Tulum Mexico – a hidden gem of a spot just south of Cancun full of fresh water Cenotes bursting with life, yoga retreats and more juice bars than one person could ever dream off.
Last summer I was shown this spot by a friend and although Mexico was never high on my list of places to go the second I looked into it I was hooked. Transfixed by such a beautiful and peaceful place a few months later my direct 10-hour flight from Gatwick to Cancun was booked off I went.
What currency do I need? Tulum uses a combination of Mexican pesos and American Dollars. I highly suggest brining as much cash as possible with you as withdrawing it from ATM’s can by very expensive and most places don’t accept card. I found that many restaurants were happy to accept a combination of the currency or just American Express credit cards.
How do I get to Tulum when I land? When arriving in Cancun private taxis from the airport to your hotel are around £130 and take around an hour and a half – I advise pre-booking these online to avoid getting charged more at the airport. For a cheaper option there are coaches that stop of in Playa Del Carmen on the way to Tulum town, however cheaper these take longer and only drop you off in Tulum town where you then have to make your own way to you specific accommodation.
Where should I stay? We stayed in Alulik which I’d read a mix of reviews for; some boasted how beautiful and peaceful the rustic feel was while others couldn’t express enough that it was a building site with no privacy. However I was transfixed by the Instagram photos so thought it was worth a shot and can confirm the only way to truly describe this place is magical. Situated along the Tulum coast this unique hotel is a series of eco luxury tree top huts perched in the jungle above the ocean. The place is lit completely by candles light with nothing but the sounds of crashing waves of the ocean and the breeze whispering through the trees to disturb you. The whole place is built from recycled and sustainable materials with all food and drinks freshly prepared from organic and locally sourced suppliers.
The place is constructed by a series of paths twisting through the treetops of the jungle and up to the huts. Our room had an outdoor and indoor bath and bed and with clothing optional throughout the grounds and beach there’s not a better way to feel close to nature. Although I wouldn’t say this place is for everyone I found the rustic life of bathing in salt-water everyday, sleeping under the stars and being a stones through away from a private beach beyond perfection. Don’t book this place if your looking for a contemporary resort style place, this is great if you want to escape, get off your phone and just relax. There are however a range of boutique and rustic places to stay along this coast for different needs and price points.
How do I get around when I’m there? The easiest and best way to get around is by bike. These are available to rent from Azulik per day or bike shops are littered down the coast so you can pick them up whenever and wherever you need one. Although the road that stretches down the coast is used by cars there are few and almost everyone’s cycles or uses a motorbike. Taxi companies are also available and these can all be booked through your hotel if you need one for a longer journey.
What are the best places to eat? One thing is for sure you will never run out of food options in Tulum. Forget all the horrific stories of people getting ill from Mexican food I don’t have a bad word to say about anything I ate when out there honestly one of my favourite things about the place. Although the menus tend to be small this is because the ingredients are always fresh and cooked to order and almost everywhere is set back outside in the jungle.
Hartwood – Very hard to get a table but so so worth it! One of the more expensive options (image 11) but with a great selections of cocktails, fresh fish and vegetarian options all cooked outside on an open fire. The menu is forever changing and is explained in detail to you by of the waiters. Like most places in Tulum when dusk comes candles are lit creating a romantic ambiance between the trees of jungle – you have to try the sweetcorn and cheese ice-cream trust me on this one!
Kitchen Table – The restaurant with the smallest menu but some seriously great flavours. This restaurant is slightly hidden and is only open in the evenings on the way to the Tulum Ruins. It specialises in beef, pork and seafood cooked on a log fire with some seriously spicy cocktails.
Arca – A beautiful outside restaurant that serves great cocktails late into the starry night from a mosaic-coved bar. A great choice for dinner and offers a small selection of seafood, meats and deserts. The decor is gorgeous with a casual and relaxed vibe.
Zamas – Perfect lunch spot situated directly on the beach with its shabby chic brightly painted wooden chairs. The food is great mix of authentic Mexican and pretty cost effective so we went there twice. I recommend the fish tacos I promise you cant go wrong.
What’s there to do? This was something I was worried about when planning this trip. As someone who always has to be doing something I feared Mexico would just be a lounging around on a beach type place, yes the beaches are very beautiful however I love a bit of culture. The Mayan Ruins of Tulum are a must and these are normally accessible on a coach trip if you are staying slightly further away or just cycle straight in if you’re staying near. I recommend going as early as possible to avoid the big coach trips and also to pack a bikini. There’s a gorgeous beach there that you can just drive in to cool yourself down and then dry off in the sun.
Cenotes are probably what really made Tulum super special to be. Their caves and crevasses full of fresh water that are safe to swim in. The Grand Cenote is one of the most popular ones (Image 14) and is a cave full of bats that fill the tops of the caves and turtles that swim along beside you in the water. Casa Cenote is one that’s most beautiful from below in its gleaming clear water. Fish swim between the roots on either side of you its one that’s beauty can truly only be caught if you have an underwater camera. Cenote Nicte-Ha is not as deep as the other two but amazing from above. Its full of Lily pads and if you’re lucky enough the flowers will be in bloom. All the cenotes have snorkel gear and lockers you can rent there and I recommend going as early as possible as people tend to turn up around lunchtime. They are truly magical and I’ve never seen anything else like this anywhere else in the world.
My last few notes would be to pack sun cream and mosquito spray, no one looks good burnt. Don’t bring to many clothes just some flip flops, bikinis and beach cover ups is all you need no one dresses up and the natural glow the sun gives you is the only makeup you’ll need. Tulum is a beautiful top to completely disconnect in its gorgeous and safe surroundings.