Last July I went to Tulum, Quintanaroo Mexico and had the BEST trip with my dad! We wanted to do a father daughter trip somewhere fun and both had never been to Tulum and were in need of a relaxing vacation. Whenever I travel I do pretty extensive research beforehand of the best places to stay, eat, and of course, take photos. We ended up staying at the all inclusive Dreams Tulum Resort, which was beautiful, but unfortunately lacked in good food. If I were to go back, I would definitely splurge a bit more and stay at one of the not all inclusive boutique hotels along the beach, which is where we ended up spending some of our days! I’ve compiled a list of my favorite places I visited along with how to get “the shot” at each place. I brought my older camera since I was worried about my new one getting damaged/stolen in Mexico so I mainly used my iPhone while there!
Lunch at La Popular was probably our favorite meal of the trip. We got the shrimp and fish tacos and fried calamari and everything was so fresh and authentic, not to mention the VIEW. You sit on the sand overlooking the ocean, what more can you want in a lunch!? Definitely be prepared to spend a little more here, even a bottle of water is over $7, but it was so worth it. After you eat don’t forget to snap a photo at the famous triangular lounge beds on their private beach.
Rosa Negra Tulum
We went to Rosa Negra for my dad’s birthday dinner, and it was such a unique environment and menu! They specialize in Latin American cuisine. Definitely recommend going here for a special occasion or group dinner! They bring out a DJ and drummer and on Friday nights clear the tables at the end of the night to turn it into a club! Since it was my dad’s birthday they brought him a complimentary cake with “bottle service sparklers” on top and it was pretty extra.
Azulik & Kin Toh
You can’t go to Tulum without checking out the Azulik Hotel. This place is Instagram HEAVEN. Staying there is extremely expensive, so if you want to enjoy the property without breaking the bank, make a dinner reservation at Kin Toh or get drinks at sunset. However, if you do this be prepared to spend about $50/person even if you are getting drinks they require a minimum tab that you pay up front before entry. They also do not allow any professional camera photos without a permit (which was a bit surprising). There is also a free museum you can check out to the side of the entrance, but to get views of the nests or the sunset you have to pay the full tab.
This is another cute boutique beach hotel that we stopped at for a drink (or two) and the famous swingset bar view. This hotel had the cutest decor, from black string hammocks outside each room to the conch shell sinks at the outdoor bathroom! Everything is open air style but the rooms are air conditioned and pretty affordable! Would definitely recommend staying here if I were to do it again to get the “beach glamping” experience and be centrally located.
Also known as Pablo Escobar’s Mansion. This place is packed with history and art and is a great hotel for the adventurous artsy type. If you go by you have to take photos at the swinging couches and curtains outside the lobby! We also came across an old fashioned decorated bathtub in the midst of the grounds that is a fun photo op! If you want a higher angle have your photographer (or dad) climb up the steps and take the photo from the top of the tower looking down at the curtains! We ended up staying for a drink and they also have a beautiful rooftop patio.
Instead of booking excursions, we decided to venture to the cenotes on our own (by taxi) which was super easy! I recommend going to the Gran Cenote and the Cenote Calavera, both close to town and within a few minutes of each other. I wish I had brought my camera with me but I was worried about it getting wet, but there were lockers and it definitely could’ve been doable and an UNREAL setting for photos. If you go to the Gran Cenote go early in the morning as soon as it opens (there’s already a line) and be prepared to take a full cold shower before getting in. They don’t let you have any sunscreen, bugspray, or hair products on before getting in to keep the water fresh. After you shower go past the main set of stairs straight to the second pathway and you’ll find the clearest blue water and get away from the crowd! We ended up swimming in both areas and hung out for about an hour until we couldn’t handle more bug bites and left to the next stop. Cenote Calavera is alongside the road and easy to miss! This one is more secluded and less popular, but such a FUN time! It wasn’t too crowded when we got there around 9:30am. You have to take a photo on the rope swing and ladder, as well as jump in the holes!
MORE TO SEE:
If I had had more time I would have checked out the Valladolid Cenote (which was a far 2hr drive away) but looks MAGICAL. I also wanted to checkout the Jungle Beach Gym, Raw Love, Matcha Mama, and the I Scream Bar, which we passed by but didn’t have time to partake in. Unfortunately the Gulf of Mexico is having a bad seaweed problem, so the beaches in Tulum were pretty polluted with seaweed. Many of the hotels had tractors scooping it and removing it all day long, so if you’re going for the beaches you might want to look somewhere else. Overall Tulum was an amazing trip and the cutest, safe town, and I hope to go back someday!