Time for Tulum

i have fallen head over heels
in love with the yucatan peninsula, and more specifically,
(which is why we are considering it for our wedding destination!)

here's why Tulum should be your next getaway destination:

The leaves are changing colors, temperatures dipping, and at some points in the morning chill you swear you can see your breath. This is right about the time we start wistfully thinking of summer mornings when we were sweating on our way to work...and also right about the time we start cueing the wanderlust and planning winter getaways to warmer climates.

Well, I've got a new place to add to your vacation list...Mexico. I know, not a “new one” but I'm not talking about the 18-year-old laden beaches where Señor Frogs cups lay strewn across lounge chairs and in the sand...I'm talking about the bohemian, eco-friendly, gorgeous, Mayan-ruin having, Mexican wonderland that is Tulum.

Just about 80 miles south of Cancun, this sweet little sanctuary will have you feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, and immersed in culture in no time. From eco-friendly thatched roof accommodations to the more luxe hotels with private plunge pools and air-conditioning, there is a place to fit every desire you could imagine. So, I've rounded out a few of my favorite places to stay, what to do, and where to eat.

Talk about a rustic bohemian dream getaway. The thatched rooftop cabanas, hammocks for two, killer views from your private deck...what could be better? Beds have canopies of netting to keep any pests at bay so that you can drift off into dreamland to the sound of crashing waves, air-conditioners are replaced in most rooms by eco-friendly ceiling fans to keep cool – you could always open your doors as well to let in the ocean breeze. Rates November – December 23rd start at $92/night for Bali Huts and garden view Junior Suites at $222/night.

Good to know:
*You will find air condition only in the beach level master and junior suites – and its use is permitted at night only from 8:15pm to 9am.
*Children under 12 stay for free!

Photo from AhauTulum.com, pictured: Master Suite, beach level

Looking to relax and indulge in some luxurious spa treatments while being tucked away in a beach lover's paradise? This hotel should be on your list. Yäan Wellness Energy Spa at Be Tulum is the perfect place to get a little TLC while on vacation. From yoga classes, to massages & clay treatments, and even energy healing this spa is your one stop shop for mind, body, and spiritual wellness. Be Tulum's property gets you a little bit of everything with suites that are facing palm-tree sprinkled lush tropical gardens to suites just steps away from the beach with water views (and they are all air conditioned!). A visit in late November – early December can run you $500+ a night, but if you are an American Express card holder you can get 10% off Be Tulum's “best rate”.

Good to know:
*Only some rooms have a private plunge pool – if this is something you're interested in be sure to ask before booking!
*Word on the street is that Be Tulum has some of the best ceviche and smoothies, so be sure to get a taste!
*Be Tulum has bikes for guests to use to explore the area

Photo from betulum.com, pictured: “Mezcaleria”

If you're looking for a private, romantic luxurious getaway this the your spot. Hotel Jashita is a small, boutique hotel a bit off the beaten path from the main strip of accommodations in Tulum, but that certainly is part of its allure. All of Hotel Jashita's suites are beach front and boast beautiful views so no need to cross your fingers and pray that your room has a spectacular view to match its spectacular price tag. Sure, this hotel may be a bit pricier than its competition – but its amenities speak to those concerns and put them to bed. In my (mostly humble) opinion sipping prosecco in a private plunge pool on my room's balcony watching the sunset is worth every penny. The hotel is about 1 ½ hours from Cancun Airport – you can book airport transfers safely through the hotel.

In its high season (Nov 1st – Dec 19th) a deluxe waterfront suite with ocean view will run you about $480/night, and all rates include daily breakfast. Snorkel equipment, kayaks, and paddle boards are all provided by the hotel as well.

Good to know
*While the ruins are not within walking distance staff at Hotel Jashita are happy to call you a taxi. Just 10km away from the ruins a taxi will cost about 200pesos, or about $12USD.
*Located on Soliman Bay snorkeling here is incredible and the water is mostly very calm – consider investing in a pair of water shoes, some guests say it was a bit rocky.

Photo from JashitaHotel.com pictured: private balcony plunge pool

This place is definitely a hidden gem. Dining in the sand, just steps from the water, beneath swaying palm trees....are you getting your passport and pesos ready?? This spot is quite a ways off the beaten path, and seems to be most easily accessible to those staying at Jashita – though if you're up for the adventure you could find it from other destinations as well. This is one of those times you really can't judge a book by its cover – Chamicos is understated in luxury but more than makes up for it in spectacular food. With just a handful of food options here, what they have or catch that day is what you'll get – it's been said its some of the freshest seafood you'll probably ever have. So, do your best to get there.

