When you arrive at your amazing, beachfront hotel in Mexico and the friends you are traveling with mention they don’t like the beach or enjoy walking in sand, what do you do? I didn’t know how to respond so I kept my pie-hole shut. It just meant this was going to be a different kind of vacation – which was completely fine.
Last March (2019), I vowed I’d never spend an entire winter in Colorado without a break from the cold again. So, we booked a week long trip to Tulum, Mexico. It’s one of my favorite places to go when desperate for a beach vacation. I do worry about the future of Tulum – the number of tourists seems to be increasing every year making the sustainability of the place questionable. You can read about the dark side of Tulum via this article that describes what happens behind the scenes. It’s a pretty eye-opening piece. I happened to read it when we got back from the trip.
I always stay at the same place, the Encantada Tulum. The Encantada is located at the South end of the beach, close to the entrance to the Sian Ka’an Biosphere. It’s super quiet, the rooms are wonderful (there are only 8 of them) and the staff make you feel as though you are one of their own family. We found the property on a day trip from Playa Del Carmen in 2012 – this was the 3rd visit to the Encantada.
It used to be the last hotel in this part of the resort area. My have things changed – a whole slew of new restaurants, hotels and boutiques exist further South. The growth is definitely straining the ecosystem, but I can see the effort many places are taking to protect this beautiful place.
The evening winds cooled our slice of paradise. We’d fall asleep to Sean’s music collection every night, with the warm glow of tea lights strategically placed throughout the room. It was the best part of the trip!
If you don’t have a car, walking or cycling is the way to go. There are also plenty of taxis if you need em. Growth means more traffic, unfortunately – it may make the cycling option unappealing to you if you are worried about a collision. The primary road leading to the beachfront hotels in Tulum is riddled with potholes and speed bumps the size of Texas. None of this stopped us – we spent a day roaming around on cruiser bikes supplied by the hotel. The chain on Sean’s bike kept falling off every time he hit a bump – it was one of the highlights of the trip!!
Even though there was a ton of traffic during the day, we found quite a bit of peace and quiet wherever we went. Either on the beach, in restaurants or on the road early in the morning or at night. My favorite time of the day to wander was after sunset with the twinkling lights of restaurants and shops providing a soothing, romantic ambiance. There were instances on this trip when it felt like we were on an amusement park ride….it was very surreal at times (in a good way).
There is sooo much to do in and around Tulum you need to stay for weeks to cover it all. We kayaked in the biosphere at sunset which was lovely but not for the inexperienced. The wind was pretty strong and we had to navigate narrow canals – our kayak was deemed the “divorce kayak” for the first hour, but by the end of the 3 hour tour, we were back to honeymoon status, lol. There is only one outfitter allowed to host kayak tours in the biosphere (Yucatan Outdoors) – so it was just our group out there. It was really nice. They don’t have pink flamingos in this part of Mexico, but they do have pink Roseate Spoonbills – super cool.
Sean and W explored the ruins while M and I shopped. Good news is, I only came home with one purse and 8 tubes of Retin-A (it’s soo cheap in Mexico). BTW, no way the dress below would make it over my hips. I’d look like a big sausage link in it. We also took a couple of day trips outside of Tulum which I’ll ‘splain in a separate post. (Ruins images by Sean – go Sean, beautiful shots)
Lastly, the food in Tulum is incredible and a foodies paradise! No Taco Bells here (even though I love the Bell). The concierge at the Encantada gave us some great restaurant recommendations. Everything we had was super fresh and tasty from Moroccan tagine dishes, fish tacos, ceviche, acai bowls, short ribs, and grilled shrimpies. You name it, you can find it in Tulum. To stay competitive, the restaurants do a beautiful job with aesthetics – all of them are so well done – welcoming and tasteful. I could have snapped photos for days.
In the end, I didn’t get the golden tan I was hoping for, but the trip was fabulous and wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. Realistically, the skin doesn’t tan anymore anyway – thanks to the happy days of middle-age – only new, ‘beautiful’ age spots form after a day in the sun.
Not sure when or if we’ll make it back to Tulum. It makes me super sad to think about the stuff happening behind the scenes. None of us came down with Montezuma’s Revenge so it seems they are doing something right. We’ll see what happens, all I know is the good memories will stick with us for a lifetime. If nothing else, the Retin-A stock will need to be replenished.
……i choose this……
PS. Our blogging friends over at Wandering Together just got back from Tulum as well. They documented the trip beautifully if you’d like to see another viewpoint.