well-traveled Tulum

May 10, 2023

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There’s nothing worse than coming back from a vacation feeling more exhausted than when you left. People flock to Tulum for its white sand beaches, jaw-dropping scenery, and year round tropical climate—but did you know it’s an incredible wellness destination, too? Rich in Mayan culture and full of gorgeous spas, wellness centers, and authentic cuisine, the tiny city is bursting with things to do.

Our Tulum travel guide has everything you need to know to plan your own health-focused getaway, so you can come back feeling like you actually went on vacation. We’ll take you through where to eat in Tulum, can’t-miss activities, our top Tulum hotel recommendation, and the items you need in your carry-on suitcase. 

Some come for the nightlife, but we visited Tulum to relax, explore, and restore. Whether you’re heading out on a solo adventure, traveling with a partner for the first time, or planning a relaxing trip with friends, you’ll find that Tulum has something to offer for everyone.

wehre to stay in tulum / cancun

Every traveler needs a place to call home. Tulum has a slew of hotel options, ranging in price and amenities. You can choose to stay in Tulum town or in the popular Zona Hotelera, a strip along the beach. Below are some of our standout picks on the beach.

The Beach Tulum Hotel

The Beach Tulum Hotel

Image by Carleigh Ferrante / mbg creative

You’ll feel relaxed the moment you enter this laid back, adult-only beach hotel. It’s located directly on the beach, with deluxe rooms, suits, and rooftop rooms (my personal favorite). Each guest has an assigned beach bed, private beach access, and two restaurants to choose from. The Beach Tulum is so much more than a hotel; it offers free daily yoga classes in a jaw-dropping treehouse shala, cooking classes, tequila and mezcal tastings, live music, and more. I’d stay at The Beach Tulum again for its breakfast alone. The two restaurants feature fresh-squeezed juices, smoothies, and authentic homemade breakfast entreés—all of which are included in your stay. Each guest can choose two drinks and two dishes. (Don’t miss the gluten-free coconut pancakes, the spinach mushroom quiche, or the Caribbean smoothie bowl). 

To fully unwind, book a treatment at the Naj Naay Spa, offering a combination of ancient rituals and classic massages, with holistic methods, Mayan therapies, Ayurvedic treatments, and more. Our favorite part? Every hotel guest has free access to the spa’s healing hydrotherapy circuit: A 60-minute hot and cold therapy rotation of a sauna, steam room, cold plunge, hot water pool, and Scottish cold shower.

  • Price point: $$$$
  • Area: Zona Hotelera
  • Amenities: Wellness spa, gym, two pools, hydrotherapy area, complimentary bikes, complimentary breakfast, complimentary yoga, private beach access, room-assigned beach beds, pool tables, two restaurants, juice bar, garden hot tub
  • Book now

This boutique hotel is the perfect destination for a beach escape. You’ll feel immersed in nature, with sea- or garden-view rooms to choose from. While it’s located in the “party zone,” there are plenty of opportunities to relax. The surrounding nature alone is enough to make you feel rejuvenated. Nestled in a sea of palm trees, the hotel has a juice bar, restaurant, private beach access, and outdoor pool. The spa pulls from ancestral Mayan teachings, offering an extensive menu of treatments—and the hotel also hosts traditional Temazcal Ceremonies and moon ceremonies, depending on when you visit.

  • Price point: $$
  • Area: Zona Hotelera
  • Amenities: Restaurant, private beach access, outdoor pool, wellness spa, wellness experiences, juice bar
  • Book now

Overlooking the sea and the lagoon in the Sian Ka’an, Olas is an ecological hotel, powered completely by solar energy. With incredible food and scenery, it combines the classic beach vibe with a jungle aesthetic. It’s impossible to visit this hotel and not feel relaxed. Everything about the quiet space feels authentic, with a friendly staff and guests that feel like a community—you’ll even enjoy breakfast at a community table under coconut trees. Every ingredient the kitchen cooks with is from local farms and fishermen, with a commitment to limiting kitchen waste. Pro tip: Don’t miss sunset from the rooftop lounge.

