First off, we can safely say that Tulum is a MUST for anyone looking to add amazing vacation spots to their destination wish list. We had heard great things from a few friends and kept seeing amazing photos pop up in our Facebook feeds from others vacationing in Tulum, so we decided to go for it. Some family and friends voiced concern when they heard we were headed to Mexico, but we never once felt unsafe during our time there. Tulum is about an hour and a half outside of Cancun so we recommend booking a car service through the hotel to ensure a safe ride. Speaking of Hotels, you can stop your search now and just go book the Mi Amor Hotel! This place is amazing. We went in Mid December (the week before high season) and stayed in one of the Pool View rooms. It was on the second level overlooking the pool as well as the restaurant and bar. The rooms are beautiful, the staff is beyond friendly and helpful, the views are out of this world, and the food is top notch. One of the best parts of the hotel is that breakfast is included in the room rate. And this is not your average all you can eat type breakfast, it is fine dining level breakfast with bottomless mimosas. We ate here every morning because it was so good.
Now to the itinerary. We stayed in Tulum for 7 days and below is a good representation of our whole trip. Quick tip – make sure to exchange your US dollars for Pesos. When you pay in cash, you will get ripped off with the exchange. Most places only offer a 12-1 ratio even though you can exchange for closer to 20-1.
Day 1: We took an early flight and landed in Cancun at 10:30 AM. By the time we got our bags, it was 11:00 AM and the van that the hotel set up for us was waiting and ready. We got in and we were greeted with 2 ice cold Coronas. It was the perfect way to kick off the hour and a half drive. We arrived at the hotel at 12:30 and the manager at the front desk immediately handed us each a glass of champagne and gave us a full tour of the place to get the lay of the land. From there, we went up to our room to get settled and threw on our bathing suits and headed down to lay on a beach bed overlooking the water to enjoy the perfect weather. It was low 80s without a cloud in the sky. We ordered lunch from the day bed (it was delicious), had a few more drinks, and relaxed the day away. Before we knew it, dinner time was upon us. We showered up and grabbed a cab down the strip and headed to a brand new restaurant called Rosa Negra. It was a recommendation from the front desk of the hotel and it did not disappoint. It was one of our favorite meals of the trip, and that is saying something because the food in Tulum was AMAZING. It’s littered with top chefs from the US opening amazing restaurants. Back to Rosa Negra – the complimentary bread is beyond good, the guac was on point, and the chocolate sphere for dessert is a must.
Day 2: We woke up early, which we tend to do most days. We vacationed with the mentality of go hard during the day, have a great dinner, then maybe a quick after dinner drink and hit the bed. The first thing we did when we got up the second day was walk down the strip and rented bikes ($7/day per bike). This is something we HIGHLY recommend doing. The strip with all the hotels, bars, & restaurants is pretty long and you will save a ton of cab money by having a bike. Also, it’s a great way to get some exercise and is just a fun way to get around. Once we had our bikes, we decided to go check out a gym that was on the beach. It’s called the Tulum Jungle Gym and it is awesome. We went here 3 times during the trip. Getting a good workout in makes us feel less bad about eating and drinking our faces off the rest of the day! Below is a pic of the gym, it’s right on the beach and has everything you find in a traditional commercial gym.
Lunch: Most days we bypassed lunch by having a late breakfast (10:30ish) and instead grabbed chips and guac as a snack from numerous places up and down the beach. It was excellent everywhere.
Dinner: We had dinner at Mi Amor the second day in their restaurant by Paul Bentley. We had the grilled fish and roasted chicken. Both are delicious.
Day 3: Now to one of the main reasons to come to Tulum: the Mayan ruins! We woke up early and took a less than 10 minute bike ride to the ruins. We suggest going early as it draws big crowds. Quick tip – DO NOT wait in the huge line that you see to buy tickets. There are automated machines that almost nobody was using where you could buy your tickets with a credit card and bypass the line. We were lucky enough to overhear someone else suggest this tip, but for some reason very few others seemed to realize you could do it. We saved ourselves probably 45 minutes of wait time and walked right in. Once you are in, the area doesn’t feel too crowded because it is quite large. If you like history at all it’s fascinating to see. Also, the ruins overlook a beautiful beach where you can spend the day getting sun and taking a swim in the ocean.
Dinner: We tried to do a walk-in to probably the most popular restaurant in Tulum called Hartwood. Unfortunately, we didn’t make reservations ahead of time. It’s recommended to get them at least a month ahead of time, so we suggest making this reservation as soon as you book the trip! We didn’t get to eat there this night, but we made a plan to keep trying and will fill you in on that later in this post. When we got turned away from Hartwood, we walked down the street to find another option. We landed at a place called Gitano. They have a beautiful patio lit up with numerous candles and the food was great. It’s Tapas style small plates and you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu.
