Often called the “jewel” of Mexico’s Riviera Maya, Tulum, once a laid-back hippie sanctuary, has transcended as a hotspot for yoga retreats, cuisine, nightlife, and “bohemian-chic” boutique shopping. Situated on the Caribbean coastline of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, the Riviera Maya ocean water is something of a healing power. The stunning white sand beaches are contrasted with bright blue, some would say Bombay Gin, waters. The sandy shores are laced with eco boutique hotels and beach clubs. While Tulum has exponentially grown over the past 15 years, the small-town vibe has not left. Keep reading to find out why I fell in love with Tulum….
Yoga is…. EVERYWHERE
Everywhere you turn in Tulum there is a ‘yoga’ sign. Tulum does not fall short for yogis, or even the casual yoga-doer (*cough* me). While the instructors in and around town are true yoginis, they are eager to help everyone, no matter what level you are on. Wake up to birds chirping and waves crashing and head over to the nearest yoga spot. For me, Yäan Healing Sanctuary, apart of the Be Tulum hotel, was where I practiced. The studio is outdoors on the second floor of what feels like the jungle. You are surrounded by thick trees swaying in the wind and peaceful sounds of the wildlife awakening.
Hidden gems… The Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve
Delve into the “gate of heaven,” where mangroves cover shallow fresh water rivers that diverge into the salty ocean. The Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1987, is 528,148 hectares of intricately linked terrestrial, coastal and marine ecosystems. The meaning of Sian Ka’an truly fits just right, you drive about 25 minutes out of Tulum on an untouched dirt road. Buckle up because when I say this road is untouched, I really mean it. The drive consists of 25 minutes of bumps and swerves, trying to avoid the really large holes in the dirt. You enter into this magical world of jungle encapsulating you, with the sun peering through the thick trees and creating an angelic light. Finally, you will turn into a little side road and enter a small wood dock that hosts your motor boat and the best local guides. Hop aboard to journey into the glistening blue waters that fill the lagoon. Surrounded on all sides by mangroves, you’ll be lucky to see one of the 22 manatees that call Sian Ka’an their home. Venture into the fresh water rivers that were dug out by the Mayans over 1,000 years ago to have a float down the lazy river. Put on your float, lean back, and submerge your ears in the water. That is what peace sounds like.
Tacos… go local
While the cuisine in Tulum is extraordinary, the local shacks are where to go. Stop by Taqueria La Eufemia, a taco shack that sits right on the white sandy shores, and have a delicious, authentic lunch. The fish tacos are a must, while I had to stick to grilled (blame the gluten allergy), everyone around me was salivating over the crispy fried fish tacos. Pretty much everything on the menu is to die for, and the mango margaritas are especially tasty.
Shopping… drive out of Tulum’s main road
While Tulum’s bohemian-chic boutiques scatter the main road and are hard to avoid, if you drive out of Tulum about 10 minutes you start passing local Yucatan communities. Scattered on both sides of the road are local craftswomen and men who line their huts with beautiful pottery, wood creations, and crochet. The artistry is impeccable, and by shopping at these stands you are directly giving back to the local Mayan communities.