Tulum is one of the most beautiful beaches in the Mexican Caribbean and has become a favorite designation for bloggers and Instagram lovers alike. Tulum is definitely the place to be! I was intrigued after seeing model after model, brand after brand shooting in Tulum. I was convinced after our buyer and owner both went and raved about the food, the beach, & the atmosphere. What more could you ask for?
Seeing as I work at Largo Drive (hi best job ever!), I obviously splurged before my trip to make sure I had the perfect pieces for the bright Mexican culture and the hot humid climate. My top priorities were making sure I had plenty of bikinis for days at the beach + cover ups that doubled as walking around clothes, comfortable sandals for roaming around the town, and lots of loose flowy dresses and breezy rompers to keep cool while looking put together. See our Tulum Kit for everything you need.
Keep scrolling to read about the highlights and hiccups from my trip and our favorite spots to explore, eat, and relax while in heaven.
We had a bit of a bumpy start to our trip when the car I'd arranged with the hotel didn't show up to take us into Tulum. After flying all night this was the last thing we wanted to hear. But after negotiating with the myriad of taxi's out front, we hopped in a shuttle van to drive us the hour and a half to our hotel. I would not book a round trip with the taxis outside the airport. They make it seem like a good deal, but there is a chance that they won't show up at the specified time to take you back to the airport. This happened to us and we are still wrestling to get our money back.
I'd definitely recommend having your driver stop by an ATM outside of the airport to get pesos out because you'll get a much better exchange rate than changing at the airport. They'll also stop at a gas station for you to get waters and such, which I'd recommend, but we didn't do because we were exhausted and just wanted to get to the hotel. Forever Boyfriend brushed up on his already very good Spanish with the cab driver until we made it to Papaya Playa Project. ($200USD round trip)
After checking in and leaving our bags with the front desk to take to our casita, we went and had breakfast outside overlooking the gorgeous beach and turquoise blue water. I had the Chilaquiles and a fruit juice. So good and fresh tasting. They have their own bee hives and gardens on the property so a lot of the ingredients are super fresh. We spent the rest of that day laying on the beach in their complimentary lounge beds and ordering beach side service. It was the perfect way to start a vacation and to forget about the rough morning.
Read more about where to stay, what to do, eat, and wear below...
Where to Stay:
Papaya Playa Project: At the top of the strip that is Tulum, Papaya Playa Project was a beach side oasis. Each room is a separate little house or "casita". Ours was up on a cliff looking out over the water with our very own hammock to sit out front. Each bed had a mosquito net around it which made it very dreamy. We had a AC, a necessity for us, but you definitely could have slept with the floor length windows open. It's a little on the glamping side (there was both a lizard and a crab in our room at one point), but it was so beautiful i didn't let it impact my good mood. I would 100% recommend this hotel, but there are so many good ones that I'm sure you can't go wrong.
The only negative I would have to say about PPP was the location. Being located at the top of the strip, it's pretty far (2 miles) from the center where most of the good restos are. We ended up spending a lot of time and money in cabs (~$5 a trip). But I also think it made it a little quieter so it all depends on your perspective.
What to do:
Ruins & Cenotes: I'd highly recommend going to see a Mayan ruin to get to know this area's rich history. The Tulum ruins are another good option if you want something closer and they're the only ruins located on the beach! Also, definitely visit one of the beautiful cenotes, natural sink holes, that expose underground water! We visited El Gran Cenote and it was such a cool experience. This was one of my favorite things we did! The water was nice and cool, and has excellent photo opportunities #instaheaven. Dos Ojos and Ik Kil are suppose to be other amazing options too.
We started the day by hiring a taxi to take us to Coba (about an hour from Tulum) and El Gran Cenote. We paid about $100 USD round trip. We got to ride just the two of us in a nice air conditioned car and our driver patiently waited for us outside each site. Ask your hotel's front desk about helping set up transportation.
When we arrived at Coba, we paid the ~$8 entrance fee and walked around to see some initial ruins. To get to the main pyramid, it's a bit of a walk - about 2 km. I would 100% recommend paying the ~$5 for a petty cab to bike you to the main ruin. It's not THAT far of a walk, but boy is it hot and sticky. And if you're lucky you'll get a nice native Mayan who will give you some history on some of the structures along the way. (We kept saying no to the petty cab and the driver kept lowering the price as we tried to walk away, so the price is definitely negotiable.)
