As I relaxed into my second happy hour of the trip, I already couldn’t help but start to reminisce about the trip that had barely begun. I ultimately made my way up the Riviera Maya one taco at a time, but I’ll get to that later. First, I’d like to dedicate a little time to our hotel, Tulum Pueblo, and Tulum beach.
We stayed at the Xibalba Hotel, and our happy hours took place on the second floor balcony to the right in the photo below, which provided a nice sunset view. Being the only guests in the 7-room hotel for the first 2 days, we had it all to ourselves!
Xibalba is a dive shop that opened a hotel on site. The hotel is great, and they seem to have gotten it right with modern rooms, king size beds in every room, and a simplicity that feels airy and sophisticated.
Last year we stayed at the Hotel Posada 06, and it is also a beautiful little boutique hotel that I would readily recommend. The only problem: queen size beds– ugh! Being 5’2″ I need a lot of bed real estate. My 6’4″ hubs isn’t the problem, it is me! While Posada 06 is beautiful, I like Xibalba better because it just feels a bit more open and bright. A lovely breakfast was included, but we didn’t eat it because it was eggs, toast, all things I shouldn’t eat, etc… That beats the “included breakfast” at most hotels, and for $70/night, real food for breakfast is pretty deluxe.
We ran into some expert divers at happy hour on our last night there, and I realized something… people love to talk about the things that they are passionate about, as long as there is an available ear. It doesn’t matter if the other person is at all interested, we just love what we love and assume everyone else should too. I must admit, I’m guilty of doing this myself. This expert scuba diver really wanted to find my PADI # from 1989. I haven’t used it since (that’s another story,) but he knew that they still had it in their database. As he lost himself in his elation of all that is diving, I indulged him only out of curiosity. Did they really still have my dive info from over 20 years ago? Was I really still certified? Sure enough, I was! OK, so I had no plans of using it on this trip, but maybe someday. It did make this dude happy, and he proceeded to tell me which dive shop to use when we “go to Cozumel tomorrow.” His wife was frantically chirping in Nick’s ear, “make sure she takes a refresher course,” because she was worried I would actually get on a ferry, find the dive shop he told me about, and then dive! Had they listened, they would have realized there would be no trip to Cozumel and no crazy attempt to dive using my certification from 1989! I need to remember this the next time I decide to impose my food, travel, or infatuation-of-the-moment on others. (I’ll just send them to my blog instead.) Anyway, if you stay at Xibalba, you may get the diving bug, but is also a great place to stay for even the laziest of beach bums.
On previous trips, we used to like to stay on the beach in Tulum but have realized that you pay a lot more for a less desirable room. Plus, staying in town has its benefits, as you can really immerse yourself in the local culture. It’s great fun to rent bikes and ride to the beach for the day, and it’s nice to start the day with a little exercise. I can ride pretty well if I don’t have to turn, and there aren’t many turns to get to the beach, so it worked out pretty well. We rented bikes at Iguana Bike Rentals, conveniently located a block from our hotel.
Our first day there we rode to the entrance of Sian Kaan, a biosphere reserve, but because it was far enough to just get to the entrance, we turned around there. It’s worth exploring if you have a car.
There is only one road that leads from the town to the beach road which is called Boca Paila. Boca Paila runs parallel to the coast, and there are hotels and beaches to the north and south of town. Sian Kaan is to the south, and riding down this street feels like being in a different world. The small beach-side street is lined by jungle and a handful of rustic hippie hotels. The hotels on Boca Paila run their electricity on solar or wind power, and many hotel rooms don’t even have electricity. It’s quite admirable that they are so eco-friendly, being pro-active rather than reactive. Staying in some of these hotels is like glorified camping, which is great in its own way– you get a hut with a bed, a bathroom and shower, and a mosquito net. If you don’t mind the possibility of sharing your room with a wild animal, it’s a great way to go.
We tried to find the beach club we enjoyed from the year before, but since it had closed, we accidentally ended up at a familiar sounding hotel called Om. By the way, being a hippie town, many of the hotels here have yogi sounding names. Om didn’t have many options that interested us beyond the pizza (which is off-limits,) so we had some great guacamole and a few beers.
The second day we rode our bikes down to Boca Paila and went to the north. We spent the day at La Vita e Bella. The beach here is absolute perfection. It is even more pristine than the beach at Om. If you walk north along the beach, you can get some great views of the Tulum ruins in the distance.
Luckily, this Italian restaurant also serves Mexican food, and we had a really tasty meal. The mixed fajitas with chicken and steak were very satisfying. The meat was tender and juicy with fresh veggies, soft corn tortillas, refried black beans, and delicious guacamole. Some Mexican beer called Montejo and a nice glass of white wine was the perfect complement.
Service was a little slow and inefficient, but we were at the beach with nowhere else to go, so no sweat! They did try to close the curtains on all of the windows so a few people could view an Italian soccer game, but there was so much protest from the rest of us (even a few f-bombs dropped by some crazy Americans,) that it didn’t fly. All in all this is a great place to spend the day!
The beaches in Tulum can’t be beat. White velvety sand, warm turquoise waters, and virtually no crowds make this a beautiful paradise. I highly recommend it!