This just may be the longest blog post I’ve ever written. I just have soooo much to share about this trip. It really was just as amazing as it looked, maybe even more so. We had been wanting to go to Tulum for about a year now and there was finally a long enough break in our schedules to make it happen so we bit the bullet, booked the flight and hotels and in just three short weeks we were enjoying this amazing town. It was even more magical than I dreamed of. We were there for a week and we both felt like it was the perfect amount of time and we did a lot in those seven days.
So, here is our amazing trip for you. At the bottom of this ginormous post are tips about where to stay, where to eat, what to do. Enjoy!!
We got into Cancun at about 2:30pm, got our rental car and were on the road by 3. The drive from Cancun to Tulum is about an hour and a half but the nice thing is it’s basically just one road you stay on the entire time. Not going to lie, I was pretty scared to drive because all I’ve ever heard about Mexican police is that they’re slimy and will pull you over just to get paid off. But, actually turns out they’re all pretty nice, I think the machine guns they carry 24/7 are just to scare off the bad guys ; )
We got into Tulum, checked into our cute, quaint little hotel in town and met the Savages for dinner at Papaya Playa. It was so fun to have meet up with fellow photographers in Mexico. What are the odds? Matt and Stevi are amazing photographers based out of Chicago. It was so nice to hear what they’ve been doing in Tulum and get some tips from them.
Breakfast then beach. We went to the beach we thought the Savages went to but later found out it wasn’t the same. It was super windy this day but we made the most of it and drank some beers at 9am (ish). We swam in the ocean and lounged on blue lounge chairs. We then went into town and window shopped. I lusted after all of the gorgeous hammocks and especially the baby hammock. I’m still thinking about it. I told Adam we’re going to need to come back for it before we have kids : ) While we were shopping we came across a brand new restaurant called Encanto Cantina and it was THE BEST meal we’ve ever had. Such authentic Mexican food and the service was so great. We then went back to our hotel, showered and got ready to head into Tulum to go stand in line for Hartwood (the most trendy restaurant in Tulum). Luckily we were the 6th table seated and the meal was pretty delicious. This was our most expensive meal on the trip. But what do you expect from a hip restaurant owned by a guy from Brooklyn ; )
We had breakfast, checked out of our quaint little hotel and headed for Coba! We had no idea what to expect there and little did we know once we got there, no one had ever heard of Coqui Coqui hotel. We finally discovered our amazing dreamland hotel at the dead end of the road overlooking the lagoon. It was even better than I imagine it to be. Since we were the only guests staying there that night we were upgraded to the nicest room overlooking the whole hotel and lagoon. It was pretty wonderful. We decided to go check out the Coba ruins since they were down the street. A lot of walking, a little getting lost and finally a great bicycle taxi ride to actually get us to the main ruin. It was HOT. Super humid and I was so thankful for that taxi ride. You could climb up to the top of the main ruin but it looked a little iffy to me and I really wanted to enjoy the rest of our trip being alive so we skipped that part and headed back to Coqui and went swimming instead. The hotel had a lovely library that we took advantage of, reading up about the owner of the hotel and what a fun life he lives. After relaxing a bit there we headed back to our room with a couple drinks and took advantage of the sunset (you can’t really see it in Tulum) and took some photos to remember our time there. Remote to the rescue! Although the cheap tripod was just that, cheap, and broke the second we took it out, we still managed to get some great shots. We got ready for dinner. Delicious ceviche (btw, we didn’t have BAD ceviche anywhere there. It was all so delicious!) and chicken. The thing about these small towns is that there is hardly any electricity so once the sun goes down there isn’t much to do besides go to sleep. We found ourselves actually getting tired when the sun went down and waking up at sunset every morning. It was pretty lovely actually.
