Headed to Tulum? Read This First for Where to Stay, Eat and Play in This Beloved, Beachy Town
Lately, you cannot browse Instagram without feeling like everyone you know is in Tulum—either drinking rosé on the beach or trying out the dances they learned on TikTok at jungle discos under a full moon. Mexico is the most-traveled destination from the United States, and for many visitors, the sheltered experience of an all-inclusive resort in Cancun is their idea of Mexico. But there’s so much more to explore. Once a hidden gem, the accessibility of this destination and allure of a cross-pollination of Mexican and Venice Beach cultures is no longer just for the well-traveled. After personally visiting Tulum six times recently, these are the must-stay, play and slay places that should be on your highly organized friend’s list of what to do once you arrive in Tulum. Tulum Itinerary
WHERE TO STAY
This darling of Instagram is a beachside eco treetop resort. If Tarzan had hired John Lautner and told him to use sticks instead of concrete, this might be the result. Our suite was accessed by a rope bridge, possessed a private tiled pool with an accompanying swing and only had a single outlet. Candlelight was the only way to get undressed, and the sun was the morning alarm. Unplugging is both overtly and directly encouraged here. Our favorite feature was writing a note for requests, putting the note inside a wooden ball and then depositing it in a bamboo mail delivery service that sent it careening though some unseen maze to the staff. The on-site spa’s design is magnificent—unlike anything we had ever seen. They offer yoga, chakra harmonization and a series of massages at the spa or in your very own room.
If your aesthetic is a post-apocalyptic modern beach, then this resort, which is located in groves of palms at the far end of Tulum’s peninsula and is replete with polished concrete villa floors and railroad beam construction, is your stay of choice. Often sold out months in advance, this exclusively priced micro resort will allow you to rub shoulders with both LA and Europe’s semi-private jet set crowd. We love both of their pools, healthy food options and the serene setting of their beach lounge. If you stay here, we recommend actually staying here (as in never leaving the resort). You won’t miss much. It is an easy walk to some of our favorite places to eat along with nearby nightclubs.
Your money will go a long way in Tulum. For what you might spend on a dull all-inclusive room for two in Cancun (even including the sugary frozen drinks and all-you-can-eat nacho bar), you can rent a mansion-esque Airbnb in Tulum. Our last stay in Tulum was priced under $300 per night, which was at an Airbnb that included three bedrooms, two pools (one in the courtyard and one on the roof), concrete floors, a fridge with a computer screen and a push-away wall. Of course, you will have to make your own margaritas and bike to the beach—but wait, those aren’t downsides at all!
WHERE TO EAT
If there was a Burrito Amor back in California, I might eat there 12-14 times every week. On one five-day trip to Tulum, we managed to eat there six times (mostly while hungover). They offer a simple menu of mainly burritos but have a fantastic collection of fresh juices, lattes and beers. We once counted 14 glasses on our table for four (once again, hungover).
Eating Italian food in Mexico might seem counterintuitive, but Posada Margherita is an exception. This oceanfront Italian restaurant is tucked into a boutique hotel and is furnished with reclaimed windows, a thatched roof and white tiled floors. We love eating dinner here at night, listening to the ocean, enjoying their housemade pasta and finishing with one of the best tiramisus you’ll ever have.
There are three reasons to try this hidden raw vegan spot in Tulum. One, after three days away from LA you really miss Venice Beach. Two, you are a staunch vegan; three, you are one of the weirdos that eats healthy—even on vacation. Whatever your motivation, Raw Love will not disappoint. Everything on the menu is amazing, but we love the avocado toast (insert eye roll); trust us…you will love it!
There are 6,000 cenotes in the Yucatán Peninsula. A cenote is a natural swimming hole that exposes groundwater. They are freshwater, crystal clear and a better option than the ocean for cooling down. Most charge a small entry fee and can often be crowded. Our favorite cenotes near Tulum are:
Cenote Xkeken (Valladolid)
Cenote Carwash (Tulum)
Cenote Dos Ojos (Tulum)
Cenote Ik Kil Chichen Itzá
Cenote Suytun (Valladolid)
Mayan Ruins of Tulum
This ancient Mayan city perched above the ocean on a cliff in Tulum is a must-visit. If you’re staying in Tulum, the entrance to the park is a bike ride away. Make sure you take a bottle of water, as a self-guided tour through the ancient city midday can be a little draining. You will also want to bring a swimsuit because there is a private beach (available to guests), and the photo opportunities alone are worth the price of admission.
3 Must-Try Restaurants:
Lake Bacalar: 133 miles from Tulum
Valladolid: 64 miles from Tulum
Chemax: 42 miles from Tulum
Isla Holbox: 90 miles from Tulum
Best Nightlife Spots:
Best Beach Club:
-Papaya Playa Project
Must-Order Drink: PPP Punch
Must-Order Drink: Clukwa
-Ziggy’s Beach Club
Must-Order Drink: Santarita
-La Zebra Hotel Tulum
Must-Order Drink: Mezcal Margarita