Nomade Hotel, Tulum

A Modern Guide to Tulum, Mexico: Super Food, Dreamy Beach & Blissfully Boho Vibes

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Tulum is a not-so-hidden gem on the Yucatan Peninsula—a popular retreat among Bay Area regulars as well as the international gypset.

But the quintessential bohemian beach town—an hour drive from Cancun Airport in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo—retains a low-key vibe thanks to its off-the-grid status (there's no flushing the toilet paper and cell service is scarce), commitments to sustainability and wellness, laid-back locals, and the casually cool philosophy that less is always more. Here you'll find none of the selfie-taking, tequila-swilling spring breakers that make nearby Cancun a destination; Tulum is all about yoga, eating right, and master the art of unplugging.

All of this is to say nothing of the fine white sand and crystal clear turquoise waters of the Caribbean coastline, the awe-inspiring ancient Mayan ruins, obsession-worthy eats, seriously stylish stays, spas, and plenty of water sports. It's the kind of quiet paradise that will draw you back again and again.

The Best of Tulum: Where to Stay, Eat, Drink + Explore

The Best of Tulum: Where to Stay, Eat, Drink + Explore

The Best of Tulum: Where to Stay, Eat, Drink + Explore

The Best of Tulum: Where to Stay, Eat, Drink + Explore

The Best of Tulum: Where to Stay, Eat, Drink + Explore

The Best of Tulum: Where to Stay, Eat, Drink + Explore

The Best of Tulum: Where to Stay, Eat, Drink + Explore

The Best of Tulum: Where to Stay, Eat, Drink + Explore

The Best of Tulum: Where to Stay, Eat, Drink + Explore

The Best of Tulum: Where to Stay, Eat, Drink + Explore

The Best of Tulum: Where to Stay, Eat, Drink + Explore

The Best of Tulum: Where to Stay, Eat, Drink + Explore

The Best of Tulum: Where to Stay, Eat, Drink + Explore


WHERE TO STAY: From rustic little beach huts to luxurious suites, each Tulum accommodation has its own allure.

Nomade is among the newest stays along Tulum's main beach, and its boho-chic vibe—think moodily lit wind-chime garden and a meditation tent kitted out in Moroccan-style poufs and textiles—feels just right for this devil-may-care destination. Don't miss the day's freshest catch (whole octopus and lobsters!) served hot off the beachside grill to the tune of DJ beats—it will be your most memorable meal in Tulum. // $181–$681 per night, Km 10 Carretera Tulum-Boca Paila

Casa Malca, named on T+L's 2016 Best New Hotels on the Planet list, sits directly next to Nomade, just before the entrance to Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve. According to local legend, the secret villa was built by notorious drug smuggler Pablo Escobar in the 1980s. Now, it's been dramatically restored with a stunning collection of modern art—a sculpture by KAWS greets you in the lobby. Even if you can't afford to stay, cocktails in the Keith Haring–wallpapered bar are a must. // $515–$840 per night, Km 9.5 Carretera Tulum - Boca Paila

Hotel Zamas, set on its own beach at the start of Tulum's main stretch (and run by Bay Area native Susan Bohlken), goes for classic Mayan vibes with a bright palette, tile mosaics, and traditional Mexican fare (huevos rancheros, fish tacos), a departure from the international flavors and health foods that dominate menus elsewhere. Look for Zamas' annual Taste of Tulum Series, which has featured San Francisco restaurateurs Evan and Sarah Rich (Rich Table) and Kris Esqueda (Huxley). // $180–$305 per night, Km 5 Carretera Tulum Boca-Paila

Ahau Tulum is popular among the bohemian set for its Balinese-style beach huts (starting at $72/night), daily yoga classes, sunrise meditation, superfood-driven food shack Raw Love, and cocktails loaded with fresh tropical fruits. // $72–$448 per night, Km 7.8 Carretera Tulum-Boca Paila

For families, the Loft Vanilla at Cabanas Tulum ($659–$819) has three bedrooms and thoughtful, modern design details. Or, get a taste of old school Tulum at Coco Tulum ($201–$276), an off-the-grid haven with wind- and solar-powered cabanas, shared showers, and hammocks aplenty. Groups of six can rent the tower with 360-degree views, a private bath, and, remarkably, air conditioning.

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