This will have been my third time in Tulum and if my husband said “pack up we are moving to Tulum”, I would be ready in a second. Tulum isn’t “Mexico” so if you think your going to Mexico to get cheap street tacos and beer this won’t be your vibe. Tulum has a rich-hippy culture. Most hotel employees, yoga instructors, and waiters are all European. I found this true for Isla Holbox too but hat will be a whole other blog post because that island is also very special to me.
I think the real draw to Tulum for me is the lack of all-inclusive resorts. The atmosphere itself is a bohemian jungle paradise. Despite every corner of Tulum being totally worthy of the ‘gram it still feels totally authentic and magical. You will leave feel happier, lighter and more in touch with your inner self.
Let me preface this by saying I am a scaredy cat. If it seems shady, I will notice and my ass will be on a flight home the next day. I was a little nervous to go to Mexico alone this last time with just one of my girlfriends, Ellese. We are both tall and stand out and I wasn’t sure about how I felt about that. However, we walked alone EVERYWHERE. At night, along the road, on the beach. No problem at all. I never felt uncomfortable. Maybe I’m just getting over my fears as I get older but regardless I felt safe the whole time. I will say the police are crooked dickheads though. BEWARE. The last day we left a credit card at one of the restaurants and we ran inside real quick to pick it up and left the rental car with the flashers by the side of the road. Came back out to the Police removing our front license plate. Having been in Mexico several times and used to this BS I immediately got out my wallet and gave him cash. He was shaking his head no at me and proceeded to remove the front plate. Luckily, the waiters came out and helped us. Basically, the shady cop wanted the money but didn’t want anyone to see as we had “made a scene.” So we gave $20 to the waiter and the waiter gave it to the cop once the crowd dissipated.
How to Get There
Tulum is an hour and a half south of the Cancun airport. Its a super straight shot along the freeway and again felt super safe driving. The price of the rental car for a week is about the same price as a taxi for 2 to and from the airport. I like the freedom of having a car to run to the grocery store and be able to go do activites as your leisure.
What To Wear:
Now that I am in my 30s sun protection is KEY. So make sure to bring several hats. But if you forget, don’t worry shoutout to @hattiesbay they are a local hat store in Cancun and Tulum and the quality of their hats is an 10/10. Came home with two of their dime pieces.
For daytime, pretty much pack every swimsuit you own. Don’t forget some yoga clothes for your early morning sessions. For coverups think bohemian, anything fringe. For all my beach vacations I love to wear all things shell. They are super trendy right now so bring all your shell purses, earrings, and necklaces etc.
Even the “night” look is pretty casual in Tulum. I always opted for a long mumu. The burgundy one pictured above is Free People and the purple and pink one is Spell. Basically rich- hippy look is what your going for.
Where to Stay
So the question anytime I’m deciding to book anywhere is Airbnb vs. hotel. I’ve stayed in both in Tulum and if your wallet can handle it I would stay at a hotel. There are not any Airbnbs along the beach so its a 10-15 minute car ride to the area you want to be each day. That being said if you are going with a big group of people then I would go with Airbnb. They have some really rad 5 bedroom places that are quite cheap for what your getting.
Kanan is a gem. Everyone knows Azulik but now you know Kanan. Kanan is a “hotel” treehouse. Probably the most unique hotel I’ve ever stayed in. We we greeted with a welcome drink upon arrival and the customer service was impeccable the whole time. Every morning they bring coffee and tea to your room. The rooms themselves are HUGE. Each room has a hand carved wooden bath tub that could fit a village. No need to pack bug spray they had a high quality one in the room and it smelled very aromatic and nice. No need to back perfume either haha.
The beach club at Kanan is honestly the best in Tulum. There are nests tucked away all at different levels with lounge beds for all your tanning needs.
The beach bag pictured above comes in every room. It’s gorgeous. A girl was carrying it when we first arrived and Ellese and I looked at each other and were like we NEED this bag. So again don’t lug around a beach bag because I never used the one I brought.
The only thing I would mention that I didn’t expect was the al carte experience. While they didn’t charge us to use the cabanas or sun beds. It was $20 a day to take a yoga class and $10 to use the bikes.
Nomade on the other hand offers a very all-inclusive experience. Sunday mornings there is a free buffet to guests otherwise $30 for non hotel guests. They have a laundry list of free classes you can take, list below in the “What To Do” section.
The grounds of the hotel are magical and they have great sitting areas all throughout the property to snuggle up with a good book. They are currently building treehouses up above the palm trees that will have ocean views.
At night, they cover your room in rose petals for an extra special touch.
- Azulik $$$
- Coco Tulum $$
- Nest $$
- Papaya Playa Project $$
- Be Tulum $$$
Where to Eat– Breakfast/Lunch:
Matcha Mama $
Known for the matcha obviously but you can’t leave without an acai bowl too!
Raw Tulum $
Can’t miss the entrance of Raw Tulum!
So everything is literally RAW. If you order a pizza or pad thai its literally RAW. I had an acai bowl each time I’ve gone and what I love is they have a whole list of extra supplements or superfoods you can add to the bowls too.
