Me and my family got back from Tulum, Mexico, three weeks ago. We’ve had an amazing time enjoying the beautiful beach, great restaurants and interesting cultural sights it has to offer. Before we decided on Tulum as our next travel destination, we looked at elements such as the sustainability rate of the accommodations there and the availability of mindfulness opportunities such as yoga and meditation. We also did some research on the variety of restaurants that offer dairy- and gluten free meals.
This was our first holiday where we deliberately took these elements into account and it has made our trip so much nicer as we felt way more relaxed and comfortable! Taking these elements into account ensured our holiday was much more aligned with our values, norms and wishes. If this also appeals to you and if you are considering a mindful and eco-friendly (family) holiday, check out the rest of this blog in which I’ll give you my recommendations in Tulum.
Where to start
Tulum exists of two parts; the beach and the town. They are quite far from each other and I would definitely recommend to rent a bicycle, motorbike or car. We rented a car via RentalCars.com and picked it up at the airport in Cancun, so we could make our way down to Tulum ourselves.
Renting a car is not the most environment friendly option and at first I was convinced we could easily use just bikes or an occasional taxi during our trip. But after doing more online research, we decided it was the best solution for us. Why?
- It’s one of the safest and easiest ways for getting around with young kids, in this case our 4-year old son.
- It gives you a lot of freedom as it’s great for exploring more of Quintana Roo and Yucatan by yourself without having to take a bus or taxi everywhere.
- It’s very convenient when it comes to grocery shopping. For example, you are not able to drink the tap water in Mexico, which means you have to buy drinking water. Transporting 5 liter bottles of water with a car is a lot easier than on a bike with a child.
This of course depends on type of holiday you’ve planned for yourself. If you prefer to stay near the beach for two weeks and won’t visit many sights, you will most likely won’t need a car and can just use a bike. In our case it was the best option and even though it’s not environment friendly we decided to make up for this in other ways during our trip, such as supporting the local communities more. I’ll tell you more about this in my next blog on Valladolid.
Now, back to Tulum. As mentioned Tulum consists of two parts, but what’s the difference?
Tulum Beach is a very long stretch of beautiful beach divided in two parts. One part, Playa Paraiso, is located in the Archeological Zone of Tulum and is partly open for public. It contains numerous nice hotels, restaurants and beach clubs such as Cinco and Ikal. At Ikal you can take yoga classes, cacao ceremonies and many other workshops.
The other part of Tulum Beach is the “Zona Hotelera”. I got the feeling that this was more the ‘main’ area of Tulum Beach as this is where you will find not only beautiful boho vibe beach clubs and hotels, but also shops with organic products, jungle restaurants that serve organic food, ATM’s, drug stores and small supermarkets. If you plan on staying in Tulum Beach, take into account that you pay an average of at least 150 -200 euro’s per night for a hotel room.
The beach itself though, no matter which part you go, is amazing. It has super soft white sand and a beautiful blue sea. It’s great to spend a day enjoying the sun, building sandcastles with your children or relaxing at one of the beach clubs.
The vibe in Tulum Beach is very relaxed, the people we’ve spoken to were all very friendly and I personally got the feeling that everyone respected each other and each other’s cultures. Many hotels offer yoga classes or wellness treatments to accommodate your mindfulness wishes. This makes Tulum the perfect place for a stress-free holiday.
There is however a downside about Tulum Beach. All hotels and beach clubs in the area are off grid, which means they need to create their own energy supply. This sounds very idyllic, but the reality is unfortunately far from environmental friendly. Near many of the establishments you hear a roaring noise, coming from the fuel powered generators. I’m not sure why you barely see any solar panels or wind mills, but it feels like a missed opportunity.
Another thing you might take into account before booking your holiday to Tulum is the seaweed problem. During our stay there was a lot of red seaweed on the beach and in the water. We could swim around it, but seeing these huge piles of seaweed is very confronting and it makes you even more aware of the effect of climate change. The seaweed is the result of a warming ocean and an increase of agricultural chemicals being disposed in the sea. The hotels try to clean it up on many parts of the beach, but there is no way around it. If you’re lucky like us, it will not bother you too much. But I’ve heard about cases where there’s so much sea weed you won’t be able to swim in the sea anymore. This unfortunately is an unforeseen risk you have to take into account when visiting Tulum Beach.
The other part of Tulum is the town; Tulum Pueblo. It’s not as boho-chic as the beach, but it offers great (jungle) restaurants and accommodations that offer more value for money. (Please remember that the Tulum area is more expensive that inland Mexico) Apart from its main road, the town is a bit more quiet than the beach during the day. It’s a great place to do some nice shopping or have a wonderful, organic lunch in the afternoon. During the evening the town really comes alive as this is also the time the locals do their shopping.
We mainly stayed in Tulum Pueblo during our stay and drove down to the beach whenever we felt like it. Another nice thing about the town is that it has a few bigger supermarkets where you can do proper grocery shopping. I’ll give some recommendations further on in this blog.
Good to know: Going from town to the beach can be quite a ride. Some of the roads are bad, with many holes in the ground. So pay attention when driving!
