The most romantic trip of my life. Tulum was so incredibly magical and exactly what I needed. If you love yoga, healthy food, a retreat-style vacation, relaxing on the beach, eating amazing food or getting in tune with your spiritual side… Tulum is for you!
Tulum’s culture isn’t like any place I’ve vacationed, especially in Mexico. You won’t find the typical tourist excursions or the Mexican fiestas that you see going anywhere else in Mexico, but instead you will find a culture radiating peace, love and happiness from within. Tulum is geared towards wellness and balance. Most hotels offer yoga, meditation and spa healing treatments.
If you’re looking for the ultimate party spot in Mexico, I would definitely recommend Cabo! Tulum is pretty quiet in terms of going out! If you’re looking for a reset and a mental break from reality, you need to go to Tulum! I thought it was incredibly romantic. All of the restaurants are lit up with twinkle lights and candles. There’s palo santo burning and roaming the air everywhere you go along the beach. The entire beach side of the city reminds me of the Flintstone age. All of the architecture is jungle inspired. A lot of the trees that grow within the space are incorporated into the design of the building, compared of being cut down during construction. Tulum is very eco-friendly, and it is very inspiring to see a community come together and try to sustain that.
LOCATION: Beach or City?
City: Most of the Airbnb’s are located in the city, which is a 30-45 minute bike ride or $40 round trip taxi to the coast. We absolutely loved our Airbnb and didn’t mind the distance. You can check it out here… we absolutely loved it! It was only $130 a night when we booked! Staying in an Airbnb can be 25% of the price of staying in a hotel. We also kind of liked getting our exercise in everyday by doing 5-10 mile bike rides to the beach and back. It felt like we had earned our margaritas, chips & guac by the time we got to the beach! I think if we stayed at the beach, we would have been scared to go into town, which I’m glad wasn’t the case. The town is where you can find your real authentic Mexican food and more of a Mexican culture. There is a lot of poverty, but in its own way it is just as beautiful and raw as the coast. It’s just different. We felt so safe roaming the streets and the locals were all so nice. If you stay in the city, there are far less hotels and tourists compared to the coast. I definitely recommend checking it out and getting yourself outside of the bubble (the coast) when you visit.
Beach: The coast is designed and built for tourism. But Trevor and I are such a sucker for a good aesthetic and healthy food so we were pretty sold on the coast. It is so magical and beautiful; it feels like a little escape from reality. There is only one road on the coast. The beach side of the road is lined up with hotels… you can’t even see the beach! The other side is packed full of shopping, restaurants and spas. Both sides are decorated to perfection and completely covered with lush plants. It is definitely a fun road to walk or bike on, however it is SO crowded and can be very dangerous with all of the taxis, cars and pedestrians. The beach side has literally everything you need. The hotels are all top-notch and the most beautiful buildings I’ve ever seen. We spent a lot of time here roaming the different restaurants, bars and hotels. The beach side is expensive. The week we looked at prices for hotels we found $500 a night and upward. Like I said, if Trevor and I stayed on the coast, I don’t think we would have left! So if you go, definitely roam into the city and get out of the bubble if you’re staying on the beach!
Bikes: We rented bikes for the entire duration we were in Tulum. Our Airbnb host called a bike rental company for us, and they dropped them off at our Airbnb for a small price. This was the best way to see everything! You not only got to experience more of the culture by roaming the different streets and nooks of Tulum, but you also got some exercise in!
Taxis: When we were in a crunch for time and didn’t have the outfit for riding bikes, we got a taxi! Our host of our Airbnb was so incredibly kind and hospitable. She called our taxis every time we needed one when we were at our Airbnb. However, when you’re at the beach, they are everywhere so they are super accessible. Trevor and I also noticed how trustworthy the taxi drivers were. None of them tried to scam us for more money… the cost was relatively the same every time depending on the distance. And a most of them were actually super nice, friendly and talkative (in a good way).
Shuttle: We used USA transfers to drive us to and from the airport. This was $150 for a round trip shuttle. We could not have been more impressed by this company and their employees. Truly. We got lost on our way to the Airbnb and instead of just dropping us off and leaving at the address we told them, they made sure that were safe and found our Airbnb before leaving. They also take a photo of the building so that the driver that picks us up to take us to the airport knows exactly where to go. They also offered beers and waters when they picked us up from the airport and then coffee and water the morning, they took us to the airport. The drivers all spoke really good English and were super friendly!
There are sooo many restaurants to choose from! I thankfully did my research ahead of time from other Tulum blog posts and had so much help from my friends on narrowing it down! I truly don’t think you could go wrong though… we didn’t even get to all of the ones we had written down!
