The new chic of Tulum

Filed under: Places to Visit, Things to Do - by Louise Hennessy

Just how is it possible that such a small ‘town’ can have so many sides to it?

Yes, there are the ruins and that famous view of the Caribbean beyond; and yes, there’s the very simple and bland town centre, which sprung up haphazardly around backpacker-style tourism. We already knew that. The stretch of beach alongside the ruins was not unknown to us either, known for offering very simple, rustic-style beach huts, and the odd beach club. However, and not a word of a lie, the other facet of Tulum was a complete surprise to us, and a lovely one at that…

For want of a better description, let’s call it the “Boca Paila Road”; in other words, the road leading all the way from the motorway down to the Sian Ka’an Biosphere, particularly the narrow section after the intersection/roundabout  (not completely sure which it is supposed to be).

We were expecting peace, quiet and alone time eco-style, but we were not prepared for the idyllic setting we happened upon. It was a little hard to find for the lack of a prominent sign, and thus necessary to wander up to the reception desk and check we had the right place, but once we were sure, we couldn’t wait to see our cabaña (chalet). The wooden walkway was simple, though not great if someone has trouble walking, and it led right to the foot of our steps, where there was a pretty mosaic water basin, sunken into the ground, presumably to dip your feet into before padding up to the room; admittedly we momentarily wondered if it was a drinking bowl for dogs!

Chic Tulum

Photo courtesy of Isabella Biava

Perhaps the most mesmerising aspect of the cabaña was the view from the wooden terrace. With trees just in front, you are tricked into the thinking that there won’t be a view of the sea, but it’s just high enough to be able to see over the lush green leaves, to the sparkling water only a few metres out of reach. A perfect spot to reflect, delight in the breeze and let your gaze take in the wonder of the Caribbean water; not to mention that night-time brings a sky full of stars that you can also take in from the lazy chairs on the balcony.

The beach itself is literally so beautiful that it looks like paradise; the best way to describe it is the image that pops into your head when you think of a perfect Caribbean island; and really and truly there is hardly anyone there, apart from the occasional couple taking a romantic stroll at the water’s edge, or a mother and daughter making a sand castle for mermaid Barbie. The sea bed however, is deceivingly uneven, which makes for a bit of tripping up and falling, so take care in the shallow part if you are a non-swimmer or have children.

Breakfast at our solar-powered hideaway was exactly what we needed and craved. A massive fruit platter, good coffee, fruit juice and toast; and best of all, with the warm morning breeze brushing our cheeks and the cheerful smiles of the “Pink Ladies,” commonly known as the Pinkies, thanks to the pink aprons they don while preparing and serving food. 


Photo courtesy of Isabella Blava

These particular cabins don’t serve dinner, which gave us a good excuse to go in search of something appetising. Strangely enough, Tulum seems to be, quite literally, inundated with Italian restaurants, a fact which we only realised as we were specifically after something different. In the end, we headed into the town centre to see what choice was on offer, and came across the bizarre “La Nave” restaurant, which gave the impression of anything but an Italian restaurant with its nautical decoration; but weirdly enough turned out to be yet another Italian one! For hunger’s sake we decided to stay, and fortunately the menu was quite varied. It struck us as perhaps the weirdest restaurant concept ever: a fishy theme, lounge music, Italian menu, and waiters who look like bouncers (smiley ones); and thoroughly tasty and inexpensive food.

Chic Tulum

Bars in Tulum Photo courtesy of Isabella Biava


Night time in Tulum, especially along the road where our cabañas were, is magical. Lots of fairy lights and lanterns decorating the eco-friendly restaurants, a laid back, verging on bohemian atmosphere, and best of all, the blanket of stars to admire above…

Our tip: if you decide to get a massage at one of the beach ´spas’ you can often get a better price for two people, or some kind of additional treatment for the same price, it’s worth asking!

For info on visiting the Tulum, don’t hesitate to ask your concierge…

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