Cory & I went to Tulum for our honeymoon last week and couldn't be more obsessed. We both love Mexican food and the beach (I mean, we got married on the beach - read more about that here) so you can imagine how excited we were to check out Tulum. On the plane we started to second guess that we'd built up our expectations too much but you guys, it somehow exceeded our high expectations! I can't wait to go back and am already planning our trip back. If you're looking for your next beach vacation destination. Tulum is it. Ok, so let's get to the travel guide.
Where to stay:
- Encantada - This hotel is directly on the beach with only 8 rooms. It has such an intimate feel. The hotel employees know you by name and start to remember your breakfast order and where you went for dinner last night. It's adorable. They felt like family by the end of our stay and we will definitely return here. The breakfast is included in the room rate & is DELICIOUS. Ask Carlos to make you a Tulum smoothie, it's the best way to start your day. And pink mints by the beach (rosemary, watermelon & tequila)! Ugh I want both of these now.
- Casa Malca - Previously Pablo Escobar's mansion and now a hotel with 35 rooms directly on the beach. This is on the south end of the strip (Boca Paila). The hotel is beautiful and so unique and the service is impeccable. The concierge knew our names from the minute we checked in (Hey Jorge & Daniel!) and were ready to assist however they could to make our stay in Tulum perfect. We split our time between here and Encantada because neither hotel was available for our full stay and we loved getting to experience two hotels.
- Be Tulum - Luxurious and a little pricier than other options but gorgeous with a beautiful pool and fun rooms. Def a spot to do lunch if you don't stay here.
- Ahau Tulum - Super cute hotel right on the beach with a delicious juice bar.
- La Zebra - Lively boutique hotel on the beach with a great restaurant and beach scene.
Where to Eat & Drink:
- Arca - Mexican seafood restaurant outside. The best fish we've ever had. Book your reservation in advance by emailing them. They say they're cash only but we were able to pay with a credit card. And order a mezcal cocktail!
- Hartwood - Sceney farm to table Mexican seafood restaurant. Another one that you have to book 30 days in advance. Their reservations open the previous month for the following month (i.e.: June 1 reservations open for the month of July). We unfortunately didn't get to go here as none of it is under cover so our reservation got rained out but next time we definitely will! This place is cash only.
- Casa Jaguar - A great scene for drinks and dinner. We booked a table late on a Thursday night and then hung around after for their weekly Jungle party (every Thursday night). We had & would recommend the pork belly tacos and the whole fish. I'd also suggest making a reservation by emailing them.
- Chamicos - Stop here on your drive from Cancun or when you do the cenotes as it's about 40 minutes north from Boca Paila (the main strip on Tulum Beach). It's all outside on the beach so go on a sunny day and wear your bikini. Order the ceviche & a margarita and hang out in the hammocks afterwards. There's an imposter in town so make sure you go to the right location. It's on an unnamed road and on the beach! Google maps first took us to the imposter.
- Gitano - Didn't have dinner here but the coolest most instagrammable restaurant for after-dinner drinks. They're known for their mezcal cocktails. You can also make a reservation on OpenTable.
- Antojitos la Chiapaneca - A taco stand in town and they don't speak English so break out your best Spanish. Get anything and everything. The best tacos I've ever had. We had 7 different things and it was $2 at the end. They're open until midnight so it's a good after dinner option too if you just can't peel yourself off the beach. Go crazy!
- Nomade Tulum - Sit outside on the beach for lunch. I recommend the ceviche and a spicy margarita.
- Be Tulum - Didn't get to eat here but super cute hotel worth checking out. Stop by for lunch if you have time.
- Nu - MUST GO. A new restaurant that opened this year across the street from Encantada. Once the word gets out this will be a place that you'll have to book far in advance like Arca and Hartwood. The chef here also is the chef at Encantada during the day. We had life changing grouper carpaccio here. Also the beans & rice are delicious as an appetizer. And the corn dessert! I don't remember what it's called but it's corn ice cream and a corn cake of some sort. I dream of it every night.
What to do:
- Ride bikes - Most hotels offer bikes to borrow included in your rate. There is a main strip with all the hotels and restaurants and biking is the best easiest way to get around. It was also super fun to just ride up and down the street throughout the day and pop into shops or bars for drinks and snacks.
- Cenotes - Cenotes are natural sinkholes and absolutely gorgeous. It's such a cool thing to check out! Wear your bikini for swimming. We did Cenote Calaveras it's $5 per person. It's small and beautiful and wasn't very crowded when we went. Also heard Sac Actun and Gran Cenote are great! They're bigger and about $35 each. This was a great rainy day activity since you're already planning to swim anyway.
- Tulum Ruins - Go first thing in the morning (opens at 8a) before it gets busy and you can head to the Cenotes from here. I don't remember how much it cost to enter but it was less than $10. It was beautiful but it started pouring while we were here so we ran through it very quickly.
- Yoga - Tulum is known for yoga. Most hotels offer classes daily including: Sanara, Be Tulum and Casa Malca.
- Beach - Spend the day(s) at the beach. This is why you're really in Tulum. Beach days! The beach is beautiful. There is a lot of seaweed but the hotels do a good job at clearing it daily. A few of our favorite beach clubs were: Coco Tulum (do it for the insta), Ahau Tulum and La Zebra. We also loved spending the day at the beach at Encantada (super small and not much to attract you here unless you're a guest) and Casa Malca (the service is impeccable - an attendant offered to clean my sunglasses!) but not sure if Casa Malca allows non-hotel guests.
- Get pesos before you go - lots of places are cash only and the ATMs there have had trouble with skimming. Plus the exchange rate will be better from your bank. All the hotels take credit card but lots of restaurants are cash only.
- Read everything about your hotel before you book. Tulum is very eco-friendly so some don't have AC or only have AC available at certain times of day. Some don't have showers. Some have shared bathrooms. Just do your research so you get what you want and aren't surprised if you show up and have a shared bathroom.
- Rent a car - Tulum is about 2 hours from Cancun. You can book a car for $100ish each way but we were able to rent a car for our whole trip for $55 for 6 days including gas! And it was great to have to drive into town for tacos or drive to the cenotes. The rental car place will try to sell you insurance (that's where they make their money) but you can refuse it. We rented from Hertz and I'd recommend doing the same. Book your car with your credit card that includes insurance (we used our Amex but I know Chase Sapphire and other major travel cards offer it also).
- Wear sunscreen - Cory and I are from Florida so we're familiar with some serious sun but Mexico is another level. If you're outside, just wear sunscreen. Gross but real talk - Cory's whole body is currently molting from a sunburn he got in 2 hours on our first beach day. I love SunBum, it's lightweight, not greasy & smells like bananas!
- Drink the tequila, the mezcal, eat the local fish and produce - The food here is incredible. It's all so fresh and everything we had was amazing. Try new things! If you don't usually drink Mezcal, try it. You're in Mexico!
Tulum is one of our favorite places in the whole world now and my absolute favorite beach town. We will certainly make it an annual trip for years to come and hope to get it in twice this year by returning for our first anniversary this November. Any great Tulum spots I missed!? Let me know in the comments! We definitely want to spend some more time in town next trip.