- Charly’s Vegan Tacos $
- Real Coconut $– A lot of vegan options. This restaurant is at the Sanara hotel and the yoga is great with an oceanfront view. It was really nice to do restorative yoga and then not walk far for a yummy breakfast
- Posado Margherita $$
Where to Eat– Dinner
- BAK $$— This was my favorite meal by far and they just opened a few months ago. They had it all –beautiful ambience, fire dancers, huge portions for sharing, bomb cocktails. We almost left without knowing there was a club upstairs. Our waiter said it in passing like it was no big deal (the only other nightlife option is PPP– so kinda big deal) As I was waking up the stairs to check it out, I was thinking to myself this is gonna be a joke. But I was soooo wrong. The club is called H Moonlight. It is so beautiful inside. Disco balls. Bohemian huts for tables. My jaw was literally on the floor. In pure shock I had never heard about this place especially after the hours I spend researching before I go anywhere!
- Rosa Negra $$— Get reservations for 9:30pm or later for the party vibe and sparklers.
- Taboo $$— Big portions, free appetizers, and a live violist. My second favorite meal in Tulum! There is also a wild donkey that frequents the restaurant and beach club.
- Casa Jaguar $$- Best known for Friday nights.
- Gitano $$- Great food, disco balls, and a belly dancer.
- Hartwood$$— Cash only. But must get reservations a month out. Wasn’t worth the hype in my opinion.
- ARCA $$
- Rustico Divina Tierra $$— If your craving Italian, they have a delicous cheese wheel pasta!
- Loyal Order $$— Cash only. Beautiful outside Turkish restaurant under the mangroves. This place is pretty special because its inside the National Park. I honestly had no idea there were hotels and restaurants that direction. Next time I definitely want to go discover that section. You can’t drive to the restaurant after 7pm. So make sure you taxi there.
- Personal Chef- @privatechefplaya $ If you are staying at an Airbnb with a large group or planning a bachelorette this is a great way to bring a five-star chef to you. The Private Chef Playa was an incredible guy girl team, have the cutest love story. They prep everything ahead of time then cook at your place. They set the table, serve you, then clean and do all the dishes plus leave all left-overs and ingredients they didn’t use. They are VERY affordable and way cheaper than eating out. They have a full vegan menu too!
What To Do:
This is a great way to see all of Tulum. Tulum is long and narrow so its too hard to see all by foot.
Take classes at Nomade
If you are staying at Nomade the class are complementary. If you are dropping in the classes are $20 each and they last for about an hour and a half.
- Sound Healing
- BioDynamic Breath– Took this class! It was literally 45 minutes of straight breathing in a circular fashion. Don’t worry, they walk you through it and it’s like mediation, if you get into it, you let go and you don’t know where the time went. Everyone has a completely different reaction to this class. For me, it felt great and I am glad I acquired this tool but I didn’t have any crazy experience. However, you may hear some people crying or even having an orgasmic breath. Its great for stress, getting through an emotional blockage, and sex.
- Yoga – They have a few different types of yoga class. I just did the regular old yoga which was a nice flow and felt like a good workout. They also have a circuit flow, and Kundalini yoga. We also took yoga classes at Be Tulum, Sanara and PPP. They were all around $20 a class but Sanara and PPP yoga studios were oceanfront so I would make those your first classes to try.
- Energetic Lovemaking- Took this class twice. It’s in the beautiful gratitude tent. It is great for partners that are open to exploring a more emotional side of sex and how to take turns receiving pleasure.
- Essential Oils for Emotional Balance
- Cacao Cermony
A cenote is a natural sinkhole resulting in the collapse of limestone that exposes the groundwater below. These are especially unique to the Yucatan Peninsula and are not to be missed.
This cenote is great because its 10 minutes out from the city center and only $180 pesos. Bring Cash. Don’t fuss too much about getting ready to come because they make you rinse off before getting into the water.
This Cenote is quite small but really unique and worth checking out on your way back from Gran Cenote back to the City Center. The entrance fee is $50 pesos. Again bring cash. You are encouraged to bring your own cooler and food. There are holes in the limestone that drop into the cenote that you jump into. Check out my highlight reel on IG @ashleykisling for videos. I didn’t really take any photos here.
Go to Beach Clubs
Mia Beach Club
If you spend $35 per adult you don’t have to pay for the sunbeds. We found this to be really easy between lunch, drinks, and hookah.
Papaya Playa Project
PPP is $50 per person to use the beach club. Again spent this pretty easily. You have to order the seafood platter. We still talk about this meal!
It is $1100 pesos cover. So this is the place to go if you have a large group since its not per person. The service is excellent. They do bring complimentary artichoke dip, olives, feta cheese and hummus with the best fresh pita bread. Around 3 pm the party gets started, a talented saxophone player plays to the beat of the DJ and they bring sparklers around to each cabana.
Ellese and I recently have been obsessed with Nully for holiday shopping but honestly the shopping is so good in Tulum you will want to save some in your budget to come home with something special.
Visit the Tulum Ruins
This was a little “touristy” for my liking but it is still worth seeing. We went mid day and there were too many people to really enjoy it. If you arrive earlier when they open around 8 am I am sure you would have a better experience. You can actually go down to the beach at the ruins and the beach opens at 10am. I would set aside at least two hours for this attraction.
Well that it. Literally everything I know about Tulum.