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Tulum Trip Report: First time and fell in love!

nyc
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Tulum Trip Report: First time and fell in love!

hello TA -

you have been an invaluable resource in my trip planning, and it's time i give back :)

a little bit about us - my husband and i are in our early 30s, live in nyc, love to travel, and try not to go back to the same place twice (other favorite spots around the world include zambia, mal pais in costa rica, and trancoso in brazil).

we spent 9 amazing days in tulum, from December 26th - January 4th. this was not our first time to mexico, but first time to tulum. we were a bit over-whelmed with all of the beachside bungalow/hotel options but after doing a ton of research, i was so happy with how we planned our trip and was actually blown away at times. so here goes...

ACCOMODATIONS:

La Zebra:

we stayed at La Zebra our first few nights. due to rather late booking and the peak holiday week, all beach-side bungalows were taken so we had #14, jungle side. the room was really beautiful - so well appointed, a good size, and a very comfy bed. we loved our stay there and the only complaint was that the shower didnt stay hot for long enough. the beach at La Zebra is GORGEOUS and the restaurant had really good food/drinks (passionfruit margherita - amazing). also, in comparing prices to other nearby properties (nueva vida, etc...), La Zebra seemed to have the best value. we would definitely return.

Villas H20:

We stayed here for two nights over new years, due to La Zebra not having availability. We actually liked the concept of moving into town for a few nights, so we could experience a different side of Tulum and save a bit of money. While this was a nice property and the amenities were good value (ie - nice breakfast, big room, great shower, pretty pool area, etc....), the location is not ideal. Its at the far south end of town, down a dirt road. Also, while i recommend spending time in town (some of the best meals we had), I wouldn't recommend sleeping in town.

Villa Las Estrellas:

one word: HEAVEN. please see my review of the property for more info.

RESTAURANTS (in order, starting with our favs):

Pousada Margherita - we went twice for lunch, and absolutely loved everything about this place. from the owner, who sits at the table to explain the menu, to the delicious app plate, to the fresh and homemade pasta dishes, to the overall relaxed and european vibe. coming from nyc and loving that perfect balance of rustic luxury and charm - this place hat it all. highly recommended.

Mateos - best fish tacos, just like the sign says. great vibe here with incredible food at really good prices! my husband and i loved this place and went back whenever we could. the mexican sampler platter, the fried fish tacos, the salsa fresco, chicken fajitas - it was all delicious!

El Tabone - loved. wasnt nearly as expensive as we thought (per other TA reviews), and really enjoyed the open-air atmosphere and delicious food.

other great spots on the beach side: mezzanine (fantastic thai food!! we are from nyc and are used to great thai, expectations were more than met here and the setting is pretty spectacular) casa violetta (get the grouper with potatoes and vegetables), zebras (awesome fish tacos, ceviche, and salads). the one that we would skip is ohm. we went for the pizza and were disappointed.

great spots in town: La Nave (great pizza/pasta), Cetli (the chef is the mexican giada! she has such passion for the food she creates in her kitchen, and we loved our experience here), tacoquito (really yummy home cooked meal, with beer, all for under $8. a bargain).

OTHER OBSERVATIONS:

* spent a day with edventurtours and loved it. we had qui-qui as a private guide, who was the mexican mayor. he knew everyone and was just fun energy to be around. swam in dos ojos cenotes and then went to an 'aquariam' for snorkling. highly recommended.

* toupes. the only thing we didnt like about tulum

* nightlife: super mellow. i was in bed by 10pm most nights. zamas was great for live music.

* yoga. i practice in nyc at kula and jivamukti, and was excited to check out a few classes in tulum. overall, i was a bit disappointed with the quality of the teachers. but the two that stood out and i would highly recommend: inspirit (we took a morning vinyasa class) and petit shambala (morning vinyasa class)

* getting around: definitely rent a car. its nice to have the freedom to drive into town whenever you want

* taco/tamale stands: try them ALL. one of our favorite nights consisted of hopping from one stand to the next - we had the most satisfying dinner, all for under $5.

we cant wait to return. please feel free to email me directly if you want more info - happy to help in any way that i can!

thank you again for all of those who helped us :)

New Jersey
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1. Re: Tulum Trip Report: First time and fell in love!