Day 4: We started the day with our usual great breakfast at Mi Amor and decided to hit up one of the “beach clubs”. We went to Coco Tulum and relaxed by the beach drinking beers all day. We really liked the vibe of this place as it had the style we love. They painted everything white :-).
Dinner: This was probably the biggest disappointment of the trip. We went to an Italian spot that is highly recommended online called Posada Margherita. We love Italian food and after reading amazing reviews expected this to be one of our favorite dinners. Unfortunately, it fell short of our expectations and we would not go back. There are so many great restaurants in Tulum that average isn’t worth it. However, if you are just looking for a pretty spot right on the water for a cocktail at sunset, this could be your place.
Day 5: Another MUST while you are in Tulum is hitting up one of the Cenotes. A Cenote is an underwater cave system popular for snorkeling & cave diving, plus wildlife viewing. We went to the Sac Atun cenote and loved it. We were lucky enough to have half the tour to ourselves where it was just us and the guide. They take you down to the water (pay the extra $10 for a wet suit, you will not regret it because the water is COLD) and you get right to it. The tour guide tells you all the history of the caves as you swim through them. You have snorkeling equipment with you so you also get to see how beautiful it is under the water. Warning, there are lots of bats in the caves. Most are sleeping because it’s day time, but they are most definitely there. On the second half of the tour, we were joined by another couple who didn’t spring for the wetsuits and ended up being very jealous of us. We were lucky enough to have a super cool guide who took us off the standard tour and brought us deeper into the caves than he normally would because we were with such a small group. At one point he had us all close our eyes, turn off the flash lights and open our eyes. When we opened our eyes, it was the darkest dark imaginable. It was briefly quite scary! If the flash lights stopped working, I have no idea if we would have been able to find our way out. Regardless, it was super cool and we feel like going to one of the Cenotes is a must while in Tulum.
After the Cenote, we decided to take a trip to Akumal beach. Akumal feels much more commercial and not nearly as boutiquey as Tulum. It was not our cup of tea and would not make our way back there when we go back. Although, one stop is worth making in Akumal – the La Buena Vida bar. They have 3 “tree house” spots where you can climb up the tree and drink from 20 feet up in the air overlooking the water. It’s a lot of fun.
Dinner: We had a low key dinner of pizza from Pizzeria Manglar. We were a bit tipsy when we got it, so our review might be a bit skewed lol. We enjoyed it and would get it again.
Day 6: We rode our bikes into “town” which is much different from the strip of hotels, restaurants, and bars. It definitely has a much less vacation town feel to it. We had heard of a hole in the wall spot for authentic Mexican food that we a must go spot called Antojitos la chaipaneca. This place is AMAZING!!! For under $10, we had some of the best Mexican food we have ever had. The tacos are soooo good. You must go here.
Dinner: We decided to have a low key dinner and ordered room service from the hotel restaurant. Quick tip, they do not have an in room menu or mention that you are able to order room service, but if you call down to the front desk and ask, they most definitely will do it. As usual, the food from Mi Amore was great, and the service was impeccable.
Day 7: Unfortunately, this was our last day :-(. We absolutely did not want to leave! We spent the morning into the early afternoon enjoying the pool at our hotel and hanging out on one of the day beds. The weather was gorgeous and we wanted to soak up as much sun as possible. We also couldn’t get over how amazing the tacos were the day before, so we HAD to go back a second time. It was that good. The fact that you get so much for so little money didn’t hurt either :-).
Dinner: Back to the super popular restaurant we mentioned earlier: Hartwood. We decided we would get there as soon as it opened and try to snag a seat at the bar. The bar is reserved for walk ins. Unfortunately, we were running later than hoped and showed up an hour after they opened. The place was PACKED again. They told us that we wouldn’t be able to get in and sent us away. Luckily, we were super persistent with the girl at the front and asked her specifically about the bar seating. If you don’t specifically ask to sit at the bar, apparently it’s assumed you won’t. When we told her we would be willing to wait for the bar seats to open up, she agreed and sent us to their waiting area. A waiter comes and lets you order drinks, so it was no problem waiting for our seats. 30 minutes later, we got seated and it did not disappoint. The food was awesome. You have to come here when visiting Tulum. Just be more proactive than we were and make that reservation well in advance of the trip!
If you are still reading, Congratulations for making it through this long post, ha. If you can’t already tell, we will most definitely be going back to Tulum in the future. It’s an amazing vacation spot. We hope this post can help you in planning your own itinerary. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out and ask. Now go book that trip!