Where to eat in Tulum
My family and I don’t eat gluten, dairy and soya. We also try to avoid refined sugar as much as possible. Being able to cook our own meals or have restaurants nearby that serve meals that support our way of living is therefore very important to us. Luckily this isn’t a problem in Tulum at all! We were pleasantly surprised by the wide variety of restaurants that serve vegan and gluten free meals. We’ve never felt so relaxed when it comes to food. I’ve made a short list of our favorites places.
Tierra (at Hotel Holistika)
This beautiful restaurant and hotel is set in the jungle. They offering amazing vegan & gluten-free options for breakfast, lunch & dinner. Their cacao smoothie bowls are my personal favorite! Next to great food, the hotel also offers yoga classes, cacao ceremonies, meditations and Wim Hof breathing method workshops. After breakfast I would recommend you go on their ‘jungle art walk’, which is a nice walk through the jungle where several artists have displayed their pieces of art.
Raw Love is located in the town as well as on the beach. We visited the branch in town a couple of times and really enjoyed the food and vibe there. Raw Love offers vegan breakfast and lunch. Next to amazing smoothie bowls, they serve delicious raw brownies, golden milk and refreshing healthy juices. One afternoon while visiting we even enjoyed live guitar music. We unfortunately never visited the branch on the beach, as they take cash only (and we were out of when we wanted to visit!).
Real Coconut Tulum
This place was heaven on earth for us. Real Coconut is located on the beach and serves delicious breakfast, lunch & dinner. You can enjoy your meal or drink while looking at the ocean and enjoying the sun. Next to vegan and gluten-free meals, they also offer completely grain free meals. This is what we absolutely loved as we are planning on taking our food habits to a next level; going absolutely grain free. At Real Coconut they are one step ahead of us which gave us a lot of inspiration!
Mexican food, but different! At Burrito Amor they serve great Mexican dishes, vegan, grain-free smoothies, Bullet-Proof coffee and healthy breakfast options. It's also possible order gluten free tortillas, made out of coconut flower. The staff is very friendly and the atmosphere of the place is amazing. You can either sit inside where you can take a look into the kitchen or outside on their terrace, which is covered in plants. The prices are very good compared to other restaurants in Tulum and the service they offer. This place was definitely one of our favorites and we visited it multiple times during our stay!
Would you like to cook your own meals and visit a supermarket? We visited a few, but supermarket Chedraui on the way to the beach was our favorite. It has a wide section with vegetables and a section for gluten free/sugar free products. In Tulum town you can also find an Aki or you can visit the Gypsea Organic Supermarket. At the Gypsea market they sell everything organic and you can find many vegan & gluten free options, but the prices are quite a bit higher than at Chedraui.
Where to stay in Tulum
During our stay in Tulum we stayed in three different hotels, two in town and one on the beach. They each had their own charm, but I would only recommend two of them due their environmental friendless.
Staying in town meant being further from the beach, but it also meant that it was more quiet in the evenings (unless you stay in the town centre). Next to that, the hotels in town were half the price per night compared to the beach.
Xperience Tulum Hotel in Tulum Pueblo
This beautiful, new property consists of very comfortable apartments and studio’s. In the center of all apartments blocks you will find not only a swimming pool, but also a lot of plants and trees, representing the jungle of Tulum. A small part of the swimming pool contains more shallow water, which is great for children that have just started to learn how to swim.
Across from the reception you can find a food bar that offers breakfast and lunch. We were big fans of their smoothie concept, which allows you to put together your own smoothie. The staff at the food bar is very friendly and I got the feeling they really appreciate your stay there.
The apartments at the Xperience Tulum Hotel are beautifully designed, spacious and each have their own bathroom, kitchen and balcony or terrace (very convenient for parents when they want to stay up a little longer than their children!). Upon arrival you will be treated with bottles of jungle water and the amenities in the bathroom are all natural/eco-friendly. I believe sea water is being used as shower water, as the water is quite salty (but it still makes you feel clean!). They also encourage you to separate your garbage for recycling.
La Zebra at Tulum Beach
My second recommendation is La Zebra at Tulum Beach. This family friendly hotel offers luxury, beach-chic rooms with a sea or garden view. We stayed in a beautiful room with garden view, but were also able to see the sea from our balcony. The rooms are super spacious, clean and we loved how they integrated the original elements of the area (a former coconut plantation), such as palm trees, into the hotel design.
The restaurant at La Zebra offers mainly organic and authentic Mexican food, including a wide variety of local caught sea food. It serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. They also have a beach bar that serves great cocktails and guacamole made from local products.
The hotel is situated on the beach, where you as a hotel guest, can relax on one of the sunbeds. It’s also possible to come here when you are not staying at the hotel, the only requirement is that you spend 60 USD per person on food and drinks (children are free of charge). What we really appreciated about this hotel is the beach playground for children. Our son had a great time playing there and even made some American friends.
Let’s go to Mexico
These were my recommendations for a mindful, family friendly holiday in Tulum, Mexico. I hope you enjoyed reading this blog and that the information will help you making a decision on whether to travel to this beautiful part of our globe. If you have any questions or feedback, please feel free to contact me via social media and I’ll do my best to respond to you asap!