Tulum is an incredible place to go if you are craving healing, transformation, lots of yoga, and beach vibes.
Just be sure you know exactly what you’re signing up for. That’s because there are ways to do it wrong, and there are ways to do it right.
I’ve been to Tulum three times now, and this article spells out the things I wish I had known before I booked that first trip.
I want you to have an incredible experience, and knowing the answers to these questions beforehand will make sure your retreat holiday is as amazing as it can possibly be.
What questions should I ask my hosts before I book a retreat to Tulum?
1. Are the retreat accommodations on the jungle side or on the beach side?
Look, the jungle of Tulum is dense and beautiful. It is also HOT! I’m talking mosquito-haven, the air doesn’t move, and I can’t take my shirt off because it’s sticking to my body hot.
A huge part of the experience in Tulum is the ability to dip into the Caribbean Sea.
Trust me when I say that it is worth forking up the extra dough to make sure your accommodations are on the beach side.
Don’t get me wrong, you can have a wonderful time on the jungle side — and many of the most incredible and highly rated retreats take place in the jungle — but that’s something you should go in knowing.
You won’t find much air conditioning in Tulum, and the mosquitoes are definitely eager to drink up some fresh, unsuspecting tourist blood. So if your hotel or bungalow is in the jungle, be sure to ask your retreat hosts what they plan to do to ensure guests’ comfort.
2. If the retreat center is located on the jungle side, how will I access the beach? (And will I have to pay for it?)
The first time I went to Tulum, I went budget and ending up picking a place right across the street from the beach.
What could go wrong? I thought…
The beach is a hop-skip away, and the retreat host promised that he had a great relationship with the hotel across the street. This meant, he said, that we wouldn’t have trouble walking through their grounds to enter the beach.
That was true — partly.
The detail that he left out was that the beach-side hotel wanted us to purchase alcoholic beverages to keep our spot on their beach. So, we were buying margaritas at 10 in the morning and every couple of hours to keep our chairs on the sand.
Not so bad, you think?
Maybe not for a day, but day drinking gets old fast, especially when you’re looking for a healing vacation — not to mention, it’s expensive.
All told, we might as well have stayed beach-side in the first place. We learned our lesson that year.
3. What is the yoga shala like?
Scan Google or Pinterest for images of Tulum, and you’re bound to see gorgeous, open-air, thatched-hut yoga shalas everywhere. But don’t assume your accommodations will boast a yoga space that looks like this — or that your group will be the one to make use of the best studio space on the premises.
For the first retreat I led, I was surprised to discover that our yoga studio space had concrete floors and wasn’t open to the elements. I worried that people would slip or get hurt on the hard floors. The space was still beautiful and ended up being comfortable, it just wasn’t exactly as advertised.
If this detail matters to you, ask your hosts to share images of the exact space you’ll be practicing in.
4. Will I be able to get my coffee?
If you’re on a detox holiday, or if you’re not a caffeine-aholic like I am, you might not care a lick about whether or not coffee is available.
But for the coffee addicted among you (I’m with ya, friend), you might want to double check to make sure that:
- coffee will be available
- coffee will be available when you want it
For the first retreat I led in Tulum, my co-leader and I were teaching very early sunrise yoga flows. The thing was, at home I was in the habit of sipping my joe and moving my bowels prior to teaching (or doing anything really). And I liked it that way!
Problem was, the coffee at our retreat center didn’t become available until 9:00am each morning, and they didn’t provide non-dairy milk as promised.
With a little help from the catering people, we ended up breaking into the reserves from the day-old coffee tanks each morning (desperate much?). Yeah, we sunk that low.
All of this is to say, if you’re a coffee lover, check on this detail to make sure you’re as comfortable as you can be for the whole experience.
5. Will I have access to bikes, and are they included?
Tulum is SUCH a bikeable town, and having a bike to ride opens up so many possibilities for you, like:
- exploring the strip
- riding to the ruins
- taking a trip into the bigger town
- finding a local cenote on your own
- exploring the nature reserve to the south
In good news, you’ll find bikes everywhere. Not surprisingly though, you’ll have to pay for them. It’s not crazy expensive, but things add up.
It’s extra nice when your retreat center makes bikes available to you, so this is something to ask about.
6. How will you accommodate my dietary needs and preferences?
Tulum is home to such amazing local produce, it is generally quite easy for chefs to accommodate dietary needs like vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, raw, fruitarian, and Ayurvedic.
But it’s still important to ask!
Sometimes retreat centers will claim to provide vegan or gluten-free food selections, but these are not guaranteed to be as substantial as the fare provided to other guests.
If you’ve got a specific dietary need, I recommend signing up for a retreat that caters to your food preferences specifically rather than just accommodating you as an afterthought. You’ll notice the difference.
7. Which tours, day trips, spa services, and healing ceremonies are included?
At a quick glance, some retreat experiences seem to include day trips, tours to cenotes, clay massage, sound healing and other healing services.
When you dig a little deeper, you’ll usually find — except in special cases — that the retreat hosts have chosen maybe one of these to include in the pricing.
Look carefully into which excursions are included, which are optional, and how much they cost.
8. Will I have free time to book healing services and to take optional day trips?
Sometimes a retreat leader will book each day so heavily, that every minute is curated for you. That can be nice if you’re looking for a chock-full experience.
Other retreat leaders might provide morning and evening programming, one day trip per week, and a whole expanses of free time throughout the vacation.
Neither is necessarily better than the other, but you’ll want to know beforehand which kind of experience you’ll prefer — and which you’re getting!
9. How is the weather in this month?
Tulum’s hurricane season runs from June to November. If you are desperate for some sun and beach time, this may not be the best time to book.
On the plus side, the crowds will be thinner during these months, and you might find that hotels and retreat centers are running their best deals of the year in this season. Definitely something to think about before you book.
10. Do you arrange my shuttle or private-car transfer to and from Cancun airport?
It takes about an hour and a half to get from Cancun Airport to Tulum.
Unless transport has been handled for you, you’ll have to choose between a public bus and a taxi or car service.
In my experience, the bus takes close to two hours. And many taxi drivers will try to take advantage of tourists by charging a far higher price than is market value. Make sure you feel comfortable negotiating in Spanish.
In the best case, your retreat hosts will have taken care of this detail for you so that your car or minivan is waiting for you when you arrive (and is ready to escort you back to the airport for departure day).
At the very least, if your trip does not include shuttle or private transport, ask your hosts how much you can expect to pay for a taxi.
What other questions do you have?
I fell head over heels for Tulum, and so did my partner Joe. I certainly intend to go back.
If you book a trip, let us know how it goes!
Also, let me know if you’ve got any more questions. I’d be happy to try to answer them.
Safe and happy travels!Leigha