If you have been to Tulum you are well aware of the three main hot spots in this little city. The Tulum Archeological site is the first hot spot where millions of visitors come to see the only Mayan city overlooking the Caribbean. Tulum Beach is the second hot spot and one of the most pristine and beautiful beaches in the world, just south of the Tulum archeological site. The third hot spot is the main street in the town of Tulum, Hwy 307 that cuts straight through the center of town with shops and restaurants lining each side of this roadway.
But have you ever ventured outside of these three main areas? Have you walked just one or two blocks off the main street in the town of Tulum where locals love to hang, and residential life of Tulum comes alive? There are some pretty cool things back there and you could end up with either a great deal, or stumbling upon a cool fruit stand or dining roadside at a super food cart.
One of our favorite back streets in Tulum is the tree street. Yup, we refer to it as the tree street and it seems to have stuck with our friends. Why the tree street? Just one block from the end of the street, the final block to the west, there is a massive tree in the middle of the street. Cars go around the tree as they approach the intersection. We love this. Thankfully someone had some insight many years ago and decided to keep the tree where it was, and divert the road and traffic around it.
The tree street is officially called Calle Sol Ote and is full of interesting places to shop from what we call the beginning at Satelite Sur (at the Scotia Bank). The end of Sol Ote connects with Hwy 307 in the southern part of town.
Our favorite places to stop in are the Pool fruit and vegetable store(pronounced Pole) on the corner of Satelite and Sol Ote. This great little market is similar to DAC in Playa del Carmen; fruits, vegetables, dried goods and other staples.
As you walk south on Sole Ote you will come across bakeries, hair salons, a Michoacan Agua Fresca Store, the back side of the main square, little taco places, the plastic store (aka the tupperware store), tents that are full of cheap clothing, and small convenience stores. This is residential Tulum, where locals live, where locals find good deals, where locals chat to the corner store lady, visit the bakery guy and find great tacos. Prices are well below what you would find on the beach road, and even further below what you would find on the main street one block away.
What you won’t find is high fashion, sit down restaurants, or fancy grocery stores. You are in the real heart of Tulum, as we have known it for decades, and how we hope Tulum remains in years to come. English will not be spoken, but hand gestures are well understood.
Take a walk off the main visitor areas of Tulum and find out how Tulum really works, cause this is authentic!
Curious about local recipes in the Riviera Maya? Checkout our small recipe magazine ‘Eat Your way Through the Riviera Maya‘ that gets you started on local foods.