Tulum, Mexico’s Best Kept Secret…Until Now

Grant and I LOVE Mexico! We’ve been at least a dozen times and we cannot get enough! The food, the people, the language, the landscape; it is all sublime. But this past weekend we died and went to Mexico heaven aka TULUM!!!

I hadn’t heard of Tulum until a year or so ago, but it is becoming exponentially more popular and on the radar of travelers. However it is still far behind its Quintana Roo neighbors; Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Cozumel. And when I say “far behind” I mean in the best way possible! Such as no mega resorts, no cruise ship ports, and no inauthentic Mexican food.

If you can imagine the best parts of Europe, Southern California, and Mexico having a baby… that is Tulum! It is seriously a dream town and I’m already planning my next visit.

Here’s the low down.

Tulum is divided into two parts: Pueblo and The Beach (Zona Hotelera)

  1. Pueblo is the town center of Tulum consisting of one main road and 2 or 3 stoplights. It has a locals only vibe and is about 3 miles from the beach. It is lined with shops, restaurants, and small businesses. Most places are Spanish speaking only and with the exception of 2 Subways (so random) there are  no chain restaurants or tall buildings. During the day Pueblo is pretty relaxed with people biking or walking around but just wait … At nighttime the streets come alive! Behind previously closed garage doors are trendy bars and restaurants beaming with live music, divine aromas, and romantic lights.
  2. The Beach (Zona Hotelera) is the hotel zone right on the beach with more of a touristy vibe. But these are not your average hotels. They are charming boutique hotels right on the sand! Tulum is the epitome of eco-chic. Everything is open air, eco friendly, and has a seamless transition from indoors to outdoors. Aside from accommodations, the beach has fashion boutiques, beach bars, and restaurants with delicious, healthy options! (I’m looking at you vegan, paleo, gluten free people) The best part: there is yoga on every corner. Literally. It is a yogi’s mecca AND it’s all stunning beachfront yoga!

We were only in Tulum for a long weekend but we packed a bunch of fun in!


El Jardin

On our drive down from Cancun we took a break in Playa Del Carmel for a late breakfast. Playa is pretty touristy but the restaurant we ate at was far from it. We chose it simply on proximity to our street parking spot. We were starved so we weren’t feeling very picky. But in true Davis fashion, we found a hidden gem! El Jardin had unreal chilaquiles, great service, and cheap prices! We chatted with the owner for a while and they have an AirBnb rental in the back named Funky House and live music in the evenings!

El Jardin Tulum


We stopped in Simple to cool off with a cerveza while exploring the Zona Hotelera. This open air seafood restaurant is effortlessly trendy and my favorite part: their fresh catch displayed under a “good vibes” sign. We met a couple who had just went spearfishing for lionfish and they were having it prepared by the chef they knew. Davis luck strikes again! Lionfish is super poisonous unless prepared correctly but the talented chef made ceviche and a sashimi scampi that was mouthwatering. Knowing your fish is super fresh and was swimming an hour ago, makes it that much better!

El Camello Jr

We biked here from our AirBnb (which was AMAZING and also in Pueblo) and our dinner was excellent. The seafood was so fresh. Grant had fish and I had surf n turf kabobs, complete with all the Mexican fixings (rice, beans, salsa, guac). We didn’t try the ceviche but it was one of their popular dishes and looked great! Per usual in Mexico, the price was right too. We spent under $25 including our appetizer and beers! El Cameo Jr. Tulum

2 thoughts on “Tulum, Mexico’s Best Kept Secret…Until Now

  1. What do you do with your personal items, like money and passports when swimming at the beaches in Tulum or Akuml?

    1. Hi Anna,

      Great question! We don’t keep our passports on us on day excursions but we keep a photocopy in our luggage and a digital copy in our Google Drive (cloud). As for money we usually just try to keep the minimum amount on us that we need for the day and leave the rest in the safe in our room. Other than that we keep a beach bag and try to have it where we can see it from the water. If we think it is necessary we will take turns swimming but usually, it is not. We have had people as us to watch their stuff while they go swimming which we have gladly done so that could be an option also. If you really want to play it safe you could get a daybed at one of the many resorts. Some of the Cenotes offer lockers that you can use also.

      Luckily we have not had too much trouble with the crime or getting our stuff stolen (other than flip flops). Hope this helps!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.