Tulum has found a great blend.
Its far enough from Cancun not to be so commercial as to lose its Mexican identity but has certain infrastructure to be tourist friendly from the hippy vegan ice cream, to the 7 peso tacos, to the random person on the street selling coconut water. In conclusion skip Cancun, even Playa and head straight here.
What’s good-Cenotes, Food and Beaches.
Cenotes– Tulum has a load of Cenotes nearby by either taxi, collectivo (group shuttle), walking or biking. I went to couple and had a great time-I went to the Grand and Casa Cenote (great for diving). Each Cenote is unique so its worth going to as many as possible. Make sure to negotiate the price for Casa it went down from 500 to 110 Pesos.
Food– best ensalada verde(Green Salad) is Don Cafeto , Tacos Al Pastor for 7 peso tacos, best ever Gelato at Panna e Cioccolto, Mouth watering BBQ shrimp at Estrada and Pizza (which is so un-Mexican but so good) at Emily’s.
Beaches– A lot of Tulum’s main beach is ‘controlled’ by the private hotels/restaurants meaning it can be quite expensive to stay the day, well at least by Mexican standards. The one exception is La Eufemia.
A special note to the amazing hostel Mama’s Home plus the owner is hot.