MY TRAVELS: TULUM

As much as I embrace cold and snow as inevitable and even enjoyable part of living in Canada, a mid-February sunny get-away with a side of generous dose of vitamin D is always a nice treat! There has been a lot of attention on Tulum as a beautiful tropical destination lately, so naturally my best friend, my sister and I set out to discover it for ourselves. I put together my list below to highlight everything I LOVED about vacationing in this boho-chic escape.

1. FOODIE PARADISE

This truly is a destination for a discerning foodie. From authentic Yucatan food to fusion restaurants to spectacularly indulgent international cuisine to health-conscious, vegan or gluten free offerings, Tulum has quite a generous selection of restaurants to meet the highest of foodie standards.

We ate our way through Tulum trying hard to sample as much of the decadent flavours as we could manage (while still fitting in our bikinis).

My personal favourite restaurants were Gitano and Casa Banana.

Nestled in the jungle, Gitano has a sexy moody vibe with an indulgence for all the senses - carefully designed outdoor space, thoughtfully plated dishes and beautiful tanned crowd, live music, seductive scent of the Frankincense burning throughout, decadently delicious food as well as the greatest of company and conversation, of course!  Image source:  InMexico

Nestled in the jungle, Gitano has a sexy moody vibe with an indulgence for all the senses - carefully designed outdoor space, thoughtfully plated dishes and beautiful tanned crowd, live music, seductive scent of the Frankincense burning throughout, decadently delicious food as well as the greatest of company and conversation, of course!

Image source: InMexico

This vegetarian meal of grilled avocado on bed of aromatic salt, mushroom tacos and tender asparagus was to die for!

This vegetarian meal of grilled avocado on bed of aromatic salt, mushroom tacos and tender asparagus was to die for!

Casa Banana is a gem of rustic Argentian cuisine offering flavorful wood-grilled meats, seafood and vegetables. Grilled octopus salad and filet mignon with merlot mushroom reduction were pure decadence.  Image Source:  Well-Dressed Wayfarer

Casa Banana is a gem of rustic Argentian cuisine offering flavorful wood-grilled meats, seafood and vegetables. Grilled octopus salad and filet mignon with merlot mushroom reduction were pure decadence.

Image Source: Well-Dressed Wayfarer

2. MAYAN RUINS

Town of Tulum as well as the famous ocean-side strip of restaurants and boutique hotels sit in close proximity to an ancient archaeological site of Tulum ruins which were inhabited as early as 564AD. We took a morning to bike over and walk around revelling in awe in the remains of the ancient Mayan structures.  Fun fact: Tulum means “wall” in Mayan. Early Tulum was built to be a fortress and a religious and ceremonial centre with only 1600 inhabitants living inside of its wall at any one time. Even as recent as 1995, population of Tulum was only 3000. By contrast, today’s population is around 35,000 with over 2 million tourists per year. Tulum has the highest population growth in all of Mexico and its great popularity has, sadly, caused it to grow far too fast to be sustainably supported by its current infrastructure.

Town of Tulum as well as the famous ocean-side strip of restaurants and boutique hotels sit in close proximity to an ancient archaeological site of Tulum ruins which were inhabited as early as 564AD. We took a morning to bike over and walk around revelling in awe in the remains of the ancient Mayan structures.

Fun fact: Tulum means “wall” in Mayan. Early Tulum was built to be a fortress and a religious and ceremonial centre with only 1600 inhabitants living inside of its wall at any one time. Even as recent as 1995, population of Tulum was only 3000. By contrast, today’s population is around 35,000 with over 2 million tourists per year. Tulum has the highest population growth in all of Mexico and its great popularity has, sadly, caused it to grow far too fast to be sustainably supported by its current infrastructure.

3. GRAN CENOTE

Yucatan Peninsula, where Tulum is located, boasts many sites of beautiful Cenotes, which are naturally occurring sinkholes resulting in the collapse of limestone bedrock with access to water underneath. Being inside a Cenote has an other-worldly surreal charm with its perfectly turquoise waters, underwater caves, bats, turtles and other wildlife.  Image Source:  Cenote

Yucatan Peninsula, where Tulum is located, boasts many sites of beautiful Cenotes, which are naturally occurring sinkholes resulting in the collapse of limestone bedrock with access to water underneath. Being inside a Cenote has an other-worldly surreal charm with its perfectly turquoise waters, underwater caves, bats, turtles and other wildlife.

Image Source: Cenote

Multitude of vines hanging down in the Gran Cenote.

Multitude of vines hanging down in the Gran Cenote.

4. HEALTY SMOOTHIES, BOWLS & COFFEES

Because the food is soooo good in Tulum and also because food is what I care about the most on my travels (or in general, lets be serious), healthy food options deserve a separate point on my list. I loved that while travelling, I still had access to clean, nutritious and healthful food options. Some restaurants worth to be mentioned in this category are: The Real Coconut, Raw Love, Matcha Mama.