- La Pebeta: An Argentinian café down the block from our Airbnb. It has outdoor seating for great people watching. This café is located in the city.
- The Real Coconut: Our favorite healthy spot. We went here 4 times during our vacation. If you’re a health nut like myself, you will get a kick out of this menu. This restaurant is located on the beach of the Sanara hotel. 10/10 recommend. They even had a live violinist playing in the restaurant on Saturday during our last brunch.
- Farm to Table: This restaurant is located in the city. It was Trevor’s favorite breakfast spot because they offered a traditional Mexican breakfast made with local ingredients (hence ‘farm to table’). They have egg plates, frittatas, smoothie bowls, avocado toast, French toast, etc. It’s a great place to eat if you’re dying for some substance!
- Raw Love: A little vegan café! They have two restaurants – one located in the city and another on the beach side. We liked to stop here for a quick bite, nothing fancy! Trevor got a massive vegan zucchini alfredo pasta and was actually full afterwards.
- Coco Tulum: Cutest Instagram spot for a “swings on the beach” pic. They had the cheapest minimum for day beds. Great margs and amazing chips + guac!
- Coco Limited: We like this spot because it wasn’t busy! Especially on the weekend. Plus, the servers were so incredibly nice. We paid the $35/person minimum (spent on drinks and food) to use one of their beach set ups for the day. TIP: The quesadillas are amazing!
- Kanan: Great beach club! You can rent a “nest” or day beds here! It looks like this place can get rowdy! So if you’re down to day party – go here! We loved it. TIP: get the steak tacos!
- Gitano: Great place for drinks! Located on the beach side. Pretty pricey for what you get.
- Canova: Best Italian food literally ever. Located in the city right next to where we stayed… literally a 30 second walk. We ordered their burrata pizza 4 TIMES during our stay.
- Kin Toh: Best restaurant we have ever been to. The architecture of this place will blow your mind. You have to get an Instagram pic at the “nests”. If they aren’t busy, ask the waiter and he/she will let you take photos up there. The food was unbelievable and the service could not have been better. We had our anniversary dinner here and we will never, ever forget it. Out of all of my recommendations from my blog, please listen to this one. You have to go here when visiting Tulum. It is expensive, but you will not regret it.
- La Popular: The most romantic restaurant. If you don’t like seafood (like myself), they will give you the menu from their restaurant inside the hotel. There’s twinkle lights hanging from tree to tree, with a view of the ocean. This cute restaurant is located on the sand with different styles of seating. You can choose regular table seating, to swinging chairs to sitting on pillows. We absolutely loved this spot.
- Arca: Most creative menu. If you’re a foodie, you would die for this place. They definitely had the best food in Tulum which is saying a lot because I absolutely LOVED the food in Tulum! A chef comes out and explains what you’re about to eat for every dish.
- Rosa Negra: We didn’t get to go to this hot spot. From what I’ve heard, it is the newest bougiest restaurant. Apparently the entire restaurant was handing out sparklers at some point!
- Hartwood: We weren’t able to check this place out either, but I’ve heard you definitely want a reservation! This is the most famous restaurant in Tulum. A lot of people said the food was insane.
Even though I didn’t stay in a hotel this trip, I definitely will my next trip…When I’m older and have more money! Lol. One of our favorite things to do while in Tulum, was walk through all of the hotels and admire all of the thought that went into the design, décor and architecture. Every hotel was just absolutely beautiful and unique. We didn’t get to see the inside of the rooms, but the outside was just simply, breathtaking. Here are a few hotel recommendations from my friends that have stayed in Tulum, and from what I loved roaming around.
- Sanara: The aesthetic of this hotel is a dream. The whites, neutral and earthy tones just instantly make you feel refreshed. Trevor and I spent a lot of time here. We took their yoga class located in a glass door studio with an ocean breeze and view of the beach. I would absolutely love to stay here. This is also where The Real Coconut healthy restaurant was located. It definitely felt like you were at a 5 star retreat.
- Nômade: One word: Insane. This place was a dream. While we were on the property, Trevor and I couldn’t stop planning our future honeymoon here. We were so in love. They also have newly built treehouses that are just so impressive.
- Azulik: We unfortunately didn’t get to check this place out as they were very strict and only let hotel guests on their property. However, we did go to their restaurant Kin Toh and could not have been more impressed by the design and architecture. We can only imagine what the inside of their hotel looks like! The photos online of this place look out of this world.
