Just The Facts, Ma’am

WEATHER: 

Tulum weather is usually amazing.   I heard on average there are 271 days of beautiful blue skies.  There are only two seasons in Tulum, wet and dry.

The DRY season ranges from November to May. The heat and humidity are greatly reduced this time of year.  Although it may still rain, it  comes in very quickly and leaves just as fast.  The average temperature in the dry season is about 27 degrees Celsius or 81 Fahrenheit.  A cool breeze often rolls in off the sea and keeps things cool.  This is one of the reasons that AC is not that common here.  In the evenings the breeze can be quite strong and cool the nights off a great deal.  A light sweater or wrap such as a pashmina are great for this time of year.

The WET season ranges from June to November.  The heaviest rain fall is usually in the months of July and August but heavy rain storms are common throughout  these months.  Heavy rainfall can occur at night and last for hours or just a few minutes.  Sometimes you will be enjoying a very hot day on the beach and within ten minutes there will be a massive and violent downpour.  One advantage is that these storms tend to cool off the area and usually leave within a short time.  In some cases, Nortes or northern front storms will cause overcast and  humid conditions for a few days. The average temperature during the wet season averages around 31 degrees Celsius or 88 degrees Fahrenheit.  The sun is very strong in general in Tulum but especially this time of year.

Hurricane season is between June and October.  Although Hurricanes are not common, they do happen.  Knowing what to expect and how to protect yourself are the most important things.  Make sure to take out Trip Insurance as many of the hotels here will not give refunds due to Hurricane threats unless they are extreme and cause mandatory evacuations.

 

CURRENCY EXCHANGE:

The currency exchange rate changes throughout the year.  Although many places will accept US dollars you will might not get the same rate everywhere.  You will get the most for your money by using Mexican pesos.  The place that is great to use dollars is the super market. These stores usually have great exchange rates.

There are exchange houses all over town that will exchange money for you.  The rates vary around town so you will want to be mindful of where to change money.

TIPPING:

People here survive on their tips.  Many places will automatically add a 10% tip and sometimes more, so make sure to check for words like servicio (service) or propina (tip) on your bill.  Please do not assume that they add the tip because many places do not.  If they do add the tip, remember that this tip goes to the whole staff.  We live on remarkably low incomes and yet many of the common items in the area still cost the same as they would in the USA or Europe.  So please keep this in mind when leaving a tip.

I am going to tell you right now that no services happen fast around Tulum.  Escaping the breakneck speed of the rest of the world is why most people are here.   So beware that the service here is laid back and at much slower pace.  In addition, it is considered very rude here to drop a check before it is asked for.  If you are finished and ready to pay, let your server know.  They will not bring your check until you ask for it.

 

THE TOILET PAPER THING:

Yes it is true!  We do not throw toilet paper in the toilet here.  The plumbing of this small town cannot dispose of it. It is terrible for the ground water supply.  This is true in every bathroom in the area.  Almost all places have a sign informing you of this but please know that even if there is no sign that you need to throw the paper in the trash can. It takes some getting used to… but… that is how we roll, eco-conscience all the way.

DRINKING THE WATER:

Here in Tulum, we use purified water everywhere.  There is no restaurant that serves water from the tap.  This is also the case with ice.  All ice is purchased and is made of purified water, so you do not have to worry about enjoying your margarita!  Having said that, in some cases, especially the smaller restaurants may wash their foods in tap water.  As most food is cooked it is not an issue but be aware of this when eating items such as the wonderful ceviches and such.

We use the water out of the tap to brush our teeth and shower with no issue.  Those staying on the beach however may sometimes wish to use bottled water not for the purity but for the salt.  The water that comes out of the taps along the beach can sometimes be a bit brackish.

 

SAFETY & SCAMS:

Tulum is filled with mostly amazing people, however you need to be aware of some of the dark side of this beautiful town.  As far as safety, I do not have much to say. I have lived here a very long time and have never had any issues with feeling unsafe.  But being smart and using your common sense is required.  If you follow the basic rules of conduct you should not find your self in any dangerous situations.

