Imagine waking up in the morning and it’s 70 degrees then lounging on the beach in the afternoon and it’s 85 degrees…in February. WELCOME TO TULUM, MEXICO! Tulum (pronounced Tuh-loom, not TULL-um which is what the Southerner in me kept saying #Faceplant) has become a hotbed for millennials and A-list celebrities. Leonardo DiCaprio, Justin Bieber, Richard Gere, Reese Witherspoon and Kourtney Kardashian recently vacationed on the white sand beaches in the Mexican Riviera.
Tulum (rhymes with perfume) is located on the Caribbean coastline of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula adorned by the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea. My flight from Los Angeles was around 4 hours into Cancun, then about a hour drive south to Tulum. Tulum started as a backpacker’s paradise and has recently morphed into an eco-chic hip getaway. There are endless Instagrammable sights which has helped to propel Tulum’s social media popularity, thus the abundance of millennial travelers.
After a few fun filled days in this paradise, here are my Six Things To Do In Tulum, Mexico:
1. CENOTES– Cenotes are natural limestone sinkholes filled with water. Sac Actun Cenotes is a popular stop in Tulum. It’s not filled with too many tourists but expect caves, bats, snorkeling, stalagmites and stalactites…OH MY! The beautiful crystal clear waters will amaze you. Wet suits are available to help with the frigid water. Visitors wear life vests because of all the tight spots and twist and turns of the caves. Riviera Adventours is great at organizing and providing a fantastic tour guide.
2. BEACH ROAD SOUTH– The beach strip runs the length of the Tulum beach and features an eclectic mix of yoga studios, food stalls, earth tone dresses, kaftans & bikinis for sale, eco-friendly hotels & vegan restaurants. It’s a zen zone with a boho feel. If you stay at a hotel along this strip be sure to clarify if your accommodations include WIFI, electricity, showers, and air conditioning because many of them do not (GASP!!!). Despite not having these modern day necessities (ummm…WIFI is a necessity, people!) millennials flock to these trendy eco-hip hotels often shelling out upwards 0f $800 per night (anyone wanna buy a ticket to the FYRE Festival???). It’s not my style, but it is a must-see to spend some time here. The architecture incorporates many earth elements as noted by popular social media stop, Azulik Resort, also known as the treehouse hotel. MatchaMama is another IG hotspot I made sure to visit. The little curbside hut was very cute with swings and bright colors but I was disappointed by the terrible service and overpriced smoothies.
3. TEMAZCAL (Temazcaltulum.com)-A temazcal ceremony is an ancient Mayan ritual said to be a healing and purification that cleanses the mind, body, and spirit. It also connects you with Mother Earth and leaves you free of negativity and full of energy. Skip the overpriced temazcal at a fancy hotel or spa and head to the jungle, with Temazcal Tulum. I enjoyed the 2 hour ceremony performed a Chamane, a priest knowledgeable of the Mayan culture. Make sure to wear a bathing suit & be prepared to sweat your ass off! You sit inside a solid igloo (sweat lodge) around burning lava rocks occasionally doused with holy water of herbs and blessings. I loved the pre-ritual of rubbing fresh aloe vera all over my body (helps to keep you cool). After sitting in the temazcal we lounged in a cenote to close our pores and cool off. The ceremony was capped off with fresh fruit and juice with the Chamane and his lovely family. If you visit here, be sure to take some school supplies to offer for the local village school started by donations generated from temazcal visitors. You will have an unforgettable experience.
4. SOLIMAN BAY– In contrast with the Beach Road strip, Soliman Bay is a semi-private gated community with mostly luxury home rentals. I stayed at Casa Yardena, a 10 bedroom 10 bath paradise just steps (26 to be exact…I counted) from the silky white beach and multi colored turquoise waters. The villa came complete with 2 personal chefs, full housekeeping staff, and concierge. Ya girl was living good!!! I enjoyed visiting the other properties of the Tulum Luxury Collection along Soliman Bay. They’re all breathtaking. The Bay is connected by a large strip of coral reef. This helps keep the waves at a minimum and a great way to enjoy snorkeling, kayaking, paddle boards, and paddle boat (all offered at Casa Yardena). My highlight was riding in a CLEAR kayak. This was a first for me and made the Bay navigation loads of fun. I enjoyed a beach stroll over to Chimico’s restaurant where I had fried fish and shrimp quesadillas (don’t forget your pesos!). I also had daily walks to Bob’s quick shop where you can get forgotten travel essentials and homemade helados (I am obsessed with the high quality ingredients and fresh fruit of these yummy popsicles). Across from the Soliman Bay strip is Oscar & Lalo’s, a popular restaurant known for authentic food, great service, jungle atmosphere, and a spider monkey. Since I like a chill, low-key vibe with easy beach access Soliman Bay was a no brainer. It’s PERFECT for kids and I can’t wait to go back with my boys.
5. COBA RUINS– The historic Coba Ruins are about 35 miles north of Tulum. They’re smack dab in the jungle and truly a sight to see. You should get there early (we got there at 9AM), start in the back to avoid crowds, and rent the bikes on hand (small fee in addition for Ruins fee) to move quickly between ruins. There are tricycle carriages pedaled by a driver available ideal for kids (and lazy people like me who don’t wanna ride a bike 🙂 ) If you’re a history buff (or nerd, like me) it’s worth it to hire a guide for background info, stories of Mayan ancestors & history of the Ruins. The highlight is being able to climb to the top of the Great Pyramid. There are over 120 steps so be sure to wear your walking shoes. The guide said it’s one of the highest structure in the Yucatan Peninsula. After the tour be sure to eat lunch at the local restaurant by the Ruins. The food is great & they also have clean bathrooms & FREE Wifi …HELLOOOOO!!! Lunch for our group of 6 was about $40 USD. Be sure to have PESOS!!
6. NIGHTLIFE– Although Tulum is a small town still developing there is no shortage of nightlife. We had a great time at Ki’bok, La Malquerida, and Santino Bar. It was a good mix of locals and tourists. These spots are along a popular strip that awakens at night with music, vendors, and casually dressed party-goers. No one is really pushy or bothers you although I was offered coca (cocaine) and Mary Jane a few times (I’m just here for the guacamole!!). The music was a mix of salsa, regaetton, and some pop hits (Despacito was a staple and Rihanna was quite popular).
-Credit cards won’t get you very far. Since Tulum is still developing, most places are cash only, and by cash I mean PESOS not USD. Bring your debit card or exchange money. Didn’t see many ATMs around except on Beach Road South, there were quite a few.
-Be careful with the water. Stick to bottled water for drinking. I also brushed my teeth with it and tried hard not to wash my hair ( I know, gross, but I was scared of breakage). Dirty beach hair or a bun is the way to go ladies.
-DO NOT FORGET BUG SPRAY. The only thing worse than bug bites are bug bites around your ankles and I have quite a few.
-The plumbing isn’t great in Tulum. It is requested that instead of flushing toilet paper down the John to discard it in a trash can. You’ve been warned. Close your eyes after you wipe.
-Internet and WIFI are sketchy which somewhat proved to be nice because it kind of forced me to disconnect. Make sure loved ones have another means of contact in the event of an emergency and need to get in touch.
I can’t rave any further about Tulum. The stunning beaches, endless food options, cultural attractions, and lack of oversized crowds contribute to the popularity of this budding hotspot. I had top notch treatment at Casa Yardena …can’t wait to do this again!!!!
Disclaimer: My stay was provided by Tulum Luxury Collection at Casa Yardena. Views expressed are my opinions and not influenced by anyone else.