Have you ever had an AH!!!! moment? That is what our stay on the beach of Tulum was a series of.
If you read our last post “Pleasing Playa Del Carmen” then you will know PDC was an active and somewhat noisy place. Not so the south beach at Tita Tulum-Hotel Ecological where we made our home for 3 nights. It was, for the most part, simple tranquility. We had a sweet bungalow right on the sand complete with colorful hammocks on the front porch. And it was only a few steps to the chaises where we could laze in the sun under a palapa and gaze out at a spectacular view. We were lucky to have bungalow #7 which is on the right side of the property when facing the beach. Unfortunately there is a bar on the left side playing music till the early hours. But the sound was rather muffled where we were so if you go try to get either #7 or #5. And if you book Tita Tulum, consider using this affiliate link at no extra cost to you.
As with most beach areas music at all hours seems to be the norm, but Tulum is a bit quieter than PDC and also Puerto Vallarta where we were last year. Since Tita Tulum only has a few bungalows and is an intimate property we did not have the masses of people in front of the hotel hanging out on beach beds, getting massages and crowding the beachfront. It was also nice to not be bothered with beach touts which were constant in Puerto Vallarta and Sayulita. On the south beach beach access is restricted more than the north beach area since you pretty much have to walk through the resorts to get to it. It is also a bit more expensive because of that.
It was lovely to wake up early in the morning, listen to the music of the surf and watch the sunrise as a few people wandered along the long beach thus creating some more of those AH!! moments.
We had heard a lot about the sargassum plaguing the Yucatan beaches and were happy to find out that the space in front of our hotel was not too littered with it. Other areas along the Tulum beach strip seemed to have more to deal with. In some areas the water was still a deep brown color. In the mornings you can see workers out trying to wrestle it all into wheelbarrows and discard it elsewhere. A rise in population and the resulting infrastructure challenges along with climate change seem to be the cause. It is hard to predict exactly when it will come and for how long and some times of the year are worse than others so do your research.
The beach road of Tulum was brilliant. Rustic chic (which I love) seemed to be the norm for boutiques and restaurants. It is long, and some stretches are more crowded than others. But it is still only a lane. Cars vie with bicycles and walkers for space and though we would have loved to have biked around we figured it had been so many years since we had been on one that maybe we would have been pressing our luck for remaining upright. Still, the bike business is booming and everyone else seemed to be doing just fine.
Be prepared for sticker shock in Tulum!!! It is expensive!! We thought we were ready for it since Playa Del Carmen was more than we thought it would be and we knew Tulum would be even more still. But we have been going through money like water and our ATM card is taking a beating. We are finding ourselves re-evaluating our budget daily. And our plan for coming down to the Yucatan to escape the cold weather of San Miguel later this year is being adjusted. Some days San Miguel de Allende seems like a cheap destination compared to the costs of Yucatan Mexico. Cash is key!!! and of course pesos remain king. Some places will take US dollars but be prepared for a horrible rate. Also some restaurants and hotels will let you pay with credit card but a surcharge is usually tacked on. There are banks in town, a couple of miles away but only a few decrepit ATM’s are at the beach and according to most, these are mini robbers. So plan accordingly and bring in plenty of pesos!!
Deciding to use our time on the beach in Tulum for just that we left the Tulum and Coba ruins and the cenotes for while we were in cheaper accommodation in town. More of that in our other Tulum posts. “Tulum Town – The Other Tulum” and “Tulum and Coba – A Tale of Two Ruins“
There are tons of restaurants, many attached to hotels on the beach side. Others are across the lane. There is something for everyone and one of our favorite for breakfasts was Casa Banana which had a nice setting and some really good food without being totally exorbitant. Try the banana bread. Yummy!! For a splurge Cenzotle was beautiful and creative, and a nice little tucked away place with its own cenote was Clan-Destino where we made friends with a couple of twenty-somethings from India, now grad students in Philly. We had a nice hour talking with them about one of our favorite countries. For Indian food, because of course we got into the mood, there was Shiva, which was good for something a bit different. I loved the cool decor of Posada Margherita but it was too crowded for Glenn’s tastes that afternoon. Go through and take photos though, it is like a trendy potting shed gone wild. At Cabanas La Luna is Restaurante Las Estrellas which was a nice low key place to hang right on the beach although a bit pricey, maybe just do drinks in the sun. We went to La Zebra on our first afternoon and would definitely say give this a miss. Overpriced and the food was a disappointment. Would also give Mateo’s a no-go and instead head across the street to the restaurant at Zamas for a nice view, a fabulous coconut drink and super good smoothies. We did go to the restaurant at our hotel one night but maybe we just didn’t get the right thing as we weren’t impressed. The location for the hotel though, again, is spot on. Most of the Tulum restaurants add on an automatic 15% propina/tip so be prepared for that too and check your bill carefully so you don’t miss it and double tip.
Lining the beach road are some great little shops and boutiques with an assortment of clothes in the colors and materials I love. But needing to lose a bit of weight first, and not wanting to buy a big size, gave me the excuse I needed not to indulge. This was much to the relief of Glenn. I will say though, with the humidity and high temperatures in the Yucatan bring the lightest and least constricting clothes you have in your closet!! This is not a place for jeans. And if you don’t have light clothes when you get here, the shops along the beach road will be happy to oblige with your purchases. Although petit and skimpy seems to be on order.
We loved our stay along the playa of Tulum so much that we have booked another stay, this time for 4 nights in bungalow #7 at Tita Tulum for the beginning of December. Flying into Cancun again we will spend one night in Playa before heading here by ADO bus as we don’t see our way to spending a bundle a night to arrive late and we want to make full use out of our beach days.
If you have been to Tulum let us know how your stay was and if you have any suggestions for our next round of nights later this year pass them over.