to Punta Allen is not a great road so be prepared for a bumpy ride. The Tulum beach road is paved so there are no issues on this beautiful coastal road.
We will continue to explain in more detail the three areas of Tulum as each area is unique, very different and offers visitors a very different experience in each of these three areas that make up Tulum.
Casa de las Olas is located at the end of the Tulum beach road, 10 kilometers from the T junction. It is the last property before you reach the entrance to the Sian Kaan (where the bad road starts) and provides guests with a very private, secluded and unique Tulum beach experience.