Tulum has been on my travel bucket list for the past year, so when the trip was finalized, I was practically jumping out of my skin with excitement. I visited Cancun about 3 years back, and as much as I enjoyed it, I had no plans of making a trip back there, primarily because I found that all it really had to offer was the all-inclusive experience. Tulum, however, is a completely different ball game. There is no shortage of things to do and there’s truly something for everyone. From the Mayan ruins, to the Cenotes, to every single Instagrammable restaurant I visited, Tulum truly holds a special place in my heart. I put together a travel diary for those of you who decide to visit, which I highly recommend you do!
How to get there: Tulum is about an hour and a half away from Cancun. You can get there using either a private car or shuttle service, but be sure to book in advance to avoid any confusion once you get there. My hotel organized a car for me, which cost about $190 for a round trip.
Where to stay: Tulum isn’t the place for you if you’re looking for an all-inclusive experience. Most hotels are small, secluded and have an eco-feel to them. I stayed at Mi Amor Hotel which I cannot recommend enough. It’s located about 5 minutes away from the main hotel strip, with a stunning view of the ocean. Although you can’t go into the ocean on account of the hotel being located on top of rocks, the beach is a 2 minute walk away. The staff are extremely warm and helpful, arranging everything from transportation to snorkelling equipment for me to borrow.
Where to go: There are an endless amount of places to explore in Tulum. Since I was only around for 3 three nights, I barely touched the tip of the ice berg and would happily go back in a heart beat.
Cenotes are arguably the best part of Tulum. I visited two while I was there, the first being Cenote Dos Ojos which was an otherworldly experience. It’s a natural freshwater body located within a cave where you’ll find bats and fish, and the water is quite literally clearer than that in a swimming pool. This was a particularly memorable experience for me as I faced my fear of water in order to explore it. The Cenote is actually quite deep, so you can even dive there if you’d like to, although I was pretty sure my heart would stop beating if I even tried. Next to Cenote Dos Ojos is Cenote Nicte-Ha which is an open waterbody. Nicte-Ha has a bit of a whimsical feeling to it on account of the leaves and lily pads floating about.
You cannot leave Tulum without exploring the Mayan Ruins of Tulum. They are located on the beach and take about an hour and a half to walk through. I personally didn’t get a tour guide, choosing instead to read through while I walked around. Be sure to arrive early as it becomes jam-packed with tourists as the day progresses. The ruins open at 9, and although I arrived at 10 it was still a tad too crowded for me.
Where to eat: The food was quite possibly my favourite aspect of Tulum. On my first night, I dined at Unico, which had excellent ratings and was conveniently located within my hotel. The food was absolutely delicious, I highly recommend the Wild Snook.
On my second afternoon, I ate at Posada Margherita, an shabby-chic Italian joint located right on the beach. With the food, you can hardly go wrong with everything – it’s all prepared fresh and bursting with flavour. I tried two of the pasta dishes, both of which were delicious. Afterwards, I visited the beach right outside, and out of all the beaches I visited, this was the cleanest one in Tulum.
The most memorable dining experience I had, however, was at Gitano, a Mezcal Bar and restaurant. The interior has a rustic feel to it, with wooden tables and boho-chic tapestry. Gitano is located in the jungle side of Tulum, and at night, the whole restaurant is lit up with fairy lights and chandeliers within the trees, giving it a dreamlike quality. I went on a Friday night, which I think is the best night to go. There was a live band unlike anything I’ve ever heard – the manager, Seth (who is truly wonderful) described it as Indian Jazz on account of the sitar player. At 10pm, there was a DJ who played the most incredible music which was sort of a transition between the soothing live band and a harder DJ who comes on later at night. Now regarding the food, I ordered the ceviche, and three types of tacos (beef brisket, fish, and shrimp), all of which blew me away. The beef brisket one in particular was unforgettable. The drinks here are also to die for – it will put anything you’ve had in the past to shame. I ended my meal with guava cheesecake, something I never thought I would enjoy, but could have happily gone to eat seconds of.
On my last night, I visited Safari for dinner, which was recommended to me by the manager of Gitano. Now if you’re after a super luxe experience, Safari isn’t for you. It’s a very basic restaurant, completely bare bones – the operations are conducted out of a food truck, but my goodness the food is to die for. The Shrimp A Mole Verde tacos were the best I’ve had in my life, and the rice and beans gave a new meaning to the dish. The owner, Luis, has been in the food industry forever, having worked everywhere from New York to Australia, so he really knows what he’s doing.