It has been a dream of mine to take a vacation in Tulum, Mexico for some time. I have spent time in Cancun and Playa Del Carmen, but had only visited Tulum for the day on past trips. I loved it so much that after spending time there on a couple of day trips, I dedicated months researching condos for sale, coming very close to purchasing one. If you look in my “About Me” section of this blog, one of my goals was to retire in Tulum. Quite a statement after only taking a couple of day trips there. I guess it’s safe to say I fell in love on my day trip visits, so you can imagine my excitement to plan a two week trip!
Tulum is located about a two hour drive south of Cancun, and close to the border of Belize. It has a very boho chic vibe with crystal clear Caribbean waters, and white powder sand beaches. It’s paradise!
Mexico has always held a very special place in my heart. I got married in Zihuatanejo, renewed my vows in Puerto Vallarta, celebrated my husband’s 40th in Cabo San Lucas, and have spent time in a total of eight different locations in Mexico.
After several cancelled and postponed trips since the pandemic hit, I was thrilled to hear that Tulum had opened up for tourism. Yes, I was nervous to travel. Yes, I was very nervous to fly. And yes, I was nervous to be out of my own country while the positive cases around the world were present. That being said, I was also VERY itchy to take a trip! After months of shelter in place (aka quarantine), I had made a choice that (for me) it was time to get back to enjoying life. It was time to start living with the virus, and not hiding from it. Certainly not questioning the seriousness of this issue. I find it to be very serious! However, fear had been controlling my mind set, and physical actions for months. I don’t feel that the fear completely left me until I arrived at my hotel in Tulum. I was overtaken by the peaceful paradise on the beautiful beach.
I chose to stay at the Diamante K. And let me tell you, this is not your average hotel! It fits right in with the vibe of Tulum, and delivers very boho chic accommodations. It is a beachfront hotel located in a National Park, and is just 2.5 kilometres from the ruins. It offers cabana style rooms with thatch roofs, beach club, restaurant, bar, and spa. We enjoyed a very relaxing oceanfront couples massage that was much needed after a long flight. Upon arriving, my husband and I were checked in to the most beautiful suite! Our room looked directly at the ocean. We were so close to the ocean that I could throw a rock into the water from our room. Of course my first order of business was to get a fresh squeezed spicy margarita. As I was ordering “fresh squeezed”, the bartender giggled and said that I didn’t need to order it that way as all the drinks were fresh squeezed. Ahhhh….jackpot! The food was amazing too. I ate breakfast there almost every day, and switched between the huevos divorciados (divorced eggs) and huevos rancheros. So good! Lunch and dinner were just as delicious. I had my fair share of fresh fish, ceviche, and guacamole. The food and drinks were superb, and very reasonable.
Back to our room…we had a bathroom that was completely outdoors. Outdoor showers in the jungle make me happy! I never sleep well on my first few nights of being somewhere new. So, I enjoyed the most picturesque sunrises right from my room, or I would take a few steps outside and sit oceanfront to watch the show. I’m not a morning person at home, so this was really refreshing to enjoy this time of day. The birds seem to come alive at sunrise, and are peacefully loud. It’s really nothing less than paradise. One huge bonus about this hotel is that there are no TV’s on the property. This couldn’t have come at a better time in my life. Just what the doctor ordered to take a mental break from the chaotic news going on at home in the USA.
The Diamante K is pretty close to the Hotel Zone, and downtown Tulum, however it is not walkable. We tried our hand at the cute beach bikes, but it was just too hot to get around this way for our liking. We then rented a little jeep that looked like a toddler toy, and broke down twice. Lastly we tried a motor bike/scooter. There are not many people that I would trust to ride on a scooter with, but my husband happens to be one I do. We rented from Tours R Us, who gave us a great deal. They had the best selection of vehicles that we had seen in our entire two week stay. They are located in the heart of the Hotel Zone, and offer much more than scooters. I highly recommend!
Hotel Zone/Downtown Tulum
A boho chic vibe is my favorite kind of vibe, which is why I probably love it so much here. Tulum is sort of a Miami-meets-jungle kind of place. There are amazing restaurants, beach clubs, and bars.
Favorite Restaurants: It is so hard to share my favorite restaurant. I literally did not have one bad meal in my entire two weeks. If f I have to choose, it would be Hartwood. We ate at so many great places but this was my favorite meal. I had tuna tostadas, a whole fish, and passion fruit spicy margaritas. Very cool ambiance and thumping chill music. If you are looking for a more casual meal, my favorite cheap eat in the Hotel Zone is the outdoor food truck bar named Tulumunchies. It has several food trucks that offer tacos, burgers, pizza, and poke bowls. We opted to eat here several times throughout the trip.
Favorite Bar: Hands down Clan-Destino! This is a very casual bar with a DJ, and a cenote in the middle. It tripped me out when we walked in to find people swimming in the little cenote at night. Very fun place!
Favorite Beach Club: Papaya Playa Project. This place is absolutely awesome! We came here for the day, and reserved a bed on the beach. The club has a DJ with sand as a dance floor, pool, and awesome restaurant and bar. It wasn’t the cheapest stop, but it was one of our favorite days spent in Tulum.
