We just returned from a family trip to Tulum. If you follow me on Instagram, you likely caught lots of our adventure on IG Stories and photos. A few years ago, we started taking an annual family trip with Matt’s siblings and this year we decided on Tulum (the first year we went to Costa Rica, and last year we went to Charleston).
Originally we had looked into hotels along the beach (primarily Nomade Tulum, Ahau Tulum and Cabanas La Luna) but finding four available rooms was a challenge. In the end, we ended up renting a house on AirBnb,
The house was amazing. It had a little pool (with no fence, so we had to be careful with Milo of course) and was a one minute walk on a sandy bath to the beach. The home we rented is part of the Mahayana Home Group and I think there are four homes in total. The location was amazing – in the middle of all the great restaurants – but felt private and quiet too.
The bedrooms were accessed through a wooden outdoor staircase. Matt, Milo and I️ shared the third floor room which had a traditional palapa roof. Every wall was filled with windows – almost 20 in total. We were so high up, it felt like we were sleeping in a jungle tree house as you could see all the tops of the trees. Several afternoons we would take a family nap. Since we were there in the shoulder season (early November) there was a little rain, but we didn’t mind. It was so relaxing. Taking a nap while listening to the sound of rain is one of my favorite things.
The house was well equipped which made it easy (or easier!) to pack. We were provided with a little crib so we didn’t have to bring ours from home and there were mosquito nets on the crib and our bed, too. (As you can see above, Milo was fascinated by the mosquito nets). They also brought over a wooden high chair.
Although the house had a hammock, some nice loungers, and a pool, we spent most of our time down at the beach. Can you blame us?
The first night after a long day of travel (even on a direct flight from Boston, traveling with a toddler is always tiring!!), we walked across the street and ate dinner at Casa Banana. The staff was wonderful and when Milo started to fuss, the hostess scooped him up and took him over to her stand.
Matt and I️ shared the whole fish of the day (snapper!) and a filet mignon skewer. We shared appetizers of guacamole and calamari for the table. I’m not usually a calamari fan, but this was perfectly cooked and not greasy or rubbery. The margaritas were yummy too, which is important as it was our first drink to kick off vacation.
We opted to rent a car because it was the same price as a round-trip transport. In the end, we were happy to have the flexibility to run to the grocery store, and drive to the ruins. Of course a transfer and taxis would be easy too, but it was nice to have a car seat already installed. Having said that, we did have a flat tire on our last day. And we did get stopped at a road check while driving back to Cancun. Always an adventure! But overall, I was still happy to have a car and I would definitely rent one again.
Speaking of the grocery store, we went several times and they literally sold EVERYTHING. It was a little overwhelming and we walked each aisle five times over I think. (and, yes, that’s a box of fruit loops in our cart.) :)
Tulum is very bike-friendly and lots of places to rent bikes… but traveling with a little one makes renting bikes a little less feasible.
Beach road is super walkable, though, and we enjoyed walking to the little shops, restaurants, and mini marts. Originally, I wasn’t planning to bring a stroller because I had envisioned walking mainly on the beach. We did walk plenty on the sand, but we also walked on the street. I was happy to have the stroller since Milo naps well in it, and the roads are very narrow and honestly I wouldn’t have felt very safe letting him walk.
Things to pack:
– flip flops or shoes that can get muddy, sandy and wet. It rained a little bit on our trip and we were happy to have shoes that could get wet and dirty. For Milo, I️ love Native Shoes.
– sunscreen (this one and this one are my favorites, and I use this on my face all-year round) and bug spray (we didn’t encounter too many bugs, but glad to have a healthier bug spray for ourselves and Milo). In that note, also bring anti-itch cream if you do get bitten.
– breathable, airy clothes that will dry easily if wet (it’s humid!)
– pesos. Most restaurants are cash only and although many places accept US dollars, you’ll get a better value if you use pesos. We took money out at the ATM both at the airport and in town. Super easy.
– headlamp and / or small flashlight. It gets dark at night!
The ruins open at 830am, and I’d recommend going as early as you can to avoid huge crowds. The ruins are actually much bigger than I expected, and I loved waking through the lush jungle. It reminded me so much of our trip to Iguazu Falls in Argentina.
I love this auntie / nephew love. :)
And this Daddy / Milo love. :)
After spending some time at the ruins, we popped over to Playa Paraiso and took in the beautiful views. It is a stunning beach!
Oddly enough it can be difficult to find traditional Mexican food as many restaurants serve grilled fish and other fresh items. We did eat lunch one day at Tita (after getting drenched on the walk over – gotta love those tropical rain storms) and we all ordered the fajitas and they were yummy.
Definitely go to Gitano for cocktails. The bartenders are real cocktail masters. The ambiance is so romantic; it is a candlelit secret garden jungle. I love how so many restaurants are lit primarily by candle in the evening. Another evening we ate dinner at Cenzontle which we enjoyed. Definitely try a new restaurant every night.
So many people told us to eat at Hartwood, but they are only open Wednesday through Sunday. We went on Sunday thinking that there might be a little wait but they actually told us they were done seating for the night. Whoops! We didn’t realize that they actually took reservations in addition to walk-ins. Bummed to miss eating there, but there are so many good restaurants to try in Tulum.
For our last evening we grabbed drinks at Casa Jaguar (per most restaurants in Tulum, loved the candlelit jungle vibe) and the cocktails were great. We then went to Arca for dinner and had a great meal. We shared a corn and lobster appetizer that was amazing, and also really loved the whole local fish and the squash entree. You really can’t go wrong eating out in Tulum. Everything is delicious, albeit expensive.
I can’t get over how ridiculous these family photos are…. love them (and these two so much).
Tulum, thank you for a wonderful few days. I’m sure we will see you again!