"Ancient Wonders, Beach and Boho-Chic." - Reviewed by Deborah
- Lisa says: “Pack light — a Hermes holdall of kaftans, sarongs and thongs – this is beach-chic territory!”
- Anna says: “Tulum is a welcome escape from urban life. Forget about stress as you pamper your taste buds in eco-chic restaurants and Instagram-worthy beach clubs.
- Deb says: “It is as magical today as it was 20 years ago, only now I can enjoy paradise in 5-star comfort.”
When I first visited Tulum on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, nearly 20 years ago, there were only a few rough and tumble cabins on the beach close to the Maya Ruins. Everything ran by candlelight and a single generator. A few sun-tanned hippies could be seen doing yoga on the beach at sunrise and there were plenty of crystal healers and bongo-drummers to give it that authentic off-the-beaten-track vibe.
Today, Tulum is well and truly on the map. However, it has somehow retained its captivating slow beach vibe. Only now everyone is much better dressed and luxury seafront cabins are draped in the finest cottons and cooled with solar-panel AC.
Although Tulum is no longer a back-packer secret, the boho-traveller spirit still pervades. Yoga studios, meditation centres, vegan restaurants and maxi-dress stores abound. Likewise, luxury private villas, chic cabanas and boutique hotels are doing a fabulous job of keeping the major resort chains at bay.
The Mayan Ruins
Commanding a unique location overlooking the Caribbean Sea, the ancient Mayan ruins of Tulum are a breath-taking example of pre-Columbian architecture. It might not be Mexico’s biggest Mayan archaeological site, but it is arguably the most beautiful. Among the last inhabited Maya settlements, Tulum was a fully functioning port until its demise following the Spanish conquest of Mexico.
Tulum is famous for its white sand beaches, and we mean really white. The sand almost looks like snow. Another curious fact is that you won’t burn the soles of your feet hopping down the beach into the sea. Apparently, this is because the sand in this region of Mexico is generated by the coral reef that surrounds, and therefore doesn’t conduct heat.
Part of the reason that Tulum has managed to retain its magical charm is due to the onus on eco-tourism in the region. Located within the UNESCO-protected Sian Ka’an Biosphere, construction in Tulum is highly regulated and tours are licensed according to their impact on the environment. As such, you will find numerous opportunities to take part in eco-tours and will soon notice how everyone seems to get around by bicycle.
- Sian Ka’an Biosphere on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula
- 1.5 hours from Cancun airport
- 45 mins to Playa del Carmen
- Roughly 45 mins to Tulum Mayan Ruins
EXPERIENCES NEAR TULUM
- Ancient Wonders — Ideal location for visiting a number of Mayan archaeological sites. Visit the famous Chichen Itza, Tulum or Cobá.
- Beaches — White sand beaches with laid-back beach clubs.
- Cenotes —Extensive underground cave systems and sinkholes known as cenotes are a unique feature of the Yucatan Peninsula. Fabulous for diving, snorkelling and river wading.
- Whale Sharks —The official whale shark season runs from June to September when tours can swim alongside the harmless whale sharks in their natural habitat.
- Island Hopping —Why not visit local islands such as Cozumel, Holbox, Contoy and Isla Mujeres?
- Water Sports – The Riviera Maya offers just about every water sport imaginable: jet ski, parasailing, diving, snorkelling, kayaking, fishing and sailing.
- Boat Trips – Book one of the many boat cruises offered in the area and see some spectacular scenery.
- Fishing – You can enjoy all types of fishing expeditions here. Angling is particularly popular.
- Snorkelling and Diving —The Mesopotamian Reef is the third largest coral reef system in the world. It offers some amazing diving and snorkelling opportunities. There is also an underwater art museum, MUSA, with several dive sites along the coast populated by sculptures commissioned and donated by artists.
- Theme Parks —The Riviera Maya is a hub for tropical jungle adventures with many high-quality theme parks packed with zip lines, wading rivers, animal sanctuaries, pre-Hispanic rituals, classic Mexican dancing and more.
- Gastronomy– Besides Mexican cuisine being one of the best in the world, the region attracts some of the best chefs from all over the world.
- Tequila Tasting and more — Try the local libations that include tequila, mescal and a local liqueur called Xtabentún.
- Golf — The Yucatan Peninsula is home to many of Mexico’s best golf courses, some of which have holes with a sea view.
- Cirque du Soleil — Watch a breath-taking show as you have dinner.
- Yoga —There are several yoga studios in the region and many top instructors available for private lessons.