Casa del Sol in Tulum is new enough not to be in the guide books which also means it’s not known enough yet to be totally over-run. It’s a bit more pricey than some of the hostels in the area (use the booking engine on the left and you might get a discount but make sure you bring your print-out or they’ll charge you the new price) but I think it’s worth it for the new beds and great atmosphere. Casa bills itself as a “relaxing hostel” and with it’s huge shady porches, outdoor kitchen, nice gardens, many hammocks, great background music and quiet (when there is not construction) location relaxing is a good word for it.
Casa has two dorms with 10 beds each that are pretty open and airy with large windows and fans for cooling. The beds are solid so you can move around without waking the whole room and the mattresses are new and made of foam so no springs are poking you in the back.
They also have about a dozen private rooms ranging from basic single rooms with shared bathrooms to the equivalent of a 2 BR with private bath.
Breakfast is included though a little skimpy and there is hot water for the showers if you ask for it (which I learned after taking my first cold shower). The people that run it are friendly and helpful but only one speaks English and he’s only there part time so knowing a bit of Spanish will be helpful. They are willing to work with you to communicate though so even if you only know a few words you should be able to get the point across.
The Casa is a bit further out of town than most of the other hotels/hostels but I didn’t find that to be a problem and felt comfortable walking in and out of town both day and night. There is also a grocery store just across the highway.
To get to the hostel, exit the bus station and turn right. Just keep following the signs until you start thinking ‘oh crap, did I go too far?’ then turn right. Go another block down the gravel road and turn left and there you go. It takes about 5 minutes, if that.
Transportation in/around Tulum
It’s easy to get busses to/from Tulum to anywhere else in Mexico and there are frequent collectives up and down the coast to Playa, the ruins and other locations. The many taxis will be happy to take you to any of the cenotes.
There are some great food choices in Tulum ranging from high end to cheapo depending on your budget. I have three favorites from my stay:
1 – Charlies. Charlies is on the main road in town, on the same side of the street as the bus station. Offering live entertainment nightly and good food it’s a nice choice if you want to splurge a bit. A large meal and two beers ran me 140 MXN (@ $11 US).
2 – The ‘al pastore’ taco stand. I’m not sure what the name of it is, but you really can’t miss it, and you shouldn’t. The tacos here are some of the best – and cheapest – that I’ve had. The fact that it’s overflowing with locals should be a good clue as to it’s quality and popularity. You can find it by leaving the bus station and heading to the right. It’s a few minutes walk down the street and you’ll recognize it by it’s red walls and what looks like a kabob rotisserie in the window. There are only a couple tables or you can stand/sit in the window and get your meal. They offer all kinds of tacos but I recommend the pastore which is their specialty. It’s some kind of spiced meat cut off a spit and topped with a bit of pineapple. Toss on some cabbage, onions, cilantro and sauce and you get an amazing flavor. They use flower tortillas instead of the more common corn ones and charge 7 MXN/taco (@ $.50 US).
3 – Chinese. Again, I don’t know the name of the place, but the food is pretty darn good considering it’s Chinese in Mexico and it’s great if you want a big dose of veggies – which can be a bit lacking down here. I got a large serving of chicken and broccoli for about 45 MXN (@ $3.5 US) and it was fresh and tasty. This places is located just down the street from the Casa del Sol. If you leave the bus station and go right and follow the signs for Casa you’ll find it no problem. When you cross the bridge and turn right off of the main street just keep going straight and you’ll see it right ahead with the red front of the building.