I visited Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico more than 30 times in the past 10 years and Tulum is without a doubt my favourite spot! Tulum feels ‘untouched’ in some ways, there aren’t any of the trade mark all-inclusive resorts you associate with typical tourist hot spots. The authenticity makes everything more enjoyable. Instead, there are dozens of small, beautifully decorated, cute, hippie style restaurants and bars, and the icing on the cake- the surrounding nature is well preserved and stunning. And if that along isn’t reason enough to visit Tulum, the best hippie town in Mexico, check out my top tips for all the best spots.
+ Iconic Food
There are so many great restaurants that you would need at least two weeks to try them all. I never had more than three days, and I always found the best recommendations from the locals. Each time I discovered a new hidden gem and you are lucky because today I share my favourites with you!
The Kitchen Table, Carretera Tulum – Boca paila, km 1.5
The Kitchen Table, or better known by the locals as the jungle kitchen is situated in Tulum’s National Park. When you’re inside it feels like you’re actually eating in the heart of the jungle. Everything here is made of wood. The open kitchen has a grill and the chef prepares only a few dishes. While there isn’t a massive choice, the most important thing to note is that the dishes that ARE on the menu are simply delicious. As a huge avocado/guacamole lover I had to order the avocado mixed with aioli. No words can describe the outstanding taste of this starter. Also try one of the cocktails with Mescal (famous Mexican drink), enjoy!
Las Estrellas, Carreta Tulum – Boca Paila, km 6.5
Ok, here goes miss guacamole again! For amazing guacamole right on the beach this is the place to be. Each batch of guacamole is freshly made to order, so the wait can be a little longer (and I can vouch for the fact it is worth the wait) . The lunch menu exists of traditional Mexican dishes like Ceviche and Fajitas. I would recommend to go Las Estrellas during the day so you can enjoy the beautiful view of the tropical garden combined with the white sand beach.
La Zebra, Carreta Tulum – Boca Paila, km 8.2
Great authentic Mexican food, your feet in the sand and views over the blue ocean, what else can you wish for? La Zebra is open all day for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The lunch menu offers five types of Ceviche, even a vegetarian one. If you’re looking for something special, they also offer a chef’s table with a 8, 10 or 12 course tasting menu.
+ Iconic Drink
Basically every beach bar/restaurant is good for a drink but there is one special place you should visit.
Mateo’s, Carreta Tulum – Boca Paila, km 5.2
Tulum has one main road. At one side you will find the beach at the other side the jungle! Mateo’s is a restaurant at the jungle side, and it offers the best spot to have a drink while enjoying the stunning sunset. Mateo’s has a rooftop where you can see where the sun drops into the jungle. Be there between 5 and 7 PM, order a cocktail and enjoy the magnificent view.
+ Iconic trips
There is plenty to discover in and around Tulum. Rent a car and go on your own adventure.
Mayan Ruins of Tulum, Carretera Tulum – Boca Paila, km 7
I love this place because it’s the only Maya City built on the coast. The view is spectacular! The downside is that allot of tourists from Cancun and Playa del Carmen visit this spot for a day. To avoid the crowd go between 8 and 9 AM. Also the sun is less strong and you can take a dip in the sea before it gets too crowded. Top tip – from Tulum you can even bike here. Next to the Tulum Ruins ( a 15 minute walk) is Santa Fe Beach Club, a great place to cool down with a drink (and of course some guacamole) while enjoying the white sandy beach with the cliffs as your scenic backdrop.
Mayan Ruins of Coba, Carretera Federal 307
From beach to jungle. The Mayan City of Coba was built in the jungle around two lakes. The site is not so touristy and you can still climb the 130 steps up to Nohoch Mul Pyramid which is 42 meters tall. At the top you have a magnificent view over the jungle. This site is 30 minutes from Tulum and definitely worth the drive.
Feeling overheated after exploring the Maya Ruins in the burning sun? Go to a Cenote! Cenotes are caves where you can swim, snorkel or dive. To put it briefly, they’re amazing. The water is cold and fresh, you can swim with turtles, the water is clear blue and going into a dark cave is just exciting! I went last time to Grand Cenote and Casa Cenote. Grand Cenote is half open so the sun lights up the water, it’s extremely beautiful (and there are turtles here). Casa Cenote is between mangrove trees and very close to the sea. There are many fishes which makes this place great for snorkelling or diving. Go early and you will have this paradise to yourself. If you have time go out and explore more Cenotes, truly they all have something magical.
Xpu-Ha is just stunning. There are a few beach clubs but if you keep on walking passed them you’ll find your own private beach. This is what paradise looks like. The white sand, blue water and the tranquillity is what made me fall in love with the place. Not to mention the great ability for water sports such as paddle boarding, windsurfing, snorkelling and diving.
+ Iconic stay
Whether you are on a budget or not there are beautiful hotels for everyone.
Villas Geminis Boutique Condo Hotel, Calle Geminis Sur con Andromeda Oriente
When you enter Villas Geminis you feel the warm atmosphere. The Lush garden with bright flowers and hammocks are a dream. The pool is just another great thing at Villas Geminis, small but perfect to cool down. Around the garden you will find the rooms and apartments. The rooms/apartments are nicely decorated, each has an own theme. This place is fairly priced and what I loved as being a Dutchie, they offer free bikes! The beach is only a 15 minute cycle away.
Azulik Hotel & Maya Spa, Carretera Tulum Ruinas, km 5
This private nature retreat is truly amazing. Forget about this place if you’re on a budget but if you’re looking for a romantic getaway, this is the place to be! I don’t think there are many places that beat the beauty and romance of Azulik Hotel. This is an eco resort and that means no tv, phone, electricity and so on. What will you do without internet? Well, enjoy each other and the stunning nature. At night there are candles everywhere, so romantic! All the tree houses are made of wood and offer jungle/partly ocean views or 180 degrees ocean views. Every tree house has a huge bed, indoor bath and an outside deck. The oceanfront houses have an outdoor bath as well. Feeling like complete freedom? You are allowed in your Adam and Eve costume at the private beach, enjoy!
A word of advice: for food, drink and activities bring cash as most places don’t accept cards.