Hey, J+P, welcome home, so glad you loved Tulum!

Where is InSpirit? I'm going to be staying at the Villa Las Estrellas next month and my friend and I would like to hook up with some yoga classes (neither of us is a serious practitioner though). Can we just walk over to Petit Shambala and join a class there? I wasn't sure if they were just for their guests or not. And is Inspirit one of those new places on the jungle side of the beach road? Walking distance from the Villa?

Thanks so much!

Big D
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2. Re: Tulum Trip Report: First time and fell in love!

Great report!! It's nice to hear comparisons of town vs beach hotels. Tulum has great food, doesn't it? Can't wait to read your review of Villas Las Estrellas - Beachreader LOVES it there!!

I think InSpirit is down on the jungle side across from OM.

nyc
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3. Re: Tulum Trip Report: First time and fell in love!

Beachreader: Inspirit is jungle side. when we stayed at Zebra, it was just a few minutes walk to the left. so yes, its definitely walkable from Villa Las Estrellas (which is to the right of zebra), but probably about a 15 min walk. i really liked our teacher there but i wish i remembered her name! sorry. and at petit shambala, they post their schedule in the window of the beautiful yoga studio. i loved this class for two reasons - the studio is right on the beach, it doesnt get better than that. also, the teacher was quality. he was himself a yogi, and i really liked his energy and the way he guided us threw the poses. i also took classes at maya tulum (studio was nice but not directly on the beach. teacher was good not great) and amansala (loved the studio, you could here the ocean waves, but teacher felt more like bootcamp rather than a soothing/inspiring yoga flow).

enjoy! would love to hear your experiences with the different yoga classes you take.

nyc
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4. Re: Tulum Trip Report: First time and fell in love!

and yes pepper - food was AMAZING! we were blown away by how consistently good it was - whether it was a serious bargain in town at a hole in the wall, or one of the newer (and pricer spots near beach - ie, hartwood). really didnt have one bad meal in our entire time there.

New Jersey
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5. Re: Tulum Trip Report: First time and fell in love!

Hartwood? Please explain? Is this a new place to try?

I think, since Petit Shambala is right next door, that's where we'll head each day. I just didn't know they took outsiders, hope they have room for us!

Big D
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6. Re: Tulum Trip Report: First time and fell in love!

Somebody else has mentioned somewhere...another for your list, BR!!! I think it's a couple from the US, but I can't remember the location.

New Jersey
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7. Re: Tulum Trip Report: First time and fell in love!

Tapping my foot here, J+P, what is Hartwood!!!

Sorry, I'm just kind of a junky for new restaurants. :-)

Big D
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8. Re: Tulum Trip Report: First time and fell in love!

Here's what I read. I'd love to hear more firsthand info, though!!!

forums.locogringo.com/forums/tm.asp?m=1303455

post #5

Edited: 13 January 2011, 20:21
New Jersey
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9. Re: Tulum Trip Report: First time and fell in love!

Thanks, Pepper, that helped, but only to whet my appetite. Sounds very Tabano-like? That jungle side of the road is really developing fast, very interesting little places now.

nyc
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10. Re: Tulum Trip Report: First time and fell in love!

Hartwood is on jungle side. similar to tabone but not as rustic, definitely has more of a sophisticated feel to it with a beautiful open-air kitchen and nice candle-lit tables spread out. food was amazing but the drinks were way over-priced ($60 pesos for a beer?!). i think the owner is from NYC and feels he can charge prices that New Yorkers are used to. however, i think he will probably adjust his prices as we heard from a few other travelers in tulum that felt the same way we did. definitely worth going to, and a must-try is the lobster pot-pie, as well as the desert (one of the best carrot cakes we've ever had).