Tulum is a laid back, peaceful beach town in southern Mexico. There are no large resorts – just smaller properties ranging from rustic to full service. Many feature wellness, fitness, and yoga activities. In the morning, you will see people walking or jogging on the beach, some with dogs. The Travel Channel featured the bikini boot camp at Amansala. I have visited the area twice, twenty years ago (wow – that’s a long time). The first time I stayed at a large hotel in the tourist zone in Cancun. The second visit was to an all-inclusive resort in Playa del Carmen (my traveling companion won a trip). Since then my travel preferences have changed quite a bit. I’m not too keen on commercial or all-inclusive resorts, so Tulum was the perfect alternative for a Mexico beach get-away.
We stayed at Ana y Jose, a cute boutique hotel on the beach. The rooms are not very large, but they are cool and comfortable with nice amenities. Try an ocean view room on the second floor (we stayed in Luna, #11). Daily breakfast was included – not a basic continental snack – you could order anything off the menu. Each morning, we ate a leisurely breakfast in the sand barefoot – what a great way to start the day. The beach has comfortable lounge chairs and shaded palapas. The hotel is a short walk or cab ride to restaurants and shops.
There are several Mayan ruins nearby. If you like snorkeling, you can visit the many Cenotes. Michael put his new scuba diving certification to use by diving at Dos Ojos Cenote. He booked a morning dive at Mexidivers, a short taxi ride from the hotel. See Michael’s photos of Dos Ojos Cenote. There are a few cute little shops with local art and souvenirs along the street near the hotels.
is a totally hip, eclectic outdoor restaurant and bar serving light, flavorful meals that don’t make you feel too full. Try: Exotic Salad – apples, peppers, mango, and soy sprouts with cous cous and rice noodles; Grouper with spinach and cous cous. Skip the wild ginger cocktail – it sounded great but tasted like bland soda.
Las Estrellas is at the La Luna hotel, a few steps from Ana y Jose. The middle eastern theme seemed a bit out of place in Mexico, but the atmosphere was cool. We sat outside on a stormy night. The power went out a few times, so we just switched on our flashlights. Try: Ocean Tajine made with fish filet, shrimps, Moroccan five spiced chickpeas and coriander; Grouper with capers, olives, parsley, butter and wine, served with rice and spinach.
How to Get to Tulum
Fly to Cancun and then travel south 90 minutes by road to reach Tulum. Rent a car or take a shuttle. We used Cancun Shuttle – the driver met us outside the airport and the van was very comfortable.
- If you prefer large hotels, resorts, or all-inclusive properties, check out Cancun, Playa del Carmen, or the Riviera Maya. Playa del Carmen has some smaller properties in town.
- Not all of the hotels have air conditioning. So if AC is on your must-have list, check the hotel websites.
- Use bug spray! Really – the little critters love to bite.
- Bring a flashlight. There are no street lights and it is pitch black at night.
- Bring extra cash. Some restaurants and bars do not accept credit cards.
- When you exit the customs area of the airport, ignore everyone who offers to help you find transportation or tours and go directly outside to your ride.