Scams however are not as rare.  Always be on the look out but do not assume that people are always trying to get over on you.  Often workers will be telling you what you need to or the best way to do something and people will dismiss it as the person trying to up sell them or take advantage in some way.  This is not usually the case.  Have faith in most people and trust that they are doing right by you… but if something sounds too good to be true…it just might be.

Here are some of the common scams to look out for…

  • incorrect change – whether you are paying in dollars, euros or pesos, make sure you do the math and check your change.
  • getting gas for your car – always check that the pump is on $0.00 when it starts and make sure that it is at the amount that you wanted it to be before you pay.  Many times the guys will wash your windows, they check the tire pressure when and can also check your oil.  if you get any of these service it is nice to tip.  There is a sign in English and Spanish that reads, “if you feel that you something was off  to call this number for assistance”.
  • getting overcharged – If you want to buy something, ask the price.  If it seems to high for you ask if they can come down a little bit.  In the taxis there are no meters, so ask how much it will cost to your destination first.  All taxis should have a copy of specific prices for various destinations.  This pricing chart is also posted around town at certain taxi stands so check it out.  Also, there is usually a locals price and a tourist price for just about everything.  Do not be offended by this.  Most tourist make more in a month then we will in an entire year, so give the vendors a bit of a break in this regard.
  • getting pulled over – If you get pulled over it is very possible that the officer will tell you that they can take your car.  This is true.  They can.  If you have done something and sometimes even if you did not, there will be a fine.  You can ask the officer if there is any way that you can settle the fine right now and go on your way. But be aware that trying to bribe a police officer is illegal.  If you are being fined (multa) for something you absolutely sure you had not done you can ask for a supervisor or superior.  If you are for sure in the right, they usually will let you pass.
  • Stealing – If you get pulled over and your car is searched we recommend that you watch the search.  Stay out of the way but watch closely and what you have with you.  NEVER put valuable items under the bus.  I have had many computers stolen this way and it is very upsetting.   Most hotels have a house safe and some have storage lockers for you to put your personal valuables under lock and key.  If it is REALLY REALLY important do not bother to bring it.  Also, be careful not to accuse people of stealing too quickly.  Many times we have found things on the beach or in the rooms after guests leave and they claim that someone at the hotel stole it.  This has happened before so be mindful of that.  Please keep track of your personal items, use common sense and everything should be just fine..

TAXIS:

Taxis are the main way to get around here.   They are cheap, easy and everywhere.  There is a published rate sheet that will give the cost of various trips you may ask to see it and in many places it is posted such as at ADO, Chadraui super market and the Ruins.  Ask the driver how much a ride will cost before you get in. You can catch a taxi almost everywhere very easily.  At night on the beach road however it can get harder.  Late at night on the beach road is very difficult.  You can call for a taxi which will usually cost you ten pesos more and they will give you the taxi number to wait for.  Late night on the beach you may need to call as it becomes quiet and most of the action and taxis are in the town.  Wait for the taxi!  It is really not fair to call for a taxi and then catch a ride with a different one.  And in some cases if a hotel or restaurant calls for you they will have to pay for the ride and that is really not cool.

 

Colectivos (white mini vans) are also a great way to get way to get around the Rivera Maya.  There now is one that goes from the town to the hotel zone or “the right side of the beach”.  I will post a time schedule for this soon.  This will cost you ten pesos, just tell the the driver where to stop and pay when you get off (there is also a bus that runs the same rout a couple times a day for seven pesos).  Other colectivos run between Playa del Carmen and Tulum, which I think is forty pesos now.  And others to Carillo Puerto to the south and Coba to the west.

 

If you have any questions about Tulum and travel here, please feel free to contact us at TulumLiving@gmail.com

 

 

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