Tulum Travel Guide
We have been traveling to Tulum regularly for about 6 years now and it is so crazy to see how much it has grown. The word is officially out on what I used to refer to as our “hidden gem” spot. We have a friend that has lived there for 8 years now and helps us out in finding the latest and greatest spots. I lovingly refer to Tulum (and Vail) as my “happy place.” I can go there and truly let go and relax. It only made sense for me to put together a little Tulum travel guide with the favorites from over the years.
For this trip we went to the Hard Rock first for a show one of Trey’s bands played. We had limited time in Tulum because we had to get back to our babies, but it was worth every second of travel for the short time we had there.
HOW TO GET THERE
Tulum doesn’t have a direct airport. You will need to fly into Cancun and then either rent a car or secure a driver to take you directly to Tulum. It’s about an hour and a half trip. Once you get to Tulum, you really don’t need a car unless you decide to drive to the Cenotes, Ruins or float the canals. (You can also get a taxi for these destinations.) There are tons of bikes, and it’s the best way to get along the beach road.
WHERE TO STAY
I’ve gotten to stay at so many amazing places in Tulum from Mezzanine, Encantada, La Zebra, etc.
The hottest spot to stay right now is Casa Malca. It truly embodies everything that Tulum is. It’s eco-friendly, packed with local contemporary art, serves locally sourced cuisine and has ocean and jungle views. Leo Malca, a popular art dealer, renovated the estate that was once owned by Pablo Escobar. The decor is the perfect mix of natural and organic to magestic and quirky. Truly design perfection in my opinion.
Be Tulum. It’s rustic charm at it’s finest. So beautiful. The cuisine here is top notch. Everything that comes from the wood burning stove is devine. (The octopus was incredible!) Also, as a self proclaimed guacamole connoisseur, this is the best guac I’ve ever had.
Mezzanine. This was the first hotel we ever stayed at, and even though Tulum has grown so much it still holds up. This is if you want the more rustic experience. (No electricity…) It’s an open loft with candles and very rustic but serene and beautiful.
WHERE TO DO
There are just so many incredible places it’s so hard to narrow it down. One of my absolute favorite things to do in the world is to float the Si’an Ka’an. It’s hard to put into words how cool this is, but it’s truly a magical experience. You take a boat through a lake and into the reserve. The absolute best part is when you reach the Mayan canal. The Mayans hand carved the limestone, and the water is perfectly clear. You can then free float down stream through the canal just wearing your life jacket. It’s unbelievable. The boat can bring you all the way until you reach the sea. No people, no buildings, just the purest and most beautiful views you could imagine.
Snorkel in a Cenote. A cenote is essentially a natural sinkhole where the limestone has collapsed. It creates a beautiful blue water and you can snorkel around and check out the cave system underneath. (You can dive this as well.) There are over 7,000 cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula. My favorite that we have tried was the “Dos Ojos”. This one is located about ten miles south of the beach road in Tulum.
The Mayan Ruins of Chichen Itza. It’s a bit of a drive, but the architecture is something to see. The El Castillo Pyramid was even named one of the “new” 7 wonders of the world.
Shop your heart out! There is one long beach road that makes up a lot of the best shops, hotels, restaurants, etc. As a lover of all things neutral, shopping in Tulum was a dream for me. There are open boutiques lining the road filled with artisan-made goods. So many hand woven maxi dresses and tops, hats, and carefully crafted jewelry. You can even pick up a hammock to bring home and remind you of the simpler days back in Tulum. The hand painted home goods are next level. Mr.Blackbird is one of my favorites!
WHERE TO EAT
Lunch at the Nomade. It’s right on the beach and fab!
Lunch at Be Tulum (mentioned above.) This one has a beach view as well.
If you’ve checked out another Tulum travel guide or two you have probably noticed lots of hotel restaurants. (They are all pretty damn amazing!) I’m just going to include a few that aren’t quite as “known” just yet. (I’m sure it’s only a matter of time!)
* Kitchen Table– (AKA The Jungle Restaurant.) You feel like you are dining in a treehouse in the jungle. The cocktails were amazing here too! The food is simple, but fresh and just perfect. I had the ahi tuna, and it was one of the best ways I’ve ever had tuna prepared!
* Hartwood. This one isn’t on the “beach road”, but is quite the experience. The menu changes daily as they harvest and source all ingredients from local Mayan farms. The restaurants focus is on sustainable fishing methods, and eco-friendly everything. All the cooking is done on an open fire with their hand-made oven and grill. The attention to detail and work that goes into each dish is undeniable.
WHERE TO DRINK
Gitano. Holy amazing. I felt like I was in the movie Havana nights. HA! When you walk through the front entrance you would never imagine what is all in the back. I love that they left the trees and built the walls around them. The tile is beautiful. The drinks are delicious. (Spicy margarita for the win!) Make sure to walk all the way through the restaurant and to the back bar and outdoor space. Also, as strange as this sounds, check out the restrooms. They are all mercury glass everywhere with beautiful candles lit to lead the way. The entire place is incredible!
Azulik. The upper bar is all made of hammocks. The most perfect picture worthy spot!
Be Tulum. Can you tell I loved this spot? The upper bar has telescopes so you can view the stars over the beach. It’s filled with comfy couches everywhere.
WHAT TO PACK
I kept it super simple for this trip. Everything on a carry on. Tulum isn’t about being pretentious. It’s artistic and beautiful in the most beautifully rustic way. Swimsuits, sandals, cut offs and easy breezy tops and maxi dresses.
Here were my favorite pieces from this last trip.