Travel Guide: Tulum

Despite it being unseasonably warm in London this week, I can't help having a few twinges of the holiday blues since getting back from an amazing trip to Tulum in Mexico. Tulum is unlike anywhere I have been before; the perfect combination of white sandy beaches, untamed jungle and delicious food with some ancient Mayan ruins thrown in for good measure. The laid back hippy vibe is infectious and I felt totally at home and 'zen' as soon as we arrived.

The area is becoming more and more touristy, and you can't help notice the big plots of jungle advertised for sale. Therefore I imagine more and more hotels will soon start popping up which will eventually take something of the rustic charm away from the place, so I would urge anyone who is thinking about going, to go soon.

Here is my guide on some highlights from our stay and where to stay, eat and visit whilst you are there.

Nest Tulum

We stayed at a new guest house which only opened in December, so its still a bit of a secret (taxi drivers were mostly dumb founded) and it was absolutely gorgeous. The d├ęcor was stunning and we had an amazing view straight out into the ocean. It only has eight rooms so it feels really intimate and definitely has the nicest, quietest spot on the beach. Breakfast was simple and delicious, with fresh fruit, granola and eggs and the staff were amazing.

Next door, a short walk along the beach is Be Tulum which is great for lunch, as Nest itself doesn't have a restaurant. The downside from being at the quieter end of the beach is that the hub of restaurants is about a 10/15 minute walk away and you are about a 40 minute cycle to the Mayan runs and the town. This suited us fine - taxis are easily available and cheap and the hotel had bikes you could use whenever you needed them.

Happy hour at Nest Tulum

Eating and drinking

As it is so hot, we mostly stayed on the beach side of the Boca Paila during the day and then in the evening enjoyed the restaurants and bars on the jungle side (mosquito spray a serious must have!).

A lot of people rave about Hartwood, a restaurant which was recently given a killer review in the New York Times. This has meant that to get a table you need to queue at 3pm the evening you wish to dine, with no guarantee you'll get in. We decided not to bother (who can honestly be arsed when they're on holiday to queue when there are so many great places to eat) but in the end, we happened to be passing after an afternoon mosey around the shops and only had to wait five minutes. I have to say for the hype, it was a bit disappointing. The food was good, but not stand-out compared to other places we hade eaten. I had the octopus which was really salty and the ribs (their signature dish) was pretty average. I would say that the atmosphere there is amazing and the staff were super friendly and helpful so it was a lovely evening, but if you miss out for the queues I really wouldn't sweat it.

The two places which stood out food-wise were definitely Be Tulum and Casa Banana. Both served amazing food in a lovely setting. At Be Tulum, have the ceviche, crispy shrimp and chicken tacos. Oh and the smoothies and fresh coconuts are exceptional - watching a guy with a machete chop up a coconut ready for you to drink is pretty special #skills. At Casa Banana try the shrimp skewers and the steak, all cooked on a roaring fire.

When it comes to drinks, you have to get down with some Mezcal cocktails and there aint no better than the ones at Gitano. Lovely atmosphere and spicy cocktails make for a good night but avoid the food, it wasn't great and Peter got food poisoning after snacking on their pulled pork tacos.

Be Tulum


Things to do

We got horrendously sunburnt on our first day so decided that we NEEDED to get a spa treatment at Coqui Coqui to ease our tight skin. We has the most amazing coconut scrub, Aloe Vera wrap and full body massage over looking the sea from their treatment room - a seriously magical experience. They literally squeezed aloe vera gel straight from the plant, all over us which felt incredible. They use their own oils as part of the treatments which you can purchase in their shop, all of which smell amazing but my favourites were Tobacco and Manderas.

Talking a cycle along the beach road to the Mayan Ruins was amazing and you should definitely see them whilst you are there if you can. On the ride, you will cycle past the open sea where you can watch pelicans fishing, through thick, humid jungle and then finally onto the historical site which is truly impressive. My favourite part was the amount of lizards and iguanas at the site, all languishing in the sun and on the monuments like they had been there for thousands of years. It is quite touristy, as you would expect, and super hot so go early to beat the crowds and the heat. Also, make sure you take small denominations of money - the entrance fee is low and the ticket office won't give change so you need to exact amount.

Finally, you should visit a cenote - a natural pool which is filled with incredible wildlife. There was one just a five minute cycle from Nest and we went for a wander round. People go swimming and kayaking on the cenote but the 'swim at your own risk' sign, featuring a crocodile was enough to put me off that idea. It is beautiful though, and really untamed so if you are braver than I, you should check it out and go snorkling. There are jaguars in the jungle which you can often see on the edge of the water and amazing fish and birds around the area.

Coqui Coqui

Mayan Ruins


Shopping on the beach road is pretty varied. Lots of boutiques have popped up, selling leather sandals, linen clothing and beachwear at high prices. They were nice to mosey round, but I was more interested in the Mexican artisans which are selling some lovely textiles and handmade home accessories such as hand-woven baskets and dream catchers. The best spot was just beyond Gitano and Hartwood so if you are going to queue for the restaurant, mixing in a shopping trip makes it a little less of a slog.

Also nearby is a great shop selling craft and speciality Mexican spirits, including lots of Mexcal and Tequila in intricate bottles. We went a bit crazy in there - especially after sampling five shots of vintage mescal - sneaky sales tactic.

My hoard of souvenirs

Hand woven cushions, throws and home accessories.

These are just a few ideas, I would love to hear any other things people would recommend as I will definitely be going back. Beautiful beautiful place - can't recommend it enough. Book immediately.

H x