Take me to Tulum
For all the times I have gone to Central America, I have not yet been to Tulum. Well, I may have rolled through there on my way to some random place in the jungle with my parents as a kid, but I have not stopped there to take a breath. I’ve been eyeballing this place for years, and I’m not sure why. I feel called to go there for a cosmic reason. If you haven’t thought about Tulum yet, and often settle for the more traveled destinations in the Yucatan, let me show you what you’re missing.
Tulum is adorned with this light… it’s different than the light in other parts of the Yucatan. Yes, this is an assessment from photos alone on my part, but you can tell the difference. Rather than the intense colors often marked by the red, green and yellow primary colors, Tulum is steeped in grayscales across a tropical background. You’ll find that many hotels there have adopted this rustic minimalistic vibe, marked by contemporary art designed to be the backdrop of your next selfie.
Two properties that have done this well are Be Tulum and Casa Malca. Be Tulum is an oceanfront property that is boutique and rustic but drips with freeform luxury. The rooms all have a different rustic vibe and are appointed to reflect the cultural backdrop. Plunge pools can be found attached to a number of the suites and cabanas provide a view of the sea. You’ll dine mostly beachside or in the sand and if you like minimalist plates, you’ll love what they have to offer in the flavor department.
Photos: Be Tulum
Casa Malca is a different kind of property that you’re likely not expecting in Tulum. It is an Instagrammers dream destination come true, and you’d almost think the designers planned it that way. Hmmm, brilliant marketing much? You’ll find more color on this property but there is still this rough luxury edgy vibe that makes this place less stuffy than the polished palaces up the road. The rooms are unique and have a flair for artistic humor. You’ll turn a corner and run into a thousand chandeliers only to turn around to spot the perfect outdoor couch hanging from chains about two stories up. Persian rugs outside? Yes, they have them. Chef appointed plates, yep, they have you covered.
Photos: Casa Malca
If you like to stay on your own away from the hotel vibe, Todd and I often choose this option over hotels, you check out my saved Airbnb wishlist if you’d like.
The city was actually one of the last places the Mayan people settled before their population was wiped out by European settlers. You’ll find some remaining ruins there including one on a cliff about 40-feet above the ocean. This location was ideal for trade with access to sea routes and was positioned well to be protected in the event of invasion. Early architecture resembles Chichen Itza, which is a far bigger version of what you’ll find in Tulum. There are three main ruins still standing in Tulum which are small-scale compared to what you’ll find in the rest of the Mayan empires. I think is partially what I love about this destination, a small piece of history has managed to stay alive despite the years of wars and abandonment.
What to Do in Tulum
Tulum has what are called cenotes, which are blue hole lagoons that you can explore in a few different ways. Some you’ll get guided to, others you can stumble on yourself, but they make for a different way to explore the jungle. Many are combined with caves that you can swim through and can get pretty popular. Ask the locals when the best time of day is to explore them.
There are plenty of parks tucked away in the jungle, all primed for photos ops and wildlife spotting. You can take a guided tour, some will require this, but others you can move at your own speed. I won’t reinvent the wheel as thousands of reviews have already explored this area. So pop over to Trip Advisor to see some of the outdoor hot spots and pick your pleasure.
Local Food and Shopping
There are plenty of places to check out as far as food and shopping are concerned, but expect the shopping and dining experiences to mimic that of a more boutique vibe like the hotels. You’ll have some high-end shops to cruise, but Tulum is less about shopping and more about the environment. So hold on to your wallet and know that you’ll spend more on the experience of being there.
Have I convinced you to go to Tulum yet? Here are some of the latest airfares (with one-month advance purchase) to get there from Chicago, New York, Miami, and LA. You’ll have to drive part of the way, which tends to be far easier and affordable than always hiring a car or taking taxies. Plus, you’ll actually get to explore with a car, so, highly recommended.
Oh… and if I should create a retreat to Tulum for those of you who want to learn how to build an online business, hit up the comments section and let’s do that in paradise.