Every inch of social media and popular literature is bursting with vibrant images of Tulum’s rustic charm and raw natural beauty. People from all over the world are flocking to this little known Mexican city with white sandy beaches and pristine Mayan ruins. Just 90 minutes south of Cancun, Tulum is what I call the classier version of Cancun with a very nostalgic yet new age vibe all blended together.
The salty, turquoise seas, a plethora of restaurants cocooned in the jungle and vibrant scenic imagery are a few of the reasons Tulum is so alluring to millennials.
We were able to take advantage of the low off-season airfares and booming construction of brand new tourist apartments that were equidistance between downtown and beach town. Our mornings started with freshly brewed coffee, sprawled legs in the semi-private Grecian pool and basking our pale winter faces in the warm Mexican sun.
Most of our adventures were on bikes, which is the preferred mode of transportation for the locals. Some apartments come with complimentary bike share, but ours only cost us $10/day. Turns out this was one of the best decisions we made for three simple reasons: 1) it helped us stay fit while we ate whatever we wanted, 2) it was relaxing to have a cool zephyr while cruising along the coat blasting music and 3) we were able to see and experience the sites that most tourists typically wouldn’t.
Tulum is full of incredible activities, culture, and food. My week was spent exploring these various activities, and this travel guide breaks down the many adventures within Tulum in five categories so you can wander Tulum and experience this year’s hottest getaway for yourself!
Cenotes are natural underwater caves with an array of aquatic animals like fish and turtles. Most people like to scuba dive or snorkel, but my favourite part was to swim around and look at the different stunning formations of stalagmites and stalactites. The water was cool and steel blue, which was a nice juxtaposition compared to the scorching mid-day heat. There were an abundance of Cenotes scattered in Tulum, but some of the more praised ones were Dos Ojos, Grand Cenote, and Cenote Escondido.
Most of the nightlife is a stage where sustainability merges with local culture. The clubs are an extension of the hotels in beach town and tiki bar styled venues with tons of swings in downtown. No matter where we went, there were always a pair or more of swings to exemplify the theme of a playground – a metaphor for a remembrance of one’s inner child, the innocence of youth, and willingness to live in the now.
Some of my favourite places were the creative haven nestled on the coast of the Mayan Riviera.
The ones that really left a lasting impression on me were Gitano, Papaya Playa Project and Casa Jaguar. If I had to describe each in a mood it would be the following: intimately exotic, romantic wilderness, and cinematically Hollywood-esque.
Tulum might actually have the best beaches in the world. We spent at least 3 to 4 hours sunbathing on hotel beaches set up beautifully in coves with sun loungers, umbrellas and palm trees. I opted for hotel beaches since they tended to be more private and we were only charged a minimum food and drink cost of $30 if we decided to spend the whole day there. Three of my favourite were Ziggy’s, Ahau Tulum and Coco Tulum for vastly different reasons.
Ziggy’s had the best aura with live music and delicious ceviche. Ahau Tulum felt the most adventurous and nomadic – there were beachfront huts and lounge chairs with little messages in bottles and raw, organic fruits. Coco Tulum is one of the most romantic places with a Mediterranean feel and beautiful white arrangements of curtains, chairs, swings and pillows.
The food was a symphony of mouthwatering flavours and the restaurants were a feast for the eyes. Our daily brunch always started at Del Chielo (known in English as “Made in Heaven”) with either an iced coffee or warm cappuccino. Del Chielo had one of the best French toast and assorted tropical fruit boards I’ve ever had. After biking down to beach town we would go to one of three places: Raw Love for a nutritious acai or papaya-mango bowl, Origami for an affogato with Ferrero Rocher ice cream or Matcha Mama for a refreshingly iced matcha coconut water.
For authentic Mexican food with a savoury palate and picturesque visuals, Mateo’s in beach town or Burrito Amour in downtown are both ideal choices – my favourite dishes were the tacos and burritos. Finally, Campanella Cremerie is a must stop destination for the city’s best scoops of gelato and has been voted as one of the world’s finest places for ice cream.
5. Mayan Clay Spa
Originally, Tulum used to be a hot yoga getaway before transitioning into a beach-resort escape. Hot yoga and meditation were used in conjunction with Mayan Clay, which is an ancient remedy to naturally detoxify and mineralise the body. I highly recommend soaking in Mayan Clay to energise, hydrate and exfoliate before heading back to your everyday life.
One of the best life choices I made was taking a spontaneous trip to Tulum, Mexico. It’s a city for people who are huge fans of aesthetics, rustic charm, and those who want to indulge in local culture. It attracts diverse people for numerous reasons and radiates a chic impression. For millennials like me, it’s definitely an adventurous and enthralling experience that one can embark on while on a budget. We’re already planning our trip back…