I'm doing this from memory so apologize for any gaps!
  1. RENT A CAR!
    #1! Just do it! Trust me. You can explore the whole area, have more freedom, and the main resort road (the 109) is so scary at night. I'm amazed I didn't get hit. (Almost) all following suggestions will be made 1000000x better by a car. Taxis and bikes would just be a pain. Also, local radio is always a plus. Rentals might be sketch and cars shitty, but that just makes it all the more fun.
  2. Water Shoes (don't need to bring, buy there!)
    I found the ocean (somewhat annoyingly) rocky. So swimming/wading out is much nicer with water shoes. There is a great huge store (Costco/Target everythingesque) on the 109 (before all the hotels, when its perpendicular to shore) off the main road in town (the 307) to buy them. Super cheap. Such a fun store to explore, perfect excuse to go.
  3. Great little pharmacy in town
    On 307, just north of El Camello Jr. Personally, love a good pharmacy and go to as many as I can whenever I travel. (Also hardware stores, but didn't see any in Tulum.)
    They're everywhere and they're beautiful. Most have places to change and are just a small fee. My favs were Gran Cenote and Cenote Dos Ojos. Driving around in your CAR, you'll find many. Explore them all.
  5. Centro Ecológico Sian Ka'an
    At the end of the 109, there is a Bioreserve. STUNNING. (Ran out of time, so didn't get to do this BUT) You can do all these different boat tours/trips where you tube down the river and swim with manatees?! Sounds like heaven. Please do it and tell me everything. Also loads of other activities and the people who work there were Angels. Also, birds, rays, crocodiles, sea turtles!
  6. Coba Ruins
    Bit of a drive but you can RENT BIKES there and then you are essentially just on your own biking through the jungle discovering ruins by yourself. You're basically Lewis and Clark in one in the Yucatán. Not quite as touristy as other ruins. Also, seemed like locals came for family fun. There is some big tall ruin you may feel inclined to climb. I didn't. Feel great about decision. Everyone who did turned embarrassingly red.
  7. Bring water always.
    Hella hot during the day
  8. Bring layers
    Strong sea breeze and shockingly chilly at night...
  9. Tulum Ruins (a must) AS EARLY AS YOU CAN
    You have to. But it's such a tourist trap. I would recommend a tour guide because so interesting. We went at like 6am or whenever it opened. And still crazy busy, but by 9 it was overflowing. Less wait and less people earlier. Beautiful in early morning light. And so much nicer to see the ruins without a thousand selfie sticks and iPhones against them.
  10. (For Long Hair) Detangler Spray
    I recommend Dove's Hair Therapy Detangler. The shower water is super salty/hard. This was crucial. Also works wonders and I straight up didn't brush my hair the whole trip. That's what vacation is all about, am I right?!
  11. Know what you're going for
    Mainly just a warning because I was not expecting it to be such a scene. It's a mix of old-school hippies with dreds who are camping/hitchhiking peninsula to foodie hipsters to (real&fake) stars/celebrities who are wearing gold body chains with designer swimwear and staying at 5 star yoga retreats and doing boot camps. So, if just there to swim and tan and eat yourself sick, and wear sweats/basics, be aware you might be odd one out. But be CONFIDENT in your choices of vacay style-every is great.
  12. Stalk the wind surfer instructor who looks like Ronnie (Lizzie McGuire's first kiss/love)
    Then find out way too much (way too easily--the Internet is a scary place) about the actual actor's life following his fifteen minutes of fame. This one might just be for me and @sharkate
  13. Chichén Itzá Ruins
    About a 2+ hour drive. Didn't do it because so hot but feel I have to one day... Sometimes ruins become so touristy it all depresses me and I'm worried that will be the case... But still.
  14. EAT EAT be prepared to spend ALL MONEY ON FOOD
    The rest of list is restaurant recommendations... Really think can't go wrong. So just listing those that stick out.
  15. For more, just walk up and down the beach on off the 109, most hotels have restaurants on water and you can check them out. Reservations are SO helpful.
  16. Also, ice cream shops in town on 307
    Perfect mid afternoon heat/break from beach
  17. Taqueria El Arbolito
    On main drag (307) towards Cancún (north end). Good tacos. Great toppings and sauces in clay pots, buffet style.
  18. Posada Margherita
    Sick of Mexican food? Decent, hip Italian. And cute store in the hotel. Very (tryingly) hip. This is where I saw most of the gold body chains.
  19. El Tabano
    Fancier, very very good. On the 109, inland side of the road. Probably need reservation (might not take them?!). Great dinner. Amazing ambience. Super fun. Great drinks.
    So hip so popular SO WORTH IT! One of my favorite places in the world. Went everyday until finally got in last night. Don't think they do reservations? So long wait. Get there 30 mins before opening for shortest. AMAZING DRINKS (something passion fruit, don't remember details, remember heaven). UNREAL FOOD!! Order EVERYTHING!! And open kitchen! So fun to watch. Beautiful place and you feel like you're on a team with the cooks. All in this together. Also crazy produce on display. Inland side 109.
  21. Fish Tacos (prepared any way), EL CAMELLO JR Tulum, Mexico
    I dream about them way too often. We went back almost every single day. Sometimes multiple times a day. LOCALS!! Maybe my FAVORITE PLACE IN WHOLE WORLD!! So fresh! Delicious chips and salsa, ceviche, pico de gallo, heaven, cannot go wrong. Would eat two meals EASILY in one sitting. So fun too. Such a great experience. And waiters become friends with you if go everyday! And give your tips! (Fav thing in a restaurant!) Actually often wake up drooling from my dreams...