TULUM – EAT // PLAY // STAY
Planning the Ultimate Bachelorette Trip to Tulum Mexico
This bachelorette weekend was my second time exploring the beautiful, laid-back town of Tulum and I really hope it’s not the last. The town of Tulum and the beach both have SO much to offer, I could spent weeks there and never get bored. The first time I ventured down to Tulum, an approximate 1.5 hour transfer from the Cancun airport, was on a couples trip for a mellow long weekend over Presidents Day in February.
This trip was just a tad bit different. Myself and 11 other girls made our way to Tulum from all different cities to celebrate our sweet bride-to-be before her big day!
There are a ton of great options to stay at when visiting Tulum … You have boutique hotels closer in to town where you are a short cab ride or bike ride from the ocean.. and then you have the beach-front boutique hotels. Even if you narrow down to beach-front hotels, you still have a lot to decide on – Do you want A/C (because this will eliminate a lot of your options right away)? Do you want to be right smack-dab in the middle of the restaurants, boutiques and bars or are you OK with being “away” from the activity , but a short walk or taxi ride away from it all? Decisions, decisions.
I have now done both the town hotel option and the beach-front option and there are definitely pros and cons to both!
In town, we stayed at LiveTulum boutique hotel. (You can see more on this Tulum trip here)
It was clean, comfy, and had a welcoming staff. Our stay also came with free bike rentals to explore the local area. The biggest ‘pros’ were (1) there was A/C to keep us cool at all times, (2) breakfast was included and the buffet was tasty (3) the cost (!!!) It is undeniably MUCH cheaper to stay in-town so if you are trying to keep your budget lower, I would recommend LiveTulum or another close-to-town option as you can spend that money elsewhere.
This go around, we stayed at Cabanas Tulum, beachfront boutique hotel.
We chose this spot for many reasons, but with 12 girls to organize on a daily basis, we all agreed that staying on the beach and close to the action, was the easiest way to go. For convenience, ease of logistics, and for the occasion – this place was the absolute perfect choice!
Pros about our beachfront cabanas.. (1) A/C most hours of the day ** very rare find on the beach as I mentioned ** (2) breakfast included at both of their restaurants; Frescos (on the healthier side) and Ziggy’s Beach Club (tasty food AND refreshing day drinks), (3) waking up to the ocean breeze!
Let’s jump to it. My hope here is to provide you with some of my favorite finds & travel tips to inspire you to book your next trip to Tulum and to make trip planning much easier!
Where to Stay: Bachelorette Edition
- CABANAS TULUM: Okay… so I have already touched on this place above but I have to elaborate because it was such a wonderful and accommodating experience for a bachelorette party. The moment you step out of your taxi, you are welcomed by the staff who immediately take your bags off your back, and get you settled in with a ‘Welcome Drink” – Frozen Mojito, in hand! There are 8 16-beachfront cabana rooms, 1/2 ground level and the other 1/2 rooftop level, 4 garden rooms and 4 sunset rooms. Every room has AC from 6PM to 9AM with ceiling fans (essential especially during summertime in Mexico!). At Cabanas Tulum feel like you are in your own private paradise the moment you step on the premises … the pool … the spa … the hammocks hanging from the palm trees with the waves crashing… All of it is perfect. Even better, they offer yoga classes daily at their yoga palapa above the trees, shared with The Beach Tulum for just $15/hour session. Location wise, you are away from it all, yet only 7km from the ruins and a quick 5-minute taxi ride from a whole slew of restaurants, bars and boutique shops!
** NOTE: For some unknown reason, the beaches of Tulum and surrounding areas are currently having a big issue with an influx of seaweed… Not just the type where you are swimming around and you feel seaweed at the bottom but brown seaweed piles building up along the coastline at a quicker pace then they are able to move it out. It is actually quite sad, as the locals realize that this could cause issues with tourism if it stays like this. They explained that this happened 2 years ago, without any true explanation and was not nearly as severe as it was this year.
That being said… the hotel staff went above and beyond to make our experience both at their hotel and our time in Tulum everything we could ask for AND kept us all wanting to book our next flight back. Tulum has so much more to offer than just swimming around in the Carribean blue waters, (which hopefully will be an option again soon!). The foodie scene is hard to beat … italian .. Mexican .. Asian Fusion … but I will get there soon.
There are boutique boho shops galore, yoga studios and retreats hidden along the jungle beach road, unbelievable spa treatments available, ancient ruins, and crystal clear cenotes to take a dip in … you get the picture!
EAT, DRINK & BE HAPPY: Bachelorette Party Musts!
- The Hartwood: If I have one recommendation; whether you are on a bachelorette weekend or just a girlfriends getaway; it is to make a reservation here a month in advance. They serve dinner Wednesday to Sunday; however walk-ins are allowed anytime but chances the place will be packed and you’ll wait a long time. This spot books up quick and for good reason. All ingredients are fresh and sustainable. i.e. they break down their waste with zero carbon footprint, cook over an open-fire, use sustainable fishing methods and they support the local Maya farms. The menu changes daily depending on what’s fresh. After a big assortment of family-style orders, my favorites were the lobster salad, ceviche, grilled octopus for starters; and the 3-variations of fresh caught fish (did not know the names.. just went off the waiter’s recommendations and he did not lead us astray!). Oh and order a carafe of spicy margaritas while you’re at it! [ Cash Only – Get pesos out ahead of time ]
- Frescos: Attached to Cabanas Tulum and The Beach Tulum hotels; this is one of the two breakfast spots included daily with your stay. I am used to the “included” breakfasts that consist of no personal menu choices and not necessarily ‘healthy’ items. This spot is 100% different. Just writing about their breakfast makes my mouth water…. Full of homemade breads and jams, fresh squeezed juices, detox water blends, smoothies, avocado toast, chia-seed pudding, fried egg tostadas, coconut banana pancakes (and my daily almond milk latte!) . The entire bachelorette party looked forward to eating here every.single.morning.
- Ziggy’s Beach Club: The 2nd spot for breakfast included with your hotel stay above. The beach club is open everyday from 9AM to sunset. Their breakfast restaurant opens at 7AM and their intimate dinner setting remains open until 10:30PM (sometimes with live music!). ** Favorite drinks were the Kaskabal (mezcal, guava, spiced jamaica, lime and tonic water) and the La Pilla Margartia ( lower sugar if requested ) * Bonus – swing your day away on their bar swings! [Charge to room OR credit cards are accepted]
- Raw Love Tulum: The actual restaurant is full of a health-foodie’s dream items. Raw vegan dessert (ice cream, cakes, macaroons, brownies), an assortment of coffee and teas with a sprinkle of cardamom, coconut milk, cacao – depending on your choice, and smoothies full of all the healthy goodness ( Maca, dates, turmeric, ginger, spirulina, moringa… YES ). Unfortunately I didn’t have enough $$ or time as I ran across this spot on my walk down the beach but I did get myself a nice big freshly-cut coconut to hydrate before a long travel day ahead! This place is too cute… super photogenic and a great reset before your travels come to an end! [Cash only – pesos]
- Mateos: This was my second go-around at Mateos and once again it did not disappoint. Located on the jungle side of the road, this gem has one of the more relaxed vibes and is reasonably priced. They are known for their fish tacos and their daily 5-7pm happy hour 2-for-1 deals (Strawberry-Muddled Mojito, yes please!). We b-lined it for the rooftop terrace and didn’t leave all night. Great service, live music, and truly my favorite sunset views as it towers above the jungle treetops.
- Papaya Playa Project: Another second-time visit because I couldn’t stay away. Here on a bachelorette party? Go here on a Saturday night for the DJ and lively night scene. During the day, there are mellow DJ tunes in the background, delicious tacos, and (a bit pricey, but tasty) cocktails. If you get there early enough, snag the beach club sun beds! ($40 minimum per person – credit cards accepted )
- Gitanos: This should be your Friday bachelorette party night out go-to. (There is literally a “go-to” bar/club for every night of the week so ask around if you’re unsure!) Gitanos mezcal cocktails are some of my favorite! Personal fave- Kisses in the car = Mezcal + Passion Fruit + Tangerine + Habanero (if you like spicy) … if not try the Stardust = Mezcal + Dark Rum + Pineapple + Papaya + House Coconut Cream! [Credit Cards accepted]
FINAL TRAVEL TIPS:
- CURRENCY: The local currency is Pesos. There are multiple options available to swap out your currency before you get to the Cancun airport. You can talk with your bank and order the exact amount of Pesos you need, order from a travel company such as Triple A or your local American Express travel dept., or you can exchange currency directly at your local, domestic airport. I can only speak to the domestic currency exchange- It is easy and convenient since you are already at the airport, but it definitely does not provide the best exchange rate. Once in Mexico, your safest bet is to do it at an ATM as the fee is typically somewhere around $3.50 (check with your bank for any additional charges they might have). If you can take out only the necessary amount at the airport and then get money out at an ATM once you land in Cancun, that is your best bet / bang for your buck. For safety reasons, it is not advised that you take money out from a bank and then walk back to your hotel and don’t go to ATMs alone – especially at night! I personally use my Chase Sapphire card because it is full of travel benefits including no foreign transaction fees! Just beware that a lot of the restaurants don’t take credit card in Tulum so be prepared with cash at all times just in case!
- SAFETY: Traveling to Mexico has gotten a lot of negative press over the last 12 months or so. You can always check out the travel.gov site here and find the specific region you are visiting to see what current travel advisories and warnings are out. I had some reservations about traveling back here after recent news but I have to say we all felt completely safe the entire time. Of coarse, that comes with being aware of your surroundings and making smart decisions.. just as you should in your own city! Stay in groups, don’t wander around at night, stay in well-lit areas, be aware of your drink/who serves it, do not carry large sums of money or carry flashy items on you that will bring unwanted attention.
- TRANSFERS: We used USA Transfers to get to and from the Cancun airport. The service was great and they were fully loaded up with a cooler of corona light (2 for $5) to kick off the bachelorette festivities. If you are traveling with a big group, this makes sense financially as it only came out to ~ $38 per girl, round-trip. For my last trip, I set up a private transfer through Viator which was more $$ pricey but since it was only the two of us and we were not super familiar with the surrounding areas, it made sense.
- GETTING AROUND: Getting around is easy. There are plenty of taxis driving around but I would recommend just setting up taxi rides with your front desk at your hotel to make things simple on the front end. Also, I highly recommend talking to your hotel concierge and getting a feel for what the cost of a taxi should be to a few of your destinations. This will ensure that you are not a tourist getting taken advantage of or ripped off by taxi drivers! Confirm the amount due BEFORE you get in the cab! During the day, bikes are a great way to cruise up and down jungle/beach road or up into town, just be aware of walkers, cars, and mopeds as the roads are narrow.
That is all for now!
Please feel free to shoot me a message with ANY and all questions or concerns you might have.
You can check out more of my photos @jackietamburo