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Tulum, Mexico: Pause. Relax. Reflect.

Talks on the balcony about past lives, current loves and spiritual growth.

Discovering the history of altars built and sacrifices made to the gods.

Mid-day naps.

Delicious food by the water…so much water.

Put your phone down. Those work emails can wait. Seeking peace? You’ve found it. Welcome to Tulum.

Tulum, Mexico has seen a gradual increase in tourism over the past 4-5 years. The picturesque beaches, blue waters, and historic ruins are just a few of the many wonders that make this place paradise. Fancy clothing stores with resort attire and restaurants that bring in after-hours DJ sets grace the streets, balancing out the eco-friendly, zen vibe with a more cosmopolitan feel.

Upon my second visit to this town in the Yucatan Peninsula, I had the opportunity to see more of what it had to offer and delve deeper into its history. Here are five things you want to experience if you decide to take the trip:

1. Cenotes

Cenotes are underwater sinkholes created where a cave ceiling has collapsed. The Mayan civilization viewed them as sacred because they were the only source of water in the jungle and it was also where they practiced religious rituals. Mexico has over 6,000 cenotes—some more spectacular than others. One of the more popular ones is Hubiku (located in Temozon, Mexico near the Chichen Itza). The cave has an opening at the top that provides natural light and is perfect for a refreshing swim on a hot day. Another popular cenote is the Suytun located near Valladolid, Mexico. It has become one of the most photographed because of its breathtaking center stone that sits directly under the cave’s opening along with hundred-year-old stalactites that hang from the ceiling.

2. Ruins

Mexico’s ruins give us a glimpse into the country’s past and show us just how far ahead of their time the Mayans were. The structures are one-of-a-kind and the history behind them is even more fascinating. The Mayan Ruins in Tulum are some of the most beautiful. Built during the 13th century, the ruins served as a seaport trading post for turquoise and jade. The structures overlook some of the bluest waters you’ll ever see and it sets itself apart from the rest with a gorgeous, sandy beach. The other must-see ruins are of course, the Chichen Itza. Recognized as one of the seven modern wonders of the world, people come from all over to learn about the city’s historical significance and spiritual importance. Founded around the 5th century, the main structure is called the Temple of Kukulkan. It stands at about 75 feet, has four sides and 91 steps on each side. The temple helped the Mayan people with astronomical cycles.

3. Beaches

Tulum’s beaches range from club atmospheres that provide social settings for young hipsters, to relaxing getaways that offer serenity away from the hustle and bustle. Coco Tulum Beach Club is a fan favorite. The decor is an all-white, Miami-like setting. Bean bag chairs, swings, and hammocks topped off with some of the hottest DJ’s make this place not only Instagram-worthy, but a must-visit as well. However, if you’re seeking perfection, Playa Paraiso Beach Club is it. The calm waters, soft white sand, and gorgeous scenery make this place one of the best beaches in Mexico. The food and drinks are amazing as well. This is one place that truly lives up to the meaning of its name, (‘Paraiso’) which means paradise.

4. Pablo Escobar’s Mansion 

If you ever visit Tulum, you will surely hear talk of Casa Malca and Casa Magna. They are both compounds with ties to the notorious Colombian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar. Casa Malca is now a resort that was abandoned for over a decade after Escobar’s death in 1993 and has since been turned into a total work  of art by an acclaimed New York gallery curator. Chandeliers, a private beach, a bathtub in the garden and some of the best tequila and mezcal cocktails this side of heaven leave both celebrities and commoners crooning. For 2000 pesos, you’re allowed to take advantage of all of the amenities and dine on the premises. The neighboring property, Casa Magna currently sits empty, but it has recently been purchased with plans to invest $100 million dollars to revamp the site into a high-end boutique hotel equipped with a spa and a host of other features. If it is half as gorgeous as Casa Malca, it is sure to be worth the visit!

5. Restaurants

The food in Tulum can be hit or miss. If you don’t do your research, you could run into places that serve so-called “authentic” Mexican cuisine that is over priced and unappetizing. Chat with the locals at your hotel or resort to find some of the best, most cost-effective places to eat. If you’re looking for a delicious, mid-day lunch that won’t cost an arm and a leg, Taqueria Honorio is on everyone’s list! Locals come to this roadside restaurant for both tacos and tortas and they even have menu items to satisfy vegetarians. This is a no-frills spot with top-notch food. For dinner time, I would suggest Gitano. It is perfect for a date night. The dimly lit, outdoor setting right in the middle of the jungle takes on a vibe of its own after dark, especially when the DJ starts spinning. The food is Mexican and Mayan inspired and bursting with flavor from the lamb ribs to the fire-roasted chicken. Their cocktails, which are made from a wide selection of mezcals from Oaxaca, keep visitors returning.

If Tulum, Mexico has been on your Travel Bucket List, it’s time to book it! Be sure to include these must-do adventures to make your trip well worth the visit!

Other Tulum Tips:

1.) Bug spray is your friend. The mosquitoes are RELENTLESS! Don’t say you weren’t warned.

2.) There are no straight flights to Tulum. You have to fly in to Cancun and the drive to your destination is 2 hours. Book a private car service or take a cab. A shared shuttle will save money, but it will delay your trip and cause unnecessary frustration. We booked a private shuttle with

3.) While our hotel was beautiful, Tulum has huge Airbnb properties by the ocean that you can rent for much cheaper than a hotel or resort stay. If you want to save money, this is the way to go!