Tulum is no longer one of Mexico’s best-kept secrets; this slice of Yucatan beach life has transformed into one of the most Instagrammed places in the world. But simultaneously, it’s managed to hold onto its status as a high-vibrational wellness haven for those seeking that rare combination of stillness and solitude coupled with world-class amenities and plenty of space to play.
Once a sleepy jungle town, Tulum has boomed over the last few years, rapidly sprouting a lively mix of high-end hotels, exquisite dining and more wellness activities packed into a few square miles than anywhere else on earth. This makes for an exciting mix of opportunities, but means you have to dig a bit deeper for the truly authentic “Tulum experience.”
ALIGN’s travel team spent a week immersed in this beachfront hotspot to uncover the very best of what Tulum has to offer. Here’s our take:
The Real Coconut
Breakfast and brunch are must-have meals at The Real Coconut, one of Tulum’s most celebrated wellness restaurants. Gluten, grain, dairy and refined sugar free— nothing is off limits. Start with one of their signature juices or wellness shots—they offer the best turmeric shot in the Western Hemisphere—then dive into Macho Pancakes made from plantain flour, Ranchero Eggs with homemade coconut-flour tostadas and coconut cheese, or a platter of Toast and Spreads. A daily rotating list of healthy baked goods are perfect pick-me-ups post yoga or after a long day walking the beach.
Full disclosure—we ate here every morning, no questions asked.
Forget Hartwood and book Arca for truly brilliant cuisine. With a micro-seasonal menu representative of jungle Mayan and Mexican culinary traditions, the menu changes regularly. For our late-night nosh we inhaled Charred Heirloom Long Beans with Confit Egg Yolk, ‘Tzunum Paak’ Tomatoes smoked with pickled onion flowers and caramelized cotija, and the can’t-miss Suckling Pig Roulade with chorizo sauce, chicharron, peanut crumble and mint vinaigrette. The chef, a former chef de cuisine to celebrated Noma chef René Redzepi, has made a true destination in the jungle. We recommend booking twice during your stay, because we know you will want to go back to devour the full menu. We did.
The Kitchen Table
Don’t let the long, dark drive through the jungle deter you from this gem. Hidden in the trees about a mile from the main strip is one of Tulum’s best-kept dining secrets, Kitchen Table. Situated high in the trees, the menu is centered around massive outdoor open fires, and cold produce is kept in coolers. Solar panels provide energy for twinkling lights and descriptor? music.
Kitchen Table only accepts reservations one week in advance so mark your calendar during the busy season. Cash and cryptocurrency accepted; make sure you have at least $100 per person in American dollars or pesos.
New to the Tulum wellness scene in 2018, Nehktar was founded by one of Mexico City’s most celebrated cocktail mixologists. Aside from some of the town’s best juices, wellness shots, coffee drinks and healthy snacks, their “ice cream” bowls made from frozen bananas mixed with a variety of ingredients are the ultimate mid-day snack. Try the Lavender Blueberry, a luscious combination of fruit and flowers, or for a caffeinated boost, the coffee bowl is a must.
Yaan Spa & Meditation
Yaan is a can’t-miss spa experience that checks all the boxes: breathtaking location, exceptional practitioners, a 1-hour pre-treatment healing waters circuit, and innovative spa menu steeped in traditional Mayan rituals.
The spa’s rooftop garden grows the flowers and medicinal herbs used in the healing baths, body scrubs and cleansing rituals. We recommend at least two visits to experience a body healing treatment and one of their exclusive Mexican therapies.
Staff picks: Limpia Santiguada, which uses a sacred infusion of copal massaged all over the body then an energetic healing with Mayan prayer and psalms to release physical and emotional distress. Follow this with the Crystal and Clay Temple, a purifying body treatment ritual with Mexican clay and sacred crystals.
Our choice for those looking for the classic Tulum yoga experience, Yoga Shala has a beautiful outdoor palapa and a variety of classes from several practices including Ashtanga, Hatha, Kundalini and Vinyasa. Yoga Shala attracts some of the top yoga teachers in the world and regularly hosts master classes and retreats. Our evening class was one of the favorites of the week. Post class, pop over to Canopia for a Daily Dose juice of beet, mango, ginger, orange juice, turmeric, chia seeds and pinch of black pepper.
