My Experience in Tulum
Tulum had been on mine and Paul’s list to visit for a while. We had planned to go a couple years ago but when we found out I was pregnant plans had to change because of Zika. We decided for our first child-free vacation together (& with some friends) we would go to Tulum. We were also celebrating Lily’s birthday so we did our research to ensure we would maximize our 4 full days with must-see places, restaurants, beaches, etc. I think the easiest way to describe our trip in detail is by breaking down each day and how we spent it, along with my review of everything along the way. Obviously some of you were following along on IG stories so you probably have an idea of what went down, but here’s everything you didn’t see, too.
We flew out of LAX super early direct into Cancun. Flight was 4.5 hours, super easy. We used a car service to transport us from the airport into Tulum and the drive was about 2 hours. It flew by in my opinion. Once we arrived in Tulum around 5:00PMish we checked into our hotel, the Nomade. The hotel is stunning, complete with Moroccan decor everywhere, a vibey little restaurant, lots of lush greenery, and beautiful beach mattresses to lounge on during the day. We were very much pleased with our choice from what we saw the initial hour.
There was really only enough time for dinner Day 1 so we headed to Casa Jaguar for a chill first night. Wednesday night, as it happens, is not a night you can expect much action at night. The food at Casa Jaguar was good. Very LA – lots of plant-based dishes, seafood, and fancy cocktails. Decor, along with every other restaurant in Tulum was beautiful and jungle-y. After dinner we roamed the main street of Tulum and stopped for more drinks at a cute little bar called Mur Mur, where you sit on swings for your chairs. Everyone has asked if we felt safe roaming the street and the answer is yes. It’s a busy street where all the restaurants and shops are. Nothing about it felt sketch.
We planned to chill by the beach so we could get super tan before embarking on the rest of Tulum & taking pics (duh). On the beach it was super windy but beautiful blue skies and perfect temperature (80’s). Strangely it was NOT windy anywhere else but the beach FYI. We ate at our hotel for breakfast and lunch and very much felt like the food was mediocre. With everything being super planty, we were always left feeling a little hungry and there were no options that were very filling or hearty on the menus. I can pretty much say this goes for every place we ate…
The service at the Nomade is also no bueno. Hard to get anyone’s attention, they are pretty rude TBH, and they just were not friendly. I have traveled a lot and feel like this is the first time I’ve ever been somewhere in Mexico where the people were not friendly. Not to mention the place is not cheap, so you’d at least expect the service to be better than it was.
At sunset we went by the Azulik hotel to have cocktails and check out the rooftop nests, which are so beautiful and picturesque. The Azulik is definitely worth checking out because of its uniqueness and beautiful views of the expansive jungle. The vibe was super cute on the rooftop and crossing the sketchy ass bridge to get there was really fun. Depending on where you’re staying you’ll probably want to take a taxi to this hotel because it’s one of the first ones on the main strip, which is pretty far down.
Following sunset we went to dinner at Hartwood, which is one of the more popular restaurants in Tulum. We tried to eat dinner a littler later (like around 9ish) because it seems like the ambiance and vibe is a bit more elevated the later you wait. The food was good but limited. Same kind of thing as Casa Jaguar – plants, seafood, and some red meat. This is where I got my food poisoning…the ONE meal we didn’t all share, and then 8 hours later I was down for the count.
I was sick all day. Puking and other stuff so I was physically incapable of leaving my room. The rest of the group hit the ruins and Sacatun Cenote. They booked a tour guide so they knew exactly where to go and learned some history. From the sound of it, I would have hated it lol. Dark caves, bats, underwater, lizards, like my worst fears all combined. Basically the silver lining of me being sick that day is the group got to spontaneously plan an adventurous, action-packed day that they all enjoyed.
I ended up calling the concierge to find me a doctor to administer an IV because I knew my body was incredibly dehydrated. It took them a good 4.5 hours to find me a doctor and get him to my room, but I am SO grateful they managed to find a nice doctor who helped me tremendously. After my session with the Dr he told me it was 100% food poisoning. He was able to tell by the timeline of my symptoms and also by the fact that I was getting better towards the end of the day. I was given strict instructions to avoid seafood, spicy foods, fruit, veggies, and alcohol. So basically everything they serve in Tulum.
