Mentally, I’m miles away in a two bedroom condo in the jungle of Tulum. It’s amazing how I travel to all of these places and I tend to miss them like it was home. Located about 1.5 hours outside of Cancun, Tulum was the perfect place to relax and be at peace, which is what it’s known for. It was perfect for the relaxation that I needed and the perfect way to celebrate a birthday.
Although Tulum had been on my list for some time, it was second to my initial birthday trip. And since my initial plans fell through, the fiance and I booked flights on Friday and flew out on Sunday morning. I’ve never had such little time to prepare, but we made it work — even with having to get a passport replaced.
We arrived in Cancun around noon after a delay. We grabbed our rental car through Dollar Rental, hit the highway, and finally made it to our beautiful home in the jungle for the next 5 days.
After getting settled, we went out to search for some food. Our villa is within walking/bike riding distance, but when I’m hangry, I prefer to have food within a 2 minute distance at minimum. Our first stop was at El Camello Jr. We saw a crowd of people waiting to be seated so we knew that this spot had to have some pretty decent food. We waited about 20 minutes before we were able to grab a table, and the wait was definitely worth it. The ceviche was absolutely amazing — even better than that time I had ceviche in Panama. We also ordered nachos that were absolutely amazing even though we underestimated the portion size.
After dinner, we arrived home and took a late dip in the pool. I booked this private villa through Airbnb for just $84/night. Hotels are generally my last resort especially when I can snag amazing deals such as these. This villa included two bedrooms, each with their own kitchens, a small pool, bike rental, massage services, and the privacy that we needed and desired. The view at night was to die for. This was literally the best $84 I could have spent for the time that we were in Tulum.
The next morning, we got up in search of a good breakfast on the beach. We stopped at El Pez and had an AMAZING treat. We ordered fresh squeezed orange juice, mimosas, fruit salad, and toast with mango jam. That mango jam.. I just.. God definitely made that jam just for me. Everything was so fresh and so.. amazing.
Since we were close to lunch, we didn’t order too much breakfast food. We munched on the toast and jam until it was time to bring out the cactus salad and grouper wrapped in banana leaves. I wasn’t too impressed with the grilled cactus salad. I took about two bites and was over it. I just couldn’t stomach the texture. Nevertheless, the grouper wrapped in banana leaves made up for everything the cactus salad was not, and more. When dinner was over, we sat by the beach for a while enjoying the view. If you’re ever by the beach, visit El Pez and you’ll definitely be in for a treat.
We drove back to the house to take a minute to relax and figure out the rest of the day. After some time in the hammock reading We Should All Be Feminists (which should be much longer) and a nap that was way too long, we headed out for dinner. I saw this adorable place earlier that I wanted to try based on how the restaurant front looked. Sad to say, this place was a complete miss for me. By the time we realized it was a steakhouse, it was too late. The food was sub par, but the ambiance made up for it I guess.
I don’t even recall the time that we woke up, but it felt good being able to move at our own pace. Just knowing that when I woke up I didn’t have to analyze any data, dissect any EDI issues, and/or provide any software training sessions was amazing.
We had gone grocery shopping after dinner the previous night and decided to use the food that we didn’t necessarily enjoy to add “flavor/seasoning” to our breakfast. It actually came out really good and it was the perfect start to our day at the Mayan Ruins.
The Ruins were magical. It was a bit of a stroll to get to the entrance, but with water and Mango con Chile from a roadside stand, it was bearable. There is also a bit of a wait to get inside and the sun can feel a bit tortuous. Sunblock and hydration is vital to your survival. Seriously. But the views are totally worth it.
A perfect treat is the beach that’s at the bottom of the ruins. If you can survive the heat, the crowds, and the iguanas, it’s definitely worth a quick dip. I didn’t bring a bathing suit, but that definitely didn’t stop me or anyone else.
After leaving the ruins, we stopped by the beach, paid about $15 to park, too much to rent a chair, but it was totally worth that 45 minute nap that I was able to take after dropping my fresh fruit popsicle in the sand. After the napping worked up an appetite, we headed to El Pollo Bronco and had the most amazing BBQ chicken, grabbed some ice cream and fresh fruit puree from Panna e Cioccolato and headed home to prepare for our last, adventure filled day.
