Rustic wooden lanterns sway in the coastal breeze as a barman wearing a rather hipster moustache finishes a spicy margarita with a drop of chilli oil. It’s rimmed with black Himalayan salt, perfectly balanced and refreshing.
The authentically chic restaurant is filled with tables of stylish men and beautiful women, sipping on expensive cocktails and eating delicately crafted plates of food at London prices. A python’s just been sighted amidst the foraging plants that freely grow by the restrooms, and it’s common place to see a nesting Sea Turtle along the 10km stretch of glittering white sand that sits less than a stones throw away from us.
I’m in Tulum with my partner Ben and it could well be my new favourite holiday destination.
In recent years it’s been put on the map for its Instagram-able accents, must-visit restaurants, high-end boutiques, wellness retreats and no less than the Mexican hideaway of Pablo Escobar, which has since been converted into a 5* hotel.
There is so much history and culture behind this Luxury hot spot that the likes of Cara Delevingne and Cameron Diaz jet in to for a spot of revitalisation and fun. I feel privileged to have experienced even a glimpse of the magical location that I now believe everyone needs to put on their travel bucket list.
Wanting to experience a little of “real” Tulum culture on the first night, I organised a stay at the inland Harmony Glamping. A quaint yoga hotel with a healthy cafe and pool, it’s simple, comfortable and the staff are helpful. We opted for an air conditioned room over one of the boudoir Glamping tents (which I may have gone for if I were travelling alone).
For more, you can read my Trip Adviser review HERE
After a comfortable night’s sleep and a contemplative morning yoga class we hopped into a taxi (the easiest mode of transport in Tulum) and headed 5km South of the centre towards Mexico’s only Caribbean coastline.
I had been told that the “beach road” was the place to be in Tulum, and I quickly realised why. Driving through what could only be described as a different world to where we had just been, I understood the huge appeal in coming here on holiday. Perhaps comparable to parts of India, Ibiza or St.Tropez; I regardlessly knew that it was unlike anywhere i’d been before. The roads were acceptingly rugged, lined with smoothie shacks and chic restaurants that I recognised from Instagram. Young ladies, yoga mat in hand wandered in and out of etherial boutiques and people on bicycles cycled too and from their trendy resorts.
Even in low season it appeared to be thriving and despite how it stands now, I could easily imagine back to when it was no more than a vast stretch of dry land, separating the white sandy beaches from the thick jungle. It’s fabulous, and we haven’t even got out of the car yet.
Nearing the end of the road and away from the bustle we pulled up outside a pair of gates without a name plaque in sight, and I saw a glimpse of worry on Ben’s face.
Luckily, the worry swiftly subsided when we were greeted by a small, well-built Mexican guardsman who guided us up to the main “house”. It became clear that we had just walked into a secluded, wildly different wonderland.
Our stay at Casa Malca lasted two nights and the experience was spectacular. It was a true escape from the real world where any and every sense of time was beautifully lost; something so hard to find nowadays.
Luxe and yet still unpretentious, everything from the staff to the delectable food, magical grounds, contemporary art, and history of Casa Malca is out of the ordinary.
Arriving at Casa Malca with Ben. Dress by Cynthia Conran – Photo by James Robinson
The one of a kind entrance at Casa Malca
A Favourite Memory: We got back from dinner one night and lay under a pergola on the beach. The sound of the sea crashing against the sand nearly sent me to sleep, the stars were brighter than I had seen in a long time and the wind gradually picked up as a storm neared Tulum. Running back to the room (filled with fabulously curated pieces of modern artwork), we arrived just as it started thundering, followed by a heavy downpour.
Playing around pools and circles in La Reveche
Beautiful views and endless photo opportunities. Photo by James Robinson
The underground “secret” swimming pool where Pablo Escobar supposedly hid part of his fortune. Now great for photographs…
On day 4 we headed 1km north of Casa Malca to find our final location with The Latin Villa Company. Situated on the Mahayana estate, it was a beautiful villa with a thatched roof, fittingly called Casa Bonita. Eco-friendly and right on the beach with a private pergola, I could not have wished for anything more blissful and it was perfect for the arrival of our guest James, Ben’s elder and maybe even more particular brother.
The private pergola and blissful beach at Casa Bonita. Photograph by James Robinson
The Villa was seemingly secluded, surrounded by lush greens and unknowingly amidst the liveliest part of Tulum, we could hear the waves crashing from our pillows at night and received a refreshing sea breeze through the rooms 24/7. It’s no wonder that they keep the complex well hidden from the main path, or that you’d be lucky to secure a weeks stay here during low season.
Capturing a moment, the beach before a little storm. Photo by James Robinson
The Final Days
With the Robinson brothers and a list of must-visit spots, we spent the next few days tasting our way around Tulum. We visited Cenotes, swam, cycled, shopped and soaked up the sun.
Ben overlooking the owner of La Gloria Don Pepe as he assesses fresh shrimps for sale.
Ceviche lunch at Coco Tulum
A snap from a photoshoot with Cynthia Conran at Casa Jaguar.
A favourite Memory:
Late on the beach one night we witnessed a Sea Turtle laying her eggs before making her way back into the water. It was so special to witness and something I didn’t think I’d ever see.
Sea Turtles are cherished creatures in these parts and the locals take great care to educate tourists about their welfare and habits, which I greatly respect. They also look for their eggs and make sure that as many survive as possible.
I made the most of my days, rinsing every minute in knowledge that I wouldn’t want to leave. I woke early in the mornings for Sanara yoga classes, went on beach walks and drank iced matchas. It was my taste of heaven.
A photo from a little shoot with Amato shoots at Raw Love, Tulum. It was the most amazing smoothie bowl and I met a lovely doggy called Bandita. Wearing VOYAGE SWIMWEAR
The final days passed far too quickly for my liking and as I thought, I didn’t want to leave. I will certainly be returning and learnt that you need more than a week to get everything done! There are yoga retreats I would like to attend, clay spa treatments, other cenotes to visit and most predominantly, I didn’t make it to the Mayan Ruins – something that I am very upset about! Going back out I would 1000% book through The Latin Villa Company again as they made it so easy as well as having the most beautiful accommodations in the best places.
Tulum really is a definite bucket list location, and I will remember this first visit forever.
What I can’t stop talking about :
- The amazing food culture in Tulum
The food tops anywhere I have been in a long while! Most notably, I would recommend;
– Coco Tulum (scenery / Lunch)
– ARCA (Dinner)
– Casa Jaguar (Cocktails)
– Raw Love (Smoothie bowls)
– Posada Margarita (SUPERB Italian)
– Casa Malca (Special dining – their black corn tacos are a must try too)
– La Gloria de Don Pepe (Tapas – off the beaten track)
- The idyllic beaches and Cenotes with the Azur blue waters
- The nesting turtles sighted at night
- The yoga classes looking out to sea at Sanara
- The eco culture and core interests in sustaining these values amongst most of the resorts and establishments
Thank you for reading, you can open in full to peek at more photos to the right by clicking on them, Ems x