WHERE I STAYED
We stayed a the charming Casa Violeta in the Violeta house situated right on the beach front. They have many other houses to rent, the most ballerific of them all being Magnolia and I'd say Jazmin. Violeta was a good deal for what we paid becuase it was comfortable, large enough not to be cramped and had an ocean view. When we first got there, it was exciting to get to the hotel and see that our little room had a tiny porch and a flood of light during the morning. There is no A/C, so I'm glad we stayed during the cooler season because I tend to sleep a little hot, but we were comfortable under our mosquito-tented bed with the fan blowing through the night. Hearing the ocean all night is something I will remember for a long time, it was such a treat to replace city sirens with something more soothing! Even though I recommend this hotel, I honestly can't imagine staying here when it's hot and super-humid.
The high point of any beach vacation for me is spending time in the ocean. The ocean here wasn't particularly nice (meaning, clear and crystalline) due to Jonas and what not happening on the East Coast, but I did get my fair share of sun. There is a current that creeps up every now and then, but when it's calm it was awesome to just float out like a starfish and close my eyes for a while.
Oh! And my stay came with a complimentary continental breakfast every morning. The pretty preparation of sliced fruit, good strong coffee, toast, butter and jam is something I looked forward to every morning.
Fair warning: there is no telephone to the front desk, so it's kind of like you're renting a little rustic house in the jungle on your own. So be cool with this isolation. Also, the plumbing in Tulum is notoriously fussy, so all paper waste must be put into bins next to the toilet. All the paper waste.
WHAT I ATE + DRANK
Coco Tulum — This place is great for snacks and day drinks. Walk here from your hotel if you're staying on the beach! It's an all-white bar with swings around it for seats. The bartenders are awesome and they make the meanest, spiciest, most delicious habanero margarita ever. Their breakfast and lunch menu is insanely good. The chilaquiles in green chili and the margherita pizza from a wood fired oven are two things our group ordered that were absolutely delicious.
Hartwood — Admittedly annoying to get into (you must walk to the restaurant at 3pm daily to make your reservation for that night in person, no exceptions, and no phone reservations allowed, no real walk-ins due to the insane popularity and demand), but once you're in you really see what all the hype is about: the food is freaking fantastic. The portions are healthy and the dishes are surprisingly innovative when yo've been eating ceviche and basic fish dishes all week. The creativity in the dishes is something I would traditionally expect from more expected foodie towns like SF or NY. I highly recommend you try this place at least once. Beware though! Not budget friendly at all and like most places they are cash only. A meal for 4 here will run you around $350 including a cocktail for each.
Casa Banana — This looks like it's another hot spot on the main Tulum road. It's super crowded almost every single night, but very delicious. Not exactly budget friendly either though. For example, a meal for 4 including drinks hovers in the $250-300 territory, preferably paid in Pesos. My favorite thing to order here was the octopus salad, which was amazingly fresh with a crisp vinaigrette and oven roasted potatoes to keep it nice and filling. For dessert get the cajeta (Mexican caramel) crepes a la mode! The cocktails are meh, in my experience, but they do have a nice wine list at reasonable prices.
Cammello Jr. — This is a lovely budget friendly tourist spot in town where locals also enjoy eating at. Although we rented a car, driving up and down the main Tulum street was pretty dangerous at night with all the crowds and crazy cab drivers, so just cab there especially if you plan to drink! My favorite thing here was the fried fish. It was simple and delicious and a welcome relief after a lot of fussy food on the main Tulum strip near our hotel. Guess what: cash only!
WHAT I SAW
Tulum Ruins: It goes without saying that if you're going to venture into Tulum you should definitely check out the ruins. I thought I understood what I was going to see, having spent my entire life reading about the Mayans and the culture, but once you're there it's absolutely awe-inspring and more impressive than you ever could have imagined.
Cenotes: Look, I didn't get the sickest cenote experience here, but to be honest they aren't really my thing. I went to a local Cenote called Santa Cruz, but I wouldn't recommend it. Personally, I get anxious and nervous with the enclosed nature of caves and what not, so sadly I don't have much to report here. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't check them out! They are everywhere in Tulum and many people love them.
Of course there are many other things to see and visit, but this is just what I did during my stay there. Go to Tulum and tell me about your favorite spots!
What I wore
Nasty Gal striped swimsuit. This one runs a little skimpy on the side-boob. And if you've got booty (like me) then it'll be quite cheeky. Super cute though, great price. BEWARE: if you buy any sort of swimsuit it is non returnable. I am wearing a Small.
Zinke long-sleeve back bow tie rash guard. I bought this at Free People for about $60. I love it because it's all black and is so easy to put on top of any other swimsuit. I can't find it right now, but the company is Zinke!
Zinke side-tie bikini bottoms. Another one from Free People! I'm wearing a size small, they are getting a little stretched out by now, but to be fair, it's been about 1.5 years with them. Such a good deal. I paid around $50.
J. Crew one piece. (Similar style here) My favorite swimsuit ever. Such a great flattering shape. Snatch this up while it's on sale.
Hurley board boy shorts. From Zappos like a million zillion years ago. I bought them for maybe $30 and they've lasted literally like 4 years. When you buy all your swimwear in one color it's easy to mix and match more adventurous pieces and cover ups.