After an amazing wedding week at Sundance Resort in Utah with so many people we love, Blake and I took off to Tulum for a relaxing week with just the two of us :). Whoever thought of the honeymoon concept is genius – it’s so nice to get away and spend that time with the person you just decided to spend forever with! I will always be grateful for that time Blake and I were able to spend with each other, and the fun experiences we had.
We decided on Tulum because we have friends who honeymooned there and loved it, and as we researched the area we decided it was perfect for the kind of honeymoon we wanted. We wanted to go somewhere where we could relax on the beach, do some fun activities, but not feel pressured to explore too much or too far. Tulum ended up being the perfect fit!!
Tulum is located just two hours south of Cancun, but it’s completely different than its northern neighbor. It’s much less commercialized, and much smaller. There are strict laws protecting the area and the environment, so there aren’t big high-rise hotels or resorts. The hotel rooms are mostly beach cabanas, built in the old Mayan style with thatched roofs. There is a “hotel zone”, which is basically a narrow road along the coast. On the beach side of the road are the hotels, most of which also have restaurants, and on the jungle side are several restaurants and a few shops and boutiques.
There were plenty of activities to keep us busy, while still allowing us time to relax. Our favorite thing to do was to go to the cenotes! They are all over Tulum, and we couldn’t get enough. To find out more about cenotes and the amazing underground water system in Tulum, click here.
(You’ll have to forgive my picture quality – a lot of the time we forgot to take pictures, but they are a combination of camera/iPhone/GoPro pics!)
Where We Stayed
We decided to split our time between two places, so that we could have two different experiences but still be able to settle in and relax at each place. I’m really happy we did this!
The first place we stayed was Ahau Tulum, and oh my gosh…we loved this place. It was perfect. A perfect location on the beach, and you walk through the sand all the way to the front steps of your room :). The whole staff was so sweet and helpful, remembered our names the whole time we were there, and were so fun to be around. When we checked in, Jill and Ari sat down with us and talked to us all about Tulum, the things we should do, restaurants we should eat at, etc. Even the other guests were friendly and fun – we loved our little Ahau family! We also really liked the restaurant there. You can rent bicycles, paddle boards, and kite boards from Ahau. There’s also a yoga studio in a loft above the common area, where they offer yoga classes every morning.Our room:Our Balcony:Our view:Our front yard:Yoga studio (located above the lounge restaurant area):Ahau has a water tower that you can climb up at night and see over the whole jungle canopy to watch the sunset:
When our time was up at Ahau, we moved up the road north a little ways to El Pez. We also had a really pleasant experience at El Pez – the staff was once again so amazing. They knew it was our honeymoon, and made it feel so special the whole time we were there! They even had rose petals sprinkled all over our room to surprise us when we checked in! We loved lounging on our porch at El Pez, watching the ocean. My favorite part was watching the Pelicans dive for fish in the evenings, and watching the full moon rise on our last night there. SO beautiful!
Our front yard:Our room:The Beach:
Both hotels were similar in that they had amazing customer service, adorable thatched-roof cabanas right on the beach where we could feel the ocean breeze coming in at night and hear the waves crashing. They are also both very eco-conscious – like you can’t flush toilet paper down the toilet, there’s no AC, and they careful with their use of electricity. Overall, we did like Ahau better, especially the location and overall atmosphere. It’s so hard to compare though – both such amazing places!
What We Ate
There are so many amazing restaurants in Tulum! We tried to hit most of the spots that came highly recommended to us. One that missed that we wish we had gone to was Casa Jaguar – we heard it’s really good as well! Next time :). Here’s where we ate:
- Ahau – we loved the breakfast here, and ate lunch here a couple times, too!
- Cenzontle – This was our very FAVORITE place for dinner! We had heard great things, so we made it a point to go! We loved the food, and then met and loved the owner, Ivan. Sadly, we didn’t end up with any good pictures – it was already so dark when we got there! One dish we had that I love was this coconut shrimp served over papaya with a mango sorbet…sooo good! Sorry the picture is dark :/. (Heads up – Cenzontle is closed on Sundays!)
- Gitano – we loved the ambiance here more than anything! Great live music, cool lights, and lots of incense burning to ward off the bugs!Hartwood (They usually has a long wait to get in, but it’s so so good!)
- El Tabano
- El Pez
- Zamas (this is also a hotel on the beach side, we ate here when we were craving a cheeseburger and fries!)
- Rosa del Viento (We had lunch here, it’s a hotel on the beach side pretty far south with a pretty view!)
What We Did
- Snorkled (we brought our own masks, snorkels, and fins, and were really glad we did)Rented paddle boards (we rented them at the hotel we were staying at, Ahau)
- Rented bikes (also rented at Ahau)
- Rented a scooter (this is how we went places that were further, but I’d probably recommend a car :))
- Tulum Ruins (You can take a tour here, or just pay the price of admission. We took the tour, but in retrospect probably would have opted to just pay for a ticket and read the descriptive signs ourselves.)
As we were leaving the ruins, we happened to see a boa constrictor right in our path, dominating a poor iguana…
- Yaan Spa (amazing spa services!)
- Gran Cenote (this is a good one to start with!)
- Dos Ojos (there are two cenotes to visit here – there are lots of divers who go in here if you want to scuba!)
- Sac Actun (this is the same turn off as Dos Ojos, but you drive past Dos Ojos for another 6km until you see a sign for Sac Actun)
- Casa Cenote (This cenote is more like a lake/swimming hole or a lake, not like a cave like the others. Unless you dive down deep, of course!)
- Cenote Encatado (This is the one where locals told us there was a crocodile/alligator/caymen creature! Luckily, we didn’t cross paths with it/them!)
- We also did a tour with Mexico Kan Tours, and really liked it. They just come pick you up at your hotel. We did the tour called Maya Underworld, and they took us snorkeling where the fresh water meets the ocean, then took us to another location were we walked/swam through a big underground cenote/cave system. So crazy cool!!! They also have other tours we heard were great! You can have your hotel call, or make reservations online.
To get to Tulum, you fly in to Cancun (usually Delta or United have the best flights). Then, it’s a 2-hour drive south. You can either rent a car, or take a taxi or a shuttle. If you are going to be doing a lot of adventuring on your own, I would recommend renting a car from Cancun. If you think you’ll hang close to the hotel zone in Tulum, and are ok with renting bikes and scooters, I’d book a shuttle so you don’t have to worry about paying for and parking a car. We booked a shuttle online with Discovery Mundo.
Tulum is hot and HUMID! You will basically be sweating the whole time :). I loved it, because you don’t think twice about jumping in the cool water! The ocean was warm, and the cenotes are perfectly refreshing after you’ve been in the sun. We were there in the off season, and thought it might rain, but it really didn’t. Some nights it was windy by the water, but we really appreciated the breeze after the heat.
Things to Bring
- Bug Spray!!!!! Seriously, you’ll need it! Especially at night, if you eat at the restaurants on the jungle side of the road. The ocean breeze seems to keep the bugs at bay when you’re by the water, but as soon as you step away you’ll get BIT. A LOT.
- Mask/snorkel/fins (if you have them, bring them! This will allow you to snorkel on your own, and not have to rent gross ones every time you go to a new cenote!)
Also, I brought a lot that I didn’t need – including warmer clothes (light jackets and kimonos) and some nicer shoes, like wedges. I lived in my Havianas!
Alright, there’s more than you ever wanted to know about Tulum! I HIGHLY recommend a trip there, whether it’s a romantic getaway for two, a trip with friends, or a family adventure.
Jen (and Blake!)