Krystal and I left our sweet little jungle abode in Playa del Carmen feeling well rested and excited to take on the next part of our adventure.
We threw our bags in the back of a cab and jumped in, cruised along Highway 307 for less than an hour, and then hit beautiful, breezy Tulum.
My friends… if you haven’t been to Tulum, you owe yourself a trip!
You’ll hear people complaining that it’s “over”, that it’s too crowded, that it’s overdeveloped… all of those things might be true to those who fell in love with it years ago (and yes, it’s actively being developed now) but it’s still a magical place to unwind.
So go anyway, and have fun! From the small shops and restaurants to the unbelievable ruins, I promise you’ll fall in love. Once you see that insane aqua water and sprawl on those white sand beaches, you’ll never want to leave.
When we first arrived, words couldn’t express how happy we were to be on the final leg of the Mexico portion of the trip.
We scurried down the quiet street leading to our temporary home…
When we found our Airbnb, tucked away on the inside of a small commercial plaza, our hostess handed over the keys and we settled in.
We had a private apartment for the duration of our stay as the owner jetted off to her other home stateside. The place was minimal, but bursting with character. Look at this perfect, summery wall color! I fell in love immediately.
There was an exterior staircase leading to laundry lines on the roof. It was a perfect place to watch the sun set.
Attempt at a cute selfie against cute wall:
How I actually feel when I’m trying to take a selfie:
Behold… a hammock in the kitchen for maximum lounging. It made me wonder: shouldn’t all kitchens have a hammock?
This is the small table where Krystal and I spent many nights writing our brains out, powered by snacks from Oxxo and Modelo Especial. We left the kitchen door open so an evening breeze would waft through the room.
In general, Tulum is one of the most chill places I’ve ever been. Though we arrived at the height of tourist season, it wasn’t even crowded. It’s possible that the spring break crowd was asleep all day, emerging from their hostels at sundown, but I digress.
You may find yourself spending a lot of time on the main drag (Avenida Tulum), where there are lots of cute places to shop and eat.
It was really easy to get drunk in the middle of the day. #BeachLife or #VacayLife? Either way, these cocktails we got with our ceviche were so strong, I don’t even think we could finish them.
Uffff…. que rico.
Krystal becoming one with the local shrubbery…
This mannequin was outside a second-hand shop on the corner by our little casita. I found a super cute dress there that fit perfectly!
…to clarify, it wasn’t the one on the mannequin.
The best thing about Tulum? You can hop in a cab and be zipped away to several stunning ruins, and of course, beaches that will leave you speechless.
Our weakness was coconuts. I literally spent so much damn money on coconuts every five feet. They’re just SO GOOD.
Haha, JUST KIDDING!
Our actual weakness was tequila.
(I mean, cococuts are dope and I drank 100+, but…)
I also discovered that after drinking enough tequila, I developed yet another weakness for renegade musicians and performers.
Because when you’ve had enough tequila and someone comes to your table to serenade you, you don’t turn them away.
You say, “why yes, I DO need a song sung in my face right now,” and you take out your pesos.
I l-o-v-e-d this mermaid painted in the bathroom of the bar pictured above.
Okay, story time!
One night, after leaving a bar or three, Krystal and I decided to follow a faint, but powerful undercurrent of cumbia that was wafting through the air. We followed it off the main touristy avenue and into the center of a chaotic local street fair.
Did I mention that cumbia is another one of my weaknesses? I have a lot of ’em, I guess.
Anyway, in the middle of it all, this stage was set up and bands were performing. As we approached curiously, two security guards offered us VIP wristbands to get into the gated area… if we danced with them.
And mannn, did we dance.
I mean, we kind of had to, because out on the street, some guys thought Krystal was Lady Gaga and everyone was trying to get a photo taken with her.
The best nights are completely random.
Luckily, however crazy our nights were, we could always find a bar right on the beach to get rid of the previous night’s hangover! #TulumMagic
Here’s me on a bar swing, realizing my 50% Scandinavian skin actually gets really tan.
One of many places where we sat down with the intention to cause a ceviche deficit in the Yucatán Peninsula.
Be still my raw-fish-devouring heart.
When it was actually time to get some work done and we didn’t want to sit in the house, we parked it at Charlie’s for hours on end.
This partially outdoor cafe was the perfect place to hang day or night. Maaany pesos were spent on entrees and margaritas while we clattered away on our laptops.
One day after working hard, we decided we had earned some tequila with a scorpion in it.
Or, rather, our waiter thought we’d earned it.
This is me thinking about what I’m about to do…
Back at the house…
This little friend would often stop by the house and hang out with me.