Good to know:
*This secret spot closes early, at 5pm. Cash only.
*If you're looking to work off lunch and those cervezas consider bringing some snorkeling gear and hop into Soliman Bay.

This restaurant is suuuuper popular – as in there is generally a line out the door of people waiting for dinner. Heed the warning and get there early, like...really really early, head over around 2pm to make a reservation and you should be safe. Staying true to Tulum's eco-friendly vibe Hartwood is adorned with solar panels to power the restaurant daily from their lights to their music. Not only that, ALL the cooking at Hartwood is done on an open wood fire, and ingredients are locally caught and harvested.

Good to know:
*Some say it's a bit 'trendy' and a little pricey, but worth it.  

Ahhh, the beauty of food trucks. Fab food at a fab price. Picture an old, pollack style painted VW bus turned food truck and you'll have perfectly envisioned Tacolum. 

Looking to keep it healthy? Try Yoga Shala's restaurant 'Canopia' for some good, and healthy eats. Outstanding smoothies, killer brunch menu (served 8am-3pm), and vegan options too! They also offer tons of yoga classes, so consider taking a class first to work up an appetite – refuel with the Tropical Bircher Muesli and spend the rest of your day feeling good (...and by good we mean this will make you feel much less guilty when you indulge in late night guacamole and margaritas). 

Mayan Ruins
If you go to Tulum and don't visit the ruins then what exactly are you doing? This is one of the most enticing attractions that Tulum has to offer, and what brings in most of the tourist crowd. Incredibly well preserved you'll feel as though you've entered some kind of time warp. If you are feeling adventurous there are some ruins that visitors are allowed to climb up – rest assured the daunting climb is so worth the view from the top. Coba – about 30 min from Tulum resides in a jungle like atmosphere and is home to the pyramid Nohoch Mul – said to be the highest of the pyramids that are in the Yucatan Peninsula...beware though it is incredibly steep, especially on the way down (some suggest doing the trip down on your rump to avoid taking a tumble)

Photo from locogringo.com, pictured: Nohoch Mul

Gran Cenote
This is an absolute CANNOT miss. Not far from any of the three hotels we've touched on here – about 15-20 minutes away – this is an easily accessible, awesome spot to spend an afternoon. This is definitely one of the more popular diving spots, so don't expect to have it all to yourself. If you're a little timid about jumping in, just grab a pair of goggles and pop your head under, the incredible underwater scene will be enough to make you suddenly want to hop in. Visitors have said that the Cenote is actually much cooler, and a welcome retreat from the heat.

Good to know:
* To save yourself some money bring your own snorkeling gear rather than renting it – some visitors have mentioned that flippers are a no-no.
* The earlier you go the less crowded it will be!
* There are other Cenote in the area (some in caves, some not) try Casa Cenote to avoid crowds, but not skimp on beauty.

Obviously, because no trip is complete without a little shopping you must make your way over to La Troupe! From coverups to (can't live without)bags to the perfect souvenirs, you'll find something for everyone here – or, if you're like me, you'll find a ton of stuff for yourself and find that you have no money to spend on anyone else...oops!
Photo from La Troupe's Facebook page

Mr. Blackbird
One more shopping stop! A tiny little boutique that's well worth a stop in! For the ladies dragging their significant others around the store you could argue that you're still on the beach - Mr. Blackbird's boutique opts for sand instead of standard flooring (which just adds to its charm!). Great jewelry pieces and a perfect purchase to keep a little piece of Tulum with you when you head back home.
Photo from TripAdvisor

Chichén Itzá
More ruins, but this are a bit of a hike from Tulum and will take you about 2+ hours to get to.
The pyramid 'El Castillo' has become sort of an icon here, and is a real sight to see. If you're looking for something to truly marvel at, this should be the spot. According to NatGeo “the temple has 365 steps—one for each day of the year. Each of the temple’s four sides has 91 steps, and the top platform makes the 365th.” Consider waking up early and heading out to avoid running into and influx of tourists and group-tours.
Photo from nationalgeographic.com by Israel Leal, AP, pictured: El Castillo, Chichén Itzá


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