You’ve heard these before: “Tulum is magical,” “You have to go to Tulum!,” “You haven’t been to Tulum yet?” and every other iteration.. every single one of them are true, Tulum is a must-visit for anyone who loves the ocean.
As much as I love the ocean and spend countless weekends at local beaches surfing, swimming, sailing, paddle-boarding and kayaking, I have never been much of a beach vacationer. I have always preferred an immersive, culture-filled week in Paris or London, Seoul or Tokyo, or a long weekend in SF or LA to see friends, family and get out of New York for a quick getaway. But this year, I decided to give myself a laid-back, relaxing vacation with no real itinerary outside of eat, beach, sleep, repeat. It couldn’t have come at a better time. Tulum was not just an escape from the lingering winter chill in New York, but a cure that helped ease away stress and anxiety, relaxed my overworked body, and gave me perspective on life.
I came across Nest Tulum on Travel + Leisure while looking up places to stay. I was hesitant at first, the property had only one TripAdvisor review and a limited social presence, but the referral-only prerequisite, curated Instagram photos and nine bungalow/room limit were enough to get me to commit. It was probably one of the best travel risks I have taken, and it is a place I consider my Tulum home away from home. I referred so many of my friends, and a few have already book their trip. My TripAdvisor review here.
[[ the property walking to the ocean ]]
[[ view from ocean 2, facing the ocean directly ]]
[[ the shared living space. my white/sofa spot all the way on the left, where i ate my breakfast, curled up to read, and fell asleep after a glass of wine. james and juan carlos basically re-built the entire place, and sourced all the decor from mexico. the lighting fixture is hand-woven in mexico and can be found all throughout the property ]]
[[ daily drinks start at 5pm – i took a shot of tequila every night before dinner (can you believe it?) ]]
[[ lounging before dinner ]]
[[ everything is so authentic, lived in and welcoming. i loved the red blanket so much that i went out hunting for it in town, but couldn’t find it. i asked if i could buy it and it is now draped on my chair in new york, an awesome reminder of my trip ]] [[ la suerte del coyote is fairly new, with coffee, food, bar and good music. best part is that its literally across the street from nest ]]
[[ i went to a yoga class at sanara. they have classes mon-sat, 8:30-10am, 10:15-11:45am and 17pm, sun 10:15-11:45am. ahau has classes at 8:30am and 10am daily. a lot of the hotels/resorts like maya, be tulum and nomade have their own yoga sessions around 8/9am ]]
casa banana was always packed with a good crowd, good for couples and groups. with an argentinean twist, steak and seafood are mostly wood-oven cooked
casa jaguar is located on the jungle side, food influenced by asia, europe and mexico. casa jaguar owns thursday nights. tourists, locals, everyone
hartwood is the place to go. its been buzzed about since it opened in 2010, and the hype lives on. there was a long line of people that started around 1:30/2pm every day, with “doors” opening at 5:30pm. i’m sure the food is delicious, but i didn’t feel like standing in line for four hours alongside the dusty, smoggy road. peaceful beach > hartwood. maybe next time!
arca is next door to hartwood. it is farm to table mexican cuisine and a great option if you can’t get a decent time for hartwood (or don’t feel like waiting)
tres galeones has three outposts, the taqueria de puerto in located in tulum. food is made in an airstream and the dining area is lit up with christmas lights, perfect spot for late night eats
posada margarita is the italian spot if you’re craving italian (it may also be the only italian spot on the strip..). the owner and some of the waiters all hail from italy (ours was a lawyer in italy, a former neighbor of the owner, who decided to come and help out in paradise). the food was good, not amazing as people rave, but then again, i don’t know why i went to get italian while in mexico. i’ve had better, but the scene is super fun, super european
[[ caravana, one of the chicest boutiques on the strip ]]
[[ i ended up picking up a pair of exclusive ancient greek sandals x caravana sandals, in black of course ]]
[[ the famed coqui coqui on a surprisingly quiet afternoon ]]
[[ waiting for lunch.. service was terrible ]]
[[ when in tulum, and at coqui coqui, get the chlorophyll water. its supposed to be ultra hydrating ]]
[[ just an afternoon snack. octopus salad and fish tacos (and not the basic kind) ]]
[[ ended up picking up maderas ]]
[[ checking out the grounds ]]
[[ macando at nomade is the place to go when you’re looking for “holistic cuisine,” vegan, gluten free and vegetarian “prepared with the intention to heal from the heart and nurture your soul.” the service though was unfortunately. i went twice and had the same waiter – forgetful, pushy, slow, and he pre-added the tip before bringing me the check ]]
[[ delicious vegan at mocando ]]
[[ post-shopping, in need of a drink ]]
[[ back for more at mocando / nomade ]]
[[ each place in tulum claims to be human-centered or free-flowing, open-minded and for those ready to learn, share, awaken the soul. and as hokey as all of it sounds when you read it online, the experience fully lives up to the hype ]]
[[ go to raw love inside ahau tulum. the juices and smoothies, vegan breakfast, lunch, and dessert are my jam. i had the most delicious vegan chocolate cake for breakfast, topping some regular chocolate cakes i’ve had ]]
[[ caught sleeping before dinner ]]
[[ dinner under the lights and stars at gitano. gitano is a mezcal bar, known as the trendy spot to go for a drink, dinner and dancing. and with its trendy reputation comes bad service. the food was good, but i recommend grabbing a drink and heading somewhere more authentic ]]
[[ and we just happen to be there during the full moon, where there’s a full moon party at papaya playa. djs spin until sunrise, people dance and hang out ]]
cn traveler pulled together a list of where all the locals go, ie the owners of hartwood, posada margarita, and casa jaguar. on that list (included below for convenience):
truffled pasta at hechizo at rancho san eric
ceviche and whole fried fish at el camello
antojitos la chiapaneca
real tacos al pastor at antojitos la chiapaneca
vegetarian: banana bread, fresh tamarind juice at restaurare
pozolería la mexicanita for authentic food from guerrero, oaxaca
drinks at todos santos on wednesday nights
la regia tulum for experimental mexican junk food
pizza at el almacen at villas tulum
mercado comunitario de tulum for natural, local products
My new friend Kevin recommended a party that happens at Dos Ojos Cenote, so ask around what’s going on the week that you’re there.
Heather recommended Chamico’s, a beachside cafe, but I didn’t get to make it out there. The NYTimes says this: “So laid back and charming you will swear you’ve seen it in a movie (you haven’t). Naturally, Chamico’s has no phone, website or address. To get there, turn off the highway onto a small dirt road (look for the sign for the Jashita Hotel) and drive down to Soliman Bay. Give the guard at the makeshift gate a look that says you know what you’re doing. Then drive past palatial villas until the road ends. Claim one of the rickety plastic tables in a thicket of palm trees and settle in. Your menu choices are fried fish or ceviche of whatever was caught that morning, followed by icy Sol beer. (Expect to pay about 300 pesos.) There are only two rules at Chamico’s: cash only and don’t tell your friends. (Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. — or whenever the owner feels like it.)”
I didn’t get to do anything else, but there is a great deal to check out. Next time I’ll be sure to hit up a cenote, go hiking along the ruins, fishing off the coast, windsurfing at ahau, and more yoga. Let me know if you have any questions, or want an intro to Nest!