I promised a Tulum travel guide when we returned from our trip. Before I dive in, a lot of people asked me, “is Tulum kid-friendly.” The short answer is not really, but it can be so I’ll include some tips for a more kid-friendly Tulum experience.
Tulum has been a bucket-list travel destination for my husband for awhile. For me, it was less so. Now that we’ve been, I can see why he wanted to go. The surroundings are absolutely stunning, it has both vibrant night life and robust wellness scenes and the locals are above and beyond friendly and hospitable.
Where We Stayed
For the purposes of this Tulum travel guide, there are three main places to stay: downtown Tulum, at the beach or between the two in an up-and-coming area called Aldea Zama. You’ll find hotels and resorts in each of these areas.
Downtown Tulum has more of a city vibe and local feel. The beach is where most of the nightlife – clubs and restaurants – is and of course you’ll get amazing views from your room and be on the beach. Between the two you’ll find Aldea Zama, a trendy residential area. There are a few hotels, but it’s mostly populated by condos and apartments – and it’s being developed like crazy. I definitely recommend staying here with kids.
You’ll find plenty of Airbnb’s in this area and also lots of little restaurants and yoga studios. It’s cute, quaint, safe and from what I could tell it’s best place to stay if you have a large group (think, Bachelorette party) or if you have kids because it’s walkable with a stroller, most of the restaurants are kid-friendly and there are some playgrounds nearby. From here, it’s easy to get to the beach via a bike path or by car.
By comparison, beach accommodations are a little more difficult with a stroller because of the terrain and the busy main road that goes through the town (no sidewalks). Downtown has fewer restaurants and things to do within walking distance.
We stayed at the Jashita Luxury Villas in Aldea Zama. We sacrificed beach views by staying here but it was nice to have the space, our own private pool and to be within walking distance of coffee shops and family-friendly restaurants.
What We Did
Relax Pool Side // We spent a lot of time relaxing poolside at our Villa and also planned some chef-catered meals: breakfast one day, a mezcal tasting on one night with appetizers and a seafood-centric birthday dinner for my dad.
Beach Hop // We took advantage of our access to the private beach and facilities at the Jashita Hotel and we also spent an afternoon at Coco Beach Club. For us, beach and pool time was the most kid-friendly Tulum activity, which was fine because we’re big beach and pool people so that’s how we wanted to spend a lot of our time during the day. There are plenty of beach clubs in Tulum so you can try different ones and get lunch or cocktails while you’re there (some do have a minimum spend).
Visit the Cenotes // There are lots of Cenotes to choose from and I highly recommend a visit to one or more. David and I took a day date to Cenote Calavera (I can’t speak for the other cenotes but this one was not for kids at all). If you want good pictures and less of a crowd, arrive at the cenotes early (when they open). Beware: there are bats, which didn’t bother me as much as I expected it to!
Do an Art Walk // Although we didn’t make it there, this Art Walk and gastronomic experience looks like a lot of fun and very family friendly. Unfortunately, we ran out of time to go.
Explore the Ruins // While David and I didn’t go, my mom and dad had a nice morning exploring the historic Tulum Ruins. It is hot, so prepare accordingly.
Yoga and Fitness // If you’re looking for a fitness facility (another thing we sacrificed staying at a Villa), Tuk Fitness offers day passes. There’s also no shortage of yoga studios around Tulum.
Where We Ate
We had so many incredible meals in Tulum which is really why I’m writing this Tulum travel guide!
Posada Margherita: A wonderful family meal with breathtaking beach views. High chairs are available.
Hartwood: Completely off-grid, local meat, seafood and veggies and perfect for a date night. It was easily the best meal of my life.
Casa Jaguar: Another good date night spot. Great food and cool vibe, but non-existent service.
Gitano: We went for drinks only as a date night nightcap. We have one in NYC so we wanted to check it out in Tulum. They have 3 locations there.
Pandano Restaurant at the Jashita Hotel: We went for lunch and had the best shrimp tacos.
Del Cielo: A popular place for breakfast where you’ll find avocado toast, smoothie bowls, eggs and more. Hit it up after working up an appetite at the Cenotes. It gets busy and a line forms around 10 a.m.
Raw Love Tulum: If you’re looking for gorgeous and delicious smoothie bowls, go here (I recommend the beach location).
Matcha Mama: Go for açaí bowls, smoothies and matcha, of course. We had one location directly across the street from our villa so I made a daily visit.
Others on my list that we didn’t get to this time:
Food Allergy Info: Accommodating a sesame allergy proved to be challenging. I wasn’t aware of just how much they use sesame in Mexico (it’s in almost every store bought bread) and used in a lot of restaurants. We managed it by triple-checking with restaurant staff (to an annoying degree), ordering simple food like grilled chicken and fish and steamed vegetables for Valentina and also having our own kitchen in the Villa where I could prepare her breakfasts and lunches.
Covid-19 Mask Policies
I am never not nervous about travel during Covid. I checked back in with Valentina’s pediatrician and she assured me that they’re not seeing Covid transmission on airplanes so she wasn’t concerned about her being on one. In full disclosure, we flew first class both ways and used the airline lounge on our way there – I’m not sure that those measures mitigate risk, but it feels safer to me.
In Mexico, masks are required almost everywhere. They are starting to roll out vaccines so the majority of the local population is not yet vaccinated, but many are especially hotel staff and restaurant staff. Before entering any establishment like the grocery store, you will get a squirt of hand sanitizer and have a temperature check. Almost all dining is outdoors. Overall, I felt relatively safe from a Covid perspective, but still had my guard up and took every safety precaution.
If you’re planning a trip to Tulum, I hope this Tulum travel guide is helpful and makes for a kid-friendly Tulum experience.
Check out my Instagram for more photos from our trip.
Looking for some of my past travel guides? Here are a few of my favorites: