Ninety minutes south of Cancun Airport, you’ll hit a small town worth more than just a day-trip to the Mayan Ruins. Tulum is where hedonist millennials from all over the world come to enjoy the simple, bohemian pleasures of this tiny slice of Caribbean heaven on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. Turning onto Beach Road, you’ll feel an immediate energy shift as you’re welcomed by the white sand beaches and translucent hues of the sea on your left and the rustic jungle restaurants, bars and shops on your right. From the authentic and eclectic food and beverage scene, the ethereal beach parties under the stars, gratis yoga and wellness practices offered daily along the beach, it’s no wonder that the secret’s out on Tulum. Here's our go-to guide for your next lavish getaway.
Where to Stay
Casa Malca is most known among locals as being Pablo Escobar’s former residence. Now, the property belongs to Colombian Art Dealer, Lio Malca who restored it into a tropical haven for contemporary art lovers (and all the rest of us). As the entrance gates shut behind you, you immediately feel like you’re in a Wes Anderson scene. The entrance, like the entirety of the hotel, is extravagant in its simplicity. Victorian-style chairs and sofas in candy colors hang above the large mismatched oriental carpets that are layered over the dusty Mexican limestone. Dramatic white lace curtains made of vintage Mexican wedding dresses are draped along the tree bark wall that leads you through the hotel lobby and directly to breathtaking views of the sea. The space oozes with modern luxury, though somehow doesn’t strip Tulum of its natural beauty, instead helps elevate it. The rooms are simple, but also grand, the food fresh and the service excellent. And did I mention the hidden underground steam room that exits directly into the pool? There’s that too.
Casa Violeta is comprised of ten rustically chic palapas each just steps from the sea. I suggest the Lily where you’ll wake up to the sunrise casting its light over the sparkling Caribbean sea directly in front of you. You can also enjoy the morning and evening light from your own front porch perched right on Tulum’s white sand. Though, whichever palapa you choose, Casa Violeta’s fuss-free and rustic simplicity will be sure to provide you the tranquil escape that you need. Each room is assigned to beach beds reserved by the name of their room. The food and service is exceptional with visitors frequenting the restaurant daily, and fortunately for us, breakfast is included.
The minimalist interiors and locally sourced furniture and home products are what give Nest an unparalleled rustic comfort. This nine room boutique hotel, tucked quietly on Tulum’s buzzy beach, Nest will feel like you’re own private casita. Modern and simplistic, Nest uses Mexico’s natural beauty to create and cultivate a space that is so welcoming you’ll find little incentive to leave the hotel grounds. But if you do choose to explore the town, Nest provides bikes for all guests to use during their stay.
Argentine architect Sebastian Sus (the brain behind forever-favorite, Be Tulum), opened Nomade Tulum in 2015 infusing moroccan and earthy flair to every element of the hotel. From jungle rooms, air-conditioned bedouin-like tents and oceanfront suites with private pools, Nomade gives you the option to pick your bohemian poison. Same goes for the restaurants, whether you fancy a vegan option at Moroccan-themed, Macondo or prefer to indulge in the beach grill at La Popular, the variety will satisfy all the desires of your bohemian soul. Nomade also offers spiritual workshops, retreats and talks every week by shamans, healers, therapists and dancers.
Luxury eco-chic wellness hotel, Sanara Tulum is known for its yoga retreats and mouth-watering health food restaurant, The Real Coconut. (Seriously, when have you ever heard a health restaurant described as mouth-watering? It’s that good.) Literally meaning, “you will heal” in Spanish, Sanara is the perfect place to get away and focus on mental and physical wellness with Tulum’s natural beauty as your backdrop. Start and end your days with natural smoothies, vinyasa yoga flows and spa treatments. Just don’t forget a daily dip in the sea.
Where to Eat
One of the most authentic Yucatan restaurants on Tulum’s Beach Road, El Tabano! does not disappoint. As you’ll likely leave the rustic garden eatery set in a rustic garden with an albeit satisfying, food coma, I suggest going for breakfast and ordering the classic huevos rancheros. Then you’ll be able to cater to your food coma with a siesta on the beach.
