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My Tulum: 7 Travel Tips From Hotelier Susan Bohlken

My Tulum

Notable San Franciscans dish on their favorite destinations in a seven-part series.

Like many of us, Susan Bohlken’s dream day includes a stroll through the farmer’s market, a hike, and pampering at the spa. However, the former SF resident now spends her day in the lush jungle paradise of Tulum, where she is the proprietor of Hotel Zamas, which she built from the ground up on a former coconut planation. The eco-friendly resort brims with amenities and includes a guest chef series. Look for chef Adam Duyle (Abbot’s Cellar, Monk’s Kettle) and Bon Vivants mixologist Scott Baird (Trick Dog) on the 2014 schedule. Read on for tips on how to make the most of your beach retreat.

The spot that really captures Tulum's energy is . . .
An evening with Camilo Nu Project. This musical group attracts tourists and locals alike. The ebb and flow of flamenco jazz with a little Michael Jackson and Beatles thrown, on a moonlit night, it is simply enchanting.

I always leave full and happy at. . .
Don Honorios Taco Stand. The pork is succulent, the hot sauce is hot, and the handmade tortillas are just right. The drinks are a bit on the sweet side so I would grab a Coke (Mexican, of course). Follow that up with a fresh fruit popsicle from Paleteria Michoacan—my favorite is guava!

Among locals, it’s a faux pas to. . .
Show up on time. Assume every event starts two hours later and be prepared to party into the wee hours of the night. Tulum locals love to spend time together eating and drinking, hashing out the day’s gossip, and dancing.

A hidden gem in Tulum is. . .
Cenote Escondido, a well spring off the beaten path just south of Tulum Pueblo. It reminds me of a scene out a Tarzan movie—a long, lush jungle path leads the way to a crisp, clear pool of water surrounded by big boulders.  It is my go-to for a refreshing, afternoon dip, and a sweet escape from the crowds. Another fun spot that only locals know about is Laguna Kaan Luum. Accessed via a long wooden pier south of town, it’s a big, blue, sweet-water swimming hole. You can kayak or paddle board or just float the day away amidst the quietude  That to me is pure jungle luxury.

In my bag, I always pack. . .  
Josie Maran Argan Daily Moisturizer SPF 40. It smells great, is low in chemicals, and has enough coverage to protect my skin from the hot Caribbean sun. I also stuff as many Ren facial products into my carry-on as I can legally get away with. They make my face feel luscious!

I want to buy everything whenever I go to. . .
Mixik. The owner, Sally, sources the most incredible artisan crafts from all over Mexico. I go to Mixik whenever I am in need of colorful textiles, kitschy greeting cards, vibrant Day of the Dead art, and fabulous gifts for friends and family.

The perfect way to end the night is. . .
On the beach under the stars. I swear Tulum has a higher concentration of stars than anywhere else in the world. In the fresh night air, with the ocean tickling your toes, there is no better way to end the evening.