For the past decade Tulum has been a sought after destination for many Americans and Europeans looking for a luxurious slice of paradise. Unfortunately for the locals (and budget travelers), due to the increasing popularity of this remote little beach town, the prices have also seen a drastic increase. However, if you visit with an open mind and a (very) full wallet, you’ll enjoy everything this magical spot has to offer.
WHERE TO STAY
Jungle Attic Airbnb: If you’re looking to stay close to the action and don't want to pay the insane hotel prices, I recommend Leon’s unique Airbnb. Located on the jungle side of the road, the open air treehouse concept makes you feel as if you are sleeping amongst nature.
Sanara: If you want to wake up with the waves (and don’t care about price) try Sanara, a luxury eco chic hotel and wellness center, located on a prime slice of beach.
Swim in Laguna Kaan Luum: If you’re looking for a little adventure outside of Tulum, I recommend taking a trip to Laguna Kaan Luum. This fresh water lagoon changes color based on the season. You can even go scuba diving to check out life under the sea.
Go for a Dip in a Cenote: Take a break from the salty sea and cool off in one of Tulums many fresh water pools. The popular spots include Grand Cenote and Dos Ojos, but if you prefer to avoid the crowds, check out these smaller holes: Multum-Ha (for a true underground cave experience) or Zacil-Ha (located not too far from Tulum, here you can zipline or jump feet first into the water)
Visit the Ruins: There are many ruins in and around Tulum to see, but if you’re in a pinch for time here are my recommendations: Tulum Mayan Ruins - located cliffside on the beach so the views of the sea below are amazing and Chichen Itza - one of the most famous in the Yucatan peninsula, but located 2 hours from town.
Discover the town of Coba: If you’re down for a little adventure, rent a car and drive 2 hours to the town of Coba. Here you will find more ruins, cenotes and many local craftsman selling pottery, dream catchers and textiles.
Take a Yoga Class: Many hotels in Tulum offer daily yoga classes, but if you want a stunning view of the beach while in down dog, checkout the studio at Sanara Hotel. They offer everything from a full moon flow to SUP yoga classes. Outside guests are welcome.
Explore Town: Take a break from the beach and spend the afternoon exploring Tulum town. It's full of delicious (and inexpensive) restaurants and if you feel like doing some shopping - this is the spots. Prices are less expensive than at the beach and the main street is lined with a variety of shops selling beautiful handicrafts.
TO EAT & DRINK
Raw Love: If you’re into the gluten free, dairy free, raw food trend, then you’ll love this little spot located in a tranquil oasis just off the main road. The smoothie bowls are super refreshing and the iced coffee is delicious.
Hartwood: Owned and operated by two ex-New Yorkers, sustainability is their main priority. The restaurant runs off solar panels and they break down their waste with a zero carbon footprint. The menu changes daily based on the seasonal changes in the land and sea so you can guarantee the dishes will be fresh and creative.
Arca: This place was recommended to me by two different people before visiting Tulum and let me tell you it did not disappoint. The cozy, candlelight atmosphere makes it a great date spot and both the food and cocktails are on point. Don’t miss the bone marrow served with fresh baked bread and the shrimp ceviche.
Matcha Mama: One of the most Instagrammed spots in Tulum, this cute little beach shack offers everything matcha. Grab a seat on one of the swings and cool down with some matcha ice cream.
La Eufumia: This was my favorite find in Tulum. Located on prime beachfront property, this taco shack offers some delicious (and super cheap) dishes. It’s always full of young travelers who come for a taco and stay for the day lounging on sun beds and sipping margaritas.
Nomade: With two restaurants on-site (La Popular - a fish market inspired beach eatery) and Maconda (situated in a lush tropical setting that focuses on wholesome and holistic dishes) there is no shortage of good food and good vibes.
Casa Malca: This cool spot was one of Pablo Escobar’s many mansions. It was discovered in 2003, after 10 years without use and acquired by a New York art dealer, who turned it into a boutique hotel. Philosophy, the on-site restaurant, serves up delicious seafood including whole grilled fish and octopus and shrimp paella.
Gitano: Only open in the evening, this place is best known for their live music on Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday and dinner and dancing on Friday and Saturday. They also have a super cool mezcal bar, serving up cocktails like Stardust - mezcal, dark rum, pineapple, papaya and house coconut cream.
The Real Coconut: Located on a slice of prime beachfront property, this place is dedicated to conscious living and follows the foundational health and wellness philosophy that plants form the key to our vitality. They serve dishes with sustainably sourced ingredients for digestive well being. Try the eggs benedict with housed cured coconut “bacon” and the shakshuka.
Del Cielo Tropical Bar: This small local cafe is always packed and is best for breakfast. Don’t miss the salmon toast, fresh squeezed juices and organic coffee.
Artehelado: Cool off with homemade, artisanal gelato in a super cool outdoor setting. All of their ice-cream is made using 100% natural products and the flavors change constantly depending on seasonal ingredients. My favorites: watermelon with peppermint, coconut and mint with chocolate chips.
Burrito Amor: “The Chipotle of Tulum”, this spot offers burritos of every kind including scrambled egg with chuleta (smoked pork), rib eye beef and even a vegan option with nopal (cactus) and chaya (mayan spinach).
Tres Galenones: Decorated like the interior of an old ship, this place is famous for its fresh caught seafood. Make sure you try the Tuna Tataki Tostadas, Baja Style Fish Tacos and the Shrimp and Marlin Burro.
Bring Cash: Whether Mexican pesos or US dollars, make sure you bring lots of cash with you. Almost all restaurants don't take credit cards and the fee for the few ATMs in town is absurd!