Although bitter winter is winding down, there’s really no better time to book a trip somewhere warm and sunny. As a city-dwelling 20something, the gridlocked-concrete overload coupled with a hectic schedule can really start to wear on you. Layer on bad weather and that just becomes a recipe for soul crushing, burned out disaster.
Tulum always seemed like a faraway, complicated vacation of which I had no time or money to plan. Once realizing tanning, tacos and tequila could be in my near future, I rounded up a gal pal, booked a flight, exchanged some dollars for pesos and was en route to paradise.
Every vacation destination has its drawbacks, and there’s no way to see/do/eat/drink it all in a few short days, but I’ve done my best to put together the only Tulum vacation guide you’ll ever need. The trip was relatively inexpensive, relaxing, safe and FULL of beautiful culture. 10/10 would do it again.
Where to stay and lay
This is where we stayed. A beautiful, minimalistic, eco-friendly resort full of kind staff and unbelievable views. Free yoga every morning, a mouth-watering breakfast buffet, freshly squeezed juices, and a delicious menu of food and drinks to ensure you never have to leave.
This spot, a little more tucked away at the end of town, is what Instagram dreams are made of. A little more ritzy and high-end than PPP, this is where you want to stay with family or if you’re ready to splurge. Gorgeous sunset cocktail bar views, inviting pools and comfy daybeds on the beach.
Hands down the most beautiful beach spot I saw on this trip! All-white beach furniture, a large bar, perfectly fine white sand, and beachside swings made for a dreamy and heavenly view.
What to do
Hop on a bike to the ruins where you’ll see a number of decrepit temples in a magical setting. These once gaudy places of worship and port entrances sit atop one of the most prime locations in all of Tulum. Worth the bike ride to see hundreds of sunbathing iguanas and mesmerizing blue waves. Bring water, sunscreen and a hat — it is HOT. ~ $5 entry.
We joined a free 8 a.m. yoga class at our resort, however there are tons of options around town, like YogaMaya or Om. It’s a great way to start the day and most hotels offer complimentary morning classes. Trust me, you’ll want to be up when the sun rises to maximize time on this beautiful beach.
Cave Dive/Snorkel at Dos Ojos Cenotes
For 500 pesos, we took a guided tour of both underwater natural caves. If you like to snorkel or scuba, this is a fun way to swim around and check out some (albeit scarce) Mexican underwater wildlife.
We actually didn’t get a chance to visit Chitchen Itza, but we’ve heard wonderful things! Seeing as it takes three hours to drive each way, we didn’t have enough time to take up a whole day. However, it is one of the seven wonders of the world, and if you can get there – do it!
You can basically bike up and down all of beach-side Tulum. Biking happens to be a common form of transportation, even for locals, so locking up is easy and accessible. We rented from our hotel’s activity center, but there are plenty of shops around town.
Where to eat and drink
Some of the best Italian food I’ve tasted anywhere. An authentic Italian chef owns this gem of a place. They only serve pasta, fish and a couple side salads – so know what you’re getting into before! This place is tucked away on a beautiful stretch of beach with white sand and tasty margs. Cash only, no reservations.
The best tacos and strawberry mojitos, located right on what I like to call “the strip.” Great area for Ping-Pong and games at their upstairs “sunset bar.”
We didn’t get a chance to eat here, but if you want real authentic Mexican food, we hear this is the spot.
First of all, good luck if you can get into this joint. The hot spot barely answers phone calls or emails unless you persist and follow up for weeks. After eating there, I understood why. The food was jaw to the floor amazing, with a menu that changes daily based on what’s harvested fresh. Get there if you can, but please order the empanadas and ‘The Hartwood’ cocktail for me. Cash only, and go early if you can’t secure a reservation prior to your trip.
A couple storefronts down from Hartwood lives another restaurant and cocktail bar you must hit. Delicious food, mezcal cocktails, and a wildly fun scene on Friday nights.
Papaya Playa Project
We had the most delicious food at our resort. From veggie tacos to freshly squeezed juices to hamburgers and fries for when you need a Mexican food break, I highly suggest PPP for the views and a great meal. The breakfast buffet was also BOMB for less than $10 all you can eat.
Delicious, tropical and fresh food enjoyed in a lush jungle party setting. Stick around for the fiesta on Thursday nights, starting at 11 p.m.
1. Bring pesos, and don’t rely on your credit card. You’ll save tons of money since everywhere prefers cash — restaurants give incentive to pay in MXN $.
2. Bring your own sunscreen and bug spray as there aren’t many convenience stores on the beach.
3. Rent bikes to save $ on transportation.
4. Ladies, don’t bring wedges or heels — promise you’ll never wear them.
5. Please keep in mind we couldn’t get insight into every possible place to stay, eat and drink. There are TONS of more recs we came across, but didn’t have time to hit.
I hope you get to visit this magical place one day.