Exactly two Cinco de Mayo’s ago, we were celebrating HT and AB’s nuptials in paradise. Not only were we super excited to witness the first “Scholars” wedding (HT, MW, VUL and I were Presidential Honors Scholars at NYU), but the couple could not have chosen a more magical place for the festivities – TULUM, Mexico.
Although it’s become a popular destination for industry types, fashionistas and yogis, the vibe remains laid back and unostentatious, and the idyllic beaches are perfect for any sun seeker. Luxury and earthiness seamlessly coexist in Tulum. Do not allow the two hour drive from Cancun or the sporadic electricity and the attendant limitations (lack of A-C, readily accessible internet, hair tools, etc. etc.) deter you from this hippie-eco-yoga oasis.
I’ve longed to return every time it snowed or rained during this last miserable NYC winter, daydreaming of vivid crystal blue and green waters, soft white sand, balmy breezes, dramatic vistas, yoga classes, morning meditation, fresh ceviches, tequila, mezcal and TEQUILA… So, as I contemplate my next trip to this enchanting sliver of Mexican coastline, here’s MY Guide to Tulum:
- Ahau Tulum: What can I say about Ahau other than this place is special. With an all-day lineup of yoga classes, fantastic restaurant on-site and amazing little private cottages located along the white-sand beach, stay here if you want a true boho Tulum experience with a few additional amenities. For us NYC nightlife lovers, the hotel is owned by David Graziano, yes, the guy behind Pink Elephant, RDV and Kiss & Fly.
- Be Tulum: HT and AB had their beautiful wedding ceremony and reception at this gorgeous all-suite hotel. For more luxurious and contemporary adult-only accommodations, stay here.
- Amansala: If you’re looking for the luxuries of a true resort and spa with fitness focus, stay here.
- Las Ranitas Boutique Eco Boutique Hotel: Currently undergoing renovation for 2015, this is one of Tulum’s most popular places to stay, and it’s no surprise why – high end, but without any loss of eco-charm.
- Other Options: Ana y Jose Charming Hotel and Spa, Zamas, Hip Hotel Tulum.
- Explore the Ancient Tulum Ruins: Any trip to the area should include a visit to the Mayan Ruins. Majestically presiding over the mesmerizing coastline, you will be floored by the views. Go early or late to avoid the crowds (we did and were able to explore freely) and don’t forget your swimsuit. There is a small but gorgeous public beach at the foot of the ruins. Right outside of the ruins is the cutest bar with swing chairs (stop and have a beer or margarita, you will have earned a cold refreshment) and shops with local handicrafts, tapestries and goodies (don’t forget to bargain).
- Visit the El Gran Cenote: Only 20 minutes from the main strip of hotels, you can snorkel or arrange for a dive in these crystal clear underground caverns.
- Paddleboard: Book a paddleboard and snorkeling tour with Mexican Caribbean Kitesurf (located inside Ahau Tulum). Mauricio and Rocio who own and run the company are fantastic. Our tour included a private SUP paddleboard lesson, tour of the of El Gran Cenote by paddleboard, visit and swim to Kaan Luum Lagoon, swim and snorkel in the mangroves, and an awesome lunch at a local bbq spot.
- Rent a Bike: Rent a bike and ride down the main strip to visit quaint shops all along the way. You can also ride your bike to the Tulum Ruins.
- Visit Tulum Pueblo: Take a 10 minute cab ride into town and get some local eats and pick up some souvenirs (including the most incredible beach wraps and hand woven hammocks).
- Yoga: Just about anywhere at anytime.
- Other Options: Coba Ruins (a bigger time investment than the Tulum Ruins and further from the main strip, but impressive).
- El Asadero: Just off the main road, the tacos and steaks are delicious.
- Posada Margherita: European style Italian food with delicious handmade pastas.
- Antojitos:The best tacos, located in town.
- Hartwood: New Yorkers in Tulum, this is one of the most popular and trendy spots for local fare, but the wait can be long.
- Pollo Bronco: The most delectable roasted chicken, located in town.
- Mateo’s Mexican Grill: Great tacos and cool vibe.
- El Tabano:Traditional Yucatecan food.
- Mezzanine: DJ, drums, chair/table dancing, you can envision the vibe.
- Gitano: Mezcal bar with a dance floor. Oh yea.
- La Zebra: Go for a salsa lesson, people watch or fake your best moves. No one’s judging.
Other Travel Tips:
- Payment: Most places accept USD and pesos (local currency), and signs will show pricing in both currencies. But, for the best deals and to avoid any upcharges to cover the conversion, consider exchanging your currency at CUN airport. Credit cards can be more difficult due to the lack of consistent internet connection. In cases of emergency, there are also a few ATMs scattered about the strip at some of the larger hotels and at certain delis, but beware of foreign transaction fees.
- Travel to Tulum: Fly into CUN. You can prearrange a shuttle to Tulum or take a cab from the airport. The prearranged is a bit more cost effective, especially if you are traveling in a group.
Happy Anniversary HT and AB.
Love – MY.
Scenes from Tulum.