There’s somethin’ about airports.
There was something especially something about Midway a couple of weeks ago as Kaleigh and I schlepped our carry-ons early in the AM, rubbed the tired from our eyes and sent the most troll-like snapchats to friends as the sun was just starting to rise. My people will all nod their heads emphatically as I say I’m not a morning person, but Kaleigh and I would have fooled them all because WE WERE A MERE FLIGHT AWAY FROM TULUM, QUNINTANA ROO WITH THE BEST OF ‘EM. And also because we sucked down coffee like it was water. But I digress.
So Kaleigh and I, makeup-less in all our sweatpants glory, boarded a plane, guzzled down drinks with every Southwest coupon that’s ever come our way, consumed half our body weight in gummy bears and woke up in Cancun’s airport ready to celebrate our girlfriend’s birthday with far too many spicy margs on a girl’s trip designed from the depths of Pinterest.
Here’s a blog post/ novel hybrid that is far too much TMI, but also everything you’ve ever wanted to know if you’re after a getaway trip with your best friends in a little town that is really just white sand covered in magic, mixed with spicy margs and pops of beauty that will have your head swiveling.
WHERE TO STAY:
Full disclosure: we didn’t have the best experience with our AirBNB. We ended up having to leave a night early and seeking last-minute shelter and by complete accident stumbled upon a quiet and completely charming little hotel, called Villas H2O, with service that was even more oustanding than the villas themselves.
Blanketed in white, the boutique hotel popped with vibrant accent walls covered in murals that circled the community area that was both the quaintest breakfast spot, as well as the pool of our dreams. It was chic, it had wifi, homemade breakfast, and most importantly: Shelley, who is a saint among humans. She stayed up to greet us after our travesty with the AirBNB, gave us coffee before breakfast started (VERY IMPORTANT), chatted while the cook made a homemade AM feast, and even helped us save pesos by letting us borrow snorkel gear when we went adventuring.
It was a bit off the beaten path of Jungle Road, where all the dinner and beach spots are located in Tulum, but provided a great escape from the hustle and bustle of the tourists- not to mention it was beautiful while still being really affordable. We, naturally, took full advantage of this perfect spot with an obnoxious photoshoot, as only a group of bloggers, professional photographer, broadway star and beauty editor could.
WHERE TO EAT:
Ya’ll, Tulum is a foodies dream. I’ll leave it at that.
Hartwood: This place is also covered in white, and lit with cascading romantic lights and adorned with candles. But don’t let the decor fool you- it’s not even close to the best part. I ate ribs that have me salivating just thinking about them as I write this two weeks later. The meat fell off the bone, melted in your mouth, and then filled your mouth with flavors you didn’t know existed. Also, we got a beet as an appetizer… yes, a beet. AND IT TASTED LIKE CANDY. If a restaurant can make a GD beet taste good, you best believe food that naturally tastes good will go down like magic. Make sure you grab a reservation though! If you go during Tulum’s busy season, you can expect a 2+ hour wait just to get seated.
Casa Banana: Casa Banana has spicy margs that will make you cancel your flight home, and food that might even beat out their drinks. Also, their dessert is a game-changer. Not to mention gorgeous in a must-be-Instagrammed-immediately kinda way. I would also advocate making a reservation for this Tulum hot spot.
La Buena Vida: Literally translating to “The Good Life,” this restaurant is nothing short of that, and my favorite eating spot during our girl’s getaway extravaganza. Which is saying something. Sitting ocean-side, this oasis/ restaurant/ beach club has swings at the bar, tables that are sidled up next to the shoreline and tickled by the tide, a treehouse and some of the cheapest food we ate in Tulum. The girls spent many an hour here, downing margaritas, and each of us may or may not have ordered 2+ entrees… because we are on vacation, we were very intoxicated and we the peso price translated to $3 a pop. I had to be dragged out.
WHAT TO DO:
Snorkel with turtles: But did you read what I just wrote? Like, this is a thing you can do.
Head to Akumal Bay, pick amongst many of the tour guide options, throw on your snorkel gear and your guide will lead you among coral reefs and sand dunes flooded with Dory fish and giant turtles in water that’s the temperature of my ideal bath.
Hit the Beach: Ok, duh. Tulum is known for their white-sand beaches, and miles and miles of beach clubs that are trendy, chic and will never leave you wanting for another margarita. Our group’s favorite spot was called Coco Tulum, doubled up as a resort, and also offered beachside couples massages. Kaleigh and I were very tempted…
Visit the Grand Cenote: For all the warm Sea Green salt water that makes up Akumal Bay, there’s icy and darker fresh water that fills the underground caves in a rare land form called a Cenote. Costing you $10 American dollars, you can jump into the crevice that is the Gran Cenote, swim through a cave packed with bats (yes, you read that right), tread water with with tiny turtles and see stunning views you won’t cross too many times in your lifetime. Staying true to our blogger/ beauty editor/ broadway star/ profesh photographer theme, we obviously had another photoshoot in said Cenote because why not?
Gitano: The dancing spot of the trip. Think disco balls, and far too many tequila shots.
Raw Love: And for my aspiring health nuts en route to paradise, this place has acai bowl THAT WILL CHANGE YOUR GD LIFE.
Ok, this isn’t a place, but a learned tip: rent a car. While there are taxis readily available at night, having a car helped us get to the more off-the-beaten-path destinations like the cenote that would have costed us some serious pesos without the rental. (We named our mom-mini-van rental Tillie, you know, because we could)
And even this travel guide cannot capture the quiet beauty and vibrant energy of this little town, so you will just have to visit and experience the spicy margaritas and “La Buena Vida” yourself!