Here i am just landed in Paris and eager to start writing this blog post so i can reminisce the good times and share them with you too !
It was one of of kind trip and could only recommend to visit this lovely region of Mexico. If you're looking for heat (lots!), sun (mostly), colors (everywhere) and generous people, then head to Mexico.
You will find here the places we stayed at and all the good addresses we found along the way.
We started our mexican journey with the one and only Tulum ! Located south of Cancun, this town is well known for its surroundings: beaches, clear waters (supposedly, i will tell you more about this a bit further down below) and its bohemian feel. I did not really enjoy the town itself which sums up to a big avenue with traffic and tourist shops, but the hotels and shops along the beach are well worth visiting.
We stayed the first two nights at Papaya Playa Project. This charming hotel is quite conveniently located and not too far from the main road where you would find all eco chic shops and restaurants. We had to rent bikes to get around as walking would have been a mission. Within 10 mins though you reach the first places to eat and within 15 mins the cool chic resorts and places you see all over IG.
The hotel itself is really pretty and feel like one of those eco friendly resorts that flourish around. Trees have been preserved within the wooden constructions so even though you stay in an hotel with all comfort you need, it keeps a bit of jungle vibe. We stayed in a "Jungle experience Casita" where we had our own swimming pool ! Waaaa ?! It is the least to say that after our long trip we were delighted to find such a unique place. The Casita consists of a bedroom and a bathroom on the ground floor, a private pool and a small private roof top. The bedroom is big and has an open bathroom that we really enjoyed ! We would wake up to the sound of birds it was pure magic. They have a restaurant that does quite good food (though i found it was a bit pricey, but expect most of Tulum to be pricey). One of my favorite thing about this hotel was the music.. from late afternoon onward they had a DJ playing very good music. Sipping a Corona, dipping tortillas in guacamole while listening to the music and feeling the breeze in our hair was a treat ! (can you feel it too ? :) ).
One drawback you should take into account when visiting Tulum is that you might be coming at a time there is sargassum (a kind of seaweed) on the beach (even though it is unpredictable and chances are also you wont get it). It is a real environmental, economical issue for the region, you can read more about it here. If there are some, then forget about swimming in the sea, yet the hotel has two pools, one of them is hidden and gorgeous !
Unfortunately there are no yoga classes organized but plenty of spots to practice on your own.
Eat and drink around:
- For breakfast: head to Raw Love Cafe. Amidst palm trees you'll enjoy the best of super foods and healthy delicious bowls and juices.
- For lunch: Burrito Amor is THE place for cheap yet delicious burrito (vegetarian options available). Sadly its location on Tulum city center main road isn't so charming.
- For diner: head to Casa Malca and Philosophia restaurant. It is so so yummy. Best diner i had during this trip. Other option is NÜ Tulum, which is very good too!
- For drinks: amazing cocktails at Todos Santos Bar ! Wednesday is ladies night so it's free cocktails for ladies (but long long queue !). We also went to the bar of BeTulum... the whole place is gorgeous!
For one afternoon we headed to Sian Ka'an Biosphere reserve and it should be a MUST do (especially the funny float down a canal in the mangroves with a life jacket). For all details on how to get there on your own i recommend you follow instructions of this website.
As i mentioned on my Instagram...
... I wish really that places like Sian Ka’an biosphere reserve to remain what it is, hotels to keep working on improving themselves and raise a bit more awareness to those traveling and also to local population.
Basically it is one of those places that makes you understand Tulum is going through complicated times and travelers should be aware of what is really going one here. I found this article interesting.
We then headed to Jashita Hotel a bit more north for three more nights. It is located in another area than the central Tulum i mentioned earlier but it was for the best as there the sea was clean and there was no seaweed (the beach is located behind a coral reef). The style of this hotel is very different from Papaya as it reminds me more of those extra comfortable hotel where everything is made so you can feel like a pasha. It is a beautiful classic hotel where you can expect an older crowd than in Papaya. Less trendy but even more comfortable we loved this place. We had a room by the beach, it was extremely nice. The hotel has two pools, one located on the beach and one on top of a building. We enjoyed swimming both in the sea and in the pools ! The hotel offered some nice extras like free paddle boarding, snorkeling equipment, sangria, and has a great restaurant! The menu has both continental and mexican specialties which was great to alternate (we got easily fed up with the mexican food), and the homemade pastas were a plus ! The staff was extremely nice and helpful, especially when we needed to rent a car. Only downside is the unclear information they give about what is included and what is not. Sadly yoga classes given every morning are not included (count 25USD per person per class). So we ended with a hefty check of yoga that we did not expect to have !
On our way to the inland we wanted to discover what a cenote was, so we made our way to Two Eyes Cenote (Dos Ojos Cenote) but i must say i was quite disappointed, as it was filled with tourists and kids. I felt more in an attraction than in a quiet and sacred space. Beside this, take your googles with you because as soon as you dive in, you'll see how deep and beautiful the scenery is down under the water. This was a nice experience. The water is crystal clear so you spot even professional divers diving deep. It feels surreal.
After 5 days in Tulum we decided to explore more the inland. After renting our car (around 30EUR per day) we took the road to the charming town of Valladolid. On our way we stopped at Coba to visit one of the Coqui Coqui Hotel there. We got advised so many times to go see it that we had to ! And it is with no regret ! It seems like you get on the set of an Indiana Jones movie, yet it feels luxurious. The place is ideal to stop for a drink, or nibble and even buy one of their fragrances they sell at the reception (i got "Flor the Naranjo" for myself).