After getting ready and taking about 7,000 photos of Coqui,we checked out, but not before buying some of their candles. Coqui is known for their perfumes. They’re really wonderful scents and you can’t leave without picking up something. We’re so excited to burn our candles and remember our time in Coba. We started the 45 minute drive back to Tulum to check into our beach side hut at Papaya Playa. Since it wasn’t check in time yet we decided to go try out a raved about restaurant first. Poseda Margherita is a great Italian restaurant right on the beach. We each got a drink, split a salad and fish entree and it was easily the most expensive lunch we had. And we split the meal! It was delicious but be prepared to shell out for it. We headed back to Papaya Playa and checked into our perfect little hut. We found a secluded little cabana and spent the rest of the afternoon lounging and swimming. We decided to try out one of the restaurants the bartender from Encanta recommended that night. Casa Banana was so good! Such a great vibe there too. Adam got the skirt steak while I had the filet mignon skewers. Both were delicious!
The view from Papaya Playa’s restaurant is pretty hard to beat. Having breakfast here every morning was so nice. We had really hardly spent time at the beach so we dedicated this day as beach day. We laid around, had a bucket of beer and swam. We ended the day with a trip to the mini mart for aloe Vera ; )
Since all you see when you google “Tulum” are the ruins on the beach we figured we should probably go see them. Going on a Sunday may not have been the the wisest choice since it was us and a billion other tourists but the ruins property is so large that we didn’t feel like we were ever on top of people. I was so glad we didn’t go with a tour group, although I know we would have learned a lot more about the structures. It was blazing hot so we went through it pretty quickly. I was pretty excited when we saw a spider monkey as soon as we got in. The rest of the time we were there all I did was search for another monkey. All of the blogs and reviews you’ll read about the Ruins people will tell you to bring your suit and go down the stairs to the beach buuuut…what they don’t tell you is that there are 12,000 other tourists being told the same thing thing. We decided to skip that beach and head back to our nice, calm quiet beach at Hip Hotel instead. We went back, had a drink and paid to use the hotels cabana (since we were visitors to Hip Hotel and not staying there we paid $10 to use it for the day. SO worth it!) we lounged, had a great lunch cabana side (their ceviche and quesadillas are so good) and then swam in the crystal clear waters. It was such a good day. On our way back to Papaya we stopped for gelato at a little hotel lobby. That night we decided to try out the restaurant at Coco Tulum. I had heard they had great pizza so we thought that would be a nice break from all the tacos ; ) We ate at Juanito Raviola and had a humorous conversation with our waitress. Humorous being the fact that she spoke very little English and we spoke very little Spanish. This was the first time of our trip that the language barrier was a problem. We wanted prosciutto instead of ham and ended up getting neither on our pizza but got billed for extra ham. We decided it wasn’t worth trying to get fixed so we ate it up and laughed it off.
We made our way into town to get more pesos since we knew we wanted to do a little shopping in the town before we left. We were on the hunt for the perfect pot to have in memory of our trip. We stopped a cute little bread shop “Pan Comida” across from the bank. Adam had spotted it a few days ago and knew he wanted to check it out. We got a yummy cinnamon roll and then made our way to the shops. Every shop we stopped in just had touristy trinkets. Nothing we liked or wanted to spend money on. We finally found an art gallery-like shop and spotted the perfect pot. Of course the very next shop we came across had pots a plenty for much cheaper. Isn’t that always the way it goes? But thankfully we loved our little guy most. I swooned over all of the beautiful hammocks but without a backyard to put one I sadly left without. We finally found Honarios red canopy and knew we HAD to stop for some tacos. Easily the best cochinita tacos we’ve ever had. This place was definitely not used to tourists, we could tell by the fact that everyone was staring at us but hey, we want good tacos too! It was well worth it. We were so excited to head back to Hip Hotel for our massage seaside. It was heavenly. Afterwards we made our way back to Papaya and spent the remainder of the afternoon in the pool overlooking the ocean. We swam, took silly photos with our disposable camera and enjoyed our last afternoon of our great view. I had just one request for our last evening in Tulum, I wanted to go down to the beach and take some self timer photos of us to remember our time there. I’m so thankful for Adam and his willingness to do this with/for me. I know it can be tiring but he’s just too dang good looking to not get in front of my camera every chance I get. After a quick outfit change (from me) we headed to El Tabano. It was the last restaurant on our list of go-to’s and was one of our favorite meals. Delicious stuffed jalapeños and stuffed peppers with shrimp, fish and almond creme. Delish. We took our time here, ordering an app then waiting to order another until after we were done.
