A few weeks ago my husband and I visited Tulum to celebrate my 30th Birthday! I love three things: the beach, the sun, and FOOD! Tulum had all three, so this destination was the perfect fit! In this post I’ll be sharing what we did, but most importantly what we ate!
Where to Stay in Tulum
Tulum is basically split into two different areas: the city and the beach. The city is filled with local eateries, tons of bars, and local shops. The beach side however, is mainly resorts along with more restaurants (a few we visited below) and little shops. If you’re trying to figure out where to stay, I’d say it’s probably easiest to decide according to your budget. We found the beach side to be a bit more pricey in terms of both food and hotels.
We decided to stay in the city. Initially, we opted for an Airbnb, a hotel called “Maria, Maria.” It was in a great location, within walking distance to the main strip as well as local restaurants and shops. Everything you would need was within walking distance. Unfortunately the hotel wasn’t exactly as we thought it would be. It was much older than the pictures made it out to be and the door didn’t even align with the door frame completely. The sink was rusted and unstable and the lock on the door was unsuitable for an outdoor lock (more like one you would put in your home). Oh, and the internet was non existent. We stayed for one night and dipped.
During our one night there, my wonderful husband got on the internet and found hotelstonight.com. He booked us a room at Central Park Tulum and it was the best decision we could have made. I had actually been eying this place, but went for the less expensive option instead. Sometimes inexpensive isn’t always best.
Upon arrival, we were greeted by security who took our bags from us and showed us to the check-in. Next, we were shown to our room. It was so nice! It had floor to ceiling windows, a cute little kitchenette, a large bathroom with a great shower. My only issue was that the water wasn’t very hot. However, considering our first hotel I couldn’t fix my lips to even complain. It was a major come-up my friends!
The property also has a restaurant, two pools, and is very scenic! Perfect for photo ops! 🙂 I would definitely recommend staying here 🙂
Tulum Vegan Food Scene
Y’all, the vegan food scene in Tulum is LIT. There are so many vegan options, a lot of times the hardest decision of the day was deciding where to eat. Unfortunately I couldn’t visit everywhere, but the ones I did were certainly worth sharing with you all! Check out my reviews on some of my favorite spots to eat in Tulum.
Matcha Mama is one of those spots you gotta stop by while in Tulum. They’ve got everything you’d want to enjoy on a nice hot day in Mexico. The menu is simple, yet delicious. We stopped here twice while we were in town. There are two locations- one in the city and another along the beach. So whichever side of town you choose to stay on, you’re not far!
La Hoja Verde— Vegan and Vegetarian
La Hoja Verde— Vegan and Vegetarian was the first stop for us upon arrival. We dropped our bags in the room and immediately headed out. It was right around the corner from our Airbnb. I was immediately lured in by the “vegan and vegetarian” sign.
We started with an order of chips and guac, which was delish. Out of all of the chips+guac we had on the trip, Deryle said this one was his favorite. For my meal, I ordered the Tacos al Pastor- roasted soy protein with roasted pineapple, candied peppers, onion, coriander and guac.
I don’t usually order drinks when I eat out, but I decided to live a little and order the Fresco- a pineapple, orange and strawberry smoothie. Not to mention, if I would have ordered water I would have been charged for it anyways. So why not order something a little more interesting? Our order came out to $14, including Deryle’s beer and the extra 5% they charge for credit card payments (we decided to hang on to the cash).
$2 for a smoothie? The prices were very reasonable! I’d say it’s worth a visit if you’re in the area!
Burrito Amor is a great place for a quick and tasty meal. It was within walking distance of our second hotel, which was perfect!
I ordered the vegan burrito with nopal (cactus), Chaya (Mayan spinach), grilled black beans, rice, pico de Gallo, avo and epazote dressing. I have no idea what the dressing was, but the burrito was bomb. It’s served wrapped in banana paper to keep warm, which is a technique that actually works!
My only disappointment was the chips+guac. The guac was okay (literally smashed avo- no seasoning or add-ins). However, the chips were trash. For my beverage, I ordered the Cucumber Fresh Drink (cucumber water, lemonade, organic miel de agave, lime, spearmint and essential oils and herradura tequila plata) It was delish! I had no plans for ordering an alcoholic drink, but missed the last line in the description that read “tequila.” Oops. In any case, the drink was perfectly light and refreshing!
Looking for entertainment? The night we visited, there were two acts performing as entertainment. Just locals looking to entertain tourists. Nothing to write home about, but fun to watch!
Charly’s Vegan Tacos
If you eat NOWHERE else in Tulum, GO HERE.
These were the best tacos ever. Absolutely, positively amazing. For my meal, I ordered “Charly’s Signature Tacos.” Their best 3 fillings– (1) porkless cracklings in red chipotle sauce topped with garlic, aioli and sauerkraut (2) grilled yuba carnitas with morita peppers served with sauerkraut and chipotle leek cream, and lastly (3) grilled seitan topped with garlic aioli and sauerkraut.
For our appetizers, I ordered the guaca- mango (guacamole with mango) along with the grilled corn on the cob (with tofu and garlic mayo, toasted peanut oil, dried chili powder and coriander. The corn was okay. I had very high hopes. However, I loved the guac with mango. I’ll have to try recreating this at home!
This is a MUST visit spot for vegans!! We spent about $50 (910 pesos) in total. This is a little pricey for Tulum, but certainly well worth it. This was the most expensive meal we had during the whole trip.
