A Week in Sticky Paradise: Tulum, Mexico

Hello hello! We’re back! Back from where, you ask? Well, sadly, back from vacation – to Massachusetts for a beautiful wedding, and then to Tulum, Mexico for six hot, sticky, mosquito-bitten, wonderful, amazing days. Here’s a quick rundown of all that went on while we were there, along with a few recommendations…

We checked into the Ahau Tulum, where we had a gorgeous room with an adorable porch (more on that later) – and the walk down to the beach looked something like this:

Walk to Beach at Ahau

We rented bikes (and ended up biking around thirty miles total, not bad for vacation) and headed up to the Tulum Ruins, which are notable (beyond being very impressive architectural and historical landmarks) for three things:

  1. Hot hot heat. There’s not a lot of breeze, nor shade, up there.
  2. A gorgeous little beach below the ruins, important for surviving #1. Bring your swimsuit.
  3. Iguanas! So many! Big, small, adorable, scary…they run the gamut.

After the hot hot heat, the next day we set out for some cenotes – Cenote Calavera and the Grand Cenote, to be exact, which were both bikable distances from our hotel. The cenotes are all quite different (Grand Cenote is pictured below) and very refreshing in the September heat of Mexico. We got to test out our snorkel sets and see some cool rock formations under the water.

Oh, and by the way, amongst all this exploring was a bunch of eating, because, duh.

The Grand Cenote

We really only spent one day in lounge mode (the Boy has little patience for lounge mode), but a lovely day it was, with swimming in the sea and cocktails on the beach and a gorgeous sunset over the mangroves from Ahau’s water tower. The stars in Tulum are devastatingly incredible (you can see the Milky Way), so we spent many of our nights lying on the beach staring at them, too.

Ahau Tulum

Sunset Over Mangroves

Our last couple of days were a whirlwind of activity, beginning with a ziplining/cenote/snorkeling (including a full cave situation)/ATV-driving/lagoon-swimming expedition with Edventure Tours…

And ending with a slightly fraught, but still mostly enjoyable, tour of biosphere Sian Ka’an with Mexico Kan Tours (mangroves! frigate birds! dolphins! tortoises!). We also finally got the chance to really swim in that perfect turquoise Caribbean water, which we hadn’t seen due to the large amounts of seaweed that Caribbean beaches are currently experiencing.

[Note on the “Seaweed Problem”: It was definitely present, but the Ahau did a fantastic job of cleaning their beach every morning, and we took full advantage of the warm Caribbean waters anyway, just avoiding any larger seaweed “floats”. It didn’t really dampen our enthusiasm, but
we were also very mentally prepared for APOCALYPSE-type seaweed situations. Which there were not.]

Mangroves

A Trip to Sian Ka'an

It was really a much-needed break and an absolutely wonderful escape. If anyone out there is planning a Tulum visit anytime soon, here are a few recommendations (Pro Tip: Pay in pesos where possible, and if bugs like you, buy the good poisonous bug spray):

STAY

  • Ahau Tulum ($250/night for a Junior Suite) – The Ahau is gorgeous, the staff is friendly and helpful, and some of the rooms have A/C at night (key, in my opinion). No, it’s not cheap, but we haven’t vacationed in a while and wanted to splurge. It is NOT all-inclusive, but neither are many of the other Tulum hotels.

EAT

  • Ahau Tulum ($15 for breakfast for two and $50 for dinner for two) – At breakfast, you can get GIANT cups of juice. Dinner is good too, if slightly pricey for Mexico. And keep an eye out for drinks specials at the beach bar!
  • El Tábano (350 MXN for lunch for two) – In addition to tasty lunch, we also had an incredible dinner with the best molé I’ve ever had, but the Boy’s uncle kindly paid for it. Everything was delicious.
  • Tacos La Eufemia (250 MXN for lunch) – Lots of tacos and a canine mascot. Great beach location.
  • El Camello Jr. (300 MXN for lunch) – In town, with good prices. Known for their seafood.
    Juanita Diavolo (565 MXN for dinner) – Italian, which is surprisingly popular in Tulum. Big, big portions – we ordered an appetizer, pizza, and pasta, and it was way too much. I loved their fish ceviche.
  • Flor de Michoacan (60 MXN for two) – Popsicles galore! In town. Try the pineapple with chile.
  • Raw Love (280 MXN for breakfast for two) – Right at the Ahau, this little vegan shack has interesting smoothies and housemade ginger beer (I had a VERY filling smoothie bowl).
  • La Vela (620 MXN for dinner for two) – A new spot, pretty pricey but very tasty. The octopus tostada is yummy, and they give you a garlic crema with your chips that is to die for. Big creative cocktails too!
  • Gitano ($50 for dinner for two) – A more “sceney” spot, but a cool place to visit for a special night – good mezcal cocktails and tasty but pricey plates. They have a huge outdoor disco ball and its lights were thrown all over the jungle foliage – quite cool.
  • Ice Cream Place by La Vela (80 MXN for two scoops) – I don’t know the name of this place, but their ice cream had an unusual creamy taste and they offered delicious mamey, a native tropical fruit, as one of the flavors. A nice stop on the way home before you go stare at the stars…

DO

  • Cenote Calvera (100 MXN entrance fee) – A big, slightly creepy hole in the ground. We were the only ones there for a while, which was nice…and you can jump off the edge!
  • Grand Cenote (150 MXN entrance fee) – A more popular cenote, with a few different places to explore. Fun for intro snorkeling – they have lines so you feel safer heading into the darker, “cave-ier” portions.
  • Tulum Ruins (60 MXN entrance fee) – Ok, so these were so hot, but kind of a must-see, right? A very interesting and impressive ruin – a tour might be good, but we were able to get a decent amount of info via the signs and some strategic eavesdropping. Wear your suit for the little beach!
  • Edventure Zipline Tour ($125 per person including lagoon snorkel and photo package) – So much fun! We got to have our adventures along with gorgeous snorkeling – so many pretty fish. And our guide was lovely. The pics we got weren’t super high quality, but they were some of the only ones of us together, which I cherish. And there were TONS of them to choose from.

Next vacation, the Boy gets to choose the destination, so I have a funny feeling I’ll be snowshoeing a glacier or something…I’m gonna go look at my hammock shots again.

Relaxing at Ahau

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