Tulum might be at the very top of my ‘favorite travel destinations’ list. This was my second time visiting the magical jungle oasis, and I have to say, I love it even more than the first time. Tulum is a resort town on Mexico’s Caribbean coast. Some people refer to it as the “hipster mecca”. The whimsical bohemian decor is like something from a dream. There are candles and dream-catchers everywhere. There is a bevy of “eco-chic” boutique hotels and restaurants scattered along the beach. Even though Tulum has gained a lot of popularity in the recent years, it still feels very raw and authentic. It is completely different from any other place I have ever visited in Mexico.
Here is what to expect:
- Tulum is not a place that you go if you are looking for luxury. Many of the hotels here do not have air conditioning or filtered water. Wifi is spotty and I have yet to see a TV anywhere. Don’t worry, it’s all part of the charm. It will feel like a cleanse from the modern world where everything is natural and back-to-the-basics. Tulum prides itself on its eco-chic concept. Just think of it as ‘glamping’.
- Bring cash/pesos. Many restaurants and hotels (in some cases) are cash-only. My last trip here was during New Years Eve and none of the ATM machines were working which became a very big problem, so try to remember to pull out cash before arriving. Also, many of the taxis only accept pesos, which brings me to my next point…
- Rent a car if you can. You can rent one at Cancun Airport upon arrival. Trust me, its worth it to not have to deal with getting ripped off by the taxi drivers. Plus, the drive from Cancun to Tulum will cost around $200 each way. You will have much more freedom when it comes to moving around. Last time we used National, which was around $66 plus tax a day during high season. If you plan on doing activities and seeing different parts of town then renting a car is the way to go.
- Don’t even bring heels. Most places you will go will be sand, rocks, or some other sort of natural floor.
- Do dress ‘hippie-chic’, and leave your nice expensive things at home.
Where to stay:
- Tolok (pictured above)– We stayed in this private suite last time and loved it. This is definitely a no-frills kind of place. If you’re not into ‘glamping’ this may not be for you. I loved it because we were steps away from the ocean and it felt very natural and peaceful.
- Be Tulum- For those looking for more luxury. This is one of the nicest/most popular places to stay in Tulum (not to mention expensive). the vibe is upscale and trendy.
- The Nomade Hotel– Another more upscale hotel right next to Be Tulum with the most beautiful bohemian decor. Worth going to look at, or to eat at the restaurant.
- Azulik- Like a whimsical organic treehouse. A must-see!
- Ahau (pictured below)-Beautiful beach hut style rooms, and a great place to grab a drink or a bite to eat.
- Casa Malca– Spectacular art-inspired home turned hotel which once belonged to Pablo Escobar.
Food + Drink:
- Posada Margherita– Excellent Italian beach-front restaurant. Try the burrata, and be prepared to wait during high-season.
- Viento de Mar (pictured below)– Beautiful lunch spot on the beach. Mexican beach cuisine with delicious margaritas!
- Hartwood– One of the top restaurants in Tulum. Be sure to make reservations in advance
- Arca– Romantic jungle-side dinner among the trees. Light and healthy.
- Casa Jaguar– Another jungle-side favorite. Trendy vibe and great food.
- The Real Coconut– My favorite place to get breakfast on the beach. Healthy juices, elixirs, and light breakfast fare.
- Gitano- A hipster lounge in the jungle with a variety of mezcal cocktails, and a disco ball in the palm trees!
- Sian Ka’an natural lazy river– A tour guide takes you on a boat to float down the natural lazy river among the mangroves. Do bring some snacks and some mezcal.
- Mayan Ruins– The most touristy activity on the list, but necessary for a first-timer if you want to see what Mayan history is all about. If you have a little extra money to spend, go check out the ruins by boat to beat the heat and the crowd.
- Cenotes– There are different cenotes where you can dive or snorkel. I would suggest Dos Ojos.
- Shopping– The shops here are really cute to walk around see. To be honest, they are a bit overpriced. But a few of my favorites are Caravana(pictured above), The boutique at Posada Margherita (called LolTulum), Josa, and Km33.
- Yoga– There many amazing yoga studios in Tulum. Some of best ones are Tribal Yoga, Yoga Shala, and Sanara.
- Yaan Spa (pictured below)-My personal favorite. From the modern boho decor to the private herb garden, this spa is truly a gem. Make sure to go early to use the variety of healing waters, saunas, and steam rooms. A definite must.