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“White Sand,Turquoise Beaches and Maya Sightseeing”
Review of Tulum

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Chestertown, Maryland
Level 4 Contributor
33 reviews
13 helpful votes
“White Sand,Turquoise Beaches and Maya Sightseeing”
Reviewed 28 March 2008

Tulum is white and blue, calm and colorful in Winter! We did a short honeymoon. Christmas in Tulum, New Year's Eve in Isla Mujeres. Nice weather, memorable place!

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Thank elena_deanda
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Chilliwack, BC Canada
Level 4 Contributor
1 review
2 helpful votes
“Again in a heart beat!”
Reviewed 26 March 2008

Where to start? Well we've been to Mexico 3 times now, 1st we stayed in Cancun (never again) and twice we've stayed in the Mayan at the GBP Tulum - going again end of Nov. '08. We're in our early 40's, not rich by any means (giving up camping trips to save!) and would highly recommend a stay at the Gran Bahia Principe in a heart beat!
Cancun is a very busy place, lots to do but I'd say more geared to the younger crowd. The pirate ship is a blast, we've been twice. Actually went up from Tulum for a night on the ship but it makes for a long day as its almost a 2 hour drive either way from the Mayan (depending on traffic and the feds).
Playa has everything that Cancun has and from the GBP is only 45 mins. away. Next trip we want to take the ferry over to Cozemel and explore the island.
The collectivos are the best way to get around especially if you're not in a hurry. $2 per person takes you where you want to go. But pick ups and drop offs are on the highway and they wait for the van to fill up. So for example, 2 of us took the collectivo up to Akumal Bay = $4 then we took a cab into the beach area = $4 and when we were ready to go back we took a taxi all the way back for $10 (we bartered I think he wanted $15). But it took us right into the resort.
We've been to Xel Ha twice (2nd time we met friends there whom went on a tour). Its a fun place but need to spend the whole day there to get everything in. I advise not to take it in a tour but to go first thing in the morning and pay at the entrance the all inclusive rate. Would we go again? Probably not, have heard alot about Xcaret and want to check that out. I hear it too is an all day thing but not to miss out on the dinner and show so not sure if we'd go until the afternoon.
The Tulum Ruins aren't to be missed either! Though we suggest getting in with a group for the history lesson on these ruins, I'm sure you can pay a tour guide at the ruins I think for that but there is an awesome beach there too. Again we suggest going first thing in the morning as its really hot there.
Spend some time on the beaches not at your resort, we've found a few really nice beaches, Akumal is great for seeing turtles, coral reefs and I did see a stingray but the camera was in my hubbys hands. We went through the dive center and went on a glass bottomed boat tour, totally worth it. But do it again, probably not because now we know where to look. This was our 2nd time there, didn't see anything the first time. A couple of great places to eat there were Turtle Bay Cafe and the Lol Ha which is right on the beach and has a webcam that I visit every single day! Didn't know about the webcam until after though, people actually write messages in the sand for back home. Just wait til I get there! lol
Another beach we found was just beyond the Tulum Ruins, it also had a restaurant at the beach (not quite ocean view) I think it was called Don Cafetos?? It also had great food and service.The beach had mostly locals on it and was so majestic , just thinking about it makes me smile ear to ear and I can hear the waves!
The Sian Kaan Bioshphere reserve is also an absoulute must! We did the canal tour and was worth every cent! The knowledge you learn is amazing, the guides are very informative, the lunch they prepared was awesome and the untouched beach is so beautiful I'd go again just to hang at the beach. But everything taken in is taken out, very eco friendly.
Went to a traditional Mayan Healing Ceramony, that too was an awsome experience. It is done at night and again learned alot about the Mayans. Although to be honest "my healing" didn't work but the experience was none other than fabulous!
The Gran Bahia Principe is really a 5 star resort! There are 3 different parts to the resort yet cater to all! I think the only difference is, is the Coba part is not beach front. The ala cartes are spread out over all 3, you can eat and drink at any of them. Oh ya, the Akumal side has the swing up bar on the beach. All 3 have swim up bars, beautiful lobbies and nightly entertainment.
We've only stayed at Tulum so as for the rooms, the only complaint is when they say king sized bed they may mean 2 doubles put together, we're hoping to not have that happen again. The food in the buffet is great, but if you're leaving breakie til 9 ya may not get as much as a selection (bacon never enough and omellet fixens).
We did attend a VIP Cocktail Party (just started this year for people who've been more than once) and that was to meet some of the important people behind our stay, Asst Mgr - Chris and PR - Sarah. Some others were there as well but too many Blue Iced Teas! They had a book for us to write down the pros and the cons of the resort. The pros totally out weighed the cons!
Unlike alot of others, we tipped every day our room maid, guy who filled the mini bar, at every meal we had and when we left our table in any of the bars. Just our way to show the appreciation of their work. I also admit there were times though in the bar where the girls were really busy and we'd get our own drinks. But the swim up bars were the best! Tip and drink and laugh and drink and tip in the water and drink and laugh and tip and drink - ya got it!
Of course there is only so much one can do in a trip, these experiences are combined from 3 trips and another to come not soon enough! At this point we're happy with returning there than experiencing anywhere else, there is so much more to see off the beaten path so to speak!
We had issue with our camera so some of the pics are grainy looking online but so vibrant when printed off.

