This stunning tropical paradise has been on our bucket list for a few years now and it proved to be one of the most magical destinations we’ve ever been to!
Located on the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico along a palm tree lined coastal strip, this ultimate boho bliss is scattered with dream catchers, yoga lofts, magical gardens and raw food havens. Add the proximity of the towering Mayan ruins, unbelievable crystal-clear natural cenotes and amazing jungle adventures, it’s no wonder that more and more westerners are discovering and relocating to this incredible heaven on earth!
Tulum is made up of 2 parts: boho-chic beaches and the much more affordable village, Tulum’s town centre. Though the playa (beach) is the place to be, we also recommend staying a few nights in town to explore the local world (and save a few dollars!).
There’s so much to immerse yourself in that it’s hard to narrow our favourite must-see and do experiences, but these are our top recommendations to tick off your bucket list:
Swim in a crystal clear cenote.
We were totally mesmerised when we first saw these breathtaking cenotes adorned with hanging vines. Created by the collapse of their limestone ceilings to reveal a secret subterranean world of groundwater pools, they were the main source of water for the ancient Mayans and are considered sacred.
Just a short scooter ride away from Tulum, you’ll find the Grand Cenote, which is a cave with two openings. One water hole is quite built up and commercial, but when you make your way to the second, you’ll find a much more natural and oh-so stunningly beautiful, refreshing place to swim. If you can spare the time, we recommend a visit to Xcan Che, Dos Ojos and Ik Kil too – they’re a little further away, but all gorgeous spots that will completely blow your mind!
Snack and swing at Matcha Mama
This local little matcha hut is by far the cutest cafe we’ve ever stumbled across! Built in rustic white wood with cute rope swings, tropical palm trees and all the flamingo vibes, this is a necessary pitstop for an after-swim snack. Try their vegan ice-creams with added nut butter and granola toppings, accompanied by a chilled matcha chai or a healthy smoothie for the perfect pick-me-up.
Bliss out at the Casa de las Olas eco-resort
Hello to the most peaceful paradise, aka Casa de las Olas. The eco-resort is built on the oldest house in the beach and is decorated in a sleek, eco-friendly design (think Scandinavian chic meets tropical Tulum), in a quiet, secluded part of Tulum beach road.
The focus on eco and sustainability is high here and they are one of the only hotels on the playa using solely solar power and rain/cenote water. Needless to say, the food is based only on fresh, organic ingredients and cooked by the house chefs. The personalised service (our host ‘bear’ took amazing care of us) will make you feel more like you’re staying at a friend’s place than in a hotel. Make sure you go on the ‘Bear-Tour’.
Find inner peace and Yoga at Sanara
As soon as we walked in to the magical gardens of Sanara, we understood why this place is considered a yoga haven in Tulum! A few steps from the pristine turquoise ocean lies the most beautiful and peaceful studio we’ve ever seen. Daniela led us through a vinyasa class that was cleaning our minds and challenging every little muscle, leaving us with sore arms for days.
Apres-yoga, we tried their beautiful Coconut Café – their exciting menu based on a healthy digestive diet is gluten, grain and dairy free, all made in-house and tickled all our senses. You have to try the chicken quesadillas, the ‘cheese’ made from coconut is divine! So is the broccoli salad bowl. Oh – and make sure to order their coconut corn chips and homemade breads. We could honestly eat here every day of the week!!
Sooth your soul with sound at Yoga Dicha
Sound has been used in various ancient cultures for thousands of years as a tool for healing our physical, mental, spiritual and emotional sides. After a day filled with amazing adventures exploring Tulum town, this Sound Healing class was the most soothing and relaxing experience we could have ever imagined – we left feeling cleansed, calm and emotionally connected.
And, if you need another reason to visit, Yoga Dicha supports a local dog rescue shelter by offering a percentage of the studio proceeds to their important work of rehousing dogs in the area. Amazing!
Search for inspiring traffic signs.
Tulum has many quirks, but this was by far our favourite. Randomly placed traffic signs are dotted all over town as if they were normal signs, with messages like ‘Follow Your Dreams’ and ‘Live In The Present’. Whilst biking around the beach and all the way to town, they pop up when you least expect it. We encourage you to make it a scavenger hunt to find them all!
Take yourself back in time at the Mayan ruins
We were so mesmerised by the rich Mayan culture and history. The Tulum ruins are just a short ride away and we were lucky to get in at 7.30am – a man showed us in and we were surprised to find we were ALL ALONE! We couldn’t believe our luck – it felt like we were in a sacred world full of history and we got a real sense of how life would have been here in ancient times.
Soak up the scenery and immerse yourself in the history before making your way to the secluded Santa Fe beach for a morning swim and sunbake. Like most ruins, this is a tourist attraction, so try to escape the crowds and get there early – visiting this sacred place completely alone for sunrise is next to magical!
If you have more time we highly recommend you to take a day trip to Chitchen Itza Ruin! One of the world’s seven wonders, is an attraction well worth the trip. With its 27m high pyramid and archaeological ruins dotted around the grounds, we could easily get lost in how it might have been living here centuries ago when the sun, moon and stars were understood in a way we seem to have forgotten now. Get to the ruins just before opening time, as it is an attraction catering to hordes of tourists which can taint the experience. Try head out from Tulum at 6am and stop for breakfast in the quaint, colourful town of Valladolid on the way.
