For me, it was the bohemian vibes. For Brett, it was the Jungle Gym. Long story short, Tulum has been a bucket list trip for each of us for years. So, when we were deciding where to go for a tropical vacation back in November, Tulum was a no brainer. The $206 airfare didn’t hurt either. ;)
Before I dive into our fabulous 5-day itinerary, there are some general things I think everyone should know when planning a trip to Tulum:
Airport Transportation // Getting to Tulum means flying into Cancun airport, which is a solid 1.5 hour drive to Tulum. Do your research and book a reputable transportation company prior to arriving. Luckily, our hotel was able to help us with this process and made it a very seamless one.
Taxis // Tulum isn’t the most walkable place. There aren’t proper walkways and the roads are made of gravel and dirt. This equates to a lot of mud from frequent rainfall. While this makes for a fun bike ride by day, it isn’t ideal when trying to get from point A to point B in heels come nighttime. With that being said, taxis are more or less the only option. Be prepared to spend about $40 USD round trip, even if you’re only going a couple miles in either direction. And that was with the help of our hotel’s concierge.
Covid // This will obviously change over time, but as of right now, you don’t need to be vaccinated or have a negative Covid test to get into Mexico. However, you do need a negative Covid test to get back into the States, regardless of vaccination status. There are Covid testing stands everywhere, but most hotels offer their own testing. We opted to arrange ours through our hotel. The tests were performed on site and we were sent same-day results via email. Easy breezy.
Tulum has countless boutique hotels, each more adorable than the next, so choosing a place to stay was pretty difficult for an indecisive gal like myself. Ultimately, we decided on Coco Tulum and I can’t recommend it enough. The boho-jungle vibes were on point, the hospitality was excellent, and the price was right. It also has a beach bar and a restaurant, which made grabbing quick bites really simple. Speaking of meals, daily breakfast is included. I know this sounds extra, but book the honeymoon suite! The cost per night wasn’t that much more and its unobstructed ocean views are unparalleled.
Anyway, our first day was mostly dedicated to travel as we had a 4-hour flight from Philadelphia to Cancun followed by a 1.5-hour drive from Cancun to Tulum. Despite that, by the time we checked in we still had the late afternoon and evening ahead of us. After settling in, we grabbed some drinks at the beach bar. How else does one kick off vaca?! Then, after freshening up, we headed to the restaurant for a low-key dinner. To our surprise, there was live latin music. It was the perfect way to kick back, relax, and enjoy some delicious brick oven pizza.
Our day started off with an incredible sunrise followed by breakfast. Since we were still in the process of unwinding, we decided to spend most of our day chillin’ on the beach. It was exactly what we needed to fully transition to vaca mode. Of note, Coco Tulum is split into two sections: the Zen Zone and the Beach Club. While I love that there’s an option for either mood, I’m sure it comes as no surprise that the Zen Zone is where grandma and grandpa spent most of their time.
Later that night, we went to dinner at BAK’ Steakhouse & Raw Bar. I’m super conflicted about how to review this place. The atmosphere and service were phenomenal and we had SO. MUCH. FUN. Meanwhile, the food and drinks were meh. It was here that we learned that, in Tulum, chill dinners have a tendency to slowly morph into the clurb. I’m talking EDM, lights, sparklers. We were caught off guard, but loved every second of it. Overall, I’d recommend BAK’ if you’re looking for a great time; however, don’t expect a culinary experience that matches the price tag.
We were still buzzing from an unexpectedly lit dinner, so we decided to have a night cap at our hotel bar. When we finally got back to our room, we were hit by another unexpected, yet totally welcome surprise: a crystal clear night sky. I expect skies like that on national park trips, but for whatever reason wasn’t expecting it in Tulum. We posted up on our balcony and got lost in the moment, pointing out one constellation after the next. I think it’s safe to say that it will always be one of my favorite memories.
Brett’s been lifting for over a decade, so being immersed in the lifting community is what brought his attention to Tulum in the first place – Tulum Jungle Gym, that is. Loving an Instagrammable moment and more recently getting into lifting myself (shout out to my hot trainer), I was all for checking it out. After breakfast, we walked along the beach until we finally reached it. As you can see in the photos, it’s a real life Fred Flintstone gym; nearly all of the equipment is handmade from wood, bamboo, and stone. It was a truly unique experience and, not for nothing, it felt good to get a solid workout in while on vaca.
Later, we had incredible dinner at Tora Japanese Restaurant. We easily agree that this was our best dining experience while in Tulum. Everything – the atmosphere, service, food, drinks, music – were on point. What stuck out to me most were the cocktails; they were not only delicious, but also served whimsically and beautifully. Yet again, our classy dinner slowly morphed into the club and we embraced it with open arms.
After breakfast, we rented bikes to do some sightseeing. Most hotels offer daily bike rentals to their guests for a small fee and ours was no exception. We made several stops along the way, the most Insta-worthy being the Follow That Dream sign (located in front of Lolita Lolita boutique) and Matcha Mama. In addition to being super cute, Matcha Mama offers an array of tasty, healthy treats. Shout out to the Mango Tango smoothie bowl that I’ve been recreating since we got back! After our bike ride, we headed back to our hotel to squeeze in some beach time prior getting ready for dinner.
Speaking of dinner, we planned our last night strategically. We “saved the best for last,” so to speak. Azulik is arguably the most coveted hotel in Tulum. While we would have loved to stay there, doing so costs a pretty penny. So, one way to get the Azulik experience without being a hotel guest is to dine at one of its three restaurants: Kin Toh, Tseen Ja, and Jungle Cuisine. We opted to have dinner at Kin Toh, which offers Mayan-Mexican cuisine. The atmosphere was everything I envisioned and more; simply imagine the most magnificent tree house to ever exist. The food was exquisite while the drinks were just okay. The main thing that keeps me from giving Kin Toh an overall glowing review was how pretentious it came across compared to the other restaurants we experienced. Do I recommend checking it out? 100% yes, but perhaps don’t put it on the pedestal that I did prior to seeing what it was all about.
We had a leisurely morning eating one last breakfast and packing up our room. Before we knew it we were picked up, heading back to the Cancun airport. For both of us, Tulum lived up to the hype. It’s a totally unique destination with the top-notch hospitality you expect from Mexico. The people are lovely, the beaches are beautiful, and it’s aesthetically pleasing at every turn. Very few destinations balance being laidback by day while being electric by night, but Tulum completely nails it.