Safe to say, our honeymoon was CRAZY! While we were gone, Dallas got hit with a SNOWSTORM and the lowest temps it had seen in about 100 years! All that to say: our flight back to Dallas was canceled THREE TIMES so we got to extend our trip in Tulum by 6 days that we hadn't planned for! So now I can share all the details with you!
First, a note: there is so much information to share that I'll be breaking it up into sections! Everything I mention in this post will be detailed in a future dedicated post: best restaurants, where to stay, how to do Tulum on a budget, cenotes, and more! For now, I'll share an overview of our itinerary and activities to get the information out there!
Where to Stay
I'll share more about this in a separate post, but we were originally staying in Akumal, a small town just 20 minutes up the highway from Tulum. We found out about a fun connection, and our friend's in-laws own the hotel, so we originally stayed there. Akumal is a quiet town on a bay with a few resorts. We stayed at Hotel Akumal Caribe, and if you are looking for a quiet place to stay, with day trips to Tulum, this would be a great spot! Or if you're looking for a budget-friendly spot for a family vacay, this would be great! Akumal is wear you can dive with sea turtles, and we had so much fun doing that!
After our first flight was canceled, we thought we would be able to leave the next day, so we drove back to Cancun too stay the night and be ready to hit the airport early the next morning. Wrong! After our second flight was canceled, we were bummed because we didn't like Cancun; after our third flight was canceled we decided we needed to make the most of our extra days and go back to Tulum!
We had slim pickings because everyone flying back through Houston was also STUCK, but we found a few other gems to try in Tulum! There are two areas to stay in: Zona Hotelera (the beach road!) or Tulum town, in the city. There are cheaper hotels in town, but don't forget about taxi/parking costs to get to the beach, beach club fees, and wasted time driving back and forth. If you want to have beach access and beach club vibes, I would recommend Zona Hotelera on Tulum Beach Road. That's my personal preference, and how I like to travel - everyone is different!
Maria del Mar - cutest boutique beach hotel in a private cove!
Coco Tulum - white-washed casitas and adorable beach club with swings!
Ahau Tulum - probably our favorite beach club, boutique hotel and restaurant with ocean front cabins and porches! "Ven a la Luz sculpture"
Casa Ambar - "jungle side" of Beach Road, so it is more budget-friendly, but they have a sister hotel with beach access, Posada Lamar, below.
Posada Lamar - great pool and beach club, boutique hotel, bikes
Where to Eat
ALL of the restaurants we ate at were fantastic. These are our top six spots! To be very clear, all of these would be considered fine dining and you won't find them mentioned in my "Tulum on a Budget" travel guide! That being said, each of these restaurants did have more affordable items on the menu, but be ready for $15-$20 cocktails. If you're not drinking, you could definitely find a more affordable menu item like tacos or a burger for around $20-$30.
You NEED to make reservations at all of these restaurants. Tulum restaurants were operating at a limited capacity and still able to say "reservation only" so don't forget a reservation! One of the reasons we loved these restaurants is because of the service. All of these spots had ample waitstaff and we usually had 2 or more servers watching our table.
I'll share more information about these restaurants in a dedicated blog post, but here is the list for now!
Azulik is a hotel and restaurant in the trees! We had lunch here one day and it was delicious and amazing to experience their huge treehouse restaurant! This was one of our favorite meals and experiences. We were able to explore a bit and the views were amazing!
Gitano is on the jungle side of Beach Rd. and it feels like you are having dinner at a table in the jungle!
Italian food in Mexico, served by an international waitstaff! Fresh housemade pasta and beautiful decor on the beach!
Chambao was surprise to us - we just picked it because it looked cute from the street! I made a reservation for later in the week and we were blown away by the service and all of the details.
Taboo is on the beach side and doubles as a beach club during the day and fine dining at night! This was the restaurant that lit my fish on fire at the table - amazing!
Our final dining experience in Tulum and one of the best! On Beach Rd. and every detail was perfection!
What to Do
There are so many options in Tulum! I like a mix of adventure vacation and sitting on the beach doing nothing, so Tulum had a great mix for me!
Our favorites: Cenote Calavera and Cenote Dos Ojos (which actually has two different cenotes next to each other!)
Tulum Beach Road has boutiques all along the jungle side of the road, with designer goods that are "hecho en Mexico" (made in Mexico!). If you're looking for a custom hat, a handmade purse, or something unique to bring back to the states with you, you'll find it here! It's pricey, but worth it!
Tuluminati - super fun hat store - something for everyone!
Bad Boys Tulum (lol) - for menswear
Claude - I bought a beautiful linen blouse here and cannot wait for warm weather to wear it!
If you're looking for less expensive souvenirs or smaller items, hit Tulum Town main street, with tons of cute shops selling everything from hats to magnets, to jewelry!
I LOVE a beach club. Yes, I would like a cabana and a book to read at the beach and I'm a happy gal! Here are our favorites and they are all worth a visit, even with their minimum spend requirements:
Maria del Mar
We had the best time swimming with the sea turtles in Akumal Bay! Prime time is 9am-11am and it's best on a day when the water is super calm, so be flexible with your schedule! There is a Dive Shop in the Akumal Bay where you can rent gear for around $15USD per person or you can hire a guide and boat to take you out and point the turtles out to you! for around $30USD per person (including your gear). We hired a guide/boat because we ended up going on a "rough water day" and it was helpful to have someone experienced with us to spot the turtles and then point them out to us! Worth it! We had the best time snorkeling!