Ahhh, how do I even begin. This trip was a dream… or maybe even better than a dream. Tim and I landed in Riviera Maya, ready for adventure. We had never been to this side of Mexico before so weren’t sure what to expect. I have to admit, we sort of became beach snobs after seeing the beaches of French Polynesia on our honeymoon. The white sand, the turquoise water.. you know the drill. But when we first got to the beach in Tulum, we were completely blown away.
We stayed at the Mr & Mrs Smith hotel, Las Ranitas.. a cute little place in the mix of all the bohemian, eco-boutique hotels in Tulum.. and THIS was our view. WOW, right? We got to try out Mr. and Mrs. Smith’s Just Married pass, which ended up making the trip even more amazing.
Breakfast was under this big palapa roof, with the ocean to greet us every morning. Can’t beat that.
Yummy green juice blended with local, delicious obscure fruits. Check!
Shopping in Tulum was as quaint as you’d expect…little stores mixed in with the hotels and restaurants. Brightly colored and filled with little gems and trinkets to hoard. There are two areas in which to shop, in Tulum. The town side which is cheaper, more plentiful, and a little more gritty. And the beachside “strip,” which is a tad more expensive and curated than the town shops. My favorite shop on the beachside was Mr. Blackbird, where I purchased the cutest little sandals that I think I’ve worn every day since I returned. Also, I must highlight the HAMMOCKS available to buy in the town side… there were SO many and they were SO cool.
We broke our (my) shopping excursion for a bite and a spot of Mezcal at Encanto Cantina. Sooo good. Then directly after that, we went to La Chiapaneca for authentic Al Pastor tacos. Might I add, they were delicious and our whole meal was $5.00 US. That’s what I’m talking about.
Other notable strip restaurants include Casa Jaguar, El Tabaño, Casa Banana (brunch), Posada Margherita, Hemingway’s (brunch).
The REAL food highlight of our entire trip was the famed Hartwood though. Started by an American who shied away from competing with authentic local Mexican cuisine, Hartwood uses local ingredients in a very creative way to conjure up fantastic, legendary food. The restaurant is casually chic, with whitewashed wood and rustic tables.. the perfect backdrop for the bronzed and fashionable crowd who lines up an hour before the restaurant even opens, to make it in one of the first two seatings for the evening. WELL, well worth the wait.
The restaurants in beachside Tulum all seem to possess an ambience that, until now, I thought only existed in books and movies. Each and every one. Thatched roofs and reclaimed wood with strings of lights hanging in the trees, outdoor tables surrounded by exotic plants and candles. The smell of Mayan incense and wood-grilled food fills the air, with sounds of the jungle and ambient music playing in the background. Exotic, intoxicating.. this place is like no other.
A trip to Tulum isn’t complete without a stop at the Tulum Ruins. Mayan ruins with wild iguanas posing all over them, plenty of heat, and a friggin unbelievable ocean view at the coast. And when I say unbelievable, I really mean it. Lots of Instagram opportunities here!
Back in the beachside strip of Tulum, Tim and I popped into the fashionable and sultry Coqui Coqui, and up a steep rock stairway into a room with an ocean view for a couple’s massage. The masseuses used the hotel’s proprietary perfumed oil concoctions to take us into a sensory bliss.
Coqui Coqui has been written up in all sorts of magazines, and rightly so. The hotel itself is straight out of a perfectly styled magazine photo shoot. And the beautiful clientele adds their own touch of glamour.
Goodbye Tulum. You were one of the coolest places we have ever experienced. And we will definitely be back again soon. Promise.
Honeymooners, you should totally check out Mr. and Mrs. Smith’s Just Married Pass when you’re ready to plan your trip!
Stay tuned for the rest of our adventures up the coast…
Photography: Amanda / Hartwood photos from The Selby