Walking through a maze of potted plants, ceramic bowls and baskets filled with fresh produce narrowly lining the small pathway that leads you to the restaurant, you almost forget that you’re not on the Amalfi Coast. Once you've made your way through the garden, you’re met with a view of Tulum’s white sand beach that is brought out even more vividly by Posada’s own hues of blues, woody browns and whites. Open and airy, Posada Margarita really takes your breath away. And I haven’t even gotten to the food yet. While eating pasta in a bathing suit isn’t necessarily a popular move, their homemade pasta is so light and fresh, it would be a sin to resist. (At least that’s what I tell myself.) Order a fresh juice from their juice bar to get the full experience. And oh, don’t forget the large focaccia, cauliflower and cheese spread that comes complimentary before your meal.
If you’ve heard of Tulum, then you’ve certainly heard of ex-New Yorkers Eric Werner and Mya Henry’s Hartwood. Though with a menu that changes daily, it’s hard to get sick of their now famous restaurant that serves up fresh, locally sourced food over a wood-burning fire. The cooking tools available are basic so Werner relies heavily on simple food, using flavorful Yucatana ingredients to create the eclectic dishes that have created so much well-deserved buzz around Hartwood. While difficult to get a reservation, once in, the atmosphere is delightfully warm, inviting and unpretentious.
One of the coolest restaurants in the now competitive gastronomical scene in Tulum is Arca. Tucked in a chic jungle atmosphere with contemporary design elements like long wooden tables and benches and a minimalistic tiled bar, you’ll get to enjoy the fresh, locally sourced food and strong cocktails with a vibe to match.
Just in front of La Placita shopping center, with neighbors like the well-known Arca and Tulum, you might miss renowned Mexican chef, Diego Hernandez Basquedano’s tiny spot serving up modern mexican cuisine. Mur Mur offers fresh seasonal dishes in a comfortable, uncrowded space. If it’s just drinks you’re looking for, take a seat on one of their swings at the bar.
Where to Drink
This popular hotel on Tulum Beach hosts some of the best nights in town. On the weekends, you’ll find international DJ’s spinning until the wee hours. If you’re lucky, you’ll be there for one of their full moon parties that happen once a month where you can dance until sunrise.
A disco ball among the palm trees pretty much sums up the vibe at Tulum’s favorite open-air jungle bar Gitano. Beautiful people, great energy and delicious handcrafted cocktails are the name of the game. Just next door to Hartwood, stop in after dinner or for a drink while you wait for your table. The jungle party scene might even suck you in to the point that you won’t want to leave, and that’s okay too.
Along Beach Road, you’ll come across a street cart selling fresh juice served in green coconuts. Probably the best street cart you’ll ever go to so don’t miss it. Want a shot of mezcal in your coconut? Or four? That can be arranged, too.
Like many bars and restaurants on Tulum’s Beach Road, Casa Jaguar is tucked in a romantic jungle garden. The food is delicious, to be sure, but the tropically flavored drinks are next level. Most popular among locals and tourists alike, especially on Thursdays when the house music will lead you to the secret garden in the back where you can dance form 10pm until late.
Where to Shop
There are a handful of can’t-miss shops during your visit to Tulum and Caravana’s flagship is one. The most divine cover-ups are individually handcrafted by artisans using Mayan techniques. The natural fabrics are light and breathable making it the perfect resort piece to spend your days in Tulum and beyond.
A chic, well-curated boutique next door to Caravana sells airy dresses in gauzy fabrics, dream catchers and wind chimes among other boho sundries. Surely the chicest souvenirs you’ll find in Tulum.
From luxe exotic accessories to handmade fedoras, KM 33 honors Mexican and Latin American craft by selling pieces of the highest-level of craftsmanship and quality. The result? A luxe curation of chic accessories for the stylish Tulum traveler.