Tulum may well be the most Instagrammed location in Mexico, but don’t let that put you off. Despite its seemingly overnight evolution from secret hippie hotspot to luxury bohemian mecca, Tulum is still very much the place to visit if you love spending time in dense jungle before running out into a vast expanse of coastline serviced by the deep blue Carribean sea, all before tucking into locally sourced cuisine and the best mezcal cocktails in the Yucatán Peninsula.
If you need any more persuading, here’s our A-List Edit to the best Tulum has to offer.
VISIT MAYAN RUINS
No trip to Mexico would be complete without a visit to some form of Mayan ruins. Tulum has two ancient archeological sites, both former homes to religious and spiritual ceremonies and sacrifices. One is situated at the top of a 12-metre cliff with a drop to the beach and sea beneath, while the other is 47km away in Coba.
If the thought of the mass human sacrifices that occurred at these sites doesn’t put you off, they do provide a brief snapshot of Mayan civilization and its incredible architectural achievements; inhabitants constructed these huge pyramids with nothing more than rudimentary tools and manpower.
SCUBA DIVE IN ANCIENT CENOTES (UNDERWATER CAVERNS)
Breathtaking. Literally. The Yucatán Peninsula has the world’s largest number of cenotes (pronounced “cey-no-tays”). These are natural sinkholes whereby sections of a cave roof have collapsed, revealing an other-worldly network of groundwater caverns, caves and rivers that can span many kilometres and reach out to the ocean. The best way to fully explore this crystal-clear underwater world, where the sky is blocked by sprawling rock formations dripping from the cave ceiling, is to scuba dive with local experts, such as the family-run Mexidivers dive centre, which provides a passionate and informative experience.
HAVE AN INDIGENOUS MAYAN MASSAGE
For an authentic Mayan experience and probably one of the most effective massages you’ll ever have, try the Sobada Maya at Yäan Wellness Energy Spa. The spa practitioners are indigenous Mayan “curanderas”, native healers trained in family lineage that goes back centuries. The Sobada Maya massage starts with your abdominals and then proceeds to deep tissue across the body to leave you feeling completely realigned.
SIP SUNDOWNERS AT A ROOFTOP BAR IN THE JUNGLE
If you face the ocean in Tulum the sun will set behind you, so some planning is required if you intend to observe it as it shrinks slowly into the dense jungle horizon. The best perch for such a view is on top of refreshingly low-key rooftop bar Ciel Rose, which offers unforgettable panoramic views and a decent happy hour deal to match.
TAKE A LONG LUNCH ON THE BEACH
Because the sun sets in the east over the jungle in Tulum, beaches are often deserted come early evening—which means dining on the sands is typically a lunchtime affair. Choose your beach club or restaurant wisely and settle in for a long, lazy afternoon grazing on tuna tostadas and sipping blush rosé or mezcal margaritas. Beach cabaña hotel Coco Tulum has one of the hottest restaurants on the strip, serving locally sourced fish as well as the ever-refreshing French rosé, AIX.
SHOP BOHEMIAN BOUTIQUES
You won’t have to walk very far to find a floaty linen dress in Tulum. For something more distinctive, head to artisan boutique ZacBe + Arte Sano. This cute little independent shop pairs handmade jewellery crafted from repurposed silver and feathers with Panama hats for men and women made from toquilla straw in Ecuador.