In picture perfect Tulum, you will ride pastel coloured bikes, eat fresh seafood straight from the sea and drift into a relaxed trance that only salty air and soft sand can give.
Once a sleepy beach town, sans electricity and any real roads in or out, Tulum has managed to keep it’s laid back approach, though now peppered with trendy eateries (with long wait times) and beach bars, oh and electricity, which is still optional. From yogi to beach bum to culinary connoisseur, Tulum is flourishing with options and the next place you need to book, STAT.
HOW TO GET THERE
Cancun is the closest airport to fly into, which also happens to be pretty popular with the young Spring Break kind of crowd. So if you know what’s good for you, you will get the heck out of there as fast as you can. Just two hours south from Cancun, a shuttle is the best way to get down to Tulum, in my opinion. Renting a car at the airport can be an expensive ordeal as the exuberant insurance is a non negotiable. Between the many beach cruiser bikes and taxis, your own vehicle in town is not necessary unless you plan on exploring other areas for a few days.
WHERE TO STAY
I needed a little geography lesson when picking a place to stay in Tulum. There are two parts of Tulum; Tulum City, a lively local town with lots of little souvenir shops and Tulum beach, where most of the restaurants and hotels are.
When most people talk about Tulum they are referring to the beach.
The city will provide basic housing at a very affordable prices while the beach allows you to sleep right next to the crashing waves for a small fortune.
I have stayed at Zamas in a bungalow right on the beach both times now and love the vibe there.
Free spirited Nomade is just far enough from the hustle and bustle but close enough to enjoy the laid back vibe of Tulum. The property is ultra chic with lush tropical palms, hammocks and white sands. The restaurant, Macondo is the place for holistic recharge in cuisine.
BEST TIME TO GO
Having been twice in one year (I know, excessive), its hard to imagine a bad time to head to Tulum. The weather both times was fabulous. Of course there are rainy months, which hare June September and October. October to December is the best time to visit after Hurricane season and the temperature is a perfect mix of salty breeze and balmy nights. It’s also the time to get the best deals with low season prices. Tourists tend to crowd the beach around January to March.
WHAT TO EAT
Eat as much fresh fish, guacamole and tacos as possible. Be sure to wash it down with a good strong margarita (and water in between). You know, falling facedown in the sand from dehydration is never chic.
Zamas – Que Fresco!
Apart from being the hotel we stayed at, people come to Zamas for the food and stay for the live music. From all the places I tried, and trust me I tried a lot, the guac here is 10/10. The beauty of eating guac in Tulum is not only the freshness and the bold colour, but the fact I’m not paying $14 dollars a spoonful just makes it taste that much better.
Taqueria La Eufemia
This will be the cheapest taco you will find along the beach. Prices tend to jump from town to the beach. This place has an awesome laid back feel with sunbeds and tables for tacos with a ‘add your own’ condiments stations and cold cerveza.
Before eating my weight in Mexican food in Tulum, I couldn’t quite grasp the concept of how it could possible be that much better in Mexico. If you get the fajitas and ceviche from Mateos you will understand. Also check out the roof deck and to see where the jungle meets the ocean. It takes alfresco Mexican jungle dining to another level.
Now infamous open-air spot praised for fresh local ingredients, most will tell you to put Hartwood at the top of your restaurant list in Tulum.
I had every intention of eating at here, so much so, it was saved for our last special night in Tulum. Mother Nature had other plans since she sent a torrential downpour on us just moments after we went to make a reservation. Hartwood knew what was coming and was closed for the night. We on the other hand, were drenched from the ride home on our bikes and Hart-less so to speak. Everyone I spoke to recommended the seafood restaurant. My recommendation, just don’t wait til your last night to go. There is also a pretty epic waitlist for this place so try get there early.
Located in Tulum town, don’t be fooled by the plastic chairs and pea gravel. This hidden gem is what I imagine dinner would be like at someone’s abuela. We ordered our standard ceviche, guacamole and margarita starter, which always got us excited for more. Lets just say after multiple tacos and fajitas we rolled home.
Unless we planned on eating two dinner sittings, Posada Margarita was another place we weren’t able to try. We did manage to order some cocktails, of course. There’s always room for cocktails. Known for its homemade pasta, I have heard rave reviews about the Italian dishes here.
And for the best and cheapest tacos in Tulum!
Antojitos La Chiapaneca
It’s a cheap, cheerful, and deliciously authentic.
WHAT TO DO
If you are willing to spare a day away from the beach I highly recommend a day trip. About two hours away from Tulum beach in the Yucatan state is Chichen Itza, Ik Kil Cenote and Valladolid, a small Mexican town sparse of tourist. There are a couple of ways to get there such as tour group, public bus or private taxi. Normally one for a bargain, I actually went with the easiest option instead, which also was the most expensive option. And it paid off as we were able to see the different at our pace. Our hotel organized a private driver to pick us up at 6am, arriving at Chichen Itza by opening time at 8am. The beauty of a private car is that our driver waited at each place and then drove us home. Not only did we see Chichen Itza, we stopped at Ik Kil, a mind-blowing sinkhole and Valladolid, a perfect Mexican town to grab some authentic grub for lunch. The 52-cent street cart tacos are definitely something to call home about.
If dedicating a whole day away from the beach is not for you, the Tulum Ruins are a great alternative. Take a bike north for 20 minutes and you will hit the only Mayan Ruins on the water. The site is preety impressive alone, but perched on the edge of turquoise water is simply magical.
Head there early ie: opening time and have pesos for the entrance fee
Ain’t nothing wrong with walking along the sand, sauntering bar to bar, hammock to hammock.
Most hotels will rent you a beach cruiser for easier transition form jungle to sand.
If you don’t make the trip out to the Yucatan, there are a few cenotes only 20 minutes drive from Tulum Beach. Cenotes are naturally occurring sinkholes and underwater caves that now top bucket lists. Check out Dos Ojos and Nic Ta Ha.
The mineral rich water filters through the limestone leaving the water crystal clear. My best tip is to get early. You will likely have the whole place to yourself.
Now all that’s left to do is pack, which shouldn’t take that long considering all you need is a dress, bikini and flip-flops.
– No heels required