In January sister Kerry and I spent 4 very relaxing days in Tulum, Mexico. This is one of those trendy travel spots that I'd seen listed on blogs and in the NY Times and because winter is hard, and flights to nearby Cancun were quite cheap we planned a trip! Tulum is supposed to be a more eco- friendly, hippy dippy, yoga centric, foodie destination then spring break mecca Cancun which is about ninety minutes to it's north. Sidebar: In a strange parenting decision Mother Courtney had taken Kerry and I to Cancun when we were in middle school. I really enjoyed myself and only vaguely noticed that everyone around me was 19 and drunk. In any case, it was pretty clear that since Kerry and I are mature ladies in our 30s (!) that Cancun was not the right spot for us... so Tulum it was.
Since we got cheap, direct flights to Cancun we felt like there was room in the budget to rent a car, but we really agonized over whether or not it made sense to do so. Kerry and I love little road trips so this was a tough decision but in the end we decided to skip the rental car since there seemed like there would be enough to occupy us in Tulum. In the end I think this was the right decision since there's no real need to drive anywhere in Tulum and almost everyone is biking around which feels more festive and vacationy. I think if we were going to spend more time in the Yucantan penninsula then renting a car would have definitely been worthwhile, but for 4 days we were happy to just noodle around Tulum.
Tulum has two main areas, a small town which is a few miles from the beach, and then the beach stip which is essentially a single long road down the beach. On the beach side of the road are all the hotels/ cabanas/resorts which are all fairly small, and on the jungle side are all the restaurants and shops. The accommodations in Tulum range from camping all the way up to posh resorts, but I think the majority are eco cabanas since there are strict environmental regulations in Tulum. We stayed in two places - Zamas and Cabanas Las Lunas which were both a little rustic but very charming. We biked a couple of times to the town which I thought was charming in a sort of dilapidated way but I was happy we opted to stay in the more expensive, but more special beach area of Tulum.
The one activity we did in our 4 days there was to walk to the Tulum ruins which are pretty stunning but nowhere near as impressive as Chichen Itza which we had seen on the previously mentioned middle school trip. Other than that we didn't really do anything. Except eat. If we are counting eating then we did a lot. Also! We did a lot of bike riding, especially sister Kerry. I spent more time reading Elizabeth Gaskell books on the beach. To each his own is what I say. When we were in Tulum it was warm, but not hot, so I actually didn't go in the water at all and in the evenings I was wearing jeans and long sleeves. I think if I were going to plan another trip I would try to go slightly later in the winter so that I would be able to really soak up the heat.
I think one of the main tourist draws of Tulum is that it's supposed to be a bit of a foodie destination. I had even heard of uber trendy, jungle to table restaurant Hartwood and I was so determined to go after all the mighty praise in the NYTimes. But when we got there 1.5 hours before opening and the line was full of chain smoking backpackers I just couldn't bring myself to wait. I don't know if that was a bad decision but really, I just couldn't. But we did find lots of food we really liked, and I would highly recommend El Tabano, Zamas, Restarare, and the Maya Tulum restaurant for anyone planning a trip. We also went to a great popsicle shop in the pueblo.