I knew our time in Tulum was going to be tyyyyt from the moment we ate those aforementioned tacos, from the sick taco shop (Antojitos la Chiapaneca).
Tulum is hard to define or put in any kind of box. It’s a hippie’s playground, as well as a beautiful beach town, while still full of history, and that Caribe sabor that I love so much.
There are a variety of tourist types here, but I would say the majority would be Europeans. There are certainly more than a fair share of dreadlocks, man buns, and nighttime sunglass wearers, as well as regular wafts of weed even when you can’t spot who the heck is actually smoking the stuff. One night we even had the pleasure of seeing a strange hippie bongo band/ dance crew performing in front of the restaurant we were eating in. That kind of made me feel ill but also happy for the huge variety of people that Tulum attracts. Tulum Centro has really got it all.
We spent 4 nights here in an amazing boutique hotel called Hotel Casa Sofia. Casa Sofia is in Tulum’s centre. We opted to stay in the centre mainly because the centre is where all the culture is. Of course, the beach is stunning and glam, and great for a day trip. But I just can’t see the point in going somewhere as culture rich as Mexico, and then just staying in a beach resort the entire time (which seems to be super common in Tulum, and all along the Riviera Maya). Casa Sofia was just off the main drag, close to a bunch of yummy restaurants (mostly Mexican, some Italian, and plenty of Vegan and healthy options- somewhat unsurprisingly!) and full of backpackers, and locals alike.
This colonial hotel is, again, a bright orange, 2 story array of rooms surrounding a pool, with a gorge rooftop patio. I can’t even describe how amazing the staff were at this hotel. Firstly, we were greeting by the property manager, Angél, who was literally no less than a little Angel of Tulum. Like, can I carry him around in my backpack for the rest of the trip? After we checked in, we got a little knock on our door, and our angelito let us know that he had spoken with his manager, and we were allowed to join in the breakfast despite the fact that our room rate didn’t include it. I’m sure he regretted the decision as soon as he saw the amount of breakfast I actually eat (probably the size of 3x normal human breakfasts). Other than the breakfast sitch, these people were glam and lovely and just born to be hospitable. The owner of the hotel, José, was super chatty and kind, and he thought we were hilarious which is always gr8 to hear.
We love our fans.
On our final night, he told us that he can always hear us laughing from our room. He also told us that they are always scared they will wake us up when they prepare the breakfast (our room was right next to the dining room), but then they hear us erupt with laughter every morning, and know we are awake. Now before you draw up a picture in your head of Megathanna being super obnoxious, our boi José actually told us to never lose our smiles and laughter, so, no offence but we were a hit. One more thing before I stop rabbitting on about Casa Sofia- one day we got back to the hotel and the cleaners had been through, and we were delighted (also confused) to see that they had kindly cleaned out the hair from our hairbrushes. Hunniez. So in case it isn’t clear, Casa Sofia Tulum is a 10/10 would recommend.
On day 1 in Tulum we visited the Gran Cenote. This is probably the most famous Cenote. We caught a taxi there, as this seemed like the simplest option. The ride took about 10 mins. This Cenote is well worth the visit. It is gorgeous and the water is crystal clear. We probably arrived there around 9:30, which was a great time to go because the sun was already out, but most people weren’t out of bed yet. Swimming in the Cenote was superb- fresh water and cute little turtles roaming around. In the afternoon we went to the beach. This is an approx 10 minute drive from Tulum Centro. The beach is gloooorious- everything you imagine a Caribbean beach to be. And my favourite thing about these kinds of beaches- for a small fee, you get a lounger, and basically a servant, asking if you need any food or drink. So there we were, basking in the Caribbean sun, drinking Sol beers, feeling super tranquilo and as usual, glam AF.
