Tulum
Overview

Why go glamping when you can go to Tulum? You can get the same luxe-meets-roughing-it experience, just a hop, skip and a jump away from the US in this coastal Mexican town, where wifi is spotty, ‘air conditioning’ is a ceiling fan, and flashlights will guide you home after nightfall – yet you don’t have to give up running with a cool crowd to a hot spot. In fact, it’s most often compared with gypsy chic places on the opposite side of the world, like Goa and Phuket.  Just 90 minutes down a sometimes dirt road, and you’re in the hippest enclave of boho beach cool, south of the border. Overworked urbanites practicing their consciousness come to this paradise to decompress, lured by the glorious beaches, mystical Mayan ruins, fledgling food scene and sustainable (Tulum is literally off the electrical grid), wellness-centered mindset. In fact, some never leave, permanently decamping to Tulum to open even more lifestyle-based small businesses, from boutique hotels to stylish restos. However, even with this recent influx of expats and an uptick in tourism, Tulum maintains a small town charm that is the clincher in its magic. The village is really one modest road, which divides the jungle from the beach. On your way through, you might run in to notable New Yorkers in search of rejuvenation (Amanda Hearst, Amy Sacco), makeup-free models enjoying the sun (Daria Werbowy, Carolyn Murphy) and more red carpet A-listers than you can count (Kate Bosworth, Jared Leto, Rene Zellweger, Sienna Miller, Reese Witherspoon), happily holidaying. Tulum draws those in the throes love (a hot Heidi Klum and her much younger beau were recently spotted), and those on a soul-searching rebound (Demi, with daughter Rumer, got over Ashton; Orlando Bloom moved on from Miranda Kerr). No matter your status, you are sure to find something to take pleasure in, as Tulum is a treat for the mind, body and soul.

A typical Tulum day might start with a sunrise yoga session, followed by a tropical juice breakfast on the beach. Relax in the shade of a palapa until lunch, when you’ll enjoy super fresh guac and tangy ceviche in a laid-back cafe. If your energy is up, you could take an exhilarating swim in a cenote (a sinkhole which leads to underground caves flush with gorgeously clear water), which are more prevalent on the Yucatan than anywhere else in the world. You still have time to make a quick pit stop at Coqui Coqui’s jet-set chic shop before heading to Hartwood for dinner. A round of margaritas (or mezcal, if you dare) is the perfect ending to the night. Other not to be missed excursions include a visit to Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, where you can wade through a mangrove forest and spot wildlife, and the nearby ruins of Muyil, Coba and Chichen Itza, where the ancients Mayans converged and created civilizations, leading their still mysterious lives.

In a place where solar panels are preferred to electricity, you can feel free to leave your complicated cocktail wear at home. For a Tulum trip, you can never pack enough colorful prints or gauzy neutrals. Details such as fringe, tassels and beading will look right at home. At the beach, a Mara Hoffman bikini covered with a Roberta Freymann sarong would be a good match. In the evening, its Stone Cold Fox dresses and flat gladiator sandals all the way...plus mozzie repellent. Floppy straw hats and woven ethnic bags are all the accessories you’ll need, but adding some local Mexican jewelry will complete your look.

Stay

Where to stay

Indulge

Indulge

DINING

Certainly the buzziest restaurant in town, Hartwood is a must for your Tulum itinerary - just get there early, as there are no reservations. Run by the former chef of New York City’s Peasant, from the staff to the playlist, a certain cool pervades the open-air space, but its not too cool for school, more come one, come all - if you are in the mood for wood-fired fare, their specialty. Hartwood’s ingredients are all sourced from regional farms and spear-caught by local fisherman. Although the selection and sources may be Mexican by nature, the preparation is simple American. Not only is Hartwood sustainable, they leave zero carbon footprint. The Mezzanine restaurant wanted their menu to have such an authentically Thai flavor; they went to the length of hiring a Thai chef consultant, yet they still incorporate some Mayan ingredients. Classics like spring rolls, satay, crispy fried fish and curries crop up. The resort Ahau Tulum is run by another ‘ex’ New Yorker, who did a 180 from running nightclubs to serving up Latin American cuisine on the playa. Simple is just that - pared down preparations to showcase delish flavors, run by a former Mexico City chef. The most extensive wine list in town is one draw for Posada Margherita, the others being a creative juice bar, wildly fresh fish and craveable pasta plates. There are daily specials, but the core of menu hasn’t changed in 14 years - trust us, that’s a good thing. Pulling inspirations from across the world, the taco menu is the highlight of Zamas - think tandoori chicken, and Korean BBQ steak, plus all your favorite Mexican standards.

