Five Days in Tulum, Mexico: Take me back!

It was hard to come back to snowy Boston after sitting on white sandy beaches in a swimsuit. And it was hard to leave Tami, somebody I used to see every day in Oregon. But I did. Without too many tears (I was given strict “no goodbye tears” orders). Now that a little time’s passed I feel emotionally recovered enough to write out some notes from our travels:

Sunbathing in Tulum

Hmm this begins to capture just how bow-legged I am...

I wish I could’ve stayed longer.  No surprise there. I mean, look at that beach!  With only 5 days I had to work hard to get a proper suntan that my coworkers would envy. Tami carefully monitored my color. Every time a bartender or hotel owner heard how long I was in town, they gave me a pity-filled frown and said, “But why so short?” Seeing as how they work in the tourism industry, I suppose they had personal reasons for wanting me to take a longer vacation. But when your office is an open air bar on the beach, I think you can drum up real pity for a sunburnt Bostonian on her last day in Tulum.

I’d choose Tulum over Cancun. Lemme clarify. In college I was talked into the classic Cancun Spring Break week. It was some of the best people-watching I’ve ever experienced and I absolutely fell in love with the ocean, but the physical built environment (granted nobody would leave the hotel mile with me) was too…Vegas-like. Big roads, big resorts, glitz, lights. In comparison, downtown Tulum is scaled for the pedestrian. Little restaurants, little shops, and small streets. It’s grittier – on either side of our hotel were tar-paper roofed houses guarded by scruffy dogs – but everyone was friendly and we never felt unsafe. Actually, nobody was nearly as troublesome as the drunk American boys swarming the beaches and pools of Cancun. Also it’s worth noting that Tami speaks excellent Spanish, which made it easy to navigate all sorts of daily interactions.

Margaritas on the beach

Margaritas on the beach

Akumal (where the sea turtles are)

Akumal, where you can snorkel in the bay with giant sea turtles. When they eat seagrass they chew like cows.

Tacoqueto in Tulum

Tacoqueto, where there's no written menu. You just point to the pot of what you want.

Foodcart tamale with hot sauce

Chicken tamales (with a little bag of hot sauce) from a foodcart

Glass bottle wall

Back-lit wall of glass bottles along the main drag in Tulum

In Tulum you have an important choice: stay at the beach or stay in town. They’re only about 2 miles apart (40 peso taxi ride). I think each have their perks, but Tami chose in town and it worked well. The hotels are slightly cheaper and you’re within walking distance to internet cafes and lots of eateries. Here are photos of our two hotels: The Secret Garden & Hotel Posada. Hotel Posada was plagued by some 8am construction next door (our walls shook with the hammering) and their customer service response was umm…frustrating. But the place is beautiful. Secret Garden took the prize though. They had all the necessities: clean comfortable rooms, a shaded inner courtyard, two on-site friendly dogs, and a cute owner whose sister bartends down the street.

Secret Garden in Tulum

the courtyard at Secret Garden after a morning rain

Hotel Posada in Tulum

the winding pool inside Hotel Posada

My very favorite thing on this trip was the Gran Cenote. Just a couple miles from downtown Tulum, it’s more than worth the 100 pesos entrance fee. The best way I can describe swimming in the cenote is that it felt like a Katie-sized freshwater aquarium. The water is crystal clear and underwater you can see fish from 30 or 40 feet away. The one upside to the  construction at Hotel Posada is that we were up and at ’em early, and we had the cenote to ourselves for a while. Around 11am a big group of Japanese tourists showed up wearing flippers, and they were followed by several European families with a dozen kids under the age of 5. Suddenly it wasn’t a private aquarium anymore. So if you go, go early.

Gran Cenote outside Tulum

Snorkeling the Gran Cenote

Gran Cenote outside Tulum

so many fish...

Gran Cenote outside Tulum

Tami snorkels through the tunnel

I made some progress on the Neulottu naisen jakku cardigan too. It’s such a joyful color, especially next to that ocean and those chairs.

Knitting on the beach

Progress on Neulottu naisen jakku

Progress on Neulottu naisen jakku

Neulottu naisen jakku: back panel and sleeves

Thank you Tami for a vacation so good that I hope we can make the February Getaway an annual thing. Readers – any suggestions for a destination in 2012?



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  5. darngooddigs · May 23, 2011

    Katie, thanks for the info on Tulum – we just linked to your post in our review of the Secret Garden Hotel. Please let us know if you have other cool digs to recommend!

  6. tami · March 8, 2011

    i just saw this post! I love it. makes me miss tulum and you. i didn’t realize gran cenote was your favorite. I think my favorite was ocean snorkeling–both places. i kind of want to go back there again next year–and spend some time in playa del carmen. it would also be cool to have a car (or more time) and go more places in the yucatan. i could spend a month there exploring, i think.
    as long as work permits, i am all yours in Feb., but definitely next time you need to come longer. at least a week.

    • foxflat · March 8, 2011

      I agree with everything you said – if this were an annual thing, my winters would instantly become a lot more desirable. how can we get emily and jen there too?? Of course, we might be in the Canary islands with Emily…

  7. bonniehull · February 25, 2011

    nice knees though…and great sleeves…

    • foxflat · February 25, 2011

      hahah aww thanks Bonnie. I can’t wait to connect the sleeves with the radial part…it seems promising.

  8. lolabees · February 22, 2011

    Looks like a great time! Just found out we will head back down to Playa for a long weekend soon- woohoo!

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