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Tulum was once a sleepy beach-side holiday town with a smattering of backpackers and basic hotels that was only visited by the most adventurous of travellers. Fast-forward to recent years, as it has become one of the hottest beach holiday destinations favoured by celebrities and fashion bloggers alike.
It’s easy to see why. There are hot new restaurants and bars opening up all the time and a seemingly endless number of beautiful boutique hotels. And if we haven’t sold you on booking a trip to Tulum just yet, our roundup of all the best spots to shop, eat, drink and stay is sure to tempt you.
To read the ultimate FQ guide to Tulum, scroll below:
What to pack
Forget your typical resortwear, Tulum does it differently. Think beige, black, white and khaki tones. Cape-like shawls and tassels are common and you can leave your heels at home. But don’t worry too much if your wardrobe doesn’t quite seem to line-up with Tulum’s idea of resortwear; there’s more than enough shopping options over there to help you pick up a few items to ease you into holiday mode.
Tulum is literally hotel heaven
One of the draws of Tulum is that it is completely free of large-scale chain hotels – instead, you’ll find a multitude of beautiful boutique hotels. The trick is to achieve the balance between a laid-back place that still has all the facilities you require. Some of our FQ favourites include:
Casa Malca – Previously the home of Pablo Escobar, this property was purchased and re-fitted by an art dealer. It’s set right on the shore of one of the best stretches of beach in Tulum and somehow manages to achieve an epic balance of a Mexican casa and an opulent European home.
La Zebra – La Zebra somehow manages to achieve the perfect balance between fun vibes and beautiful interiors all while catering to families. It’s a good place to stay if you want a retreat from Tulum’s glam-scene or if you’re travelling with kids.
El Pez – El Pez might not set on the best slice of beach but the location is perfect if you want to escape from the hustle and bustle of the busier beachfront areas. The rooms all have beachfront or ocean views, and the resort is small enough that by the end of your stay you will be on a first name basis with most of the staff.
Casa de Las Olas – This is the perfect spot if you want to retreat, unwind and really hit the beach. This small, family-run hotel consists of only seven suites and will leave you feeling as if you’ve truly left the world behind.
Coco Tulum – Coco Tulum is the home of the popular Tulum beach bar you’ve probably seen floating around on Instagram. These rooms provide the perfect balance between the party atmosphere of Tulum and the idyllic and laid-back feel on the beach.
Azulik – If you want to splurge on your accommodation then Azulik is the place to go. Arguably more like glamping than a hotel, it is the perfect place to switch off and immerse yourself in nature. The rooms are a series of tree-house villas that minimise the use of electricity and rely on candles as lighting.
Live Tulum – Situated on the edge of the Tulum township, this bed and breakfast is a very affordable option that still manages to possess the same beauty and charm as many of the beachfront hotels.
Maya Luxe Villas – These private villas are set along the Riviera Maya and hireage includes a chef and daily housekeeping. It’s the perfect hotel alternative if you’re travelling with a big group.
More than just tacos and guacamole
Tulum is heaven for foodies. With a plethora of delicious restaurants, ranging from cheap and cheerful taco stands to high-end restaurants, you certainly won’t be going hungry. Some of our favourite spots include:
Hartwood – Situated in the jungle, this restaurant is renowned as one of Tulum’s hot spots. They don’t take reservations so be sure to get there early in the afternoon to put your name forward for a table that evening.
Posada Margherita – Posada Margherita does some of the best seafood pasta outside of Italy and is always busy. Set right on the beach it’s the perfect place to eat and drink the evening away.
ARCA – ARCA is similar in style to Hartwood, however, it doesn’t have as much hype surrounding the restaurant and therefore it’s a lot easier to get a table.
El Camello – Based in Tulum Town this spot is cheap and cheerful and filled with locals.
Antojitos la Chiapaneca – 50 cent tacos that rival anything expensive meal? Yes, please! Rub shoulders with true Tulum locals and enjoy some of the cheapest and best food you’ll have on the trip.
Rosa Negra – Good drinks, food and music. Rosa Negra is a newcomer to the Tulum scene and is yet to gain the reputation of some of the older institutions. However, this means you can enjoy a fun and delicious meal without the hefty wait for a table.
