Viva la vida en Mexico
Tulum is one of those places you can visit 100 times and still have new things to discover.
With its white sand beaches, coconut trees and treehouse-inspired hotels, Tulum has blown up in the past few years thanks to incredible social media exposure.
I first visited Tulum in 2015 and since then about five times. From my initial visit to my most recent visit, it has transformed completely. With every trip, I found more restaurants, more hotels, more amenities and more activities popping up.
The biggest difference I noticed over this four year span is the change of pace. Back in 2015, there were only a few restaurants and hotels and only a handful were open after midnight.
Now the central area is filled with shops, hotels, restaurants, spas, art and parties that go from sundown to sunrise. One of the most impressive works I saw was by artist Daniel Popper—a giant woman made of wood opening her chest, full of green plants, called “Ven a la Luz,” or come to the light.
There are many different hotels that have weekly parties such as Papaya Playa, BOA, Azulik and there are also many music festivals in and around Tulum that take place throughout the year.
Part of me wants to go back in time to when it was quiet, but the booming business is fantastic to watch as the locals need the crowd to survive.
Let’s talk about my favorite part of anywhere I go, FOOD!
My favorite restaurant is Rosa Negra, which has an insanely beautiful crowd.
The service is impeccable and the food ranks among the best I’ve had in 2019. The vibe is upbeat, not a formal sit down dinner. At one point the music got louder and the lights went off and my group wondered what was happening. Our server answered “ Opus is happening”—and we were even more confused. Then, the servers came out with over 100 sparklers, giving a couple to each table. A spontaneous party erupted right before our eyes at dinner. Even though the actual presentation lasted only 10 minutes, the vibe was still there. It was the coolest thing I’ve ever seen in a restaurant. The “Gin Witch” as our group called her was crafting special cocktails throughout the night, making sure our glasses were never empty.
Villa Pescadores is my favorite day spot—the place is simple, the design is just a covered area and tables on the sand, a couple day beds, nothing fancy but serves really good fresh food made in an open kitchen. The fish was so good I had it three times. I also tried the octopus and shrimp tacos—all excellent.
Casa Malca, the former home of Pablo Escobar, was something else! It’s a huge compound and the entrance has a couch swing and a beautiful curtain made of bridal dresses.
Inside, find many pieces of art, including a work by KAWS. There are a couple of different restaurants and areas located within, and they’re all decorated differently.
The food was also very good but I think you can’t have a bad meal in Mexico, everything is so fresh there!
Posada Marguerita is romantic and cute—perfect for a date night.Good pasta, good wine, greatgelato.
If you’re looking for more of a party atmosphere, Kin Toh has great deep house music and incredible treehouse architecture. I wasn’t impressed with the food, but they have great atmosphere and entertainment. It is best enjoyed at sunset. Definitely one of the most popular places in Tulum due to it’s incredible tree house bar. I had a spicy margarita.
For art lovers there is so much to see and its street art and galleries make Tulum the new spot for fun and culture. Make a pit stop at IK Lab, a stunning artistic space made of wood and cement, it will take your breath away.
Despite my many trips to Tulum, I have only visited two of its many cenotes. Dos Ojos (Two Eyes) was incredible, the crystal clear water in its deep cave leaves you in awe. Many scuba diving tours are offered but I didn’t have enough time to go deep into the caves. However, I heard divers describing it as a “one of a kind” experience.
The cenotes were formed from a hole in the ground that sank billions of years ago. The water is cold but the opportunity for adventure is awesome. The beautiful pristine pools are found nowhere else in the world. Take a picnic basket and enjoy the grounds as well.
The Mayan ruins in Tulum are amazing. Located right off the coast, they are filled with rich historical significance and showcase the incredible imagination of the indigenous people. Definitely worth the visit, not only an awesome sight, and an important way to learn about ancient culture.
One of my favorite experiences in Tulum is snorkeling. The coral just off the coast is very active, full of exotic fish, stingrays and turtles. Yes I said turtles! The day I went I saw two, not sure if it’s a common thing but they were there, and that’s a sight that you do not want to miss, especially since the coast of Mexico is being filled with red seaweed due climate change.
Don’t miss watching the sunrise from the beach. There’s no one around and it’s simply magical.
Day trips you can take from Tulum:
- Chichen Itza: Must must must! It’s one of the 7 Wonders of the World. This place holds so much history and energy. Tip, if you’re planning to go, go early, as soon as it opens. Around 11 a.m. to noon it’s filled with people and many bus tours from the hotels. Take your time walking around and getting to know the grounds, Explore and read the signs. The Plaza of a Thousand Columns is really cool, and make sure you buy souvenirs to support the locals. Mucha plata!! Wink wink.
- Valladolid: After visiting Chichen Itza you have to make a stop at this small historic town. They have a great central market, tons of little shops and restaurants. I spent a couple hours watching the local dancers, tried mexican chocolate, ate lots of guac and of course sipped artisanal tequila. It’s nice to support other cities that aren’t as populated with tourists.
- Isla Mujeres: Cute little island, beautiful ocean, there are no cars so it’s quiet.
- Cozumel: If you’re into diving this is a must visit as it is one of the largest reefs in the world.
I still have so much more to discover in Tulum. Keep an eye out for other posts about this beautiful place.