On day 2 we visited Las Ruinas de Tulum. These ruins are super special, because they are right on the coast. This makes a stunning backdrop, and the colours of the bright blue ocean, the sand coloured stone, and the tropical greenery make you want to build a little house there and stay there forever. One thing I would have done differently would be to arrive earlier. By the time we got there, there were already a bunch of tourist busloads of people. Could have done without all the extra gente, but it was still fabulous. After doing this we were obviously starving so we went to a cute little cafe called La Hoja Verde (as recommended by my favourite Spanish teacher back home) back in Tulum Centro, and had amazing smoothies- the fruit was a welcome change from all the tacos and meat I’ve been loading my gut with lolz…and then we went straight to the taco shop for real lunch and beersies (Dos Equis obvs, because we b Mexicans now).
Day 3 was fantastic. We got up early, loaded our bellies with free breakfast, and headed out to go Cenote hunting. We decided to catch a colectivo again because they are hilarious and cheap. A 20 minute ride cost us about $3 each. Colectivos crack me up because the mini vans zoom along the road blasting music, and yelling out their destination at anyone standing on the side of the road “PLAYAAAAAA!?”. I don’t know if a Colectivo would be a fun experience for someone who doesn’t speak Spanish- it’s not really designed for tourists, but if you’re feeling confident, then 10/10 would recommend. The coolest thing about them is the variety of people that you share the crazy van with. A businessman, resort staff, a young father with his adorable child, a cute little old lady. And they all greet everyone as they enter the vehicle.
We arrived at what seems to be a national park of some kind, and rented bikes to drive to the Cenote Dos Ojos. Hiring bikes was a tremendous idea- dos ojos is approx 3kms away, which wouldn’t be a fun walk in the heat. Also the bikes allowed us to explore the park a bit more.
Dos Ojos, as the name suggests, has two cenotes. I think their splendour is more for the divers, as they can go into the caves and explore and feel claustrophobic and shit. Not for me. What we could see though, was cool. The open part of the Cenote had splashes of bright blue where the light hit the water, and there were stalagmites and stalactites galore. After a while there, a snack, and a beer, we continued exploring the park on our bikes, causing a ruckus of course, singing Pitbull songs, and carrying on about the uneven surface and how we are now BMX riders.
The next Cenote we came across was the Nicte- Ha. This was by far my favourite. It was smaller and there were only 3 other people there (as opposed to the masses of divers at Dos Ojos). This Cenote was not for diving, but it boasted lily pads and super clear water, and was possibly the most peaceful place I ever went to. After gawking at the beauty, we hopped back on our bikes and left the park.
Next we decided to go to Playa del Carmen, which is a town in between Cancun and Tulum- about a 45 minute drive. Getting there was hilarious. To get onto a Colectivo, we had to cross the highway- think two jandalled gringas running across 4x lanes with drivers going at probably no less than 140km an hour. This long stretch of highway connects Cancun, Playa, and Tulum. So there we were, two gringas on the side of the highway, looking out for the Colectivo. Eventually one came along, and we zoomed along the highway until we reached Playa 45 minutes later.
Playa del Carmen has a completely different vibe to Tulum. It is far more commercial, and has less of that special something that Tulum holds, whatever it is. The beach is great though, and there is still plenty of Mexican charm- just as long as you stay away from “5th Ave”- the main tourist drag. I will spend a whole month there starting next week, so will suss it out properly and report back. When it was time to go home, we wandered the back streets with the help of kind locals, and found the Colectivo stand. We were the last ones on board, and had to both sit across the front seat with the driver. We hoped he would enlist us to be the people who yell out the destination of the colectivo to the passersby, but he didn’t. We were happy enough with the mere thought of how seriously ridiculous it must look for the people who we passed in the van, as it zoomed along with two frizzy haired gringas grinning madly in the front seat.
Upon our return to Tulum, we paid one last hectic visit to the sick taco shop, found icecreams, had a good chat with José, and went to sleep.
This morning we caught the bus from Tulum back up to Cancún, and checked into the all-inclusive Fiesta Americana, feeling like total phonies with our jandals and backpacks. This place is ridiculous and glam and gorgeous and I have already eaten my weight in food, but there is, as ever, plenty of room for more.
I will report back on my food journey upon completion.
Thanks and kind regards,