I have been dying to explore this Mexican beach town for the last couple years. I thought, what better time to go than in the middle of winter to celebrate my golden birthday! Visiting Tulum was unlike any other trip to Mexico I have experienced. I’m use to being confined to an all-inclusive resort with crappy food and watered down drinks. But this trip allowed me to immerse myself in the culture and get to know the locals. Tulum is a quaint and friendly beach town that is full of life. The strip consists of boutique hotels on the beach and shops and restaurants across the street, in the “jungle”. It was the perfect balance of self-guided exploration and relaxation. We explored the area by bike in the morning, and were lounging on the beach with drinks in hand by early afternoon.
The food was fresh and preparation was simple. The restaurants in Tulum are to die for. Chefs from all over the world have set up shop here to bring you an incredible dining experience. It’s important to note that most restaurants are cash only, and they are worth every penny.
Hartwood– This was our favorite meal. New York chefs reinvent the Mexican menu. It opened five years ago and started getting rave reviews from food critics around the world last year. The chefs use the finest local ingredients and cook over a wood fire. The outdoor restaurant is beautiful. Because it’s open to the elements, Hartwood will close if there’s a chance of rain.
Simple– The best fresh fish in town. When you walk in, there is a display case of fresh fish caught that day. You have the option of choosing your fish and the chefs with prepare it four different ways on the grill. You won’t be disappointed with this rustic dish! Simple also has a great selection of Mezcal.
Gitano– It’s a hot spot for dinner, drinks, and dancing. But I would reverse the order: dancing, drinks, and dinner. The food was good, not great. I would recommend skipping the entrees and focusing on the small plates, tapas style. A disco ball hangs over the outdoor dining tables. The place is packed around 10pm but get ready for a late night. The DJ doesn’t start until midnight.
Mezcal Monk– If you describe a whole in the wall bar on the beach, this would be it! The drinks are flowing, the music bumping, and people watching is on par. Opt for a seat at the bar, as they are swings instead of stools! The drinks are delicious. They serve up fresh fruit juice mixed with whatever alcohol you prefer. The bartenders are funny and friendly. Pick their brains for the best things to do around town.
Cenzontle Jardin Secreto– As the name suggests, this bar is like a secret garden. I love the outdoor atmosphere of most of the bars and restaurants in Tulum. This spot feels like you are tucked away in the jungle. It’s full of trees and mix-matched vintage furniture. We thought it was a great place for an after dinner drink, recommended by a couple bartenders at our hotel.
El Jaguar– This place had the best drinks in town, hands down! Take a seat at the bar, the staff puts a lot of time and attention into their cocktails and it’s fun to watch. Mezcal is a staple in Tulum, so I would start with that. And the bartenders just might give you a sample of the drinks they make throughout the night, so you can taste test a few!
Be Tulum– I could not have picked a better place to call home for five days. Be Tulum is located on the southern end of the strip, tucked away in the jungle next to the Caribbean Sea. The rooms are just as stylish as the guests, with a stand-alone bath tub, outdoor shower, and private outdoor space. My husband and I explored the area every morning on bikes your can borrow from the hotel. We settled in by the beach in the early afternoon and were always excited to get back to Be after a busy morning! The boutique hotel is relaxing, yet full of life. There is live music by the pool and a DJ by the beach for a couple hours every afternoon. It’s not a party scene, rather a trendy way to chill out. The beach is full of bean bag-like chairs and daybeds. We snagged a spot on the beach and ordered the usual: two margaritas with chips and guac. This is a great spot to relax until sunset. Then we cozied up to the Tiki Bar to chat with the bartenders. Everyone is so friendly, offering the ins and the outs of the area. The food is just as delicious as the drinks, grab a table in the sand to keep that laid-back vide going!
Coqui Coqui– This place is like Brooklyn meets Mexico, according to my best friend. I’ve never been to Brooklyn but if it’s anything like Coqui Coqui, I’m in!! The hotel is rustic and relaxing. The design is beautiful, resembling the nearby ruins. I peaked in a room and it looked very chic. The hotel is known for its spa, featuring local plants as ingredients. Unfortunately, all appointments were full when I visited but I did get a chance to shop the boutique. The store sells signature perfumes, soaps and other handmade items. My husband and I enjoyed a bottle of rose by the beach, and split ceviche for lunch. It was divine! I also heard they make a perfect piña colada. Cheers!