That night we had planned to go to Rosa Negra for dinner, which looked very cute and poppin, but unfortunately Lily started feeling sick so her and I had a romantical night in of feeling nauseas and watching Grace & Frankie. The others wandered into a restaurant that they enjoyed across from our hotel, which no one remembers the name of lol.
I was feeling SO much better the next morning but definitely not 100% and was pretty weak still. Paul got sick at this point so he was in for the day. We ended up renting bikes and riding around and shopping. There are tons of cute little boutiques all over Tulum that sell boho clothing, hats, home decor, etc. I found some cute things but nothing worth the price tags. Stuff was not cheap! I ended up buying some Copal, which is this incense burned literally everywhere in Tulum to ward off bugs and evil energy. Smells very earthy and woodsy, just my style. If Tulum was a perfume, it should 10000% be burnt Copal.
This day we also went by Casa Malca, which is Pablo Escobar’s old mansion that has been converted into a hotel. They charged us $50 to get in and I’m pretty sure they scammed us. Do people pay that normally to get in?? Basically we paid the cover fee to see the pretty wedding dress installation and get a photo, but IMO nothing else was that spectacular about the place. I would definitely try entering from the beach side to avoid paying the “cover charge.”
For our last night we went to Gitano for dinner. By far the cutest and yummiest meal of the trip. I mean, an entree on their menu was still roasted avocado, but it was tasty. Once again, we finished dinner hungry. Not entirely sure a group of non-vegan people who got sick from seafood are the key demographic for the style of food in Tulum. I was so craving a burrito with lots of greasy cheese and rice LOL. The boys ended up getting pizza from one of the street vendors on the street that they say was absolutely delicious.
Post dinner we were hoping to find a fun bar that plays upbeat music so we could dance and have a good time. And look, we aren’t looking for a club, but somewhere that serves drinks and play good music is all we want! Obviously “good music” is super subjective, but we are not into trance / house music. We like lyrics, we like Spanish music, we like Hip Hop. NO WHERE played this…we even tried the big party that everyone claimed was so good at Casa Jaguar but we ended up leaving after 15 minutes when the music was just bleh. We really struggled with this because after dinner we felt like there was nothing left to do. Especially because 4 out of 5 of us ended up being sick and unable to drink, it put a real damper on the nights.
My overall takeaway is this: Tulum has gorgeous decor and hotels. Our hotel is extremely overpriced, considering the poor service and the fact that our rooms were super dark, beds were unacceptably uncomfortable, and the towels were tiny. Like I’m sorry but for $800 a night I’d like a full-sized towel please. I can’t speak for the other hotels but by the attitude and service of the staff we encountered, I would imagine it’s the same everywhere. I typically enjoy immersing myself into the culture of the places I visit and I really didn’t feel like there was any. Yoga, sound baths, and house music isn’t really my idea of culture, and that’s the primary focus of Tulum.
The weather in January was beautiful (minus the annoying wind on the beach), the water was warm and seaweed free, and it hardly rained. Truly cannot complain about the weather whatsoever. The one positive about the wind though, is it blew away any bugs so we got zero mosquito bites! Well, I ended up getting ONE the last day because there was no wind, but I’m usually covered in bug bites on tropical vacations.
I found the overall vibe of Tulum to be very fabricated – like a zen wannabe Europe or something. It’s not for me but it is a beautiful place and I know lots of people love it. I would probably not go back but very glad we went because I would always wonder what it was like (mostly bc it’s one of the top destinations circulating on Instagram). My last thought is this: since we made it to Tulum kind of late in the game, I feel like maybe before IG blew it up it was more authentic and maybe just maybe the people and vibe was different? Who knows…but I do know the second a place becomes too trendy it loses its charm and that is definitely the feeling I got from Tulum.
Have any of you guys been to Tulum? Anyone planning to go anytime soon?
+ Bathing suits are all TAN + LINES
+ Butterfly string bracelets were purchased on the beach
+ Python dress is from ELLE A.
More vacation style pics here.