Complete Guide to Living Well in Tulum
I recently went on a family trip to Tulum for a little over a week and what I was really impressed with (as a second time visitor) is that there is no shortage of new food, beaches and activities to try out. Whether you are 7 or 70 there is a wealth of good things to do, from yoga and stand up paddle boarding to culinary tours and trips to the biosphere.
Tulum is definitely a place where you need to walk around and ask around- I wouldn’t wholly rely on the internet for planning, since the locals can alert you to affordable hot spots, plus many places don’t have websites or real addresses so you’ll need help. I highly recommend staying in an Air Bnb in Tulum town for an authentic taste of life in Mexico, but if the sound of waves is what you want to wake up to, check out my review and guide to the best beach hotels and the Mayan Ruins in Tulum here.
Where to Stay in Town
We rented a huge home right off the main strip in town that could accommodate our group of six people. You can book this home here. I definitely suggest this option to anyone with a large group as this house has a bathroom and deck for every guest so you won’t be in each other’s hair. It was super fun to be able to walk into the heart of the downtown area in under ten minutes and the neighborhood felt very safe. Our host Bill drove me around when I arrived and pointed out some of the best spots in town which I will share with you. The main draw of staying in town is that you can easily try more authentic cuisine and the food/drinks/shopping are a fraction of the price. That being said I will highlight my favorite budget and splurge restaurants in the rest of this post.
Where to Chill at the Beach
My top spots to hang out for the day if I’m not staying at the beach are Ahau, Playa Zalil Kin and Mezzanine, all are off of the main beach road. Ahau is a perfect place if you want incredible, healthy eats and a great view, they even have hammocks to hang out on. My favorite thing to get there is the grilled fruit & vegetable salad and the avocado toast with bacon bits on it. They have equally amazing juices and smoothies.
Behind Ahau is a place called Raw Love and they have the most inventive raw coffee drinks, you need to try the iced orange coffee frap. It contains (exclusively organic) coconut milk, local mayan chocolate, espresso, orange essence and honey and is heaven on earth. Their raw cheesecakes and cookies are pretty sweet as well but they also have regular lunch fare like salads and bowls. If you walk down the beach a bit you can find massages at places like “Massage Love Tulum” for $35 USD. Just walk around, you’ll find everything you need a more.
Mezzanine and Zalil Kin are on the opposite end of the beach road and have a different vibe. Mezzanine is a Thai inspired boutique hotel on the beach where you must be a guest to get a beach chair- but you can hang out on their patio which overlooks the ocean (and of course you can swim in the water since all the beach in Tulum is public). Mezzanine has exquisite drinks and smoothies, my fave is the banana, roasted peanut, thai basil and coconut milk smoothie or the thai basil marg if its happy hour.
Zalil Kin has a more rustic atmosphere, with a no frills approach right on the beach, but what it lacks in design it makes up for in beach views and a great deal on beach chairs. For 100 pesos you get a beach chair for the day and a free drink (about $5 usd). The water is clear and clean and the guacamole is incredibly good. Next up I’ll tell you about my favorite boutique and places to eat.
My all time favorite boutique is called Hoki Poki Kana. In the shop you’ll find everything from high end designer swimwear, like Lisa Marie Ferendez, to local handmade items designed by the owner herself. She is from Paris so all of the designs are super chic with an effortless boho vibe. You can also find locally made beauty products and gigantic leather dreamcatchers as well. The store is on Facebook but you can also find it by Googling the Sanara Hotel because it is just right down the street on the main beach road.
If you are looking for sarongs, gifts to take home and tequila head to the main road in town. Walking along the strip you will find maybe more than 100 different vendors who are all willing to negotiate. Hammocks are a popular item and definitely worth buying in Mexico. Now I am sure you’ll be getting hungry after all this shopping so let’s go.
So I am terrible at taking food photos because I am always too starving to take any. So here goes… On the main road in town my top spots are:
- El Pollo Bronco
- The most mouthwatering roasted whole chicken comes with rice, cheesy potatoes, cabbage slaw, salsa and tortillas all for $125 pesos ($6). Feeds 4 comfortably.
- Antojitos La Chiapaneca
- Dirt cheap and also a total shit hole (in the nicest way possible). This restaurant is one you’d look at and maybe pass over due to lack of ambience, but the line out the door tells another story. The thing to eat here is the tacos al pastor, each taco is about 25 cents. There is a salsa bar in the middle of the room where you can add whatever you want to your tacos. The other taco to get is the gringo as it has so much cheese on it…mmmm cheese.
- Known for their insane mojitos. They juice fresh sugar cane outside in their old VW bug and mix up mojitos with flavors like habanero, passionfruit, ginger and prickly pear to name a few. You gotta go here for sure, at only $100 pesos a pop these will get you going. They also have really good tapas, I tried the ahi tuna in chimmichuri sauce with jicama and it was so fresh.
- Ki Bok Coffee
- Wow this place blew my mind. The coffee here is unsurpassed, you will hate Starbucks after this, if you don’t already. My go to was the iced mocha, which had chucks of dark mayan chocolate floating in it- which sounds weird but was actually the best thing ever. About $50 pesos a drink. You can also have breakfast in their garden which I didn’t try but I’m confident would be great.
- Burrito Amore
- Great cheap spot for breakfast, I love their tapioca pudding with banana and coconut and the egg burritos. About 50-100 pesos pp.
On the beach road:
- Inventive sushi dishes served in a modern, airy space. Right down the road from Ahau on the main beach road. The hand roll with eel, cream cheese, fried leeks, avocado and cucumber was epic and so was the grilled octopus. Cocktails are made differently everyday with whatever fresh juice they have plus local mezcal. We tried the kiwi and the passionfruit mezcal margs. This place is a bit spendier at about 200-300 pesos pp.
- Posada Margherita
- Right on the beach with beautiful ambience and even better Italian food. Try the risotto or the pasta with clam sauce if they have it. 300-700 pesos pp.
- Raw Love
- Any of their smoothies, sweet treats and coffee drinks are must haves, try their papaya salad to for a light fresh option. Prices range from 50-150 pesos.
- Incredible salads and ceviches and their breakfast is unbeatable and healthy to boot. About 150-300 pesos pp.
For a scenic yoga experience that comes complete with a green juice at the end head down to Sanara. The yoga studio is on the water with all glass walls and a strong ocean breeze. Classes are $20 usd
For more info on activities please visit this link: http://theposhbohemian.com/where-to-stay-and-play-in-tulum-mexico/