“Tulum is the new black. Once a hippie village, now a trendy, boho-chic and fashionable eco-friendly destination.”
By Beatriz Torres Marin
Yes, it still has the hippie vibe that made Tulum famous a couple of years ago — but don’t let that fool you.
In the past few years, Tulum has changed and it has become the favorite destination for the bohemian-but-chic.
Ecological hotels and upscale boutiques build up along one main street. If you are thinking about visiting Tulum, you’ll have a hard time deciding which hotel you are going to stay at. We spent a couple of nights at Azulik, an adults-only eco-resort with luxury tree houses suites and oceanfront views.
Having no lights and private decks will make your stay the most romantic and relaxing escape ever. Every tree house is amazing. You won’t have a normal shower but instead, you’ll get something much better. Well — if you like bathtubs and coconuts!
The rooms are really spacious and they have mosquito nets. It gets complicated at night when it’s hard to see because there are no lights, just candles.
Trust me, in a couple of days you’ll get used to it.
Plus, the no lights policy in pretty much every hotel will pay off when you look at the sky at night and see the stars.
The entire hotel is surrounded by vegetation, tribal decoration and spaces for doing a “temazcal” ceremony.
Other than hotels on the main road, you’ll also find some restaurants. Not all of them are good though. As you can imagine, some are very touristy. My favorites were Hartwood and Posada Margherita, an Italian restaurant that’s easy to miss as they have a tiny tiny entrance.
They make their pasta from scratch and finding that at a touristic place is not as easy as you can imagine.
I also loved the bohemian boutiques in that street. To give you an idea, you can go into one of those shops and come out with 3 outfits ready for Coachella. Leather, feathers, long dresses… Prepare your pocket though, as they are pretty expensive.
If you want to go out at night I strongly suggest Papaya Playa which is also a hotel and a restaurant.
They have a big outdoor area that faces the beach and they make bonfires. I was lucky enough to be there for one of their full moon parties and the entire village was there dancing to great DJs.
Of course, the real reason for you to go to Tulum is not the hotels or the nightlife.
The reason is discovering those enchanted, magical and natural secret water places: the cenotes.
Whether they are in caves or completely open, all of them are beautiful and somehow healing. If you want to experience the real essence of the cenotes try to go really early in the morning so that you can be alone.
One of the first places we visited was Kantun Chi park. There, you’ll find 5 different cenotes really close to each other. My favorite was the 4th one. It’s inside a cave but it’s not scary as the water is really clear.
My second favorite cenote was an open one. Cenote Azul. Turquoise waters, dragonflies and plenty of vegetation is what you’ll find there. If you are not afraid of fish, go ahead and stand in the water. In ten seconds you’ll have around 20 fish giving you a free peeling.
If you walk around the area you’ll find mini, secret cenotes where you’ll be completely alone.
Cenote Jardín del Edén is also a famous cenote. Not one of my favorites as it was too open. But you can dive into the water from a tree branch so that might be something you want to experience.
During our visit, we also stayed at Playa Esperanza hotel. This one was more humble than Azulik but it was still great.
Their cottages are right at the beach, meaning you open your door in the morning and put your feet in the sand. Our room was a little bit small but they have bigger cottages. Just make your reservation in advance so that you can get one of the big ones. Playa Esperanza is one of the last hotels in the main road and that makes it cheaper but also further from the village’s main restaurants and shops.
This hotel shuts down the electricity at night around 7 pm. They’ll give you a small candle but it’s really not enough when the night comes. So if you are planing to go out at night, put your make up on during day time!
The hotel has a common area and a restaurant. But I’d suggest you eat somewhere else. The menu is really small and humble. But their juices are amazing!
Since the hotel is not near the main hotels, the beach is really “private”. White sand, turquoise water and barely any waves.
Make sure you pack a lot of swimwear to take great pics! I brought a one piece from Beach Riot.
Once we saw all the cenotes we wanted to visit we headed towards Sian Ka’an, a biosphere reserve which is possibly the most astonishing part of the Yucatan. We went straight to Muyil where a boat was waiting for us.
The boat took us through the lake on our way to a canal built by the native mayans more than 1,000 years ago.
Once we got there, our driver left us in the water, we sat on our life jackets and we floated in the crystal clear mangrove canal while we let the gently current carry us. Legend has it that these waters have magical healing powers!
You can book the excursion with a tour guide but I strongly suggest you drive there, find a local boat driver and do it on your own.
It will be cheaper, more private and it’s basically the same experience. While in Tulum, you can also visit Akumal and swim with turtles. We didn’t have time to do it but it’s on my list. We did pass by Akumal on our way to Puerto Morelos and we had breakfast at Turtle Bay Cafe and Bakery. Just because of the smoothie I had it was worth it. If you go there, please order the açai smoothie!
After the amazing breakfast we headed towards Puerto Morelo to snorkel as it’s considered on of the best places in the Riviera Maya. We snorkeled at the Great Mayan Reef and we saw plenty of fish, turtles and barracudas. If you decide to head towards Puerto Morelo, I strongly suggest you contact our guide, Miguel.
If you happen to go there from June to September he’ll be able to take you snorkeling with whale sharks.
Beatriz Torres Marin is the editor of Las Sufridoras.