Last Tuesday, my friends and I landed in Cancun, Mexico and took a 1.5 to 2 hour shuttle to Tulum. I would definitely invest in renting a car because it is pretty much a straight drive from the airport to Tulum (plus it will save you on the money for the taxis you will need to get around Tulum). Though, I was very happy that I booked the shuttle in advance. There are many to choose from but I went with USA Transfers. The service was quick. You do not pay until you land and you can take care of a full round-trip which was good, because we did not have to worry about it come departure day.
Through some research, I decided that we should stay at Papaya Playa Project, which I was really happy about because we were able to get a beach cabana. Our beach cabana came with an en suite bathroom, ac and a deck with our own hammock looking out into the ocean. It was beautiful! I had heard stories about working bathrooms in Mexico and was prepared for the worst, but our bathroom was perfect. The hotel staff was very accommodating. I would say it was a mixture between an all-inclusive resort and eco-friendly hotel. Since it was myself and two of my girlfriends, we opted to have double beds in our cabana. The beds were covered with mosquito nets though I would have to say we did not encounter mosquitoes until we got to the jungle side of the Tulum (definitely bring bug spray...we went through 2 travel size cans, plus 2 mosquito repellant bracelets).
The hotel had a beach club where you can grab towels and have drinks delivered to the many beach booths that they had on the beach. Since March is low-season, it was never too crowd in the restaurants for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
I loved seeing stray cats everywhere! So many cats in Tulum, which was interesting because once you hit the Yucatan area all you would see were dogs.
Our first full day in Tulum was meant for exploring! We woke up early to do yoga through the hotel, which was outside near the beach. It was a work out though and not as meditative as I would have hoped it would be, but it was nice to do it just the same! I read somewhere about a place called El Tábano for breakfast and we ventured to rent bikes and head into town. We rented bikes through our hotel which ended up being a little under 300 pesos (roughly $20 USD) to have them for the whole day, which I did not think it was a bad deal. I am sure you could have found bikes to rent for less, but this was convenient. I did not read the GPS well on my phone (I made sure to sign up for a good data/calling plan while in Mexico...thank you AT&T) and we ended up riding our bikes in the wrong directions for about 15 mins. Thank goodness we were on bikes! We turned around and headed in the right directions towards the restaurant.
We were lucky to pretty much have the place to ourselves when we arrived (around 10:00am) and I decided to get a fruit plate as well as an egg dish that was cooked in a clay pot with some beans and cheese. I wish I remembered what it was called but it was delicious. Like many of the restaurants in Tulum, there is not really enclosed walls, it is very much outside seating. It felt as though, we were in someone's backyard as we hung out and filled out stomachs. Afterwards, we headed further into town to check out, Coqui Coqui.
The great thing about Coqui Coqui is that it is a perfumery, as well as a hotel, and the minute you were in the vicinity of the hotel you could smell all the fragrances. It was intoxicating. It was hard not to buy a bottle (they are pretty pricey - starting at $75 USD for a travel size). I would have loved to have used the spa while we were there but we were just looking around. My friends did buy some of their fragrances! I personally loved the smell of the rose perfume.
We walked the beach around the area of Coqui Coqui. The attendant at the perfumery told us that we should grab lunch one day at a taco place right on the beach not that far down called Taqueria La Eufemia. We did not go because we were still full from our breakfast, but kept it in mind for another time. We headed back to the hotel and decided to lay out on the beach and go for a swim in the ocean, which is what we basically did until it was time for dinner at Casa Banana.
Again, another beautiful (somewhat trendy) outdoor restaurant that had an open kitchen with a wood-fire burning oven. You could even get specks of charcoal on your skin if you sat close to the kitchen, which we did (anything to keep the bugs away). We got their early...around 5:15...which was great because it definitely filled up afterwards. During the summer, I tend to be more of a beer drinker and couldn't pass up a bottle of Sol (which I like a lot better than Corona actually) with a lime of course.
I was really hungry so I ordered an arugula salad with shaved parmesan as an appetizer and then the duck for my entree, which fell right off the bone. It was the best thing I had ever tasted, and the portion size was huge. I have to admit I could not finish it all (we had eaten when we were lying out at the beach and I had some fish tacos and tropical version of a Moscow Mule). In fact the waiter commented on the fact that I had some food left over. I think he was offended. My friends shared an appetizer of zucchini salad, which had a lemon vinaigrette, tomatoes, cucumber, and mint. Their entrees were a ribeye and a fish dish.
We decided to walk back to our hotel after dinner, which ended taking us about a hour, but at least we burned off our dinner (This actually happened on Day 3)! We pretty much crashed after that and crawled into bed early! We knew we had an early day tomorrow for full day excursion!
That was Day One...stay tune for Day Two, our trip to the Yucatan!