  • Price point: $$$
  • Area: Tulum
  • Amenities: Rooftop, yoga classes, spa, restaurant, private beach access
  • Book now

You’ll find warm temperatures no matter when you travel to Tulum. November through August is technically the dry season, with June through August being the busiest time for visitors. If you want to avoid crowds and don’t mind occasional rain, September and October are great months to visit. But truly, you’ll enjoy Tulum any time of year. I last visited in March and had no trouble with crowds.

what to do in tulum

These natural freshwater sinkholes are spread all along the Yucatan Peninsula. You could spend multiple days seeing various Cenotes around Tulum—and each one is unique. Cenote Calavera and Grand Cenote are the two most popular cenotes in Tulum, and also the closest and easiest to reach. If you’re staying on Tulum beach, you’ll be able to get to these cenotes by bicycle or scooter. Depending on which cenote you visit, you’ll be able to step right in or access it by stairs or ladders. Spend the afternoon taking in the natural beauty and cooling off with a swim in the refreshing crystal clear water.

This ancient Mayan site is a must-see while in Tulum. It’s a closer destination than Chichen Itza (located more toward Cancun), and is rich with Mayan history. Either explore at your own pace or join a guided tour to learn more about the history and significance. You’ll see temples, watchtowers, and shrines, and can even visit a hidden beach under one of the most noteworthy temples, Pyramid El Castillo. Visit early in the day to avoid the crowds.

The Beach Tulum Hotel

Spa & Yoga Shala at The Beach Tulum Hotel

Image by Carleigh Ferrante / mbg creative

After exploring the natural beauty and historic sites of Tulum, take time to relax at a spa. The best part? Many of the local spas are rich in culture, too. You could dedicate an entire trip to spa-hopping around Tulum, but a few of our favorites are the Naj Naay Spa at The Beach Tulum, the spa at Azulik, and the spa at Sanara. Each offers unique spa treatments rooted in ancient Mayan and Ayurvedic principles. Azulik breaks down its treatments by the elements, with earth-inspired options to rejuvenate your body, water therapies to heal your emotions, fire to increase vitality, and air to nourish your mind. Sanara’s menu taps into the healing power of Ayurvedic medicine, with customized treatments based on your dosa. I indulged in the Mayan Reawakening massage at the Naj Naay Spa, which started with an auric cleanse and utilized rose petals, medicinal herbs, and mezcal to stimulate self-love and vitality. This authentic experience was unlike any massage I’ve ever had.

Along with its luxurious spas, Tulum is home to many healing sanctuaries. To truly immerse yourself in the culture, visit Casa Violeta for a cacao ceremony or temazcal ceremony. A cacao ceremony is meant to deepen your connection with your heart chakra, release old patterns and traumas, and improve self-confidence; and temazcal is rooted in Aztec, Mayan, and Native American culture, utilizing hot volcanic rocks and healing waters to create a sweat lodge experience that’s meant to cleanse your body, mind, and spirit. 

We recommend visiting Casa Violeta for a cacao ceremony or temazcal ceremony. A cacao ceremony is meant to deepen your connection with your heart chakra, release old patterns and traumas, and improve self-confidence; and temazcal is rooted in Aztec, Mayan, and Native American culture, utilizing hot volcanic rocks and healing waters to create a sweat lodge experience that’s meant to cleanse your body, mind, and spirit. Healing Tulum has every wellness experience you might crave, with Mayan healing ceremonies, energetic treatments, crystal sound healing, reiki, shamanic healing, ancient ceremonies, rituals, and more. You can even get an Akashic records reading, human design analysis, or tarot reading. To feed my own wellness desires, I was lucky enough to experience a healing sound bath and daily yoga at The Beach Tulum.

where to eat in tulum

The best meal I had in Tulum was at Hartwood, an open-air restaurant with a seafood-focused menu. This was the only reservation I made ahead of time (one month in advance), and I highly recommend doing the same. The chef changes the menu daily based on what’s fresh from the sea and local farms—and you can taste the freshness in every dish. We love that Hartwood prioritizes sustainability, with solar panels to power the lights and music, sustainable fishing methods, and a zero-carbon footprint. All meals are cooked on an open fire, wood burning oven and grill.

  • Price point: $$$
  • Dietary consideration options: seasonal menu, can accommodate allergies if alerted prior, sustainably sourced ingredients
  • Setting: Upscale casual
  • Menu & info:https://www.hartwoodtulum.com/

I’ve eaten at a lot of sushi restaurants, and this was some of the best I’ve ever had. Ukami serves Mexican-inspired sushi dishes—which, yes, might sound odd at first, but trust us. The atmosphere is laid back yet vibey, with low lighting and upbeat music. The prices were lower than expected, too. Standouts on the menu are the sushi rolls, tuna tostadas, and rock shrimp tacos.