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2 Thank Carla-from-the-Wack
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Dallas, Texas
Level 4 Contributor
27 reviews
41 helpful votes
“Kin Ha Hotel, beachside”
Reviewed 25 March 2008

Just returned from Tulum!! Excellent vacation in the beautiful Tulum area.

ALERT !!! If you rent a car BEWARE......Police there are VERY crooked. If you get stopped they will take your license, ask for the rental papers, say you were speeding, no seatbelt, etc, all lies!!! But YOU can't do anything about it. The police pretend not to speak much english too, but they CAN ! They will ask if you can go to the police station right then and pay, I said yes, ok, then I asked for the phone number and address. They ignored my request, then.......said that if it was a "problem" for us then we could pay there at the roadside. We said we only had 20 bucks ( all the tickets were $ 150) and then after we scrambled and asked the kids for money and came up with $22 they took it!!!! Let them make the offer~ Just play dumb and scared and pathetic, don't be a smart allec and argue.
We got flagged down on highway 317 between Playa Del carmen and Tulum and we were right behind a tour bus and NOT speeding!! dont even know how they saw us! That was our first one and we paid $50.
Then we got stopped 2 times within 2 blocks in Cancun!!!!!! It got to be just comical and unbelievable !!!
The last cop had us take a notebook and go to our car and slide the money in it and take it back to thier police truck "incognito" !!! haha!!!
Just don't have more than $20 or $30 "available" anytime you are in the car. So, if that's all you have, that's all you can pay and they will take it!
A local American, who has lived there for 18 yrs told us that rental vehicles are targets, and that there is a Mexican law that Mexican police CANNOT give Foriegners tickets!!!!!!!
Next time I go we will make copies of our driver's licencse and laminate them and pass them out like candy to all the crooked cops and quit paying the police!! and I will white out the red rental sign on our plates and pull off the sticker on the windshield which puts a target on our foreheads.

This hotel is less than perfect.

I've been to Tulum 5 times and am not a picky person and don't expect much. I love the rustic feel of Tulum.

It is advertised that you get drinking water in your room, we did, one bottle for the entire 6 day stay~! The water in the faucet and shower is salty, don't brush your teeth with it.

We had 2 rooms, one for us and one for the kids ages 11 and 19.
Our room was above the restaurant, the middle room of three, which is the largest. No decorations, glass sliding door and limited lighting. I was very dissapointed to find this room was not the typical hut styled cabana with authentic Mexican decorations. Bare minimun room with white walls, 2 small beds, curtains and a small bathroom, not one decoration and only one shelf for all clothes and toiletries, not even a nail to hang up clothes.

The kids' room was the ground level garden room. Really cute and lots of furniture. Nice bathroom. BUT< it stunk so bad, and only one window up high that let no breeze in and only one night did the water actually work and the room was infested with mosquitos. There is a fan, but if you want it to work you have to leave the light on, it's all connected. There are NO outlets in ANY rooms. You can use the one plug behind the bar.
The kids couldn't even sleep (with the light on and mosquitos all over them) in thier room, or use the shower. The room was just one big closet for clothes.
We nicely complained everyday and offered to move out of the room altogether.
We were offered a garden room on the second floor, nice, hot, but there was NO railing on the outdoor staircase and the neighboring fence, one inch from the steps and balcony (with NO railing) had upside down broken bottles concreted into the top of the fence!!!!! No way were my kids going to be up and down that stairwell with the possibility of falling into broken glass bottles!

Contintental breakfast is included, toast and coffee and oj (freshly squeezed!) In addtion, for a hefty price of about $8-12, they have pancakes, fruit plate and eggs. No meats. Breakfast was always good!

Lunch was good too, also expensive. Get the guacomole! They have great tortillas, fajitas and homemade fried potatoes. It is nice to have a hotel that has a restaurant, some do not have food access. Kin Ha has beverage service too at the bar area. Buy your alcoholic drinks from 5-7pm during happy hour and they are 2 for 1.
You can charge the food to your room. But, if you do, keep up with your running total because they overcharged us by $48 on food.

The location is great, though there isn't a bad beach in Tulum.

