Last week I was in Tulum for only 4 days, which may be too short a period of time for some people given all the expenses and the effort to go all the way from Canada, but for me it was like a therapy. It was more than a therapy really, I struggled with severe winter depression for the entire month of December (happens to me every winter unfortunately, but only gets worse and worse every year) and spending care-free time with my husband in paradise was exactly what I needed to feel alive again.
Read along to see more photos of my Tulum trip, the beautiful hotel we stayed at, our favorite restaurants and touristic attractions!
We stayed at Villa las Estrellas, which I found on Booking.com after a little research – I checked airbnb too but we decided it’s best if we stay at a seaside hotel where we can just eat & sleep all day long – and we were extremely happy with everything. We were in the ocean view suite and it was, as you can guess, heavenly. Even on rainy hours we could just sit at our balcony watching the ocean. The staff was incredibly kind, always helpful and nice. The beach is gorgeous and the sea is clean here.
There are of course couple of minor problems: a toilet smell bothered us for a while (luckily we got rid of it by closing the bathroom door and opening the bathroom window), there is no mini fridge or AC in the room (we didn’t need either, but may be a problem for some people), the hotel closes at 10pm so if you need something after that hour it can be bad (especially water since tap water is not potable). The food was OK but not revolutionary, we only had breakfast and lunch at the hotel and was out every evening – which you should be doing also as the hotel is located in the middle of the hotel zone and all amazing artisanal restaurants are 2-5 mins walking distance.
Speaking of restaurants, here are a few we went to:
- ARCA – Our favorite by far. It’s located right next to Hartwood, Tulum’s most popular restaurant which you have to wait hours to get in, and while I can’t make any comments on Hartwood I can say you can just skip the line and go to Arca instead. You eat amazing Mexican fusion on communal tables in the middle of the jungle, the drinks are also great. We had smoked fingerling potatoes and roasted bone marrow (OMG you have to try this!) as appetizers and the wood fire roasted whole fish as the main.
- Safari – This cozy little place was located right across our hotel and their tacos and cocktails are to die for which made us spend two nights here. You sit around a campfire, it’s really laid back and the waiters are so nice. You can either make a reservation ahead (which I did for our first visit) but that way you have to eat A LOT and pay almost twice of what you’d probably pay otherwise or you can just walk-in. When we were there it was a relatively calmer time so we could find a place easily. A major bonus is they have free WIFI.
- Casa Jaguar – This blogger favorite spot gives you the feeling of being at a luxury residence in the middle of the jungle as it’s less rural than other restaurants but still has that authentic vibe. There are tables for bigger groups and smaller tables for parties of 2 or 4 and the overall layout of the restaurant is spacious yet cozy. The food was OK here, everything was delicious but not ground breaking. I’d still suggest visiting this place though, they also have bonfire party nights on Thursdays.
- MurMur – It was one of the newest restaurants in Tulum and therefore they were accepting reservations unlike others, so I made a reservation at MurMur a week ahead and paid $20 through PayPal as a deposit. We went there right after a rain shower, which happens quite often in Tulum to be honest, and when we arrived we were welcomed with two hosts simply saying “our table is gone because of the rain”. No sorry, no trying to find a solution, just “your table is gone” and “if you want to wait at the bar it will be like 30 mins”. Then when we asked for our deposit back, they had no idea how to refund or how PayPal worked, they literally had no idea how anything worked at their own restaurant. So after making us wait standing there for 15 mins they called the owner of the restaurant which made them prepare a table there for us in 5 mins and finally we were able to eat something. The waiters were really nice and the food was OK, possibly better than Casa Jaguar, but the place we were sitting was at the back of the restaurant near the restrooms so it made us feel like we were sitting at a back alley on our own. The entire experience is a negative one overall, so I wouldn’t suggest going to MurMur.
. Orange Elias bikini top Araks
. Black high waist bikini bottom H&M
. Brown Ester one piece HER Line
. White Veronica one piece Solid & Striped x Staud
Last but not least, since we only had 4 full days there and we wanted to lay on the beach and do absolutely nothing more than anything, we only spared one day for touristic activities. We were torn between cenotes and Chichén Itzá, and I’m sure all of them would have been amazing experiences, but at the end we went with Rio Secreto.
Rio Secreto is an underground river and cave, located right under a jungle. Rain water has been getting filtered by the soil and dripping down for thousands of years, forming dramatic stalactites and stalagmites among the river of drinking water. You can’t just walk in Rio Secreto by yourself, you have to sign in and they form groups of 10-15 people and assign a tour guide to every group. They give you all the gear you need (a wetsuit, life jacket, helmet with light, walking sticks etc) and you proceed to enter the cave. You need to know how to swim and goes without saying, you shouldn’t have claustrophobia. You are not allowed any phones or other personal belongings other than prescribed glasses and asthma medication etc but they give you lockers. You just have to wear your swimsuit and that’s it.
You spend around 1.5 hours inside the cave depending on which part of the cave you’re in that day, and then you go out and enjoy a complimentary meal. Overall it’s a lot more expensive than other cenote experiences, but I think it was worth it. They also provide transportation from-to your hotel if you don’t have a car to reach there.