Oh, Tulum. You're like the nice guy in class that didn't realize how hot you were until the popular girl in school became obsessed with you, only to then drop out of class and party with that crowd that goes to Ibiza and Punta Del Este.... but deep down inside you know you're really a rugged, simple person at heart who just wants do yoga barefoot. That's Tulum in 2016. How you've changed. I still love it though because it's so close to New Orleans and the sheer amount of gorgeous yoga palapas per square meter is incredible. The sunrises are unrivaled and the food is fresh and healthy. It's still possible to have an authentic experience there without spending $500 plus a night on a hotel. Here's what stuck out to me this trip:
Best Beach Bungalow
This time around I stayed at Casa Violeta which will forever be my favorite. Our little casita spilled onto the beach and was so simple that it was incredibly luxurious. Ocean breeze instead of A/C, a four poster bed with gauze drapes and hot water. Really, what else do you need? I met Karla, the owner, and chatted with her about the changes happening in the area. She was literally one of the first hotels to open on the strip and has remained authentic from the beginning, all self-funded and made with love. Staying there feels homey and peaceful. We stayed in Violeta, one of the smaller huts, but for the price it was truly a deal and I wouldn't have traded it for anything else.
Every morning I would wake up, take a dip in the ocean then walk down to the new Sanara hotel. They have the most incredible wellness restaurant called The Real Coconut. The rooms are way too expensive but it's worth going to the restaurant to witness Daniella Hunter's holistic, plant-based, locally harvested menu. I had the Choco Nutty smoothie, a blend of local cacao, almond butter and coconut, every single day. Their hemp burger was also incredible. They also have the fastest wifi around and a gorgeous glass box yoga studio.
Yoga is the thing to do in Tulum and Ahau is my absolute favorite. The Wednesday morning 10 am class was one of the best classes and sequences I've experienced. Most of their teachers also teach at Alaya, their sister property, which also has a beautiful palapa studio on the beach. Casa Violeta also has a great palapa studio with classes every morning as well as a in-house shaman who performs Temascal rituals. If you're looking for Ashtanga, then try Yoga Shala.
Spa & Wellness
The Mayan Clay spa has always been high on the list for interesting, locally inspired skin treatments. However, there's now an incredible wellness spa that popped up near The Beach Tulum called Yaan. It's definitely priced in dollars, not pesos, but it does offer a ton of seriously amazing treatments. They have a selection of Ayurvedic treatments like Shirodhara as well as healing plunge pools that have water filtered directly from the Cenotes. It's a pretty incredible list of treatments and the grounds are gor-geous.
I also recommend renting a car and driving to the interior towns to get more of an authentic feel. Valladolid, Coba, Chichen Itza, Holbox, Merida... all of these places are incredible and easy to get to using the basic Yucatan highway system!