his my rather honest review of Tulum. Should you travel to Tulum this year? Maybe not. Here's why.
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Or read the blog post right here:
So I visited Tulum about 4 years ago.
Back then I really enjoyed its beautiful white beaches, easy access to everything and the hole in the wall places to eat that were perfect for a backpacker with a budget.
I loved my stay, spending most the time on the beach, swimming in nearby cenotes and exploring the famous seaside Mayan ruins.
Fast forward to 2021.
Tourism has boomed and subsequently has construction. It has become a mecca for influencers, fit-fluencers, rich snobs and modern-day hippies and hipsters that want to be in touch with nature but will pay big money for exclusivity and drugs.
And dare not let one of these be offline. For if it wasn’t posted on social media, did it really happen.
Kind of like that tree fell in the forest conundrum.
So the outcome is a burgeoning hotel industry that is trying to cater for this newly found demand.
Large parts of the famous Tulum beach have now been developed into an exclusive Hotel Zone. Untouchable and unreachable by us mere mortals and never mind the locals.
You either stay at an overpriced hotel that’s going to set your savings back by 2 years or you order a drink that you will savor for the next 3 hours because you might as well be buying it from a Swiss airport bar.
The famous beach strip and road is crowded, full of potholes that could give Mozambique a run for its money, overpriced boutique shops and glamorous eco-styled hotels.
Don't get me wrong, some of this architecture is truly stunning.
The wooden statue that can be found at RAW love is magnificent. Some of these “eco-hotels” have amazing concepts and structures that are truly beautiful.
The problem is that demand has outgrown supply.
In short. It is packed. There is an hour long line so people can go take a selfie at Raw Love. That’s crazy.
Everything is designed to be a selfie opportunity. Which to me defeats the purpose of travelling.
Even downtown Tulum is littered with expensive restaurants and construction sites for future hotels. Hole in the wall local places are harder and harder to find.
As an example. A tortilla at a local place will cost you roughly 12-18 pesos. Restaurants in Tulum will easily charge you over 100 pesos. The ruins are expensive to visit and over –crowded. Taxis will you charge 150 pesos, or 8 dollars to drive you a kilometer. It all kind of feels like a giant rip off.
A detrimental and possibly environmentally damaging rip off at that.
First off, all the construction is driving the prices through the roof, increasing the cost of living and disenfranchising the locals. Yes, there are some business opportunities for the locals, restaurants, cafes, scooter rentals and I’m sure the construction industry feels like a kid in a candy shop, but most of these mega hotel projects are from foreign investors and only benefit the upper echelons of society. There is now only one beach strip that is available to the public and locals alike. I spoke to many locals that grew up here and they told me they had fond memories of Tulum 15 years ago when the beach was accessible to all, they could go fishing every day and the town was quieter and cheaper.
Many workers live in nearby villages and get carted down to Tulum every day.
Problem number 2 is the environmental damage this unfettered and semi-unregulated construction boom is causing.
Many new developments do not install proper waste water facilities, meaning that the runoff from thousands of tourists ends up in the underground water supply I.e. cenotes or in the ocean.
You don’t have to be a scientist to understand that this is bad. No one wants to swim in poop water. Especially poop water that is causing algae to bloom, covering local coral reefs and essentially strangling them.
In addition, huge areas of jungle and mangroves are being cut down to make room for more hotels. The very nature that people come from all over the world to see is being eradicated. Endangering ecosystems, species and in the case of mangroves eliminating natural barriers for hurricanes.
Ok that was a lot.
So, as you can see there are some downsides.
It’s expensive, overcrowded and comes at an ecological cost.
So what are the pros.
Well, Tulum is close to many beautiful cenotes that are within a half an hour drives reach with a scooter.
There are still some of hole in the wall places left.
The beach is beautiful – IF –and big IF here. IF you are there at the right time of the year and tons of seaweed are not being swept onto the beach.
It’s called Sargassum, look it up.
Some of the architecture is very beautiful and there are some very cool concepts.
But overall. Tulum isn’t much to write home about anymore unfortunately.
I feel like it’s well on its way to become Cancun or Playa del Carmen.
The Mexican experience has perished and if you are truly looking to experience Mexico I wouldn’t recommend Tulum.
Rather go to the island of Holbox. Which is more affordable, way more down to earth and beautiful island that is home to flamingos.
I hope this helps.
Let me know what you think in the comments below.