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Tulum: Mexican Paradise

Last beginning of December I went to Tulum for 5 relaxing days. One year after, this is the opportunity to talk about a MUST GO in Mexico.

Tulum is located on the Riviera Maya in the State of Quintana Roo where you balance between luxuriant nature and turquoise sea. The most known names of this area (and you have probably already heard about them) are Cancun and Playa del Carmen. Those are the most touristic places. It appears that American prefer to go to Cancun when European prefer to go to Playa del Carmen (where you can walk and where things are less artificial even if you have a lot of resorts). But it was not my point to go to a hyper touristic place. I wanted something quitter, closer to the nature and totally disconnected.

I found a promotion on Booking (well I should more talk about a huge discount) for a hotel literally on the sea without electricity in the rooms and with a Wifi only at the reception. If it seems a bit rare for our 21st century, I however definitely recommend it! No internet, it means disconnection: no screens, no messages every minute from Whatsapp, Messenger, Gmail and others. It means no Facebook: we stop to stalk our friends and we stop to overexpose our life. You will probably ask me: “But so, what do we do?” Well, we listen to music, we read (take all the books and magazines that you accumulated without having the time to read them), we sleep, we go to the sea, we walk, we take pictures, we communicate with others, but a real communication, without SMS, without screen, simply by talking directly to our interlocutor. I know that for some of us it is a real challenge. Internet turned into an addiction. We need information, but is it so good to be so overinformed? We need our apps, we need our games, we need our messages, we need to feel that we are always connected to the world. Sometimes, there’s even not private space anymore: it’s the night, we are at home with our family, we are maybe having a dinner, speaking, watching a movie, and we are still receiving messages, mails and so on. But don’t worry: you can find few resorts in Tulum with all the modern comfort too. It depends on what you are looking for, which type of experience are you seeking.

Tulum is the site of a Pre-Columbian Mayan walled city. Today you can visit the ruins which are the third most-visited archaeological site in Mexico, after Teotihuacan and Chichen Itza. This is the only Mayan heritage directly located on the sea. Three major structures are present on the site: El Castillo, the Temple of the Frescoes (which was used as an observatory for tracking the movements of the sun) and the Temple of the Descending God. If you are staying directly in Tulum you don’t necessarily need a car to go there: hotels can lend you a bicycle so you can enjoy the nature.

Another thing to do in Tulum is to go to a cenote. A cenote is a natural pit (or sinkhole), resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater underneath. They were sometimes used by the ancient Maya for sacrificial offerings and you can still see in some of them bones if you go diving. Mayas considered them as mean of communication with gods from the underworld.

I personally went to two different cenotes: Gran Cenote and Aktun Chen. Gran Cenote is pretty classical. But Aktun Chen was more impressive and more mysterious. This is actually a natural park, located at 16 km of Tulum, where the cenote is a total cave. I have to admit that I may not be a great adventurer and I was not reassured at all, without counting that the water was really cold. But we were of course with a guide and I think that this is something to do when we like nature. No, actually I am looking at some pictures right now and I think that I didn’t realize that I was in a paradise.

What about Tulum itself? The city is divided in two parts: Tulum Playa and Tulum Pueblo. As I was staying in the beach part, I decided to see the village and to the contrary on what many touristic guides say I don’t recommend it. This is a blog, so I will speak freely: no, I didn’t think that the village part had any charm. There’s nothing in particular to see or to visit. My advice? Go to Tulum to relax, rest and enjoy the beach. In other words: go to Tulum to do nothing.

The limit? Money. Even if Tulum is not as touristic as Cancun or Playa del Carmen, it has nothing hippie as Sayulita on the Pacific Cost. It is expensive, especially all the restaurants along the beach. Some even display their prices in dollars and not in pesos. All the restaurants where I went were good, with incredible seafood but if I would recommend only one place, I would recommend TUNICH for its breakfasts! TUNICH is a small and casual hotel/restaurant owned by a Canadian family. They left everything to make a new life in Tulum. The dream? Maybe…Tulum is paradisiac. But also, a lot of work and a huge part of risks! Well, they sustained the challenge! TUNICH is relatively chip for Tulum and incredibly qualitative. They serve simple and rich breakfast (eggs, hot cakes,…) as well as an amazing coffee and an amazing bread. They also prepare really good juices and smoothies. And something unique? The warm welcome of Blaine, the owner, and the friendly atmosphere.

It was practical because I had only to cross the street from my hotel to have my breakfast in TUNICH. I was actually surprised that the AZULIK Hotel doesn’t propose breakfast or any type of food. It is quite disappointing for a 4 stars’ hotel. But let’s be clear: if I went to AZULIK it is first because they were offering an environment totally connected to the nature, directly on the beach; and second because they had a huge discount on booking. I understood when I arrived why: the hotel was in total refection process and they were workers everywhere. We have been attended correctly but impossible to get a drink at the bar: the most part of time, nobody was present to serve customers. Norman, the person in charge of the refection was quite overwhelmed and not available to consider our request. But well, I remember that because of the refection process we also got a better room directly on the sea…so…

What I keep in mind, it’s simply that the hotel was in refection and that they were having a hard time to keep welcoming customers correctly. But the place is definitely magical. Rooms have their own bathtub on their terrace and many have a direct view on the sea. Therefore, I will definitely go back.

Ultimately, Tulum is a peaceful destination for people seeking pure relaxation. As it represents a cost, I recommend it for no more than 3 nights. You can split your trip with some other nights in Playa del Carmen for instance.

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