- Hotel Ahau: Most centrally located on the strip. They allow beach access, have the Tulum Jungle Gym, Raw Love, and a great beach bar. I found this hotel to be very hippity dippity so if you’re into meditation, yoga and vibing hard, I think you would like this hotel. This is one of the cheaper options on the strip as well!
We went to the most popular and well-known spa in Tulum called Yann Wellness. We booked this appointment a month in advance to our vacation as I had heard they tend to sell out. This was the most beautiful and impressive spas I had ever been to. It was worth every penny. We checked in an hour before our Swedish massages. The spa has the prep to your massage down to a science. They directed us to first take a cleansing shower before we started our journey to the healing waters. Then, the employees gave us a glass of water to keep hydrated during our service. After hydrating, we were handed coconut/coffee scrub to take in with us while we steamed for 10 minutes. Once steamed, they had go into a cold shower for 10 seconds, and then sauna for another 10 minutes. After this, we were shown a cold pool and then finished with a warm jacuzzi. We were so relaxed and ready for our 1 hour Swedish massages by the time our masseuses came to pick us up! The massage was incredible. They help you practice deep breathing through the entire duration and wake you up with a soothing sound bowl. It was quite an experience.
Here are a few things I think would be helpful to know before traveling to Tulum.
- You can’t flush the toilet paper. I definitely wish I knew this… lol. Tulum does not have the proper septic system so to avoid polluting the environment, you cannot flush your toilet paper. Things can get a little stinky I will say that. We noticed the drains of bathrooms had a stench. Our Airbnb being one of them unfortunately.
- Bring bug spray!
- Always ask for bottled or filtered water. Make sure your drinks are made out of filtered ice. The beach side is pretty good at this as they deal with tourists, but the city is a different story.
- If you need to pull pesos out, use the ATMs in the city. They are a lot cheaper than the ones on the beach strip. We used CI Banco in the city as we found it to be the most inexpensive.
- Everything in the city is cheaper.
- Use google maps app to navigate around. It continues to follow your location even when your off of your service/wifi.
- The city and the beach strip are about a 20 minute drive away from each other.
- Seafood: I don’t like it so I was totally fine without eating it. However, Trevor LOVES seafood. It is available at every restaurant. It seems like it is a staple in Tulum. After doing a lot of research, it looked like almost everyone who ate seafood in Tulum, got food poisoning. So Trevor avoided it all together! We’d rather be safe than sorry.
Here is our itinerary if you were curious on what our days looked like!
Sunday: Fly in, take shuttle to Tulum (about hour and a half drive), check in to Airbnb, grab dinner at Canova
Monday: Sleep in until 10AM, rent bikes for the week, get ready, ride bikes to Farm to Table for brunch, then bike to the COCO Tulum beach club for drinks and snacks. Ride bikes back home, get ready and taxi to Gitanos.
Tuesday: Wake up at 8:30AM, Taxi to Sanara hotel for 10AM vinyasa yoga, and grab brunch at The Real Coconut Kitchen. Walk to Casa Malca, grab drinks and relax on beach beds, take photos at the hanging couch. Taxi home, relax by the pool and read. Then, get ready for dinner. Taxi to Kin Toh for 6PM dinner reservation.
Wednesday: Sleep in until 10AM, bike to Raw Love for breakfast. Bike to Airbnb and enjoy full pool day. Get ready for dinner and sunset at the beach. Grab taxi at 6PM and head to the Nomade Hotel. Enjoy sunset and anniversary dinner at La Popular.
Thursday: Wake up at 8AM and ride bikes to Yaan Wellness Spa for 9:45AM appointment. Enjoy 1 hour at the healing sanctuary prior our 1 hour massage. After spa, walk to the Real Coconut for lunch, then walk around beach and eventually land at Kanan beach beds for drinks and snacks. Taxi home with pizza from Canova. Pizza, and game night at home!
Friday: Eat breakfast at La Pebeta. Taxi to Mayan Ruins (we regretted not biking), then taxi to Ahau for acai bowls at Raw Love and workout at Tulum Jungle Gym. Taxi to the house and get ready for dinner at Arca.
Saturday: Bike to breakfast at the Real Coconut Kitchen, do Swirl Boutique Instagram takeover, walk along beach and find a beach club. We went to COCO Limited. Then bike home and enjoy night in.
Sunday: Bike to Farm to Table for breakfast, then bike to the Grand Cenote, after bike to Raw Love for smoothies and relax & rest at the pool in our Airbnb.
Monday: Wake up at 4:45AM and head to the airport.
I hope you enjoyed this blog post! Let me know in the comments below if you have been to Tulum or are planning a trip! I would love to hear your thoughts!
P.S. Check out how I prep my body for vacation here. xx