5 Days in Tulum

I spent 5 glorious days last week in the magical town of Tulum, Mexico. Since I was doing my social media detox, I didn't share much about my trip so in this post I'll be recapping where I stayed, what I did and (of course) where I ate!

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getting to tulum

Tulum is a town on the Caribbean coastline of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula in the state of Quintana Roo. It’s known for its beaches and ruins of an ancient Mayan port city. I chose Tulum because it's relatively easy to get to from NYC (about a 1/2 day of travel) AND because it's got all the wellness things: healthy food, yoga, spas, healers, etc.

The easiest way to get to Tulum is to fly into the Cancun airport. From there you can take a bus, shuttle, or taxi to your destination. You'll find the ticket counters for all of these options immediately when you leave customs, and you can pay for your fare with pesos or dollars.

 

 

Tip: Contrary to what I read online, I found that the exchange rate at the airport was the most favorable. There are banks and ATMs all around Tulum, and many places do accept US dollars and major credit cards, but I would recommend exchanging some money before you leave the airport.

 

The cheapest travel option is of course the bus. ADO bus runs about every 40 minutes to Playa del Carmen where you’ll need to change buses. The trip will take about 2 hours from when you're picked up the airport, with various stops and transfers. You'll be dropped at the bus station in Tulum town where you'll then need to catch a quick taxi to your hotel.

 I loved the inspirational signs along the Tulum beach road.

I loved the inspirational signs along the Tulum beach road.

You can instead opt for a shuttle or private taxi. Shuttles run a bit more frequently than the bus (you may only have to wait 20 minutes) and carry fewer passengers, and will usually drop you directly at your hotel. Taxis (the most expensive, but quickest and most convenient option) will pick you up immediately and drop you off directly. Both rides will take about 1.5 hours from the airport.

Since I was traveling alone and looking for convenience (and I wanted to get to the beach STAT), I took a taxi.

 

where to stay

From my experience there are three main areas you can choose to stay in Tulum: in town, on the quieter end of the beach (near the ruins) or on the more popular end of the beach.

I chose the quieter end of the beach and booked an ocean front bungalow at Diamante K which ended up being PERFECT for my trip. This eco hotel is small (only 30 cabins, many of which share a common bathroom). There's one restaurant with a bar that looks out over the ocean and small private beach. It was peaceful and beautiful. Because it's no frills, it is one of the most affordable places to stay on the beach.

Here are a few pics of Diamante K:

While this was perfect for me, if you're looking for a resort with more amenities (yoga, activities, full spa, more nightlife, etc), I'd recommend staying on the other end of the beach. Here are a few places to look into (or look around):

  • HABITAS - About halfway between two sides of the beach, known for being a haven for wellness seekers. One of the few places not open to the public.
  • AHAU - Home to the RawLove Cafe (see below), beautiful beach side resort that still keeps the jungle bungalow feel, kid friendly.
  • SANARA - Luxury hotel on the beach, home to my favorite restaurant (The Real Coconut) and ocean view yoga studio.
  • BE TULUM - Luxury hotel. Connected to the world class Yaan Wellness spa and treetop yoga (again, see "what to do" below).

 

 

Tip: Many of the hotel activities are open to the public so even if you choose to stay on the quieter end of the beach, in town, or at an AirBnB, you can still take part in the yoga, sound healings, etc (at a cost that is). 

 

what to do

There's so much to do in and around Tulum! While I didn't do much apart from a few yoga classes and a trip to the ruins, here are some recommendations for what to do if you're into more activities:

  • TAKE A YOGA OR WELLNESS CLASS - Many of the hotels and resorts offer daily yoga classes, and some offer other wellness classes such as sound healings, mindfulness talks and meditations.. The easiest way to find out when the classes are is to rent a bike and ride along the road - most of the places with activities that are open to the public will have signs out front with the daily offerings. I took classes at Sanara (beautiful oceanfront studio) and Yaan (cool tree top studio) and they were great. All classes were in English by the way.

  • TREAT YOURSELF TO A DAY AT THE SPA - Again many of the more upscale resorts have their own spas. I chose to do a treatment at the world famous Yaan Wellness Spa and it was worth every penny. Sanara also has a great spa, or you can opt for a simple massage from one of the many options on the beach. If you're looking for a more traditional experience, I'd suggest checking out Mayan Clay Spa & Bathhouse.

  • CHECK OUT THE MAYAN RUINS - The 13th-century Mayan archaeological site at Tulum National Park overlooks the ocean and is an interesting spot to visit while you're in town. I recommend getting there EARLY (I got there at 9AM and it was already busy). I just paid the park entry fee and wandered around eavesdropping on different tours, but next time I'd sign up for a tour myself because I think the experience of the place is more powerful with context.

  • SWIM IN A CENOTE - Cenotes are freshwater sinkholes that offer a different way to spend a day (or morning) in the area. Many of these are not too far from the town and are absolutely beautiful. Here are a few specific cenotes that were recommended to me by friends:  Cenote Cristalino, Cenote Escondido and Cenote Dos Ojos.

  • EXPERIENCE A TEMAZCAL CEREMONY - Many people chose to participate in a Mayan sweat lodge known as a Temazcal when in Tulum. Translated as “house of heat,” the ancient ceremony led by a shaman originated with the pre-Hispanic Indigenous peoples of Mesoamerica to purify the body and mind, heal the sick, or provide a spiritual haven for women to give birth. Many resorts (Casa Violeta, Ahau and Yaan to name a few) host these in conjunction with the full and new moons, or you can book a private ceremony.

 The view from Sanara's oceanfront yoga studio.

The view from Sanara's oceanfront yoga studio.

 

where to eat

COFFEE, TEA + BREAKFAST

  • RAW LOVE (inside Ahau resort) - smoothie bowls, raw desserts and a few raw entrees. Supposedly the raw pizza is bomb but I didn't try it!
  • MATCHA MAMA - cute roadside matcha shop with matcha, smoothies, and matcha ice cream. Good, not great. And not cheap either. Go for the cute Instagram shots.

CASUAL EATS

  • BURRITO AMOR - One of my favorite spots in town. Burritos on housemade coconut tortillas. Good for breakfast, lunch or dinner. They have WiFi.
  • LA HOJA VERDE - I stumbled into this place and had a yummy and cheap smoothie. Vegan/vegetarian.
  • TAQUERIA LA EUFEMIA - Where the locals go for tacos and beers on the beach.
  • SAFARI TULUM - Casual but delicious eats.
  • CAFE CIELO - Cute cafe in town for breakfast or lunch.

NICER RESTAURANTS

  • THE REAL COCONUT (inside Sanara resort) - Nicer but on the beach so you can be casual (nicer meaning $$$). Don't waste your money on the smoothies - get the real food, its good. Feels like LA in Tulum.
  • KITCHEN TABLE - Farm to table Tulum.
  • CASA JAGUAR - Trendy spot for dinner and music. Thursday night is the night to go here.
  • GITANO - Didn't go but this place gets good reviews for food + mezcal.
  • POSADA MARGARITA - Beachside spot for Italian food.
  • HARTWOOD - Again didn't go but came highly recommended. May be tough to get a reservation so book in advance.

Here are a few pics of yummy food I ate:

Overall I had an amazing vacation in Tulum, and I will definitely be back to check out some of the experiences and food I wasn't able to fit in on this trip!

 

 

Have you ever been to tulum? what was your favorite activity, restaurant or experience?
Share with us all in the comments below!