On our last full day, we decided to go on a little adventure. We grabbed a wonderful breakfast from Burrito Amar that consisted of an egg burrito, Hibiscus water, and a fruit salad. I’m not sure how I’m going to get Hibiscus water here in Louisiana that tastes like what’s in Tulum, but I’m on a mission to find it.
After breakfast, we headed to Edventure, which is the company we booked our tour through. Last year when we were planning for Cabo, My friend Erin found a cenote and had us all psyched about it. After researching this trip and seeing tons of cenotes, I knew I had to attempt it. I’ve zip-lined before when I was in Punta Cana, but since it was just myself and my fiance with another couple, this excursion was much more enjoyable.
And since we were just a group of four, the swimming in the cenote and the cave was much more intimate. I was a bit nervous about swimming/snorkeling in the cenote, but I’m not absolutely sure why. Especially since I snorkeled in the Pacific while in Cabo and with stingrays while in Grand Cayman. And if swimming in a cenote was absolutely amazing, swimming in a cave with bats was the icing on the cake and totally made me forget about the Wild Mosquitos which are totally a thing.
It’s the last day in Tulum. The night before, I realized that I hadn’t seen the sunrise. It’s generally a ritual of mine when I travel anywhere — to witness a sunrise and a sunset. I decided to wake up around 5:30 AM to make it to the beach to catch the sunrise. And even though I was tired as hell, the view was totally worth it. And how can you not appreciate having an entire part of the beach to yourself..
The latter part of the morning was spent shopping downtown. I wandered around in areas admiring the street art and the locals that were setting up their shops for the day. The entrepreneurship that was literally everywhere. (Shouts out to the Rambutan stands) There were a group of kids in uniforms that noticed I was taking pictures and managed to give me a pose. (Too bad I was out of focus..)
Overall, the trip was amazing. Even though this wasn’t the trip that I initially planned for the big 3-0, I’m grateful that I was able to celebrate it in such an amazing place. If you’re travelling to Tulum soon, here are a few tips:
✥ Bring Cash. When when you bring cash, get some Pesos. You can exchange at the airport, but we decided to exchange once we arrived in Tulum since the airport is SUPER busy. I noticed about 5 exchanges places, HSBC being one of them. This one is usually busy, at least it was when I went. I would suggest visiting the smaller ones for faster service. Just look for the Banco signs.
✥ BRING WATER. BRING WATER. BRING WATER. BRING WATER. I cannot stress this enough. Pack refillable water bottle. I generally always pack one so that I can refill it after I clear TSA to stay hydrated on the plane. But if you’re traveling to Tulum and you want to visit the ruins or plan to be outdoors for a long time, don’t forget your water bottle.
✥ Drink Bottled Water. I got a bad case of Montezuma’s Revenge while I was in Cabo last year because I drank from the tap. Since this is a habit when I’m home, I did it without thought. Nevertheless, I learned my lesson and I don’t typically drink water abroad unless it’s safe.
✥ Pack mosquito repellent and biodegradable sunscreen. If you plan to spend a lot of time outside, biodegradable sunscreen is your friend. I mention biodegradable because if you happen to spend time swimming in a cenote, a lot of the locals depend on cenotes for drinking water, etc.
As for the mosquito repellent, you will need tons of this plus more. The Tulum jungles have mosquitoes called Wild Mosquitoes and the Louisiana mosquitoes don’t light a candle to them. I still got bit — A LOT. And the bits also seem to itch more.
✥ Be mindful while shopping. A few times it seemed that once a few business owners noticed that I was American, they’d give a really high price for their items. I was looking for a hammock to bring back with me and one guy went down on the price at least five times. I went to another shop and didn’t have those problems. My only advice is to negotiate if you aren’t satisfied with the initial offer.
✥ DON’T YOU DARE FORGET TO TIP. I mean, you should be doing this when you are serviced anyway, sooo..