  • Price point: $$
  • Dietary consideration options: can accommodate allergies if alerted prior, locally-sourced ingredients
  • Setting: Upscale casual
  • Menu & info:https://www.ukamitulum.com/

Serving fresh, colorful, healthy food options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Fresco’s is a can’t-miss on your trip to Tulum. Breakfast is the standout meal here, with oats, avocado toast, egg dishes, smoothies, juices, and more. The kitchen cooks with fresh ingredients each day and everything is made to order. Don’t miss the free homemade bread served with jam and house-made peanut butter.

  • Price point: $
  • Dietary consideration options: seasonal menu, can accommodate allergies if alerted prior
  • Setting: Casual
  • Menu & info:http://www.frescostulum.com/

Dagne Dover Dakota Neoprene Backpack


  • Fits under airplane seat
  • Comfortable on back
  • Luggage handle sleeve
  • 100% vegan

I recently swapped out my tote bag for this 100% vegan backpack when traveling, and I’m never going back. Not only is rushing through the airport is so much easier with a backpack than a shoulder bag, but this one feels so comfortable on my back and holds all my flight essentials. There’s even a sewn-in sleeve to slide this over your luggage handle. The bag is durable and sleek and comes in six colors and three sizes. I also love that it slides right under the seat in front of me, making it the perfect personal item for any flight. Between this and the brand’s fanny pack, I was set for every outing and excursion on my trip to Tulum. 

Poof 100% Mineral Part Powder


  • Keeps your hair and scalp healthy
  • Absorbs excess moisture in hair
  • Easy to use
  • Travel-friendly

I learned the hard way how important it is to protect your scalp from the sun. The Mexico sun is particularly strong, so if you’re not using scalp protection yet, now is a good time to start. One of our favorite scalp sunscreens, this Zinc oxide mineral-based powder is a must-have on any beach getaway. It’s simple to use (just spray and blend), and doesn’t leave your hair greasy like some others might. In fact, it even absorbs excess oil, working double time as a dry shampoo. Your hair will thank you at the end of your trip.


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Freedom Moses Two Band Slides


  • Comfortable
  • Lots of color options
  • Durable

No warm weather vacation is complete without a comfy pair of slides. I wore these my entire trip to Tulum (that’s right, to yoga, restaurants, and the beach) without one blister to show for it. What’s more, they don’t look a bit more worn than the day I took them out of the box—and we walked a lot. Choose from 13 color options and size up if you aren’t sure. While I’m not always one to rock socks with sandals, it’s my number one airport hack to make going through security a breeze. Plus, once you arrive in Tulum you won’t need to worry about swapping out your sneakers for sandals. Just toss your socks in your backpack and you’ll be ready to hit the beach.

Liquid I.V. Hydration Multiplier


  • Travel packs
  • 5 essential vitamins
  • Plenty of flavors to choose from

There’s no dancing around it: Flying accelerates dehydration. The last thing you want is to arrive at your relaxing getaway feeling drained and rundown. Especially for an active person, sometimes water just doesn’t cut it. This non-GMO electorate powder comes in travel-friendly packets, each containing essential vitamins and electrolytes to improve your hydration. I popped one of these into my water bottle pre-flight and landed feeling hydrated and ready to explore Tulum. I recommend packing a few extra to have on hand before long days exploring (or laying) in the sun, strenuous yoga classes, or to replenish after a massage treatment.


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Lululemon Align™ High-Rise Pant 28″


  • Lightweight
  • Comfortable
  • Designed specifically for yoga

Whether you’re taking a morning walk to grab a matcha or smoothie at Matcha Mama, or stretching into a downward dog at a local yoga studio, you won’t regret packing the infamous Align Leggings on your trip to Tulum. I rocked these on the flight there and back, with plenty of wears in between. The full-coverage, buttery-soft material is so comfortable you almost forget you have leggings on. They’re lightweight, making these leggings perfect for warmer temperatures, too. The best part? You have 20 shades and designs to choose from. 

well traveled bon voyage tulum

Every well-being enthusiast should visit Tulum at some point, and this Tulum travel guide has everything you need to plan the most relaxing and restorative trip. Spend your days soaking in the Mexico sun (don’t forget that SPF!), rejuvenating your body and mind with an ancient spa treatment, or exploring the natural beauty of the Tulum cenotes and ruins. At night, enjoy authentic Mexican cuisine and some of the freshest seafood you’ve ever tasted. Round out your trip with a zen-inducing yoga class and you’ll return feeling refreshed and renewed.