During our last night in Tulum, I wanted to do something special. I was thinking a fancy dinner, wearing my new favorite dress with scenic views. Well, that didn’t happen.
The place I wanted to visit was closed on Mondays (ugh), the dress I wanted to wear didn’t fit the way I wanted it to anymore, and the spot we decided to go to didn’t really have the scenic views I’d imagined. I’m happy to report back, that it all worked out 🙂 I really wanted to dine somewhere that both me and my husband could enjoy. Safari Tulum offered us just that. The setting was really cool. They cook in an old-school camper with a camp fire out in front to roast peppers and things.
It just so happened that they were offering a vegan special, which is what I ordered. It was a veggie tamal with lentils, hoja santa, and Chaya. I initially wanted to go to with the regular menu item (mushroom sole tik), but the waiter convinced me otherwise. I’m glad he did. The last time I attempted tamales, I was trying to eat the banana paper, not realizing it was meant to be eaten without. Epic fail! They only give you one, but it was SO damn good. In addition, I ordered a side of rice and beans. They were basic, but did the job. I was hoping for something with a little more pizazz.
I Scream Bar
Where do I start with this place?! I thought we would just have vegan ice cream and drinks, but apparently we were in for so much more.
Upon being seated, we were welcomed with a strip tease. No lie. I’m talking bartenders on the counters, swinging from the ceiling. Want to see? Check out my Tulum highlights on Instagram. My eyes were open so wide my contact lens literally popped out. I’ll never listen to the Weekend’s “The Hills” the same ever again.
Now for the drinks and ice cream. I think I ordered strawberry? Whatever it was, it was delish. The music was too loud, so I couldn’t hear what I was ordering. In addition, we ordered mango and pineapple margaritas, delish! As you can see, it’s a pretty fun atmosphere and we were without a doubt entertained. Perfect end to our trip!
Things to Do
Papaya Playa Project
To get to Papaya Playa Project, we decided to rent bikes. The bikes cost about $5 per day (100 pesos). Depending on what part you’re at, it’s about 20 minutes from the city area of Tulum. Riding bikes is cool and all, but I definitely wanted to hail a taxi van on the way back instead of biking. Bike seats can be so unforgiving!
PPP was suggested by Jessica in the Kitchen, and I can see why! It’s a resort, but they also offer a “beach club.” For $55 (per person) you get access to their cabanas, beach, and pool. The $55 is used towards food and they have a host of vegan options to choose from as well as great service. Drinks too! The vegan menu is available upon request.
If you ask my husband, this was his favorite part of the trip. We probably spent about 4 hours here eating, chillin’, and soaking up the sun. The perfect place to nap and tan 🙂
Caleta Tankah is another beach club, similar to Papaya Playa Project. However, I think I enjoyed this one a little more. Seaweed is a huge problem in Tulum. Our taxi driver explained that this can change during different parts of the year. We visited CT based on his recommendation in avoiding the seaweed. Apparently the best time to visit Tulum is in November or December. Because of the seaweed, getting in the ocean at PPP wasn’t ideal. In fact, I didn’t see anyone get in the ocean there. Caleta Tankah had one section with nice, clear, blue water. I was in heaven!
What’s cool about this place is that there are a few cenotes in the area as well. For 200 pesos (per person), you get access to the cenotes, the beach, and beach chairs. We even found hammocks on our way back to the beach from the cenotes! Y’all, I could have fallen asleep there. It was so relaxing and to add icing on the cake, the breeze was everything!
One of the things Tulum is most known for is cenotes. Cenotes are large water-filled sink holes that occur naturally. There are a TON of them around the area, so there’s plenty to choose from. Booking a cenote tour is pretty easy, thanks to Trip Advisor and Airbnb. We usually would book a tour for an excursion such as this, but we decided not to because we weren’t interested in diving. We wanted to have the flexibility to come and go as we please.
Choosing a cenote to visit was tough because there are so many. Ultimately we decided to go with Casa Cenote for no reason in particular other than its distance from our hotel. To get there, we simply caught a taxi. There is a fee to get in, but I can’t remember how much it was. Whatever the fee, it wasn’t expensive. We rented life jackets to float around for a bit, then decided to rent a paddle boat to see what was beyond. The rental was about $7-$10 I believe. The water was gorgeous and I enjoyed this cenote because it wasn’t very crowded, as I read a lot of the more popular ones can be.
For transportation, you basically have two options– rent a car or rely on taxis. We opted to do the taxi thing. Although renting a car is SUPER cheap in Tulum, we felt safer (and less liable) taking taxis, walking, and biking. We booked a car service to take us from the airport in Cancun to and from our hotel. While in the city we mainly walked and took taxis to the beach area when needed. The taxis were pretty inexpensive and the cab drivers were friendly.
General Tips for Tulum:
- Haggle with the taxi drivers. Because the taxis are not metered, ask for the price to the destination up front. In the same day we caught a taxi to the same place and the second driver tried to charge us double. The price jumped from 50 pesos to 100. Therefore, we were able to haggle the price down to 60.
- If you don’t want to visit Tulum because of the seaweed, you’ve missed the point.
- “Lemonade” is limeade
- Wear sunscreen- yes. Even black folk.
- The airport is 1.5 hours from Tulum- you’ll land in Cancun
- Stay according to your budget. The beach side seemed more expensive than the city.
- English is spoken at most places however, knowing a little Spanish can be quite helpful.
Above all, we had a fantastic trip. I would love to visit again!