Coba was one of the largest Mayan cities in Mexico, and it features the largest temple pyramid in the Yucatan peninsula. You can climb to the top of the pyramid and stand above the trees. The steps are very steep but totally doable. You'll be nice and sweaty when you get to the top but the view is beautiful.
After meeting back up with our taxi, we went to El Gran Centoes. To preserve the natural purity of the water and the turtles and fish that live there, they ask you to wash off in an outdoor shower before swimming in the cenotes, and they require all natural sunscreen. (We skipped buying extra sunscreen because we were not going to be there that long and there was plenty of shade but if you think you'll be there for a couple hours I'd definitely bring some.) Float in the crystal clear waters and explore the deep caves by snorkeling or diving. It's bliss!
Shopping: And of course, no vacation is complete without a little shopping! The shopping in Tulum is fabulous! There's tons of little boutiques along the main road with unique clothing, jewelry, and other fun goodies. I love finding things from local artisans and KM 33 had the most amazing local jewelry, hats, and bags. Definitely take a stroll down the main drag and see what you find!
Yoga: As a very eco-friendly and health conscious destination, many of the hotels offer daily yoga classes! We managed to take a couple classes while we were there and it's definitely a wonderful experience flowing with the ocean in the distance. Avoid wearing those black yoga pants you love - the mosquitos will get you even through your pants! I found that out the hard way.
Where to eat:
Posada Magharita: If you've reached your limit with Mexican food, take a trip to the dreamy Italian oasis, Posada Magharita, and dine on fresh pasta, delicious wine, and the juiciest tomatoes you'll ever taste. Sitting with your toes in the sand and looking out at the cotton candy sky as the sun dips below the horizon, you won't regret coming here!
Casa Jaguar: Located on the jungle side, Casa Jaguar has fantastic drinks and even better food. When we went, it had been raining so we were sat at one long table with the other brave tourists who ventured out during the rain. It ended up being super fun and intimate and we made some new friends. Bring bug spray, order a drink, any of the freshly made menu items, and I promise you'll leave a happy camper!
Kin | Toh: Lounge above the trees, sip on a luxurious cocktail and take in the sunset over the jungle at this luxury restaurant. Described as Mayan and Mexican fusion, wn dined on exotic menu items such as sour worms, black ceviche, and ant tostada (these are not the actual names but alas i did not take a pic of the menu and they change their menu often). Definitely the most luxurious dinner we had, but even if you can't splurge for dinner - come for a drink and lounge in the hammocks that extend out over open air.
The Real Coconut: Out of the Sanara hotel, The Real Coocnut is the epitome of Tulum wellness. Everything on the menu is gluten, grain, dairy and refined sugar free and features sustainably sourced ingredients. We started with the Very Berry Chia Parfait to share (I'd get your own it's so good) and then I followed that with the avocado toast with two poached eggs, charcoal lemonade, and an amazing coconut chai tea latte! With offerings such as Super Bone Broth Blend, Healing Green Pressed Juice, and Fruit Bliss Bowl, you won't feel guilty about anything you eat here!
Raw Love: If you love acais bowls (and who doesn't?), you will love Raw Love! Technically on the beach, but a little further inland from the ocean, they had the most amazing smoothie bowl i've ever had with authentic coconut, fresh fruit, and beautiful presentation. It was the perfect light breakfast for the last day of our trip.
Hartwood: I heard was amazing but they aren't open everyday and we just couldn't make it work. :(
Mateos: We ate here and loved the live music, but felt it was super Americanized. The sunset on their second floor is supposed to be amazing with one of the few location where you can see the sun set over the jungle.
- BUGSPRAY!!! - and don't wear black it attracts those suckers like no other
- Sunscreen obvi (natural if you want to go to the cenotes)
- Any of these bikinis
- Or this one (I mean honestly you could get away with only wearing bikinis which I highly recommend)
- Comfortable sandals (these are my FAVORITE)
- Breezy dresses (this one, this one, and this one would be perfect)
Go book those tickets! And let me know what your favorite part of Tulum was! Adios!