Mexico, Travel blog

Family vacation in Tulum off the beaten path

Tulum, known for its stunning beaches and ancient ruins, offers a plethora of hidden gems waiting to be discovered off the beaten path. Indeed, Tulum is very famous by now, but very few know where to go beyond the typical tourist spots. From local cenotes to authentic eateries and cultural experiences, here’s how we explored Tulum in a unique and memorable way.

I have been to Tulum a few years ago, while it started to be famous. And one thing I knew was, this time I want to experience it in a more authetic way. Which means, rent a car, and explore Tulum beyond just Tulum town and the beach area.

During our trip, we had two accomodation. One at Tulum Country Club and one in the small village of Chan Chemuyl.

Family friendly accommodation at Tulum Country Club

Before arriving to Mexico I booked an appartment at Tulum Country Club. Tulum Country Club is a gated community between Tulum and Akumal. It has several compounds, all with pool as well as golf course and other amenities. As we were traveling with a toddler, I wanted to start the trip in a place that I know we would be safe. At least for the first few days so that I could get a feeling of Mexico, especially if not staying in a hotel. This was definitely a great decision. The apartemnet was also very affordable compared to any of the hotel and resorts along the coast. The Tulum Country Club also offers shuttle to the nearby beack next to Kay Beach Club and so this was a great start. However, beside the vegetation, I did not really get the feeling of being in Mexico, or at least I was missing the locals. Therefore we decided to move to a nearby village called Chan Chemuyil.

Holiday home in Tulum Chan Chemuyil

Same as Tulum Counytry Club, Chan Chemuyil is a village located between Akumal and Tulum. It is a 15min car ride to Tulum town. And therefore is very well located if you want to do anything.

We rented a holiday home and this was the best choice ever. Also, th ehouse was very affordable so great for anyone who wants to do Tulum on a budget.

While there were tourist also in the village, mostly Canadians and Americans, we got to interact with locals and see their daily life.

The village does not have any amenities though. The shops and restaurant are all situated in th evillage nearby called Chemuyil. You therefore need a car to go around or rely on collectivos that are running from the main road.

The village of Chemuyil

Chemuyil is a very little village only 15 minutes away from Tulum. It has a few shops and restaurants. All very authentic. I can recommend La Palapa for authentic Mexican cuisine. They even have a live band some nights in the week. Great atmosphere and kids friendly.

Cenotes in Tulum off the Beaten Path

In the village of Chan Chemuyil there were great cenotes. Many of them are not even on Google Maps. Therefore they are only frequented by locals and all free. You can find them by booking an eco tour (this way you would support the locals) that takes you there by bike or by walking around.

I would say that the area of Tulum has very great Cenotes, there are plenty to choose from depending on what you want. What we wanted to avoid is to go to the super crowded ones. They are also in comparison very expensive. Also as we were traveling with a toddler we wanted one with shallow waters. We ended up going to Cenote Yax Kin. Such a dream. It was mostly empty for the whole time we were there. It had shallow waters so our toddler could enjoy it but it also has deeper parts where it is great to snorkel. Can totally recommend!  There is even the option to camp there overnightw hoch I find amazing. The only downside is you need your own tent.

Public beaches in Tulum off the beaten path

One of the reason to go to Tulum or to Quantana Roo in general, is definitely the beaches. However, most of the coast is privatised by the many resorts. While all Beaches in Mexico are public, it is really difficult to access resorts beaches and also, it would just feel weird to bring your towel and lay it in front of a resort.

Along the coast there are a few public beaches. But the most known ones are not very pretty. Akumal beach for example is full of people and they take a fee for you to access it. I loved the public beach next to Kay Beach Club. It doesn’t have a name but it is situated between two resorts and there is a beautiful stretch of sand where you can lay your towel. The access to the beach is also very easy. You can park your car directly there. Also the access to the water is easy, with not much rocks so that you can also go with kids. Kay Beach Club is a tranqui spot if you want to have a drink or some nice food. Not too expensive. I can totally recommend it. It makes it the perfect beacj to spend the entire day.

Another hideen gem is Xcacel. This is the beach of a natural park. You need to pay a fee to access but it one of the hidden gem. Also it is possible to park there.

Both beaches are frequented by locals, which is a nice thing to see!

Support locals and buy local handicrafts in Macario Gomez

While in Tulum, I really wanted to buy some handicrafts. Unfortunately all the shops in the town along the coast are extremly expensive. Through a tiktok I got aware of the village of Marario Gomez. It is situated around 20 minutes from Tulum town on the way to Coba. It has GREAT shops if you are looking for handicrafts such as dream catchers or other items for the house. It is literally one third of the price you would pay in Tulum and you support directly the craftmans. We boughts a lamp and two dream catchers. Depending on where you live you can make all items custom made and take it with you home. It is also in Macario Gomez but also in Francisco Uh May that most of the hotels in Tulum are ordering their furnitures. Now you know where the nice decoration comes from and can have the same at home 😉

Azulik city of Arts

If you are interested in arts and handicrafts. You might want to visit what I like to call an architectural jewel : Azulik City of Arts. While I think the entrance fee is so high and it;s a shame. I also have to admit that it is a once in a lifetime experience while in Tulum. If you have to spend money on one thing, I would definitely say to spend it there. A place where contemporary works by local artists are showcased in a stunning setting.