I really was so sad to leave the next morning but I’m so thankful to have been able to document our trip so well and bring home those memories with us. I really cannot wait to come back here!
WHERE TO STAY
We really loved our little hut at Papaya Playa Project http://papayaplaya.com/
Although..the beaches are better (calmer, less seaweed) south so if you plan on being in the ocean a lot I would recommend..
Hip Hotel http://www.hiphoteltulum.com/#!home/c12qc
Be Tulum http://www.betulum.com/eng/index.php
Of course Coqui Coqui Tulum is beautiful, but after seeing the Coba Coqui we were a little underwhelmed by the Tulum one. Still, it’s gorgeous and if you can stay there, get it! http://www.coquicoquiperfumes.com/
WHERE TO EAT
Encanto Cantina (in town) – THE best. It’s brand new to Tulum and it was one of the best meals we had on our trip.
Hartwood – Trendy, hip, you have to get there an hour early to wait in line to be able to get a seat buuuut as much as I hate to say this (because they pissed me off and told me I couldn’t take photos) it was worth it. Amazing food.
Casa Banana – Delicious filet mignon and skirt steak…and mojitos ; )
El Tabano – We had a really wonderful meal here, stuffed jalapenos, more ceviche, etc etc…really, we ate a lot here!
Taqueria Honorio – Little taqueria in town off the beaten path. If you can find it you MUST GO. Best cochinita tacos we’ve ever had and our bill was like $4. It’s the one with the red canopy!
Poseda Margherita – Great Italian food. Pricey, but good.
Coco Tulum – Good Pizza!
WHAT TO DO
Tulum Ruins – We felt it was kind of necessary to go to them since they’re so quintessential Tulum. They were beautiful but it was HOT. People say bring your bathing suit and towel because you can go to the beach right below the ruins but we chose to skip that since it was packed and our beach was heaven in itself already.
Cenotes – The one thing I was bummed we didn’t end up doing was go to a Cenote. There are a ton in Tulum and on the outskirts of the town. They are underwater sinkholes that you can swim and snorkel in. We just never got around to getting snorkeling gear and getting up from our cabana to go check them out. Next time!
Shop! There are two different areas you can shop in. There’s in town, which is a bit more touristy, most stores have the same thing as the one next to it but they’re cheaper than the shops on the main street in Tulum across from the beach, on the jungle side. The shops there are higher priced since they’re all right across from the hotels and they know they can attract tourists that way and you don’t have to leave to drive into town. We actually liked the shops in town better, that’s where all of the beautiful hammocks are that I wanted to bring home. We bought a beautiful piece of pottery in town to take home from a little art gallery in town.
Xel-Ha – We thought this was a little too touristy for our taste to do. It’s basically a water amusement park and there are a ton of tours that take you there. If you’re into that kinda thing, this is your jam!
Anywhere you stay will have tours listed that you can sign up for which is nice. They have day excursions where you can do the ruins, cenotes and go into town all in the same day. If you want to knock it all out at once, then I suggest doing this!
WHAT TO WEAR
So, I brough all of my clothes just about and turns out you hardly need any at all. Most days I wore my bathing suit under a dress or a bathing suit cover up and that was it. It was pretty hot so I didn’t really want to wear the maxi dresses I brought, although they were great to have to wear to dinner at night to keep the mosquitos away from my ankles. But really all you need are a few bathing suits, some breezy dresses, bathing suit cover ups, a pair of shorts, a sun hat, sunglasses and flip flops!
WHAT TO BRING
A flashlight. There aren’t any street lights here so once the sun goes down it gets dark. We used the flashlight from our phone a lot too!
Sunscreen! Lots of it!!
Mosquito repellent! Lots of it ; ) and itch cream for when you do get bit, because you will.
It was really nice having Pesos while we were there. While most places will take US dollars all of the prices are in pesos and so we just found it was way easier. Plus, if you pay in dollars you kind of get ripped off when you get your change back in pesos.