Beach, barn, ballroom, DIY? There's so much to choose from!Read More
This once-sleepy beachside Bohemian community near Mexico’s ancient Mayan ruins has evolved into a trendy vacation hotspot—both literally and figuratively—for the world’s trendsetters and fashion elite. But its popularity hasn’t caught on to the point of over commercialization—at least not yet. There are no mega all-inclusives, just tiny boutique resorts offering yoga, fruit smoothies, fresh farm-to-table menus Mexican-style and some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Here it’s all about decompressing and literally living off the grid. Generators power many of the businesses, with air conditioning often not an option.
Beach Road is where it’s at. This road that runs parallel to the beach—separating the sand from the jungle—is a foodie paradise, with some of the world’s hottest chefs, boutique hotels and up-and-coming designers camping out in pop-up shops and open-air dining rooms carved by machete out of the jungle. While it’s rustic and surprisingly affordable, it’s also chic and sophisticated. Lanterns, chandeliers and even disco globes adorn the spaces, along with a heavy dose of bug spray. Gourmet menus change daily, with specials erased from chalkboards once the catch of the day has run out. It’s a minimalist lifestyle—one that you can easily get used to. This resort town is truly unlike any other.
Even the local Mexican spirits are trending: Mezcal, once referred to as the poor-man’s tequila, is the hip drink, either in the form of a craft cocktail or straight up. Available in hundreds of local smoky varieties that aren’t available at home, you can mezcal-hop your way down the beach from bar palapa to bar palapa.
As sophisticated as the restaurants are on Beach Road, they’re as basic in downtown Tulum, with a few dollars going a long way toward some of the freshest and most authentic Mexican food and margaritas you’ll ever enjoy.
Some of our favorite Tulum resorts are part of the luxury Colibri Boutique group, wonderful hotels strategically situated on the ocean, each with their own unique style. But they all share friendly, superb service, amazing fresh gourmet food and the latest in mixology menus.
Mi Amor is our favorite for honeymoons. With just 17 rooms, this adults-only resort with private plunge pools is serene and sophisticated, about a 10 minute’s cab ride from the heart of Beach Road. While there’s not an accessible sand beach on Mi Amor’s immediate property, a public beach is just a few minutes down the road-—or you can enjoy the beach at La Zebra for the day. Surprisingly this omission doesn’t make your stay any less enjoyable. Lounge chairs strategically placed on the rocks above the waves provide phenomenal views and ocean breezes. There’s not a bad choice on the menu, although we highly recommend the octopus and ceviche. And don’t miss the nightly entertainment. There’s a simple European feel here that makes you feel at home—a chic home, that is. Rates start at $310 per night.
La Zebra is the more active sister property. This 29-room resort is located right on the beach with plush day beds resting under thatched parasols and two bars within eyesight. Rooms have been newly remodeled into gorgeous beachside retreats with plunge pools. And don’t miss the Chef’s Table, an exclusive epicurean experience for eight, as you watch their award-winning chef craft a 12-course tasting menu. Rates start at $330 per night.
And then there’s Mezzanine with its lounge-chic vibe. This 9-room, boutique-style, adults-only resort is privately situated and offers a phenomenal Thai restaurant and unmatched views of the ocean. It’s truly a little piece of paradise. Rates start at $190.
We recommend splitting your trip between a few of these resorts. One visit, and you’ll be hooked, craving a return to this beach/jungle destination as soon as your schedule will allow. Thankfully, this addiction will be easier on your wallet than other bucket-list resort towns, perfect for annual anniversary adventures.
This foodie paradise is relatively inexpensive, but many places only take cash, so check before you go.
Here are our favorites:
• Hartwood. The hardest reservation to come by in town, with diners literally lining up at 3 p.m. But it’s worth they hype.
• The Real Coconut at Sanará. This gluten-, sugar- and dairy-free beach bungalow offers the best breakfast of your life.
• Gitano. The glitziest cocktails and craziest people-watching you’ll ever come by.
• Kitchen Table. Minimalist at its best.
• Cenzontle. Mexican with a twist.
• Antojitos La Chiapaneca. 50-cent tacos al pastor? Yes, please.