No-Stress Getaway to Tulum

Tulum may not be a secret anymore, but it is still an easy, stress-free getaway full of beautiful beaches, great food, Mayan ruins, yoga studios and chic boutiques. A few days in this Mexican paradise is all you need to find total bliss.

Quintana Roo, Mexico
If you are staying anywhere near Tulum, Mexico, plan a visit to Sian Ka’an Reserve, a 1.5 million acre protected UNESCO World Heritage site. The company that runs the Reserve offers several different tours. We signed up for the canal tour. After our introductory lesson on the geology, flora and fauna of this part of the Yucatán Peninsula, we donned life jackets and boarded a boat that took us across a large lagoon and down narrow channels of water lined with mangrove swamps. Along the way, our naturalist pointed birds and plant life that are indigenous to this ecosystem and gave us insight into Mayan culture. It was all very educational and to my surprise, very entertaining as well. What more enjoyable schoolroom could you have than a boat cruising along a lagoon in the Yucatán Peninsula? The highlight of our tour was when we got to float down one of the man made canals used by the Mayas long ago. Our naturalist guide had us take off our life jackets and wear them upside down with our legs in the armholes, our crotch at the neck and the open front strapped around our tummies. He called it a “Mayan diaper”. We looked so ridiculous but let me tell you, that Mayan diaper makes for a perfect flotation seat of sorts! With our shoes tied to the back of our jackets and our camera gear safely stowed away in a communal waterproof bag, we all got in the water and spent about 40 minutes bobbing our way back to our boat. It was so much fun I didn’t want it end!
Carretera Federal, Cancun - Chetumal Km 230, 307, 77780 Tulum, Q.R., Mexico
While not as large as other ancient Mayan cities in the region, Tulum draws in visitors for its stunning setting of centuries-old temples perched on a cliff by the Caribbean Sea. You’ll pass a large market with souvenirs, a casual Mexican restaurant, and even a Starbucks before reaching the entrance, where a train can take you to the site if you’re not up for the 10-minute walk. It’s advisable to hire a guide to fully understand each structure’s significance and the history behind the ruins; informative signage is all but nonexistent. Don’t forget to bring your swimsuit, as the site encompasses a white-sand beach with soothing waves and beautiful rock formations that’s reached by a long wooden staircase.
Av. Tulum 7, Tulum Centro, Centro, 77760 Tulum, Q.R., Mexico
If you are in search of flawless Mexican cuisine prepared with perfectly fresh ingredients, there’s no need to venture outside Rosewood Mayakoba. If you are, however, on your way to or from the Sian Ka’an biosphere or visiting Tulum for a morning, Charlie’s is a good place to stop for some fish tacos and a cold beer. The restaurant on Tulum’s main strip has a shaded, quiet patio—cool even under the Mexican midday sun. Drop by Mixik, next door, before or after your meal to check out their curated—and reasonably priced—collection of Mexican handicrafts from small gifts like handcrafted notebooks to elaborate weavings you’ll want to keep for yourself.
Carretera Tulum Boca Paila 7.6Km, 77780 Tulum, Q.R., Mexico
Hartwood prides itself on having no menu; instead, there are daily options based on whatever is available from nearby ranches and farms. Of course, that means locally sourced ingredients only, in the service of innovative, Mexican-inspired dishes. The never-the-same menu has made Hartwood one of Tulum’s most popular and in-demand dining rooms of late. Its dreamy ambience, with a gravel floor and a palm-shaded outdoor setting, melds beautifully with recipes created in the moment. Walk-ins are usually not accepted; book a table well in advance.
Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico
As is the case with many hotels in the Tulum section of Riviera Maya, Casa de las Olas shies away from the “luxe” label, preferring to promote itself as a simple, eco-friendly retreat where intimate spaces and five-star service are more important than linen thread counts and extra amenities. Bright white walls, mosquito nets, private balconies, and canopy beds are what guests can expect in their rooms. This doesn’t mean that Casa de las Olas is skimpy in any way. The staff are known for their thoughtful attention to guests, and the small size of the hotel—just five suites—ensures they are never overwhelmed by guests’ requests or needs. Plus, each room has views of the Caribbean Sea, and the hotel’s private beach is never more than a few steps away.
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