Mexico’s Best Hidden Gem Tourist Escape: Tulum is Another World Away from Crass CancunBY Natalie Gempel // 06.26.17
Tulum can feel like a magical place, one that feels much farther than two hours from the Mexico of Cancun.
Gorila Residencia is a hotspot for creatives. Photo from Airbnb.
The decor at Casa Malca is a new spin on beach chic.
Wish Tulum is a short drive (or bike ride) from the beach, but you can cool off in their spacious pool.
The lobby at Casa Malca just begs to be instagrammed.
The gorgeous restaurant at Nomade is a jungle oasis.
The "Gratitude Tent" at Nomade offers daily programs like cacao ceremonies, sound healing, and more.
La Eufemia serves up stellar tacos on the beach.
Come to Casa Jaguar to shop, and stay for drinks and dancing in the adjacent restaurant.
Yaan Wellness Center offers ancient Mayan treatments in ultra modern facilities. Photo from Instagram.
Who doesn't want to do yoga in a stunning setting?
Two hours south of the hustle and bustle of Cancun, Tulum is a bohemian paradise with a fashion-forward edge. The tropical hotspot is well on its way to becoming the Instagram capital of the world, but its rustic charm makes it feel like it’s still a hidden gem.
After spending five days falling in love with Tulum, I put together the ultimate to-do list so you can make the most of the trendy Mexican oasis.
This unassumingly hip hotel is located in Tulum Pueblo, or the downtown area. My friends and I stayed here one night to take a break from the beach and were stunned at how wonderful this hotel was – especially considering the affordable price tag and two star rating.
The rooms are squeaky clean, spacious, and have comfortable balconies, but the real star of the show is the pool. The abstract shape and blue tiles are punctuated by a large painting resting on the edge — modern Frida and a luchador lover. This place is so cool you’ll barely miss the beach.
If you want to dive into Tulum’s culture, there’s no better place to stay than the Gorila Residences. Part artist residency, part Airbnb, this complex is a hub for creative types and intellectuals. While the accommodations are the slightest bit rustic — like many hotels in Tulum, Gorila relies on solar panels for power, so air conditioning and other electric luxuries are limited — the location is nothing short of luxe.
It’s directly across the street from the best strip of beach in town, and a short walk to all the hottest restaurants and shops.
Casa Malca is a modern beach paradise for the fashion set. The dramatic entryway with suspended velvet couches, persian rugs, curtains made completely out of wedding dresses, and a KAWS sculpture make it an Instagram mecca right off the bat, and the rest of the hotel follows suit.
With a prime location in the chic, uncrowded south end of Tulum’s playa, Casa Malca is the place to unwind and see and be seen.
In a town full of beautiful restaurants and hotels, Nomade takes the cake. The entire property exudes serenity, and does so with unparalleled panache. Even if you aren’t lucky enough to stay in one of Nomade’s gorgeous guest rooms, you can still enjoy its amazing, open-air restaurant, beach, and community programs.
Stop by for a Cacao ceremony, “sound healing” in the gratitude tent, or simply wander through the hotel’s wind chime path.
There are loads of great dining options along the beach, but for a more authentic and inexpensive meal, head inland. El Asadero in Pueblo Tulum serves ridiculously flavorful tacos and steaks in a cozy and romantic setting.
This taco shack on the beach perfectly represents the carefree attitude that makes Tulum so special. With cheap and tasty eats, a full bar, and a perfect location on the water, it’s easy to spend hours at this local hotspot. Swim, eat tacos, repeat.
Where To Shop in Tulum
Now that you’re in Tulum, you probably want to get that carefree, sun-and-salt essence that all the locals have. Calo is a one stop shop for effortlessly beautiful silks, boho jewels, and perfect beach sandals.
Not only does Casa Jaguar offer a fabulous selection of resort wear, it also throws a banging party every Thursday night. After you shop trendy swimsuits and breezy linens in the boutique, head over to the adjacent restaurant for fresh seafood and dancing under the stars.
What To Do in Tulum
If you need a little extra R&R during your stay in Tulum, book an appointment at Yaan Wellness Center. The spa’s staff of Mayan healers use ancient Mexican techniques to heal and rejuvenate mind, body, and spirit. Not to mention, the world class facilities are drop dead gorgeous.
Daily Yoga at Alaya
Yoga is an essential part of the Tulum experience. Alaya Tulum, a hotel and spa along the beach, offers exceptional daily classes at 9 am. The donation-based morning class takes place in a treetop bungalow, and it’s perfect for beginners and expert yogis alike.
Tulum Art Club
For your daily dose of caffeine and culture, stop by Tulum Art Club in the heart of the Pueblo. The cafe and art gallery regularly hosts fun events like “Drink & Draw,” live figure drawing sessions, movie nights, and workshops.