Scream for Ice Cream at ‘I Scream Bar’
This is the one place on the Tulum Beach strip that you can’t cycle past and miss because of the ‘ice cream’ screams! We didn’t really know what was going on here, except that under the shade of an old car, people always seemed really happy, excited and laughing. Curiosity got the better of us and we discovered that it’s one of the best party places in town where the locals hang out and drink mescal all night.
Fittingly named ‘I Scream Bar’, this place seems like it’s an ice cream place, but really it only has 2 flavours of vegan ice cream each day – so really, it’s just a place to drink, dance, socialise and chant ‘ice cream’ together every 10 minutes! It might sound strange but we had so much fun and can’t recommend stopping by enough. Make sure to have a serve of vegan ice-cream too! It’s absolutley delish!
Get your abs on at Amanasala
We were spoilt for a day at Amansala and quickly fell in love with this health retreat where fit crowds gather for bikini bootcamps and training sessions.
Set in an amazing jungle loft with wooden weights and eco-friendly equipment, we kicked off the day with a Core Fire class was led by Ryan Burke – this man knows how to sculpt a bod! He went from an alcoholic to the cover of men’s health in a matter of months and has since s trained world champion fitness models! He crams so much info and tips in one lesson that we just wished to stay in the resort for 3 weeks to come back home with brand new bikini booties! Exhausted from training we enjoyed the delicious low-carb breakfast buffet in the beach cabanas, lazed by the infinity pool and did some work in the hammocks before we finished the day off with the most fun Latino fitness dance class – best of kinds! We left grinning ear to ear ready to continue to dance the night away!
Sing your lungs out at Clan-Destino
A night that ends in karaoke is always a good night, and hidden in the grounds of a hostel you’ll find a stunning, natural cenote garden where locals hang out to chat, sing and enjoy life in the wee-hours!
The kitchen serve up ah-mazing burgers all night, and when the munchies hit – you must try their 30 pesos brownies.. drool-worthy!
Eat tacos at La Eufemia with the locals
There are countless amazing restaurants to visit in Tulum, but when hanging out with the locals, the one go-to taco place for both the food and the amazing beach vibe is La Eufemia. This is THE PERFECT place to start a fun night out! Hidden in a tiny alleyway between the big hotels, you’ll discover the cutest little beach bar with a chilled, fun vibe. And the tacos are oh-so-good! You get served only the bread with the meat you choose and then you serve yourself the rest of your taco fillings in a buffet bar. Did someone say a bowl of endless guacamole…? YES PLEASE!
Dine in style at Casa Jaguar
This open-air jungle garden restaurant is one of the most popular on the strip, and we weren’t disappointing. Immersed in gentle, jungley beats, warm lighting from the candles hanging overhead, we were served by the lovely Jose and happily make our way through his menu recommendations bite-by-bite. From mezcal, gin and bourbon based cocktails to their caveman style menu prepared in an open kitchen, our taste buds were beyond spoilt.
Hot tip: their tuna tostada appetizer was out of this world – the fish was so fresh it melted in our mouths and the flavoursome combination of sweet and spicy made it an absolute must-try!
Party like a rock star at Gitano
If you want more of a party vibe, this is the place to see and be seen. In a gorgeous, lush garden you’ll find a cosy labyrinth of bars, dance floors, DJs and beautiful people.
They’ve really created the ideal Tulum vibe by adorning the tree tops with glittering lights, complementing the soft house style music perfectly. It gets pretty crowded here, so get in early to enjoy their amazing cocktail list and cosy seating areas before you start rubbing shoulders with the hip crowd.
Get your luxe on at Habitas
Set amidst the shade of slim and tall palm trees you will find the coolest hotel in Tulum.
Incredibly chic, the hotel attracts a young and hip crowd to stay in their 35 large and luxurious rooms which are all individually dotted around and are the most beautiful spaces you have ever seen. If you have room in your budget for a bit of luxury, this place should be on your list.
If you don’t, you can still enjoy a day of chilling by the picturesque infinity pool, sip fresh mocktails and devour their fish tacos – all expertly prepared by their in-house chefs. Habitas is all about the music and they bring in guest DJs and performers, so make sure to check out their schedule for some fancy dancing under the canopied stars.
Vibe out with Salsa Sundays at La Zebra
Head down to La Zebra on a Sunday night for a free salsa class and then break those shapes and move those hips to a live band beating out the best tunes. It’s a gorgeously casual vibe where most kick their shoes off to enjoy barefoot dancing in the sand. Get ready to move with the locals!
Shop ‘til you drop in Playa del Carmen
Tulum is a shopping haven for all things beautiful – but make sure your pockets run deep!
If they don’t, and you get a chance to visit Playa del Carmen on the way to Tulum, we recommend stopping here for a spot of shopping instead. You’ll find similar things to buy but for a whole lot cheaper than Tulum. Playa del Carmen has a long shopping street, 5th Avenue, where you find a great versatility of shops to suit all tastes; from touristy pieces, local boutiques to high street brands, but off the side streets you find the best boutiques. We recommend checking out local brands like Brizas Bikinis which are owned by three local women: one sister is the designer, the other is the sales rep and their mother is the seamstress. They’re really some of the most amazing bikinis we have ever seen!
While you’re in Playa del Carmen, we recommend a visit to the newly opened Frida Kahlo museum which is an interactive and informative exhibition of her work. And for some Michelin star-presented food without the price tag, visit La Coronela just off 5th Avenue for an authentic experience and great service. We also recommend a 1h massage on the beach to soothe your tired feet – it will only set you back $20 US!