A perfect long weekend getaway

By Sarah Pakula, Protravel International Luxury Travel Agent

Personally, Tulum is one of my favorite places to go for a quick long weekend getaway. Whether you are planning a romantic weekend with someone special; a fun girls or guys trip or solo yoga re-charge, there is something there for everyone.

Tulum used to be a hidden gem down a long dirt road south of Playa del Carmen, but in recent years this sleepy little beach town has become a bustling scene full of gourmet, tropical jungle restaurants (serving up craft cocktails that could rival any large city bar’s), hip boutiques, beachfront yoga and an Instagrammer’s paradise. While this town is no longer tiny, it still has not lost its beachy town charm.

Getting there

Getting to Tulum is easy, it lies 74 miles south of Cancun airport down a straight well-paved highway. On one side of the road is the Caribbean Sea and on the other side, dense vibrant green jungle.

Mayan Ruins, luxury destination Tulum, Mexico

Tropical jungles, white sand beaches & cenotes

If you are looking for perfect white sand beaches and warm, clear blue water that looks like it is straight out of a Corona commercial, this is your place. (That commercial was actually shot up the street in Playa Del Carmen, but same ocean and beaches).

Besides the postcard-perfect beaches there are also tons of cenotes to explore both on the way to this paradise or nearby when you arrive. What’s a cenote you may ask? It is a natural pit or sinkhole resulting from limestone rocks collapsing and the fresh or salt ground water below being exposed. The Mayans who use to inhabit this area believed that these were an entrance to the underworld and possessed healing powers. They were also used for ritual sacrifices. Cenotes can be open on top such as Cenote Azul or can be down a cave entrance such as Cenote Dos Ojos. The most popular one in the area is Grand Cenote, so I would advise you to get there early before the crowds come and the line is long. My favorite group were the three by the Coba ruins and you can easily make a day out of touring the ruins in the morning and then going for a dip to cool off at Tamcach-Ha, Choo-Ha and Multum-Ha. There are over 1,000 of these amazing limestone formations across the Yucatan peninsula.

When to go & here to stay?

The best times to plan a visit to Tulum are October to December, it’s not as crowded as the months of January through March, and minimal rain. The rainy season is June till October, so it could be hit or miss and it’s also very humid that time of year.

Tulum includes a long stretch of beach with a single one-lane road that runs through the whole strip making it very easy to get around and see everything. There are so many quaint boutique hotel options to choose from. Casa Malca was one of my favorites personal favorites that I have stayed at. It is rumored that the original part of this hotel was Pablo Escobar’s vacation home. If so, he had amazing taste! Malca is situated on the end of the strip near the best restaurants and shops. This boutique property is decorated with unique artwork—even a couch hanging above the reception was preserved from The Titanic—and the curtained entrance to the massive doors is made of 100 wedding dresses. This is just one of the many options that I would recommend, a few others are Be Tulum which has a sleek, modern jungle vibe or Habitas where you can have a upscale glamping like experience or if you have always wanted to stay in a luxury tree house, check out Azulik Tulum.

 

Dining in Tulum

There are many dining options in Tulum that vary from healthy, casual roadside stops like Matcha Mama that serves up fresh smoothie bowls while you sit on a swing, to a coveted reservation at Hartwood (ask your travel advisor to book at least a month in advance.) One thing I personally love is that even at upscale restaurants there is still a casual vibe and a nice sundress is completely acceptable attire.

There are many healthy options all over Tulum, and so many others I could write a whole post about the food options. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • For a nicer sit-down dinner, I would suggest my favorite, Gitano. The avocado appetizer is amazing
  • Hartwood, which is farm-to-table and the menu changes daily depending on what is fresh and local
  • Arca, another outdoor, candlelight restaurant that serves up lots of fresh fish options
  • For a unique dinner experience try The Dining Experience, which is a dinner party held in different locations with locavore options, including delicious craft cocktails for a set price
  • For lunch, I would highly recommend Mezzanine, a Thai restaurant that overlooks the beach and serves up an amazing spicy curry; Posada Margherita for beachside Italian fare in a cute setting; Burrito Amor is a great on-the-go option because who doesn’t have love burritos? 
  • For my vegan friends Raw Love is a must.

Getting around

One of the really nice things about Tulum is once you arrive, you can pretty much park your car and rent a bike for the week (some hotels include them complimentary, but others will have a stand and you can rent them by the day or week) and most places will have the option for either a manual bike or an electric bike.

Cenote, Tulum, Mexico

What to see & do

Let’s talk about a few things to see and do besides beach lounging and eating and drinking your way through Tulum. There are the ruins in town that are an easy bike ride or—if you want to drive further—there are the Coba ruins accessible by car. The top level at Matteo’s is a good place to catch a sunset (it’s like climbing a treehouse)

There are so many yoga studios and wellness centers, so you can come back from vacation feeling truly relaxed.

Two great day-trip options are the Sian Ka’an Biosphere nature preserve (a whole day adventure) that your travel advisor or hotel concierge can set up for you, since four-wheel drive is recommended. It is great for nature lovers, and you can rent a kayak and explore this marshy area. The Rapids of Bacalar is about a 3-hour drive south towards the Belize boarder. This is a unique, beautiful place I stumbled across which has the clearest water I think I have ever swum in. It is very worth the trip, but you may want to consider doing an overnight there as the drive is long and you may want to partake in the wonderful fresh-squeezed $3 margaritas.

Resort sign saying Whever you go go with your heart, luxury destination Tulum, Mexico

Insider tips

A few things to know when planning a trip to Tulum are to pack cash, bug spray and flats. Quite a few places in Tulum do not accept credit cards. The hotels and hotel restaurants typically will take a credit card, but most other places will not, so be prepared. You will want bug spray with at least 30% DEET (which I normally wouldn’t suggest, but in this case, the eco-friendly sprays probably won’t cut it.) Finally: the flats, yes flats, because you are in a beach town with dirt roads and uneven terrain and while heels may look cute, falling in them does not, and riding a bike in them is no fun.

There are so many more things I could say about this magical beach destination, but I’ll leave that for you to discover!!!

Hotel Esencia in Tulum, Mexico

Hotel Esencia

Tulum, Mexico

  • One bottle of wine upon arrival; One 50-minute massage for two guests, once per stay
  • Complimentary Buffet breakfast for two daily
  • Early check-in upon availability
  • Late check-out upon availability
  • Property will offer upgrade upon availability at time of check-in
Jashita Tulum Botique Hotel in Tulum, Mexico

Jashita Tulum Boutique Hotel

Tulum, Mexico

  • 100 USD Spa credit
  • Complimentary daily full breakfast for two
  • Early check-in upon availability
  • Late check-out upon availability
  • Property will offer upgrade upon availability at time of check-in
  • Basic Wi-Fi

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