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The wood-oven pizza isn’t bad, either. If you want to get right to it, head to Mateos, home of the self proclaimed ‘best fish tacos on Earth’, or to El Tabano for Mexican with a capital ‘M’. After a few post-dinner margaritas, you may even be speaking Spanish. Casa Banana is a chilled Argentinean-style steak spot, which again, has killer hand-shaken margs. Remember to bring cash. Casa Jaguar’s cuisine is derived from assorted influences, and you can’t go wrong with either their dinner or a seat in their dream catcher strewn garden. End your evening at Panna e Chocolatte, where you can select from almost 30 different gelato (real gelato!) flavors, from Ferrero Rocher to chocolate with Habanero chili.

 

NIGHTLIFE

Gitano specializes in handcrafted cocktails (with names such as Gypsy Disco and Stardust) and mezcal from Oaxaca. There’s also dinner and dancing under a disco ball strung from the jungle trees. La Zebra (which serves a full menu, too) is famous for their mojitos (they use a hand crank to press their own cane sugar), enhanced by an on-the-beach location. Sundays are for BBQ and free salsa lessons with their staff and spirited locals. La Gran Mosca Verde is a hippy trippy boite (the bar is made of a giant caterpillar, a la Alice in Wonderland) that mixes mean cocktails and also provides a tapas menu to sop them up. The bar at Hemingway Romantic Resort is a great for a date. Listen to live music four nights a week at Curandero, a nightclub made entirely of recycled materials. Other evenings at the venue are booked with house and electronic DJs.

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Explore

Explore

A dip (or Scuba, for the more committed) in a cenote (try El Gran Cenote, Cenote Dos Ojos, or Cenote Sac Actun) is a memorable experience. The ancient Mayans gave these naturally occurring sinkholes a supernatural importance, using them for rituals (including sacrifices). The ultra purified water lead many to believe in its healing properties today. Explore the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, a 1.5 million acre UNESCO world heritage site, where visitors can tour Mayan ruins, mangrove wetlands, savanna grasslands, more cenotes and an ocean lagoon. Much of the distance is covered by boat, but the ‘lazy river’ potion is most enjoyable - it’s just you and a life vest floating along. You’ll spot everything from rare orchids to rays on your outing. Bird watching, kayaking and fishing tours are also available. Head to Akumal to snorkel with sea turtles all year round, not to mention seasonal whale shark and sailfish experiences. For those who prefer a day on dry land, the Mayan ruins of Muyil, Coba and Chichen Itza are all quite fantastic. Learn the secrets of Yucatan style cooking at Altamar’s intensive four-hour workshop. Your next dinner party is sure to be a hit when you break out your new salsa, ceviche and taco recipes. Its not all hard work in Tulum - you could choose to use those four hours at the Yaan Wellness Energy Healing Spa instead. Created by Sebastian Sas and Dr. Bobby Klein, sessions here range from Aztec Chakra Balancing Massage to Ceremonial Temazcal to plain old Reiki, and include a run through their healing waters circuit. 

SHOP

Where to Shop

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There are plenty of tiny tourist shops selling souvenirs (bright tablecloths, ceramics, jewelry, etc.) on the main drag. Tastemakers flock to Coqui Coqui for a visit to their perfumerie, which creates room scents, perfumes and aftershaves, using a process inspired by the way colonial Franciscan monks made herbal remedies here centuries ago. The perfumerie is the passion project of Nicolas Melville, who owns Coqui Coqui with this wife Francesca Bonato. Her side project is Hacienda Montaecristo, which she runs with her BFF, focusing on chic interpretations of Mexico’s native rebozo scarf. Josa creates vintage kaftan-inspired dresses, all of which are wrinkle free and one-size-fits-all, made by a pair of ex-New Yorkers. They have since expanded to offer beach totes, hats, jewelry and more.

Shop the Destination

Balenciaga Bistrot Woven Clutch $765.00
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DANNIJO Ipyana woven, oxidized silver-plated and Swarovski crystal earrings $295.00
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Tooshie Reversible Triangle Bikini Top $135.00
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Tooshie Reversible Side Tie String Bikini Bottom $135.00
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Self-Portrait Asymmetrical Ruffle Blouse $410.00
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Marques’ Almeida Knotted Denim Mini Skirt
$465.00
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Figue Zena Tuk Tuk Leather-trimmed Embellished Canvas Tote $495.00
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Mercedes Castillo Alesandra metallic cracked-leather sandals $350.00
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Caroline Constas Andros off-the-shoulder shirred gingham bikini $315.00
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Miguelina Dakota Lace Crop Top $275.00
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Miguelina Emy Embroidered Skirt $325.00
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Lola Hats Windsock bandanna-print straw hat $263.00
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Andy Wolf Armstrong oval-frame sunglasses $341.00
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Carrie Forbes Salon Woven Faux Raffia Slides $300.00
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The East Order Lila Floral Dress $198.00
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