I offered her my hat, but she wanted me to wear it instead.
We were in Tulum for a while, so the days kind of blend together in my memory as this magical, hazy blissed out succession of experiences…
When we finally saw the ruins, I was completely mesmerized. I know, not a unique reaction, but this stuff is from the 13th century!
Near the seaside, you can see a watchtower, the templo de las pinturas, and the smaller cobá pyramids.
You definitely feel something powerful when you walk through the stone passageway (which is eerily quiet) and into the ruins.
A path from the ruins leads down to a “secret” beach—not so secret, considering it was the most crowded place we saw—which is definitely worth a trip no matter how tired you are from being pelted by the sun in the open fields.
Sunny and blissed out.
I bought this black onyx necklace from some dude on the beach and wore it around for the rest of the trip.
It became a nice little token to remind me of that feeling I had when I was staring at the water and the clouds, virtually forgetting everything else in the world.
As we left the ruins that day, I was thinking… “how can a place possibly be this beautiful?”
The face of a girl who doesn’t want to leave Tulum:
Luckily, after this experience, we still had a few days to enjoy our beachy paradise.
But we were running low on pesos!
During our last few days, we got day drunk (lol, why lie?) and wandered around soaking up as many stunning views as we could.
On the morning we were supposed to leave, I told Krystal I just wasn’t ready to go. She nodded, hopped on a plane to Panama, and left me to my devices.
I felt so at peace with zero plan (despite losing money on a plane ticket, I know…). I just had a really good feeling about extending my adventure even slightly.
Having an extra couple of days in Tulum filled me with creative inspiration. I charged up my laptop, checked out of the Airbnb, and wandered around looking for a hostel with an open room.
I found one just a couple blocks over, and even though there was no AC and the light didn’t work properly, I knew it was the perfect space to get some writing done!
Haha, did I say “adventure” up there? Because what I was excited about was writing my eBook about freelance writing. #nerd
The hostel I found, Casa del Sol, was quite obviously under construction with planks of wood all over the place. But it had a cool treehouse vibe (the website claims it was built using traditional Mayan techniques), and I wasn’t going to complain.
They had a spare room and WiFi!
Once I got checked into my room, it was time for a nap. The bed was kind of stiff, but when I finally put my bags down and collapsed, it was like all of the exhaustion I should have been feeling from my entire trip came crashing down on me.
Needless to say, it was an awesome nap.
When I woke up later that afternoon, I was ready for a six pack of modelo and some major writing. I ended up writing over 5K words in the extra days I stayed, which was truly an awesome feeling.
(But no, I haven’t finished the book yet. Maybe I need to go back to Mexico…?)
That night, I texted Cora (remember her? We met in Cancun and she ended up in Tulum about a week after we arrived) and we went to one of the bars we’d been hanging out at in the evenings.
We spent the night sipping crafty mojitos and feeling hypnotized by an amazing flamenco performance.
Between songs, this guitarist (who’d limped onto the stage using a cane), knocked over his water. Since I was sitting so close, I ducked onto the stage and cleaned up the spill, scared that he would topple over if he tried to do it himself.
After his set, he came over to my table to say thanks, and we had a spontaneous conversation about music and travel. He was so friendly and warm. It was a simple moment, but it reminded me how incredible it is that you cross paths with so many different souls when you travel.
I mean, imagine all of the souls you’ll miss out on meeting if you don’t get on a plane once in a while!
Finally, on my last afternoon, I was nursing my last Tulum hangover on the beach with Cora and we saw this beautiful rainbow.
It extended all the way to the other side of the horizon—my photo only captured half. Seeing it stretching across the sky felt so meaningful, like it was the unconscious reason I had stayed behind.
I mean, I know this is just a photo on my blog, and it probably doesn’t mean anything to you, but it was just one of those moments in life where you realize how lucky you are, and how incredible life is. Deeeeep, right?
I was feeling the pacha mama love!
That was a much longer photo diary than I anticipated, but Tulum is an amazing place.
I felt surrounded by a whirlwind of blissed out sensory experiences, from the salty air by the sea to the tacos al pastor being served up by late night vendors on the street.
I wish I’d stayed even longer and done more, like seeing more ruins, swimming in the cenotes, and maybe seeing more live music.
But I got a nice taste of this place, and I’ll definitely be back for more.
Have you ever been to Tulum? What was your favorite part about visiting? Drop a comment below!
P.S. One more thing! If you’re wondering how I travel and work online, I actually teach writers how to do it. And not in a scammy way. Check out Day Job Optional for more info.