As a born and bred Angeleno, I was surprised that it'd taken me this long to book an extended stay in Mexico. The first thing you notice landing in Cancun is the heat, it's so thick you could cut it, wrapping itself around you until you realize the only way to cope is to submit. A little haggling and an almost two-hour cab ride later we found ourselves on this winding unpaved jungle-lined road that is home to a number of eco resorts, restaurants, and small shops.
Nomade Eco Hotel featured below.
Growing up in LA, I'm no stranger to Mexican cuisine, but a lifetime of carne asada, and papas and chorizo sopes could not have prepared me for all the amazing eats we were about to encounter. There is no lack of amazing seafood in the Yucatan Peninsula, which is in the heart of the Caribbean Sea. A lot of the restaurants in Tulum pride themselves on serving their daily catches and you can't ask for anything fresher than a meal that comes straight from the ocean to your plate. Also, most restaurants are outdoors or open aired on either the jungle or the beach side, prepared to dine al fresco.
Below is a peek at the coveted Hartwood.
Where to Eat/Drink:
THE REAL COCONUT
Good for all my Cafe Gratitude, green juice toting babes. Located in the Sanara Hotel, the Real Coconut gives you a place to repent from all the pasta you ate at Posada Margarita the night before. With a menu full of juices, elixirs and plenty of outlets, it's a perfect spot the catch up on some work and still be seaside.
We spent our second day beach bumming at the cabanas, drinking, reading and eating whatever the passing local vendors had to offer. Once hunger started to really settled in we walked a couple of steps to La Popular located within Nomade. The Citric and Green Catch of the Day came with whole roasted yams and beets, alongside 4 whole grilled shrimp and was the perfect cap on the most luxuriously lazy beach day and by far my favorite meal of the trip!
Seats at this place are so highly coveted it's advised to stop by at 2pm to get a same day reservation for dinner. Needless to say, the food was so phenomenal we convinced the hostess to let us make a reservation for dinner for the next three days. I recommend the Coronado, served on a bed of sautéed Mayan spinach and diced, roasted pineapples with a side of hot pink pickled radishes.
Honorable mentions: Casa Jaguar, Posada Margeritia, Batey Mojito Guarapa Bar, Flor de Michoacan
Things to Do:
When you're done being a beach bum, go see some of the numerous caves filled with crystal-clear turquoise water. You can book a tour but we opted to take a taxi and go on our own. The water contains mineral-rich algae to exfoliate your skin, not to mention the area is steeped in Mayan history—this is a place that was once used to communicate with the Gods. While there are many choices, Sac Actun, a recently opened cenote, was by far my favorite. Your tour guide takes you through caves where you get to swim with fish, see some bats, fossils and have to duck and dive around stalactite, ready yourself for a day of adventure!
A major landmark located about two hours from Tulum, and one of the most visited archaeological sites in Mexico. We rented a car for $80 USD a day and drove ourselves, it was nice to see what life outside the beach town looked like and it made getting around the strip evening faster. Go early to avoid having the sun beat you up!
Things to Consider
Taxis are an option but bikes are readily available at all the hotels. The charm of living out my Corinne Bailey Rae a la "Go Put Your Records On" fantasy was not lost on me. Turn on your favorite playlist, throw your phone in the basket and get to pedaling!
The bike rides/walks back at night can be precarious because it's so dark, bring a flashlight!
Bring all the cash you think you may need. It's just easier to pay everything in pesos, and we'd been told by many friends not to bother with the ATMs as they seldom work. Going into town to get more cash also cuts into beach time but there's an HSBC readily available if you need to re-up.
Something to note is that it is difficult to find repellant in Tulum with deet in it so bring as much as you think you need, we managed fine with one travel sized bottle. The mosquitos on the jungle side can get a little crazy even though cedar is constantly burning to keep them at bay.