Although our time in Playa was fun, I was glad to leave it behind for the more sedate Tulum. As soon as I stepped off the bus, I just knew it was going to be my kind of place.
We headed straight to Hostel Jardin de Frida (our home for the next 3 nights) and quickly unpacked before heading out to discover more of the town. Despite the fact that much of Tulum (the downtown part anyway) is located along a busy dual carriageway, it still has quite a chilled-out ‘small town’ feeling to it.
As we wandered past boutique shops, funky cafes and restaurants ranging from Scandinavian-chic to Soho-style pop-up bars, I couldn’t help but picture myself staying here a while longer.
Fellow travellers cycled past on rented bikes which seemed to be the mode of transport in Tulum, and so we vowed to hire some out the next morning and head to the beach.
As usual we woke early and so pottered around the hostel for a while waiting for breakfast to be served. Considering the bohemian vibe to the hostel, it seemed to have quite a few ‘luxury’ aspects such as staff to serve cafe-style breakfasts as well as being home to one of the funkiest bars in town (although other travellers didn’t seem to have picked up on this yet, much to our dismay as we could have happily sat drinking the ‘welcome cocktail’ all evening).
Anyway, after breakfast we strolled a couple of blocks down to the cycle shop where we collected our turquoise bikes (complete with little baskets for our day packs) and slowly meandered our way down to the beach.
Before arriving in Tulum, we’d read up on something called the Temezcal which is a traditional Mexican ritual whereby you have the opportunity to meet with a Shaman in a purpose-built ‘sweat lodge’ to undergo a spiritual experience that will rid the physical body of any ailments and help to release any psychological blockages. Naturally we were quite intrigued and so stopped off at the stunning Papaya Project spa on the way to see if we could partake. Sadly, there wasn’t an experience available during our stay and so we hopped back in the saddle in the direction of the beach.
En route we took a wrong turn and ended up outside of Mateo’s which seemed as good a place as any to stop for a juice and an early lunch. Bellies satisfied with our avo-bacon-egg muffins, we sat relaxing for an hour or so, doodling with Charlotte’s sketching pencils – Lottie drawing up designs for a future tattoo and I was busy drawing up sketches of my dream home (by the beach, obviously).
When we finally felt ready to leave, we jumped back on the bikes and headed in the opposite direction, finally stumbling upon the beautiful ‘Paradise beach’. We waded ankle deep in the cooling sea, until I spotted a beach bar I’d remembered from the previous year, in particular the swings outside which had stayed fresh in my mind.
We swayed back and forth, welcoming the breeze on our faces as we gulped back our first Coronas of the day and dreamed of never having to go home. Then the clouds passed over and a light rain tore us from our daydreams, prompting a swift walk back to the bikes and a cycle on up to the Mayan ruins.
That evening called for pizza and so we headed to a local Neapolitan pizza place we’d spotted the night before. As we arrived it looked to be quite packed and so we turned to leave, but thankfully one of the guests (who turned out to be the owner’s family) called us back and we were welcomed into the fold. We giggled at the young boys fighting to serve us with their hand-written menus, ate our perfectly crisp pizzas and then slowly wandered back through the town, stopping in the Scandinavian bar for a mojito en route.
Sunday was our last full day in Tulum and as it was set to be a scorcher we planned again to hire out bikes and head to one of the local cenotes. But, when we arrived at the bike shop it was closed and every other rental place in town was already fresh out of stock. We moped our way along the windy path towards the beach, cursing ourselves for not having rented out the bikes for a few days before finally deciding to hop in a taxi and console ourselves with another Corona and some delicious shrimp quesadillas, eaten in between turns on the swings at ‘our’ beach bar.
As the sun showed signs off going down, we made our way back to Mateo’s where we’d spotted a sunset deck the day before. The evening was too cloudy to get any real view but that didn’t deter us from swinging in the hammocks for quite some time as we sipped on half price mojitos and cursed the fact that we only had one more day in paradise.
Thankfully on the Monday the bike shop was back in business and so we picked up our transport and made our way out of town to the Gran Cenote. The cycle ride took around 15 minutes and we’d had the foresight to arrive early in order to beat the crowds. We paid the entrance fee (150 pesos) and slithered in to the cooling clear water.
After a little tour around, I started to grow cold and so scooted back out to lie out in the sun, whilst Charlotte set off to explore further. With my head buried in a book I could have lay there all day but the crowds were starting to roll in and so instead we got back on the bikes and headed back to what had now become our favourite spot (Mateo’s) for another delicious lunch.
Soon it was time to make our back to the hostel and on to Cancun, but we delayed the inevitable for as long as possible by stopping off at practically every store possible on the way home.
Cancun was Cancun (touristy, loud and not my kind of place at all) and so we simply ate and headed back the our hostel for our final pack. Despite not wanting to leave, I knew there was plenty to look forward to in the New Year. My heart was still yearning to be by the beach but first I had a yoga course to complete and I was keen to see how things with Mr on & off might lead…
(Spoiler alert: It’s off, we’re just friends).