Tulum has clearly become a major hotspot for travelers looking to get away during the Coronavirus pandemic. Mexico’s relaxed borders and lack of quarantine requirements have made it a popular destination for travelers from all over the world. None of Mexico’s travel destinations have benefitted as much as Tulum from this tourism explosion.
Well, maybe benefitted isn’t the word. I, too, made the move to Tulum over a month ago, living in a jungle eco-village about 20 minutes outside of Tulum town. Despite having plans to spend a lot of time in town and on the beach, I’ve found myself perfectly content to hole up by our cenote and laze the days away, secluded from the chaos and crowds of Tulum. For the most part, tourists to Tulum have been treating Coronavirus as if it doesn’t exist. The less time I spend in town and along the crowded Zona Hotelera, the better.
Mexico Coronavirus Travel Restrictions and Quarantine Requirements
One of the main reasons that tourists are flocking to Tulum is just how relaxed the borders have been during the COVID-19 pandemic. While other countries have shut down their borders, Mexico has remained open to pretty much everyone. Their lax open borders are rivaled only by their lax quarantine requirements. In other words, there are none. You can get on the plane without a COVID test and hop off the plane without needing to quarantine. Because of this, thousands of tourists have flocked to Mexico. Of course, the sparkling beaches, mystical cenotes, and fancy resorts of Tulum have drawn many of these tourists.
While Mexico doesn’t have too many restrictions on entering the country, each state does have their own restrictions. Right now, Mexico goes by a traffic light system, with each Mexican state having anything from a green light to a red light. Right now, Quintana Roo has a yellow light, which means everything is almost normal, but just meant to be at lesser-capacity. Only Campeche and Chiapas (where I’ve since moved to in San Cristobal de las Casas) currently have the green light. The states of Mexico closer to the U.S. are mostly red and orange, meaning heavy restrictions on daily life. While Tulum falls under Quintana Roo, it does feel like another world altogether. The yellow light definitely feels more like a suggestion than an actual rule to be followed.
Are People Wearing Masks in Tulum?
While most local establishments require masks and take your temperature, the other establishments often seem overwhelmed by tourists who don’t really care. Supermarkets, bus stations, banks, and other government buildings and others will take the mask mandates more seriously. You can’t enter these places without a mask on. Bandanas and buffs won’t fly, either. Make sure to have an actual face mask on hand.
The local people of Tulum also take the mask mandates much more seriously. That is your first sign that you should be wearing a mask. If the locals are doing it, so should you, out of respect for the locals and their health. My first rule of traveling is this: don’t be a dick. Taking advantage of Mexico’s open borders and then risking spreading the virus throughout the country is beyond selfish, reckless, and cruel. However, that’s exactly what most tourists in Tulum are doing.
What Are The Crowds in Tulum Like?
Tulum is crowded, especially the Zona Hotelera beach area where most travelers flock to. The tourists with money to spend on a quick three-day getaway will be centered mostly around that area. It is chaotic, overcrowded, and honestly, pretty gross. Tulum isn’t the glamorous, free-spirited destination that is portrayed on Instagram. At least, not to the extent that you likely think it is.
The nice part about Tulum is that there are many different corners and communities to this little town. It is possible to have a safe and responsible trip to Tulum. I’ve managed to avoid the crazy crowds almost entirely, save for a couple of nights when I had friends in town and felt obliged to take them to the Zona Hotelera. I don’t think I’ve gone to the Zona Hotelera without regretting it. It takes forever to get to and from there, especially at night and on weekends when the traffic peaks.
Like I said, I’m living in the jungles of Tulum. Pictured below is our jungle eco-village’s own private cenote. I mean, can you see why I’m perfectly content staying here and away from the crowds of Tulum?
Final Thoughts on Traveling in Tulum During the COVID-19 Pandemic
It is pretty crazy to me how few people in Tulum are actually taking the pandemic seriously. If you plan on visiting Tulum, just be warned that it might not be what you imagine it to be. It won’t be the escape from the pandemic that you’re likely envisioning. In fact, you might be diving headfirst into one of the major hotspots for Coronavirus cases in Mexico. While the relaxed borders might seem really appealing, try and imagine exactly what kind of crowd that will attract.
While there are plenty of responsible, long-term travelers in Tulum, it is hard to avoid the reckless and raucous crowds of short-term tourists on a quick holiday. If you decide to come to Tulum or Mexico, please follow all of the rules and guidelines set in place to slow the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic.