Tantalising Tulum

Posted on July 22, 2013

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I fell in love with Tulum. This may sounds strange but I’ll never replicate the same experience and want to remember it as is, so I may never go back.  If you can go soon, do. It’s already starting to get built up and it would be a shame for it to turn into a resort like all the others, it has such infectious charm.

I’m on (another) month long adventure so I was on a cheap and cheerful budget. Travelling with a friend for the month, we opted to stay at  Dos Ceibas, an authentic but not glamorous place with cabanas by the sea. It was perfect. Small cabanas right off the beach, laid back and simply wonderful staff.
Another friend stayed at Om a few doors up which had well appointed rooms but no power at night. If I was there in a couple i’d be tempted with Be Tulum which is more upscale and beautifully designed with plunge pools and outside terraces to most rooms.

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Hip Hotel looked good, the cheaper option to the sister hotel Ana y Jose which a regular told me was the best in Tulum. I took a look La Zebra, on the same stretch as Dos Ceibas, which was delightful and we returned that evening to wonderful food. We opted for the Mexican feast at M$250 each – a well named meal centred with queso fundido, an assortment of meats, fishes and condiments served with flour and corn tacos.
Tulum is wonderful for either lazing around (the long, white, sandy beach  is always tempting) or for numerous activities, particularly around watersports.

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Honestly speaking I have seen better sea diving, although there is plenty of life and turtles frequent the area. It’s worth popping to Akumel (north of Tulum) to swim with turtles – it can feel a little like disney land but if you spot a turtle and have time before others join you, it’s serene watching them swim and nibble on the sea grass (note: don’t chase turtles or try to touch them, watch them in their natural environment). For the complete turtle experience, take a midnight stroll along the beach in July or August and you will likely come across a large turtle laying eggs. If you do make sure you don’t shine the light directly at the turtle as it may stop it. About 100 eggs are layed by each turtle and they take 6 months to hatch. Only 1 in 1000 of those baby turtles survives to come back and lay eggs as an adult.
Agua ChilesNow back to diving. Another incredible experience was diving a Cenote with it’s crystal clear waters, magical colours and underground caverns. There are many dives to be done, from beginners to experienced technical dives. We went with a diving instructor from our hotel, who was hugely fun and took us to a good local restaurant in town called Los Auguaschiles. I loved the nachos served with sauces in squeeze bottles – try the Chipotle and honey. For main we ate the restaurant’s names sakes Aguachile, which is similar to a ceviche. Delicious.

The food at Dos Ceibas was good (especially the Taco Soup and the Ceviche). We meant to eat at Hartwood, well known and has become expensive and sometime difficult to get a table at but the food is known to be incredible. On the beach strip both Casa Violeta and Posada Margarita had been recommended to us too.

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Two of the team at the hotel took us to watch sunset at a bar that is part of a camping lodge in the middle of the ecological reserve. The views from the roof gave probably the best I have seen for a sunset. If you hadn’t already fallen in love with Tulum, you would do here.
Armed with a bottle of special (and surprisingly tasty) mescal we were taken for the ‘best steak in town’ at El Asador. True to their word, the food was excellent and a much cheaper at M$200 each including tip.

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Our hosts suggested that we try a Temazcal  one evening. It’s not for the faint hearted – I almost reached breaking point with the heat and in the small, dark, stone igloo – but if you are a fan of steam rooms, it’s well worth the Aztec cultural experience.

The experience is spiritual and interesting for those who want to learn about some of the medicinal aztec benefits. It’s a time and energy commitment: expect 3 hours in total and to be refreshed but exhausted afterwards.

A Mexican experience which surpassed any other I have had was Janzu. My friends I am travelling with are fed up with me talking about it. The experience effected me profoundly (I am not someone who meditates or is very spiritual). It’s a relatively new phenomena and is a kind of yoga, meditation, stretching exercise that is practised in water. Ours was in a freshwater lagoon in the middle of the forest. It’s hard to describe in words but if you are comfortable in water and find a good practitioner (it’s vital that you are comfortable in their hands), I cannot recommend this highly enough.

I feel like there are a million of different experiences to be had in Tulum. Hope you enjoy yours

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Tulum is well served by the ADO coach network. Shuttle services can be arranged in advance (we used Best Day for US$35 one way). It’s also possible to get a taxi, which costs around US$100 depending on your negotiating skills.

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