We then arrived to our hotel in Valladolid, another Coqui Coqui hotel, the one that serves as Perfumeria (they have another one charming too in town). This place was INSANE. The "hotel" had only one room, and what a room. I felt under the charm and spell of this place. It probably was one of the most beautiful room i have ever stayed in. Everything in this place has been nicely renovated, keeping the atmosphere of the old times: the old cement tiles, the panelings, the garden... you step into a bubble of luxury and history. We were welcomed by a young lovely french lady that showed us around and gave us the keys of the store so at night time we could close our "home" when she was off work. Having the keys of this space felt very special, and Julien and I felt like king and queen. We had a little pool in front of our room, with cold running water, which was so refreshing after walking in the heat all day long. The room in itself was amazing: a bed worthy of a king, as the copper bath and chandeliers !
Valladolid in itself is very very charming. I think it was my favorite place... it felt authentic, cute, pretty, and happening. It is not trendy, it is not bohemian, but simply is what i can imagine a real town of the Yucatan Peninsula can be. Small shops, restaurant around, a central plaza and garden where locals would gather to eat their favorite thing the "marquesitas" (a rolled up crepe with usually with cheese or any kind of sugary fillings). The hotel borrowed us vintage bicycles (even the bikes are cool!) and allowed us within one day to have a good glimpse of the city. We even went to the local market, where grand mas sell their vegetables and fruits. Wherever i go, i love to visit local market, i believe they tell a lot about the country and its culture.
At night we got recommended to go to Casa Italia for diner and it was the right choice ! This place is heaven if you want to make a break in your diet with some italian food (pizzas are delish there). Expect to spot a bunny, a turtle and a buddha in the garden !
... on the way to MERIDA
After one night in Valladolid we wanted to discover the haciendas, so we went to Hotel Hacienda Ticum for 3 nights. The hotel is run by a very friendly french man, he immediately welcomed us as if we were good friends visiting. The place is located in the middle of nowhere so expect to spend some time at the pool or at the pool table ! But is nicely located on the road from Valladolid to Merida via Chichen Itza. So we found it was ideal to stay there. The place is really nice and has a friendly atmosphere. Our room was very comfortable, and had a private pool (even though we did not get to use it because the big one was better). The hacienda is simple with a mix of old buildings, and more recent ones and offer a nice oasis when commuting from one city to another.
One restaurant to try nearby is Pueblo Pibil, a true delicious and gorgeous restaurant, surprisingly located in the tiny little town of Tixkokob.
We visited Chichen Itza, one of the biggest Mayan city ruins of Yucatan, but again even though seeing a Mayan "pyramid" for the first time was impressive, the site was filled with tourists, making the overall experience a bit tiring. The heat added also to the overall negative feeling. Go early in the morning or don't go i would say.
We did another trip to Merida, the capital of Yucatan ! The day we went it was pouring rains but it was fun trip out of the countryside. I did not find Merida to be particularly attractive, but some parts were nice to hang at, to sip a coffee or a cocktail ! Lots of expats seem to be living here so expect to find few trendy places. I recommend to walk along Calle 60 up north from Plaza Grande and walk a bit along Paseo de Montejo.
My favorite addresses in Merida:
- to shop: Kukul Boutique (they have one in Tulum too apparently), they have some gorgeous dresses, tops and shoes, but expect to pay a high price for these (around 100EUR)
- to sip a cocktail: Casa Chica, such a nice ambience and decoration !
- to sip a coffee: Mexi Boutique, cute and friendly coffee shop where you can buy some local delicacies.
- to eat: Mercado 60, it is a big modern, hipster food court place where you'll find both asian and mexican food. It has music and lots of young people. Quite cheap.
Last but not least on our last days we got to visit the Island of Holbox as we wanted to get few days lazying under the sun after driving all around Yucatan. We stayed at the cute and friendly Casa Las Tortugas Hotel. The trip was sadly too short i believe to get a full picture of this island, but we can tell there was lots of good vibrations here ! The sea truly is turquoise, the beach made of fine white sand and the overall atmosphere is very laid back. Less fashionable than Tulum, cheaper also, it was ,i found, the best choice for beach holiday in Mexico! We stayed in a cute room called Honey Moon (no engagement here but hey we'll take it !). It was small but well equipped with a nice shower and terrace. The nights get hot there though !
The hotel is a collection of colors, funny tiles, and beautiful beach items. It has a wonderful restaurant and team to serve you. Last but not least it has a shala to practice and there is a FREE yoga class given to guests every week days at 8 am ! What a treat ! I got to teach there my very first class in Mexico, i was so so happy ! I want to do more of those classes.
There we get to try two restaurants:
- Mandarina, the one of the hotel, which serve exquisite food. Truly yum yum !
- Luuma, the restaurant next door, managed by the same man than Mandarin, is more casual but food is also exquisite. It serves very good seafood platter for two.
I hope you get to visit these regions of Mexico one day as the people there were absolutely adorable and some scenery are gorgeous. The weather was just right when we got there (two first weeks of August), we had overcast days but it was actually relaxing as the heat would lower and overall there would be less tourists.
I hope this helps ! And feel free to ask me question down below.
This trip was partly organized in collaboration with hotels. As always, i speak freely about my experience.