Tulum, Mexico is personally one of my best favorite places to go for a quick weekend getaway.
Whether you are planning a romantic weekend with someone special or fun girls or guys trip or a solo yoga/re-charge your batteries, there is something for everyone in Tulum. Tulum is quite a gem and used to be much lesser known as it is off the beaten path in the south of Playa Del Carmen. It was a sleepy little beach town for a long time but in recent years it has become a bustling town full of top-notch cuisine, tropical jungle restaurants (that serve up craft cocktails that could rival any large city bar’s), hip boutiques, beachfront yoga, and an Instagramer’s ultimate paradise. While this town is more well-known to travelers and has an additional structure in place than it once did, Tulum still has not lost its beach-town charm.
I am excited to take this opportunity to share some of my favorite things to see and do in this tropical jungle meets the white sand beach town with all of you…
Let’s start with the beach, because who doesn’t love a good beach? If you are looking for perfect white-sand beaches and warm, clear blue water that looks like it is straight out of a Corona commercial, this is your place (the commercial was shot up the street in Playa Del Carmen, but same ocean and beaches). Getting to Tulum is easy, it’s 74 miles south of Cancun airport, down a straight well-paved highway. On one side of the road, you can see the ocean and white sand beaches, and on the other side, you can see dense, vibrant green jungle.
In addition to the postcard-perfect beaches, there are also tons of Cenotes to explore on the way to this paradise or nearby when you arrive. What’s a Cenote you ask? It’s a natural pit or sinkhole of either fresh or salt water, that is a result of the limestone collapsing and the groundwater below being exposed. The Mayans that used to inhabit this area believed that Cenotes were an entrance to the underworld and had healing powers. They were also used to make sacrifices. Cenotes can be open on top, such as Cenote Azul, or they can be down a cave entrance, such as Cenote Dos Ojos. The most popular Cenote in the area is Grand Cenote, but I would advise getting there early before the crowds come and the line is long. My favorite group of Cenotes was the three by the Coba ruins, and you can easily make a day out of seeing the ruins in the morning and then going for a dip to cool off in Cenote Tamcach-Ha, Choo-Ha, and Multum-Ha. There are over 1,000 of these amazing limestone Cenotes on the Yucatan peninsula.’
Next, let’s discuss where to stay when visiting Tulum. There are so many quaint boutique hotel options to choose from. Casa Malca was personally one of my favorites. It’s rumored that the original part of this hotel was possibly Pablo Escobar’s old vacation home, and if this is the case, than he had amazing taste in location because this place is perfection. Tulum beach is a long stretch of beach with a single one lane road so quite simple to find your way and makes it very easy to get around and see everything. Casa Malca is situated located on the end of this stretch nearby to the best restaurants and shops. This boutique property is decorated with unique artwork, even a couch hanging above the reception that was preserved from The Titanic and curtains to the sprawling massive entrance doors made of 100 wedding dresses. This is just one of the top properties I would recommend, but a few others would include Be Tulum which has a sleek, modern jungle vibe, Habitas, where you can have an upscale glamping-like experience, or if you have always wanted to stay in an upscale tree house, check out Azulik.
There are many dining options in Tulum that vary from healthy, casual roadside stops like Matcha Mama who serves up fresh smoothie bowls while you sit in swings to the coveted reservation at Hartwood which you typically need to make a reservation for at least a month in advance while us and your concierge can always do our best to work some magic for. Hartwood is a farm to table restaurant and the menu changes daily depending on what fresh & local ingredients are sourced that day. I am especially fond of the fact that even at the nicest of restaurants there is a laid-back vibe, a casual dress code and the perfect ingredients for a wonderful toes in the sand dining experience. For a nicer sit-down dinner I would suggest Gitano which is probably my top favorite. Do make sure you do not miss the avocado appetizer here on their menu, it is out of this world. Arca, another great option and that offers an outdoor, candlelight setting and serves really exceptional seafood. For a truly unique & unforgettable evening, you must visit The Dining Experience which is a dinner party experience held in different locations throughout Tulum and provides a delicious local farm to table dinner and includes the very best in craft cocktails for a set price.
For some lighter day time lunch options, I would highly recommend Mezzanine, a Thai restaurant that overlooks the beach and serves up an amazing spicy curry or Posada Margherita for some beachside Italian fare amongst a charming setting. For all my Vegan friends, I highly recommend Raw Love, a must and I loved everything about it and think you will too. Fortunately, there are many healthy options in and around Tulum so you are sure to find some great places to dine and enjoy during your time away.
Let’s talk about a few things to see and do besides beach lounging and eating and drinking your way through Tulum. One of my favorite things about Tulum is that once you arrive to your hotel you can pretty much get around by bike the rest of your time here as it is a great place to explorer by bike or foot and many of the hotels offer these complimentary to guests and some have electric bikes too so it makes getting around quite fun. The ruins are an easy bike ride away or if you want to drive further there are the Coba ruins accessible by car. Mateo’s is a good place to catch a sunset on the top level (it’s like climbing a treehouse) and there are so many yoga studios and wellness centers there that allow you to come back from vacation feeling truly relaxed.
Two great day trip options are the Sian Ka’an Biosphere nature preserve that would be a whole day adventure that your hotel concierge can either set up or you can drive but four-wheel drive is recommended or The Rapids of Bacalar which is about a 3-hour drive south towards the Belize border. Sian Ka’an Biosphere is great for your nature lover and you can rent a kayak and explore this marshy area. The Rapids of Bacalar is a unique, beautiful place that I stumbled across that has the clearest water I think I have ever swum in and it is well worth the trip. Another option may be to consider doing an overnight here as it can make for a long day but and this way you can indulge a bit and partake in the wonderful freshly squeezed $3 margaritas.
A few things to know when planning a trip to Tulum that I would recommend are always carry cash with you, pack bug spray and wear your flats or sandals. Quite a few places in Tulum do not accept credit cards so be prepared. The hotels and hotel restaurants typically will take credit card, but most other places do not so you should be aware of this before traveling here. You will want bug spray and I normally wouldn’t suggest bug spray with Deet but in this case, you may need more than an eco-friendly spray. Last but not least, comfort is key so yes flats are a must because you are in a beach town with dirt roads and uneven streets so the environment here is not conducive for anything with a heel ladies.
The best times to plan a visit to Tulum that I would suggest would be October through December. During this time, it’s not quite as crowded as the months of January till March and minimal rain but as you may assume any holiday weeks naturally tend to be busier too so off weeks are always preferred. The rainy season in Tulum begins in June and tends to last through October, so it is important to know this going in if you are planning travel during this time as it will be significantly more humid during this time as well.
There are so many more things I could say about this magical beach destination, but I’ll leave that for you to discover and hope you will think of us when planning your getaway to Tulum.