Nomade/Be Tulum – These two hotels are under the same ownership and are arguably the epicentre of the ‘scene’ that tends to define Tulum. If you aren’t staying here it’s a definitely a good spot to come for lunch or dinner.
Kin-Toh at Azulik –If dining on a gigantic net hanging over the jungle, or a ginormous pod immersed in the trees is your idea of heaven, then Kin Toh restaurant at the Azulik hotel is the place to go. The amazing interiors are accompanied by good food and incredible service. While on the pricier side, it’s worth it if you’re after a memorable dining experience.
Bar hop from the jungle to the beachfront
While it might be easy (and certainly enjoyable) to drink margaritas from dawn to dusk, the cocktail scene in Tulum may convince you to branch out from your of drink choice. Discover mezcal (tequila’s cousin), or create your dream cocktail at a beachfront bar. If there is one thing Tulum does well, it’s nightlife!
Mur Mur – Our favourite spot to stop for a pre/post dinner drink. While Mur Mur also doubles as a restaurant, the swing chairs are the perfect place to park up with a mezcal cocktail.
Mulberry Project pop-up at La Zebra – This Tulum pop-up of the New York institution runs between November and May. Pick your alcohol and flavour profiles and the bartenders will make your very own bespoke cocktail.
Gitano – This is the place to be for Friday night drinks and a good boogie. While it functions as a restaurant during the evening, when the clock strikes 12 am it officially becomes the best spot to dance. Make sure you’re there close to midnight as the queue can get quite long.
Batey – This Mojito bar is the perfect place to come if you’re after a break from margaritas and the live bands will have you dancing until the wee hours.
Papaya Playa Project – During the high season, this club runs a series of beach parties like nothing you’ve ever seen before. Make sure you check the Instagram geo-tag for outfit inspiration and purchase your tickets online as these parties play host to some of the best international DJs.
When you feel your inner shopaholic getting antsy…
Tulum possesses its own specific style of beach dressing but don’t worry a quick visit to the local boutiques will have you looking the part in no time. Whether it’s a breezy kaftan, handmade jewellery, décor items or homewares, Tulum more or less has all of your shopping bases covered.
KM 33 – The best spot for accessories – beading and embroidery are common-place here, and for good reason! Enter at your own risk – it’s hard not to leave without half the shop in tow.
Mr Blackbird – Pick up a new pair of sandals or some accessories at Mr Blackbird. It’s hard to miss this spot with its beautiful mosaic sign.
Hoki Poki Kana – Situated behind Mur Mur, this shop is a good spot to stop off for a few Tulum additions to your resort wear wardrobe.
La Troupe – Another good spot if you’re after locally made leather goods, beachwear and to-die-for pillows
Crasqi – This is one for the men in your life. Here they can shop a range of board shorts in all kinds of patterns and colours.
Mixik – Based in town, Mixik is very much worth a visit to collect all the gifts, knick-knacks and decorations you need to bring back home.
If you get tired of sunbathing
Between sunbathing, shopping, and eating, it is easy to forget the sightseeing part of your holiday, but it is definitely worth taking the time to explore the peninsula. Some of our favourite sights include:
Tulum Ruins – Situated on the cliffs-edge at the end of the hotel-zone, the Tulum ruins are a pretty spectacular sight. Enjoy the history and resident Iguanas and then stop off at Pancho Villa on your way home to get a feel for what Tulum used to be like.
Cenotes – A complex system of inter-connecting underground, and open-air swimming spaces, with some of the clearest water you will ever see. Our top two cenote spots are Cenote Sac Actun and Casa Tortuga, both of which make you feel like you’re in your own little world.
Tulum Jungle Gym – While hitting the gym might not seem like a holiday activity, this is one workout you will never forget. Situated at the heart of Tulum’s beachfront, the Jungle Gym’s equipment is made from logs, coconuts and stones and it’s the perfect place to burn off the endless tacos and corn chips.
Boating day-trips – If you can pull yourself away from the beach, why not take a day trip out to some of the islands off the coast of Tulum. We recommend enjoying your personal catamaran and exploring the El Cielo reef at Cozumel.