One of the many snack breaks we made at Raw Love. Besides some of the most delicious smoothie bowls and fresh coconuts, Raw Love has a few feline friends kicking around (whose company we were lucky to enjoy!)

One of the many snack breaks we made at Raw Love. Besides some of the most delicious smoothie bowls and fresh coconuts, Raw Love has a few feline friends kicking around (whose company we were lucky to enjoy!)

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While in Tulum, I jumped on the latest health trend of mushroom coffee. Medicinal mushroom (such as chaga, reishi, lion’s mane, and cordyceps) are anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, gut-friendly and chock-full of antioxidants. These are added to regular coffee to contribute to the coffee’s health content as well as to lower the amount of caffeine while maintaining the awakening and focus-heightening properties. Pictured above is an iced bulletproof mushroom coffee (which does NOT taste like mushrooms btw!) from Matcha Mama.

While in Tulum, I jumped on the latest health trend of mushroom coffee. Medicinal mushroom (such as chaga, reishi, lion’s mane, and cordyceps) are anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, gut-friendly and chock-full of antioxidants. These are added to regular coffee to contribute to the coffee’s health content as well as to lower the amount of caffeine while maintaining the awakening and focus-heightening properties. Pictured above is an iced bulletproof mushroom coffee (which does NOT taste like mushrooms btw!) from Matcha Mama.

5. PICTURE PERFECT BEACHES

Between the perfect weather (it rained for about 10 minutes the entire week), turquoise water and well maintained white sand beaches with an abundance of hammocks, cabanas and food and drink options along the stretch, this was one of the my favourite tropical beaches to date. I’m typically not the beach type as I get bored quite easily and need to look for something more entertaining and adventurous; however, it’s hard to get bored on this beach - between people watching, tanning, and eating, there is enough buzz going on to keep a busy-bee like myself entertained.

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6. FRESH COCONUTS ON THE BEACH

This was a daily tradition! Nothing like a fresh coconut on the beach to stay hydrated.

This was a daily tradition! Nothing like a fresh coconut on the beach to stay hydrated.

7. MEZCAL COCKTAILS

After this trip, I consider myself to be a converted Mezcal-lover. Mezcal is an alcohol distilled from Agave syrup (literally translated, it means “over-cooked agave”) and has a strong smoky flavour which makes it a perfect base for many deliciously refreshing cocktails of complex and interesting taste.

Mezcal cocktails at Mur Mur

Mezcal cocktails at Mur Mur

Beach-side deliciousness at Delek hotel beach.

Beach-side deliciousness at Delek hotel beach.

8. HAMMOCK LOUNGING AT SERENA GLAMPING

For second half of our trip, we stayed at this gem of a spot - beautiful Serena Glamping resort hidden away in the jungle, right on the main street. It was surreal to experience this stunning resort with all the comforts of a luxury hotel, the friendliest staff and a distinctly glamping nature vibe. We spent a couple of lazy hours hanging out in the hammocks with a cup of coffee or a glass of wine.

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Image Source:  Travelocity

Image Source: Travelocity

Image Source:  Travelocity

Image Source: Travelocity

9. FRIDAY NIGHT AT ROSA NEGRA

Rosa Negra was definitely a great spot to hang out on a Friday night - great margaritas, awesome DJ set and a very happening and busy vibe.

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10. CRUISING AROUND ON BIKES

Bikes were our preferred mode of transportation on this trip. Our first Airbnb was in Aldea Zama neighbourhood, from which we commuted to the beach on bikes (approx 30 minutes). After moving to Serena Glamping resort close to the beach, we still rented bikes to go up and down the street during the day.

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TRAVEL TIPS:

  • Bring cash for restaurants, cabs, drinks, shopping. Many places do not take credit card or add a percentage for using plastic.

  • Transportation from Cancun to Tulum: public bus is around $18, a taxi/shuttle is approximately $130 (which is faster and well worth it if you have 3-4 people to split the cost with)

  • Expect that taxis will cost more at night; however, do not be afraid to negotiate a reasonable price.

  • We spent half of our trip in an Airbnb in Aldea Zama (30 min bike ride or $10-20 cab ride from the beach). The second part of our trip was at Serena Glamping right beside the beach. There are pro’s and con’s to both but, in the end, we were happy to have experienced both. First Airbnb had a kitchen, living room, two patios, two bedrooms and three full bathrooms for about a third of the price of our second (beach) accommodation. First spot was comfortable, spacious and inexpensive, but the second (albeit much smaller) had the unique boho rustic charm and the convenience of living in a jungle setting right beside the beach (however it did come with a higher price tag - locally known as “beach tax”)