Ultimate Vacation Guide to Tulum

Known for its beautiful beaches, stunning blue water, and ancient Mayan ruins, Tulum is a mecca for beauty, art, and culture. From hotels and site-seeing to shopping and dining, this is my personal guide to Mexico's greatest treasure. 

Where to Stay
Tulum has a reputation as a celeb hotspot and caters heavily to visitors therefore there are so many gorgeous hotels. I recently found  Maria del Mar, an adults-only boutique hotel with spacious rooms and modern amenities. Maria is moderately priced yet offers excellent “bang for your buck” with a great location, ocean-view pool, wellness spa and restaurant onsite. The hotel is only a few years old, impeccably clean and the onsite staff are so friendly.

But If you prefer to splurge, there is no shortage of luxury resorts in Tulum either! I suggest the Nomade Hotel, a sexy, bohemian hotel known for its Moroccan vibe and wellness rituals. Oceanfront Suites are right on the beach, with a shaded patio and hammock to laze the day away. Casa Malca, once the vacation home of the infamous Pablo Escobar and Be Tulum, the most luxurious resort in Tulum are also exquisite.  Many of the rooms even have their own private plunge pool. Be prepared to spend some cash, their prices aren’t for the faint of heart!

Where to Go
There are so many natural wonders surrounding Tulum, the options for adventure are endless. I'll list just a few favorites that I believe represent the area’s beauty.
The Yucatan Peninsula is full of "cenotes"; swimming holes formed by sinkholes in the earth's limestone.  These sinkholes create vast underground tunnels and glorious lagoons to explore. Dos Ojos (which looks like the earth's two big eyes) appears to be two, but it is actually one cenote connected by a 400 meter passageway.  It is one of the most beautiful cenotes in my opinion, but has become very popular so it's best to arrive when it opens and snap a few photos without the crowd. I also recommend Cenote Calavera which is a much lesser-known cenote.  It is quite a bit deeper than most which makes it a great spot to try out cenote-diving, if you're brave enough!

For a bit of history, check out the Mayan Ruins. The Coba is about a 40 min drive from Tulum, but is the only one still allowing visitors to climb the pyramids. In addition, it hasn't been excavated, so you feel like you’re wandering through a hidden forest. Be careful when climbing the pyramid though,  the way down is much steeper than it initially appears!

And what would your vacation be without at least one “lazing around” beach day? The beach club at Ahau Tulum is one of my go-to’s for it's central location, outdoor bar, plenty of cabanas and hammocks, and often live music to set the mood. Taboo Tulum has also recently opened and is getting rave reviews. 

Where to Dine
The food in Tulum is superb; fresh seafood and organic vegetables, locally-sourced meats and farm-to-table options are abundant. I like to start my day at The Real Coconut for a smoothie, or head to Tunich, for a classic breakfast of eggs, bacon and fresh juice.
For lunch, I adore Ojo de Agua.  Their salmon tacos are to die for and their juice selection is incredible.... my favorite being their mango, coconut water, passion fruit juice.  They also have a small market with beautiful selection of vegetables and fruits including berries, healthy snacks, nuts etc...Another fab selection is Thai food at Mezzanine, a hotspot with killer ocean views and two-for-one margaritas from 1:00-4:00 PM daily. 

If it’s the most Instagram-worthy pics you’re after, head to Azulik for the champagne sunset. It's the most incredible "treehouse" I've seen.  You absolutely must see this venue in person.

It terms of food qualityArca is my favorite dinner spot, serving a micro-seasonal "from fire to table" menu. I also love Loyal Order which is a hidden Turkish gem perfect for groups or a romantic dinner.  The homemade pasta and beautiful ambiance of Posada Margarita  is a must stop for me, or of course, a meal at the award-winning Hartwood, Tulum's most notable dining experience. Be sure to make reservations for Hartwood– the wait list may be long but worth it.
After dinner, cap off your meal with a gelato at Campanella Cremerie.  Flavors including dulce de leche, pineapple-basil, and yogurt with strawberries are sure to satisfy your sweet tooth. 

Where to Go Out
Nights in Tulum are electric as locals and tourists alike embrace the area's vibrant nightlife culture. With so much to choose from, you really can't go wrong but I would spend Thursday night at Casa Jaguar and Friday night at Gitano, a mezcal bar with live music, dinner, and dancing. On Saturday, don't miss Papaya Playa Project, a gorgeous dance club built into the rocky side of the beach.  If you're lucky you'll be there during a full moon party where you can get your grove on in the moonlight to the wee hours. Les Bains has also recently opened a pop-up cabaret through March 3, 2019, as part of Papaya Project with a separate entrance. Sure to be a popular event if you're headed to Tulum soon!


Where to Relax
After all that partying, who doesn't need a little pampering? Yaan Spa is the spot. With treatments like their signature Healing Water Circuit, balancing massages, and Pre-Hispanic ancient techniques, it's a spa unlike any other I’ve experienced. The décor and aroma alone transport me into a meditative state. Don't book anything after your treatment, as you'll want to spend all day here, trust me.

Where to Shop
Shopping in Tulum is unavoidable if you are like me!  Tulum Beach Road is lined with gorgeous shops.  Just beware; they are certainly priced for the likes of a Jetset fashion crowd.   Caravana sells stunning woven, cotton capes in bright colors that can be worn as dresses, cover-ups, or ponchos, Calo has gorgeous flowy pieces perfect for those hot summer nights, and Bendito Tulum carries handmade dreamcatchers, unique halter tops and sparkly shorts that pair perfectly for a night out. 
If you prefer bargain hunting, check out the boutiques in the city center instead.  A wonderful stop for affordable local souvenirs, ceramic mixing bowls, sculptures, and beautifully painted maracas is Mixik.  You can't miss the bright red and orange storefront with a palapa roof.

What to Wear 
Sunshine is the name of the game in Tulum, with warm weather almost year-round. During the day, a bikini and shorts or bohemian cover up, a hat, and sunglasses will keep you covered. Don't forget the sunscreen and bug spray is an absolute must around sunset when the mosquitos come out. Day or Night be sure to wear flat shoes; like these popular huaraches by Rah or sandals. The dirt roads, plank decks, and cobblestone pathways make wearing heels almost impossible. Think easy, breezy, boho babe.  

At night, the style is dressier but still decidedly casual. Throw on a simple slip dress or maxi skirt and tank before you hit the town and leave your heavy makeups and blow dryer at home – Tulum is all about a fresh, natural look. Windswept, air-dried hair, lip gloss, and a little tinted moisturized are all you need. BOOM!

Wherever you end up, I hope you’ll enjoy Tulum as much as I do. Please share your own favorite discoveries with us for a chance to be featured on the Wherever She Goes Blog.
Hasta Luego!

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