It’s difficult to compete with the sound of the ocean mixed with sound healing and some of the best yoga in the Western Hemisphere, plus a sexy, full-service spa. Sanara has managed to capture all of these into one extremely picturesque setting that defines all the best of what Tulum has to offer in one location.
Start your day with yoga or a sound healing bath at their beach-side studio followed by a signature facial at the Sanara Wellness Center, followed by a meditation session on the rooftop deck surrounded by sun, sand and salty air.
The definition of cutting-edge Mexican beach nomad fashion. Caravana clothing has that perfect mix of modernity mixed with natural, organic materials—think Rick Owens meets modern hippie with a blend of leather, fringe, organic cotton, flowing cuts and revealing details. We walked away with a bag full of artisanal leather goods, perfect summer party dresses and chic beach coverups.
One-stop shop for all things festival, Tuluminati opened during Christmas 2018 and, we predict, will quickly become the go to for sourcing your favorite new pieces for festival season. One-of-a-kind custom painted and adorned hats, colorful fringe caftans, artisanal tribal jewelry, leather goods, handmade embroidered pieces and accessories are the hallmark of this new brand. Contact via Instagram to inquire for purchases.
Part of a group of new shops on the far end of the strip, Arte Sano curates gorgeous home decor, fashion and accessories from Mexican artisans. We walked away with handmade artisanal ceramics, beautiful leather goods, delicate jewelry from a Mexico City artist, and of course a handful of copal incense. The shops are on the jungle side, not far from Be Tulum and Nomade.
A staple of Quintana Roo for good reason, La Troupe is an eclectic shop with artisanal organic cotton beach coverups, easy-living dresses and beautiful home goods. Stock up on handmade pillowcases, perfect party pieces and loungewear for hot summer days.
The best part of La Troupe is that the group supports women artisans throughout the country--many of them who are working from home so they can make money and take care of their families. The products are all made in Mexico in the Mayan zone. The owners of La Troupe, a trio of friends from Argentina pay fair price, etc. etc.
You will notice that Sanara is mentioned twice in this guide and for good reason. ALIGN recommends this boutique hotel above any other in Tulum due to a perfect blend of location, design, wellness offerings, dining options and hospitality. The name of the hotel means “to heal”, and it lives up to its reputation as the ideal place to hit the reset button.
It’s relatively central on the Tulum strip, but still feels a world away. The wellness center offers a wide variety of treatments including traditional Mayan healing, Crystal Healing, Aromatherapy, BioMagnetic Therapy and BioDecoding, Body Harmonization, Craniosacral Therapy, Lymphatic Drainage, therapeutic Mayan & Ayurvedic massage, clay and mud detox therapy, and reflexology.
Sanara’s beachside dining, The Real Coconut (mentioned above), is reason enough to stay, but when coupled with world-class yoga, spa services and magnificent contemporary Mexican interior design, you have the complete formula for an ideal retreat.
A world away from Sanara, Nomade has come to define the classic bohemian “Tuluminati” experience. Inspired by Moroccan tribal style mixed with local Mexican heritage, the hotel complex embodies the Tulum spirit with a strong emphasis on inner well being and spirituality—a Bedouin-style yoga tent, holistic cuisine, spiritual retreats and plenty of space to kick back and enjoy beachside with tunes from world-class DJ’s.
High-end touches are found in every corner and at every moment—from linens to service to the sacred fire rituals, cacao ceremonies and dining. But the ultimate luxury at Nomade is simply sitting back on a beach bed, listening to the sound of the waves mixing with tribal electronica overhead and soaking in the high vibrations of Tulum.
Casa Malca is undoubtedly the most majestic of Tulum hotel properties. The expansive property, once the home of Pablo Escobar, is the pinnacle of beach luxury for the design and art set. A brilliantly curated, museum-worthy art collection adorns the walls, including the bar area designed floor to ceiling in Keith Haring print. Contemporary masters hang throughout the 41 rooms and suites and are regularly rotated so regulars are constantly surprised. Access to private white sand beaches, luscious gardens, three pools and a rooftop with a 360-degree jungle view round out the experience here.