Downtown Tulum: On nights where we felt like changing it up a bit, and spending a little less money, we would head to downtown Tulum. My favorite dinner here was at Burrito Amor. The burritos come wrapped in banana leaves, and they pride themselves on clean ingredients. Delish! This area is also where we scored all of our souvenirs to bring home.
Activities & Tours
After days of unwinding and getting to know Tulum, we were ready to do some exploring. I took a friend’s suggestion, and booked a tour to the Sian Ka’an Bioreserve. This tour was booked by our hotel, through a company called Mayikal Experiences, and boy did we luck out! We had the most knowledgeable guide, who not only was a great deal, but was also a blast to spend the day with. He made sure we saw dolphins, huge turtles, and 1,000 pound bird nests. He led us snorkeling to swim with sting rays, huge schools of fish, and lobsters. The water was some of the most beautiful water I have ever seen in my life. I’m sure I have written this in past posts, but this time I mean it. Haha. It was truly crystal clear! My hubby did back flips off the back of the boat as we enjoyed our day frolicking. We finished it off with an ocean front fresh lobster lunch. Absolutely perfect day! I can not recommend this tour, and the tour company enough! Because of Covid, Sian Ka’an would not allow tours with people who were not from the same family, so we got private! Such a great day!
My second choice for exploring Tulum would be to visit the cenotes. There are over 6,000 cenotes in the area available for endless exploring. We had planned to do the cenotes at the end of our trip. Don’t ask me how two weeks came and went so quickly, but all of a sudden the end of the trip had shown it’s face (to our disappointment). We ended up not wanting to trade one of our very last days of relaxation for the cenotes because we had visited them on our last trip. So we skipped it this time. If you are new to this area, exploring the centoes are a must!
Tulum has some very famous photo ops. My favorite was Daniel Popper’s towering wooden sculpture Ven A La Luz, which stands at the entrance to the Ahau Hotel . Be prepared to wait in line to get this photo. Also, don’t visit in the middle of the day because the sun is right above you, and the lighting is much too bright. Go in the morning or evening. A trip to Casa Malca is sure to give you some great pics as well! This was Pablo Escobar’s mansion that was turned into an artsy hotel. Very beautiful property! I was so bummed to see that Azulik was closed. I was hoping to explore that beautiful property as well, and enjoy a sunset dinner above the trees in one of their dining nests. Next time!
What It Was Like In Tulum During The Pandemic
I felt very safe in Tulum with the Pandemic going on. Besides the fact that being surrounded by paradise made me forget about it completely, Tulum did take lots of precautions to keep the virus at bay. All hotels, restaurants, and bars were limited to a 30% occupancy. We were required to temperature check, and wash/sanitize hands before entering most places. All of the staff we encountered in the Hotel Zone wore a mask, however tourists were not required unless entering a store-like establishment. We were required to wear a mask entering places of business in downtown Tulum. Most of the tours surrounding Tulum were open, some cenotes were open, however the ruins were closed. Because our hotel was located in a National Park (which was also closed), the only people that could come near our hotel were guests that were staying there or people who had made reservations to enjoy the facilities.
As we all know, we are living in a world that is changing by the day. What I experienced could be different by the time you read this. The best bet is to contact the hotel you are considering prior to travel to ask how the current Covid situation is in Tulum.
Here are the items I did not use on my trip: 1) High heels. Although I saw many gals very glammed up at the higher end places, I opted to stay in sandal flats. I did a lot of walking, with a lot of time spent at the beach, so heels just didn’t work for this trip. I was either barefoot or in sandals the entire time. 2) Curling iron. Save the weight in your bag and leave it at home. It’s absolutely pointless with the humidity and heat. 3) Workout bands and shoes. OOPS! I was having too much fun to workout, although yoga classes are huge in the area. 3) Really dressy clothes. I couldn’t get out of my bathing suit and cover ups. LOL! For the guys…my husband also didn’t wear anything dressy. He lived in shorts, tank tops, and flip flops.
Make sure to bring cash with you everywhere! Many businesses only accept cash.
All in all, I came to find out that although I have LOVED all of my travels in Mexico, Tulum takes the cake as my favorite. It is definitely a place that I will visit again and again. That’s saying a lot because I don’t usually like to repeat destinations.
One thing this trip deeply reminded me of was that I travel to have balance in my life. It’s important to feed your soul with what makes you happy, and for me that is traveling. I need to escape reality sometimes! With the pandemic, I was neglected balance in my life. I had been glued to the scary news every day. I was also getting way too emotionally involved in the chaos going on in the USA. This trip gave me back my balance. With no TV’s available, I was forced to listen to crashing waves in lieu of the news. And guess what??? As I’m sitting here writing this blog from back home, I have yet to turn on the news this entire week. I think I’m avoiding it at this point, as I’m still riding the mental high from this trip. Tulum gave me back my balance when I needed it most, and reminded me to enjoy my life no matter what is going on around me.
PS…YouTube video is on the way!