Our Escape to Tulum
Tulum has long been on my travel wish-list, so when the opportunity came up to head somewhere en famille whilst in the US, we could not pass up visiting the white sand beaches and turquoise blue waters...
Tulum has everything you could want in a sun-filled destination. You can happily while away your days reading and relaxing by the beach. You can visit the many Mayan ruins on offer, take a dip in the refreshing cenotes (and I’ll admit, that’s a new word in my vocabulary!), head out on the water to go whale-spotting, snorkeling or surfing. You can spend the week kitted out in yoga gear, filling your days with a variety of wellness practices. And then there’s THE food scene.
We arrived in Tulum on a Saturday morning, alongside throngs of travellers - most of whom were bound for the bigger resort town of Cancun. Tulum is about a 2 hour drive from Cancun airport, and I’d recommend booking a private shuttle transfer (hello air-conditioning!)
Arriving in Tulum, you’re immediately struck by how off-grid it all is. There’s one main road that runs the length of the beach, lined by hotels with everything from super-luxury, tasteful resorts to open-aired beach huts and all in between. The other side of the road - jungle side, as it’s known - is dotted with shops and bars and restaurants ranging from little wooden huts selling freshly-pressed juices right up to Eric Werner’s famed Hartwood. Tulum is best described as New York’s bohemian cool meets the raw beauty of the Caribbean. Honed, bikini-clad girls and shirtless boys pedal on cruiser bikes up and down the road. Soft music spills out over sandy, roofless bars serving mezcal cocktails to barefooted clientele in denim short shorts and sunglasses. You get the feeling this place knows how to party, but ends the night with a cleansing juice at 11pm in order to greet the sunrise with a downward dog.
Our home for seven nights was the recently refurbed Villa Las Estrellas. It is a small hotel, with seven beachfront rooms rocking a flintstones-meets-beach-club vibe. We were pretty happy calling this place home. Rooms come with their own hammock, handsome four-poster beds, saltwater showers and beachfront views. Tulum isn’t cheap, and I’d recommend it as a good, middle-of-the-road place. What our room did lack was air-conditioning, which we sorely missed. Daily dips in the pool helped keep our little one cool and chipper. For those keen to splurge, Nomade and Sanara were both stunning hotels with all the amenities, La Zebra was also in the same league and seemed very family friendly.
Mornings in Tulum started early with plenty of joggers and kite-surfers up with the sun, eager to get in their day’s exercise before the sun climbed too high in the sky. This was much to the delight of George, who would already be on the beach re-discovering the texture of sand and shells over and over again. We tended to head out early each morning, either for a meal or adventure, before returning back to base camp by late morning and enjoy the rest of the day reading on the beach and cooling off in the sea.
One morning we ventured off nice and early to visit the Mayan Ruins of Tulum, hoping to beat the high temperatures. Guarded by fat iguanas, these recognizable stone sculptures adorn all the tourist paraphernalia and are well-worth visiting in the flesh. Despite our best efforts, the heat of the day was upon us quickly, and we probably didn’t give the entire site it’s due time as we were worried about George getting too hot.
You could spend your entire trip visiting the many cenotes dotted around Tulum. These were completely new to us. You’ll find many wooden signs dispersed along the main road pointing out access to these vast, crystal-clear pools filled with life. There are also plenty, even more impressive cenotes a short drive away from Tulum. Ensure you arrive armed with a snorkel and a some cash to gain access (they are dirt cheap but this isn’t a credit card type of facility). We visited Caphe Ha because it was right across the road from our hotel. We followed a sandy path lined under a canopy of trees populated by lizards, staring us down as we walked by, until we reached the jade-coloured waters. Although our visit was fleeting (the bugs and slippery wooden access made things a bit tricky with George in tow), we both managed a quick dip and spotted some pretty spectacular sea-life. We wanted to also visit the UNESCO biosphere reserve of Sian Ka’an, but felt it was a bit much to spend a whole day out on a boat in the sun with George - apparently it's a beautiful but pretty gruelling day trip for adults.
We ate so well in Tulum. Everything from the delicious fresh produce to the fat, juicy shrimp covered in hot and smoky flavours kept our bellies happy. I will follow up soon with a post on this - Tulum is certainly deserving of it.
A friend recently asked if I’d recommend Tulum for a honeymoon destination. I most definitely would - we actually considered it for ours. Sam I and would love to visit again, when George is older and can enjoy some of the jewels Tulum has to offer. Tulum is no secret, and I can definitely see why. We hope to see Tulum again one day, and please let us know what we missed.