For the ultimate Boho Chic escapade, Tulum, a former hippie hangout, has transformed now into a hip town nestled by the white sanded, turquoise water beaches of the Caribbean and a lush tropical jungle, in The Yucatán Peninsula, in Mexico. This true paradise on earth is named after the Tulum Mayan ruins that are located right next to the town, over a small Cliff with the Caribbean Sea as a background. Nature, history, and a relaxed sophisticated vibe, all in one place.
Here my favorites:
Visit the Tulum Mayan Ruins. These are not the biggest ruins in the Yucatán peninsula, but because of its smallish size, they are the ones with the most paradisiacal surroundings. Tulum was a fortified town (Tulum means wall, in Mayan), and most of the buildings that are still erected were built between 1200 and 1450 BC, during Tulum´s greatest splendor as an important maritime trade port.
The Archeological site has different types of buildings: walls, public and religious buildings, all planned according to the cosmology, and the cardinal points. The most significant building is “El Castillo”, built on the border of the cliff, that worked as a lighthouse for the navigators. The impressive structure, with painted frescos in its interiors, features references to the Sun, Venus, and the Underworld.
Just a few years ago, people would still go to leave their offerings at the Tulum Ruins, but since the massive traffic of tourists came, local people just stopped coming.
The visit to the Tulum Ruins is really unforgettable, but it can get really hot. I recommend bringing a towel and a bathing suit, to relax and refresh at the pristine beach, at the foot of El Castillo.
For the beach lover:
My absolute favorite beach in Tulum is Playa Paraíso. With silky white sand, turquoise warm water, and coconut palms, this beach is the postcard of a Paradise on Earth. Relaxing on the beach on one of the beach beds, with a margarita on hand at the Beach Club is a must. You can also take a snorkel tour to the corals, to experience swimming above the second biggest coral reef of the world, and see a huge variety of marine fauna.
For relaxing Hippie Chic style:
Photo: Nómade Tulum Hotel
Stay at The Nómade Tulum Hotel. With bedrooms right on the sand, this hotel with a striking mix of gypsy, Mexican and Moroccan details, is focused on wellbeing and connection with the natural surroundings. You can choose to stay on one of the modern rooms with rustic handmade details, or in a luxury canopy tent for the ultimate gypsy chic experience. Take a morning Yoga class at the Yoga Pavilion, relax on a daybed at the beach, and have an holistic meal barefoot on the sand at one of their two restaurants, for the perfect day.
For the art lover:
Photo: Casa Malca Hotel
Stay at Casa Malca. Originally Pablo Escobar´s beach retreat mansion, the Art Collector Lio Malca purchased it, and turned it into a 5-star hotel. Malca, who has curated shows for Keith Haring, and Jean-Michel Basquiat, has imprinted his style on the décor of the hotel with an impressive contemporary art collection of his own. The 26-bedroom villa has three pools, and a private access to the beach. The mansion, originally built in the 80s by the drug dealer, still keeps some of the details that tell about its past: a roof that hides surveillance points, and a tunnel that connects the whole building underground.
For the foodie:
Have dinner at the Hartwood. The hottest restaurant in town, the Hartwood changes its menu everyday depending on what they harvest each day. They travel into the interior of the Yucatán Peninsula to the best markets and farms, and collect the freshest ingredients for the ever-changing dishes that they serve. The chefs also honor the traditions of the local cuisine, and ingredients, as everything is cooked on an open fire grill and oven. Reservations are encouraged.
For the party people:
Go on a Friday Night to Gitano. The restaurant and Mezcal bar is right in the jungle, where you can enjoy the night at the lush outdoor lounge, under a canopy of string lights, and live music. They serve a variety of well-prepared Mexican dishes, but the star here is the Mezcal. They offer a Mezcal tasting, where you can learn about the history of it, and try different varieties of this smoking spirit. I recommend to go on a Friday night, that is dancing night, and try one of their signature fruity mezcal based cocktails, like the Gypsy Disco, with mezcal, añejo rum, lime, house basil, and grenadine.
For the nature lover:
Swim in the Gran Cenote. The cenotes are natural sinkholes that expose groundwater, and the Gran Cenote is the biggest one, and more famous of the Yucatán Peninsula. The 10 meters’ depth Cenote has a circular shape, with crystalline and refreshing waters that are illuminated by natural light. Swimming through the caves, you`ll surely discover the tranquility of aquatic life, and watch turtles, fish, and stalactites and stalagmites.
For a magical experience:
Take a day trip to Chichén-Itzá, Mexico´s most popular Archeological Site. Chichén-Itzá is a sacred town and one of the most important Mayan Centers in the Peninsula, that is part of the Seven Wonders of the World. There are many relevant Mayan building on the site, being the main pyramid, named Kukulcán Pyramid, the most spectacular and mysterious. Also known as “El Castillo”, and the most representative trace of the Mayan culture, is a tridimensional exact calendar, represented in its structure, just as the one we use today. A play of shadows and lights projects Kukulcán, a god similar to a feathered snake, going down the stairs of the structure, during the Equinox, in a perfectly symmetric distribution with the location of the constellations. It is still a mystery for modern science the nature of the Mayan´s advanced astrological knowledge.
For a local experience:
Photo: Visit Mexico
Visit the town of Valladolid. If you visit Chichén-Itzá, you have to stop in this town, for an authentic Mexican experience, away from the touristy places. To get a notion of the real life of small towns in the Yucatán, walk their streets of lined colorful houses, and discover their Colonial churches and Palaces. The local market is a perfect place to buy local handcrafts, pottery and traditional garments.
Go to the main square, where you can eat like a local, traditional Yucateca dishes like Cochinita Pibil, or Huevos Motuleños, in a simple setting.