Tulum, Mexico – The Cool Girl Travel Guide
Hello Williamsburg of Mexico. Picture waking up in the morning and walking barefoot to one of the beachfront cafes and ordering a fresh açaí bowl as you inhale the burning incense of Palo Santo wood sticks.
It’s dreamy guys.
You wouldn’t believe the number of bartenders/servers that told us they ended up visiting and never returned back home. I totally get why.
Tulum is very eco-friendly and sustainable. Most of their restaurants are vegetarian and vegan friendly, but trust me the food is nothing short of exceptional. So let’s dive into it.
Is Tulum safe?
Many warned me about the safety concerns with traveling to Mexico but I felt very safe in Tulum and urge others not to feel deterred from visiting this beautiful place! Most of the people are laid back hipsters that are into yoga and healthy living. The staff are so welcoming and generous and made us feel right at home from the moment we got there. Everyone speaks English so you don’t have to worry about a language barrier. So the short answer, yes! We felt very safe.
How to get to Tulum?
There is no direct flight so you have to fly into CUN airport. From there we hired a private driver and drove down to Tulum which was about an hour and 45 minutes. Car accommodations are very easy and can be planned in advance through your hotel or directly at the airport.
What to pack?
I’m not even joking I could have lived out of a weekender bag for 5 days. It’s very laid back so I would recommend leaving your stilettos at home. Although there are nice places to go out at night I would stick to the basics. Besides the obvious beachwear I would suggest the following:
- Fanny pack (for bike riding/walking)
- Beach tote
- Large brimmed hat (most restaurants are al fresco)
- Kimonos (you think you’re going to wear clothes but you end up just throwing one of these on top of your swimwear)
- Tinted moisturizer – specifically Bye Bye foundation. I LOVE this one, it has SPF 50 and is a full coverage moisturizer that is light and airy.
- Aloe and sunscreen
Tulum has many local pharmacies within walking distance to any place on the strip so don’t worry about forgetting something. It’s just a little pricey so try to bring the essentials from home if you can.
Where to stay in Tulum?
This is hands down the coolest hotel in Tulum, mainly because rumor has it that Casa Malca was once Pablo Escobar’s old private getaway mansion. It has since been converted to an art-centric hotel filled with edgy pieces like vintage dentist chairs and subjective paintings. We stayed here for one night and binged on spicy margaritas all night. It was a mood. I had a local photographer take our engagement photos on the property and they give me serious Narcos vibes (check out our engagement session here)
The entrance of the hotel has hanging sofas and chairs that are draped with curtains made of wedding dresses. If you can’t stay at the hotel I recommend at least going to the restaurant and hanging out a bit. You don’t want to miss this place.
To check out more information about Casa Malca click here
La Valise is an intimate, exclusive bungalow with only 9 rooms tucked away between the jungle and white sand beaches. It felt like our own private getaway! We extended our trip an extra night and Pasquale actually picked out this eco chic hotel (can you tell I’m rubbing off on him?) La Valise exceeded our expectations going above and beyond to make sure we felt right at home from the minute we got there. They noticed Pasquale’s birthday on his passport and even set up a special surprise for us!
To check out more information on La Valise click here
We stayed here for the first 2 nights and we absolutely loved Sanara! It’s a luxury eco-chic boutique hotel where you can basically smell the aromatherapy pumping out of the vents. There is a beachfront yoga studio and highly acclaimed wellness center with interior to die for!
To check out more information about Sanara click here
Best Cenotes in Tulum
Cenotes are very common in Mexico and are essentially sinkholes filled with fresh water caused by the collapse of surrounding limestone. They are beautiful to swim in and only cost about 100-200 pesos for each person.
We witnessed an ancient Mayan wedding celebration when we were visiting this cenote and it was one of the coolest experiences we ever had the pleasure of seeing. Pasquale got to take pictures with the indigenous Mayans dressed in tribal attire and paint while they prepared for the sacred ceremony.
- Cenote Suytan
- Cenote Gran
- Cenote Calavara
What to do in Tulum
- Bike Riding: Most hotels have free bicycle rentals and this was our favorite way to travel around Tulum. It’s about an 8 mile long strip with restaurants and hotels on either side and bike riding was the best way to cover ground if you want to see everything.
- Yoga: There are wellness centers all over Tulum but Sanara has an oceanfront yoga studio that you have to check out if you’re into yoga. Drag your boyfriend there too, its vibey.
- Massages: Every hotel has beach massages and it’s the ultimate cherry on your zen-cation.
- Swing at Coco Tulum: We sipped cocktails while swinging in the breeze
- Hookah: Rosa Negra is a swanky, eco-chic restaurant located on the beach of Tulum. We got hookah at the bar and drank spicy pomegranate margaritas.
- IK Lab Museum: Located in the Azulik hotel, this art exhibit is stunning! Pasquale couldn’t get over the detail of all of the twines and was wondering all day how long it took them to put it together! lol.
- Mayan Ruins at Chichen Itza: AKA one of the Seven Wonders of the World. We didn’t get an opportunity to visit this unfortunately but it’s definitely a must-see and should be added to your travel itinerary.
- Grab a drink at Casa Malca: The interior inside this bar at Casa Malca was to dieeee for. I may have ordered a tequila or 3 here. I got some serious interior design inspo as you can imagine.
Best Restaurants/Places to Eat
It’s impossible to feel bad about yourself after you eat in Tulum because everything is incredibly healthy and delicious. The food and bar scene here is really brag-worthy. Our favorite thing to do here was eat and we couldn’t stop talking about how good everything was.
- Lunch at Nomade: A human-centered hotel that feels free spirited with the communal dining spaces. You’ll get a Moroccan feel as you sit on the floor on a pouf as you eat your açaí bowl out of a beautiful wood bowl.
- ARCA: This place was our FAVORITE. We tried almost everything on the menu and the next thing was better than the last. Some of the plates we ordered were the grilled avocado which came prepared with crispy chaya, avocado leaf oil, roasted pumpkin seeds and avocado wood dashi. I loved the soft shell crab tacos which came with amaranth tempura, grosella and pickled habanero Salsa, chaya emulsion, fried chaya, chaya powder. A bunch of shit I’ve never heard of before but oh..my. god.
- Philosophy: This was eggs divorciados and an omelette we ordered from one of Casa Malca’s restaurants. Everything from the interior to the drinks to the food was perfect.
- Posado Margherita: Best homemade pasta in Tulum.
- Hartwood: Very well regarded restaurant with a popular social scene and is named one of the best restaurants in Tulum
- The Real Coconut: highly acclaimed healthy eating restaurant located outside of Sanara hotel.
I hope you found these tips helpful! If I missed anything worth sharing please comment below.