Tulum is found nearly halfway down the Caribbean Riviera of Mexico. Surrounded by Yucatan jungle, bordering the huge Sian Ka’an nature reserve, this ultra laid-back town boasts perfect blue ocean and soft fine sand. Despite the increase in tourism over the past 30 years (it’s rivalling nearby Cancun with tourism revenue – without the battle for sunbeds) Tulum remains the perfect balance of authentic Mayan culture and Californian bohemia, traces of Tulum’s past as a 1970’s hippie haven.
The town centre of Tulum is where you’ll find the locals eating. It’s a sleepy place with an urban edge. Every third or fourth building is painted with vibrant colours or street art and it feels relatively untouched by the soulless mark of gentrification. As you investigate the town, you can’t miss El Pollo Bronco. This BBQ chicken restaurant is decked with plastic garden furniture, packed with locals and chuffs out aromas of pure BBQ delight into the streets. The busyness says all you need to know about the food – it’s delicious.
Just around the corner, is Roraima Burgers sent straight from the gates of heaven, silky milkshakes, chunky cheesy chips and dips to die for. All for the price of a pint in a London pub. Take a super-cheap taxi ride or twenty-minute cycle to the beach and you’ll find a collection of slightly more pricey, tourist-targeted restaurants. However, we’re not telling you to avoid these places. Quite the opposite.
Hidden in a cluster of twinkle-lit trees, before you reach the beach, sits an airstream caravan whipping up the best vegan tacos catering to the conscious traveller. Gorge guilt-free at Charly’s Vegan Tacos or you’ll live to regret missing out this delicious, authentic Mexican dish, which using fresh and inventive ingredients.
When standing 200 steps up the ancient Mayan ruin of Ek-Balam, dense jungle as far as the eye touches, you could easily miss them. Deep within the heart of the Yucatan lies an intricate and breathtaking labyrinth of freshwater caves, better known as cenotes (pronounced sen-oat-ee).
It’s hard to believe this tropical paradise could exist beneath the beguiling canopy. Some of these cenotes are run by locals and have been opened up to travellers. Some are keener to capitalise on their Instagram factor.
However many remain undeveloped. They’re instead run by a couple of guys sat on deckchairs, sipping on coronas, awaiting your arrival. It’s these Cenotes where you can truly experience the peace and beauty of the former 70’s hippie paradise.
The town has an emphasis on ecotourism, due to its symbiotic relationship with the surrounding ocean and wildlife. Whether that means the banning of plastic straws to protect the turtle population or using locally reclaimed materials to make as little impact on the environment as possible. Tulum has a healthy range of eco-conscious resorts, covering a broad price range, see our growing collection here.