The laid-back eco-chic beach town of Tulum lies just two hours south of Cancun,but it might as well be a world away. In Tulum,nature lovers,celebs and others from around the world,travelers who are “in the know”,come to enjoy this beach town’s casita-dotted Caribbean shores.
The Huffington Post and Jetsetter.com recently teamed up to spend 72 hours in this tropical paradise,discovering why Tulum is creating a worldwide buzz among vacationers,ex-pats,real estate investors and travel industry experts. Here are their top travel tips and recommendations for visitors who want to experience all that this breathtakingly beautiful destination has to offer.
After stepping off the plane at Cancun’s modern International Airport,simply hop into a bus,shuttle or taxi and enjoy the lush jungle scenery on the quick 90-minute trip to Tulum. Today,the drive is easier than ever,thanks to a new superhighway that runs past Playa del Carmen,Puerto Aventuras and several other fabulous beach towns that line the coast of Mexico’s Riviera Maya.
Check In & Explore Downtown
After you arrive,take a few minutes to check out the charming,eclectic array of shops,parks and local restaurants in downtown Tulum. Situated just off the highway,the downtown area is a quick taxi ride from the hotel zone’s beachfront boutique of your choosing,where a private expanse of soft white sand and shady palapas await. If hunger strikes,grab some mouthwatering fish tacos,grilled octopus or fried fish at one of the local eateries. If time permits,find a bike and pedal down to the ancient Mayan seaside ruins to enjoy a fantastic sunset before heading back to prepare for dinner.
Sweat it Out
One great way to immerse yourself in the local culture is to participate in Maya Tulum’s sweat lodge Temescal ceremony,which steams away impurities and gives you the opportunity to interact and bond with other travelers.
Dine at Hartwod
Just be sure to call early to book a table at this uber-popular local hotspot,where a farm-to-table menu changes daily and signature cocktails abound. If an after dinner drink is in order,migrate to Mezzanine’s cocktail lounge for one of their famed margaritas,or check out the trendy Ahau Tulum bar and lounge,which is owned by two founders of the Burning Man festival.
Up and At ‘Em
After enjoying a breakfast of huevos rancheros on the beach,head out to explore the region’s cenotes,which are magnificent limestone caverns filled with water that the ancient Mayans believed to conceal sacred entrances to the underworld. Divers can experience some truly mesmerizing underwater scenes on guided tours that venture deep into the caverns,but swimming and snorkeling is also permitted in many of the cenotes.
Lunch,Followed Immediately by R&R
No trip to Tulum would be complete without taking time to chill out,so enjoy lunch at one of the diverse local eateries before heading to a beach bar or local spa,where a variety of treatments for both sexes is available to help you relax.
Dinner & Then?
Check out one of the local indigenous restaurants,such as El Tabano,which is delicious but understated,with the menu scribbled daily onto a large chalk board. Examples of the creative and flavorful cuisine you will discover here include catch of the day in a red pumpkin seed sauce,and Nopal cactus. If you need even more adventure before calling it a night,go to Gitano,which offers a mescal bar and large dance floor.
Rise & Shine
Enjoy a quick breakfast at one of the local hotspots,such as Zamas,before jumping into a cab and heading to the nearby Sian Ka’an Biosphere,which is a 1.5 million-acre UNESCO world heritage site where experienced naturalists take visitors on tours that include lunch.
Afternoon & Evening
If there’s time,stop on your way back to see the Mayan ruins at Muyil,then enjoy a final meal at whatever restaurant catches your eye. Pasta at Posada Margherita,Asian-Mexican fusion at Casa Jaguar and juicy steaks at El Pequeno Buenos Aires are all excellent options.
If you feel up to it,check out the high-energy salsa dancing at La Zebra. If you want to take part,lessons start at 6 p.m.,but the band arrives at 8 if you just want to watch.