This hotel is of white stucco, as most other hotels are little huts. There are 4 beach chairs under 2 huts. Beware, this hotel has a sister hotel in town that has guests who come and share these chairs and beach area. We got cussed out in spanish by some grandma over the chairs. They had 6 and we had 2, and that wasnt good enough for grandma. We ignored her and kept our chairs we sat down in at 7 am!

The water is so clear, white sand beach, no rocks or seaweed and the first 2 days there were bigger waves for boogie boarding. The hotel has 4 boards for guest use. They do have a tent and another umbrella they can put up if you find yourself without shade.

The kids had to stay in our room every night and the staff knew it, and when we tried to negotiate at checkout, we got a mere $165 food credit for 5 nites ($600) of unused room!!!!!! Not a good deal, but we were forced to pay in full in advance for the rooms and had no leverage except with the food bill. Charging the food did give us at least something to negotiate with. They will NOT give refunds.

Overall, I would NOT stay there again, unless the room rate was half of the $140 ($130 for the garden room) we paid per night, it's just not worth it. There are too many other great hotels at the same rate or less.
We booked at the last minute and this is all that was available.
The staff was nice, except the old man, he grumbled and stared alot.
Only one younger guy that comes in at noon speaks any kind of english.

However..........Tulum beach is beautiful no matter what hotel you choose!!

Good restaurants are.......OM, Zebra, Zamas (favorite), Arklin, Las Ranitas, Kin Ha

We took in a bullfight in Cancun. They are only on wednesdays at 3:30. It's a good traditional show with dancers, games, food, open bar, and yes.....they do kill the bull. The arena is shaded and cool. Mostly all tourists in the audience.
Bought tickets online for $35, and kids under 12 no charge, so don't let them charge you. Different agents have different information~! Don't pay for the kids!

Souveniers are cheaper in downtown Tulum, and there is a supermarket you can get snacks and water at much cheaper!!!
Take your kite, paddle game, volleyball,(they have a net) buckets and shovels and i-pods!!

We got sunburned in 45 minutes......so beware of the sun!! and we are from Texas and had been tanning already! the sun is hot, but the wind is cool.....perfect!

If you walk all the way south from Kin Ha to the last hotel, it is 3.3 miles one way.
If you drive all the way north on Tulum beach road (about 2 miles from Kin Ha), you can park the car when the road dead ends and go into the backside of the Ruins and pay only a $3 entrance fee instead of the front gated fee.
Do visit the Sian Kan Reserve and see the crocodiles lerking on the lagoon side!

Good luck and enjoy!!! TULUM is the BEST place in the Caribbean!

any questions, email me!!

Helpful?
4 Thank Michelle T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
CRYSTAL
Level 1 Contributor
2 reviews
3 helpful votes
“Get there before it's too late.”
Reviewed 25 January 2008

We have watched Playa del Carmen turn from a cute little town to Mini Cancun. As the spring breaker and tourists move in, we move south. The last 2 years we've stayed in Tulum, about 2 hours south of Cancun. It's getting developed, but it's not too bad yet. Avoid the all inclusives and stay in the "cabana zone". I highly recommend Cabanas Copal, Zamas, or for something really rustic but really fun, Zazil Kin. Avoid Papaya Playa and Diamante K. For eating in Tulum Pueblo, Don Cafetos, Pollo Bronco, Pan del Carmen (a FANTASTIC bakery) the Argentinian place and the restaurant next door to Don Cafetos. I can't remember the name, which is bad, because we ate there 3 times. Zazil Kin, Zamas, Zarah and Copal all have great restaraunts too if you want to eat in the cabana zone. For transfers from Cancun airport to Tulum, go with Paradise Transfers. They went above and beyond to accomadate us when our travel mates were delayed 5 hours. Julio was the best!
Get there before the new airport goes in in Tulum and the neighborhood is ruined.

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1 Thank Jaime N
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
virginia
Level 4 Contributor
24 reviews
26 helpful votes
“Nice escape, but beaches need cleaning!!!”
Reviewed 22 October 2007

Just got back, stayed in a nice cabana on the remote southern end of beach. Nice choices for accommodations, nice feel to the area, laid back upscale backpacker heaven, but the whole beach of Tulum suffered during Hurricane Dean and that nice white sand was washed away. Still sandy, but not pure white paradise. Also, there is a terrible pollution problem on all these beaches. Stuff washes up constantly, and if not raked, the beach is unsafe to take a jog along for fear of stepping on glass or other objects. If you do go here, stay in a beachfront cabana or you will roast. Remember, there is no air conditioning in most of these places, but the sea breeze was strong. Eat at La Zebra, awesome place.

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1 Thank tennisphotog
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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