Our Tulum Travel Diary
Oh Tulum. I wanted to love you, I really did.
We were really excited about this trip, but were surprised by a few things when we arrived, so I wanted to share my experience in case you're contemplating your own getaway to this part of Mexico.
With Tulum, we did find some gems and I'll list those below, plus why it wasn't quite the destination for us (and what you should know before you go).
Where We Stayed
I found this hotel via Mr and Mrs Smith and have also seen in mentioned on Instagram quite a few times. It's a very small hotel that feels very private and we found the staff to be very friendly and helpful.
What I liked: You're right on the shore and the on-site beachside restaurant makes really nice food with plenty of vegetarian options. The rooms are really spacious with high ceilings and our balcony even came with a hammock to relax in. They also give you your own reserved beachside bed (for lounging seaside during the day) for your entire stay. The grounds are stunning—I loved walking from our room to the ocean (and strolling under palm trees with string lights) each day.
The hotel staff were also incredibly accommodating—arranging a doctor for us when we got food poisoning on the tail end of our trip and even giving us a 3:00 pm late checkout. We were feeling ill and they wanted us to be in the comfort of our room until our airport shuttle arrived.
There were some things out of their control, like the seaweed washing ashore (more on that below), but they did everything they could to minimize its presence—workers were out every morning raking it aside and covering it with sand to mask the smell.
If you decide to visit in Tulum, I'd certainly recommend this beautiful spot.
Where We Ate
This is Sanara's on-site restaurant. It's beachside with a large outdoor patio and there's a nice breeze blowing around you to keep you cool. As the name suggests, the menu is very coconut-centric and many of the options are plant-based (Tulum was really nice in this regard!). We enjoyed all the dishes that we tried and the drinks (and smoothies) were good too!
This was the favorite meal we had during our time in Tulum. We asked the front desk where they'd recommend for dinner and this was at the top of their list, though they said it'd be difficult to get a table. Luckily they made room for us! The menu consisted of mostly meat and fish, but there were plenty of sides and starters to keep me very full.
The jicama salad starter was incredible, as was the smoked sweet potato side. I couldn't finish my meal (which rarely happens when a meal cosists of just sides and starters!). The drinks were amazing too. I'd recommend this spot without hesitation—the staff were all so friendly and knowledgeable and the restaurant even came through with (good smelling) smoke now and again to drive away any mosquitos that might be around.
This is definitely a magical looking spot (think string lights over the open-air dining area and chandeliers hanging from trees), but for us, the magic stopped there.
The service seemed off—I'll be nice and say it seemed that our server was 'aloof' and maybe not the cleanest cut person around (that should have been a sign!). The food was good (we ended up sharing several starters rather than opting for mains), but we were pestered by mosquitos the entire meal (which we didn't experience any place else), so much so that we rushed our meal and headed home as quick as we could manage.
And that's when things got much worse—we're nearly certain that this is the spot where we got food poisoning. So, unsurprisingly, I wouldn't recommend this spot.
What We Did (And Wanted to Do)
Massage at Sanara's Wellness Center
Can you call a massage an activity? Well, I'm listing it here anyways!
The treatment room was really beautiful and spacious and the tables were very comfortable. The massage itself was relaxing and had a good pressure (I always opt for the deep tissue massage!). The massage was a bit of a splurge (read: pricey), but ended up being the highlight of the trip for us. Plus the rooftop of the wellness center has stunning views of both ocean and jungle—I'm up on the rooftop in the first photo!
We had planned to walk (or bike) to the Tulum ruins (which are just fifteen minutes from Sanara), but sadly we were't feeling well enough to make the trek. If you do go, everywhere I read suggested arriving around 8:00 am to enjoy the spot with minimal people and before the hot midday sun hits!
What To Know Before You Go
See the above two photos? That's seaweed on the beach, not rocks. As I said, Sanara did their best each day to minimize its presence, but just know it's there and doesn't have the nicest scent!
You're in the jungle—there are lots of mosquitos and other creepy crawlies. Bring on the bug spray!
Despite our best efforts, even brushing our teeth with bottled water, we still got food poisoning. If you need a doctor, as we did, there are ones that can make house (er, hotel?) calls, which was a savior for us! No need to venture out in order to get medicine—Sanara was really helpful to arrange this for us and even sent out to get us additional medicine!
Speaking of doctors, ours said that the cenotes (sunken, natural pools) are very dirty and people frequently get sick from these—good to know!
ATMs are fairly few and far between, and most only offer US dollars, not Mexican pesos. They also charge fairly large fees for withdrawals, so try getting cash at the airport. I'd say about half the places in Tulum are cash-only, but both US dollars and pesos are accepted.
And Finally, What I Wore
For this trip, I knew we'd have some very warm weather, so I kept my outfits as simple and easy as possible. Shop the look I'm wearing here, below:
What else did I reach for frequently during our trip?
While Tulum wasn't necessarily the spot for us, there were still a few gems that we found—namely Sanara and Hartwood. I know that choosing where to vacation is a big decision (plane tickets and hotels really add up), so I wanted to share a really honest take on our experience.
I hope that it's not come across as negative, as Tulum really is a beautiful spot. It's just that there were a few unexpected things we wish we'd have known before we booked, as it may have swayed us to go elsewhere.
In any case, it was an adventure, and isn't that what life's all about?
Until next time,