I've been to Mexico a handful of times, but always stayed at a resort. So the thought of traveling to Tulum was super exciting because:
1. Exploring the local area!
2. Trying authentic food!
3. Dining in the jungle, boho chic shops, tacos galore; Tulum is literally every blogger’s (and non-blogger’s) dream come true.
4. Traveling with Ronak for the first time :)
Incase you're planning to visit, here's a mini timeline of our trip to Tulum (pronounced Too-Loom), which I hope can help you ease the planning process!
We flew from JFK to Cancun, where we rented a car to drive to Tulum, which was ~1.5 hours away. I knew cell service would be spotty so I created a Spotify playlist to jam to (turns out he's a singer too)..but mostly, music just makes everything better!
Rented at an Airbnb in Aldea Zama, a private area in Tulum with lots of condos. We had a pool at the top which was really amazing to relax on in the early mornings/late evenings. There was a 24/7 security guard and we felt safe.
We basically ate our way through the city (see recs below!), went snorkeling in crystal clear blue water at the Grand Cenote, and visited the Mayan Ruins. After 6 days we made a spontaneous decision to leave Tulum a little early and spent the last night at a resort in Cancun. I loved this because the hotel was 5 minutes from the airport, so instead of driving before our flight, we were able to sit back, relax and enjoy the pool!
OK, convinced you need to visit Tulum yet?!
Here are a few helpful tips:
- CA$H!!! Bring lots of it. 9/10 restaurants are cash only.
Consider bringing a credit card that doesn't charge conversion fees.
- Bug spray. We used it everywhere we went. Remember, everywhere you go...restaurants, bars, shops, it's all outdoors in the middle of the jungle. Don't spray at your own risk. None of that organic, herbal stuff! This is something I don't mess with - bring on the chemicals Johnson & Johnson!
- There’s a grocery store called Chedraui, kinda like the Walmart of the town, you can find food, alcohol, sunscreen, bug spray! If you plan to go snorkeling I'd actually rec buying gear here bc it will cost you about the same to rent old ones (however we rented ours at the cenotes, and lived to tell it lol)
- Sun screen - don’t be the person who sacrifices their health for “beauty” ...you can wear sun screen AND still get a tan! Fact.
- We still didn't figure out the water sitch. We drank and brushed our teeth with bottled water only, but the ice cubes at the restaurants/bars were tap water (we asked) and I'm proud to report that there were no GI issues on this end. *pun intended*
OK. On to the important stuff...
After eating our way around the city, heres 7 restaurants that you need to try when in Tulum:
A no frills local taco spot! This was the first restaurant we went to when we arrived late in the evening. Honestly was a little nervous because I had never eaten “local” food before.. my stomach is incredibly sensitive and I make it a point to only dine at A-grade restaurants in NYC (I once met members of the NYC Health Department who explained to me the methods of the lettering system and I forever scarred!)
I tried my best to keep an open mind - this place had great Yelp reviews and the flavor of the tacos lived up to its hype. Shrimp ones were way better than the fried fish. Ronak liked the beef ones better than the chicken! We came back here another day to get our taco fix for lunch!
Super Instagram-able breakfast spot. Yummy food but has more of an Australian/American vibe to it. The atmosphere is fun and inviting, would recommend coming here if you’re feeling a light breakfast or refreshing smoothies.
As authentic as Mexican food gets! We discovered this gem on our last day and had we tried it sooner, we would have def eaten here for breakfast and dinner!
They give you free nachos, guac, salsa and pickled veggies. Every dish we had was flavorful.
Do not visit Tulum without coming here.
AH I pride myself on finding this spot cause the atmosphere around sun set is just so cute! Plus, live music. *dusts shoulders off* Serious note, the burritos are unique in that it's 75% veggie/protein and sprinkles of rice (whereas in the US it's like 50-70% rice)
They offer a handmade coconut flour one (even the BF approved) and juices/smoothies/kombucha which was a much appreciated switch up for moi. The burritos changed my idea of what a burrito was back in the states.
Forget everything you know about Chipotle and don’t leave Tulum without trying an authentic burrito from here.
We came here once for brunch and twice after for our morning coffee. When it comes to coffee we mean business - the cortados were 👌🏽.
This was the only place I came across that served non-fried/nonbattered shrimp tacos and OMG I could’ve had another order to myself. Think al pastore but swap the pork for beef!
Fruit platter with the large mango won us over - if you’re one of those people who have trouble moving their bowels on vacay (hey just keepin it real!) highly recommend eating fresh fruit and lots of water. You can thank me later.
Ronak surprised me with this find and it was both of our favorite of the “fancy” restaurant series! I’m a sucker for lights and when we came here for dinner, the atmosphere was que romantique!
Imagine sitting in the middle of the jungle with candles everywhere, music, they even had people walking through with smoke buckets which was added to the dreamy atmosphere and helped keep the mosquitos away. If you can sacrifice taking pretty pics of your meal, come here when the sun sets!
So this has been labeled the best, most well known restaurant in Tulum. So we had to go there! It was super cute, food delish. Save this place for a special group of friends or a special one ;)