When I decided that I would end my time in Mexico with a week in Tulum – and that I didn’t want to spend that week alone – my best friend Kristin was the first person I thought of. She was also the last person I thought would or could actually come.
Friends for 13 years and besties for 11, Kristin and I have taken beach vacations together before. We honeymooned together in Costa Rica. K married Andrew on a Costa Rican beach in the last days of 2009, but they didn’t get to take a honeymoon because Andrew had to be back at work in the early days of 2010. So Kristin and I took a honeymoon instead – a road trip to Santa Teresa. Then there was Thailand; when we were both living overseas – me in Australia, Kristin in China – we met for a couple weeks on Koh Chang. That time we let Andrew come along.
Those trips were wonderful – but they were before. Before Kristin accumulated the triad of Real Adult Responsibility: husband, mortgage, two small children – not to mention the full-time job as a schoolteacher.
The thing about schoolteachers, though? They get Spring Break.
And so it happened that when I asked Kristin to come to Tulum for a week – not imagining in a million years that she would actually be able to – she said yes. Actually, to be accurate, she said maybe, and Andrew said yes. His birthday present to Kristin felt like a gift to me.
It’s hard to even describe our week in Tulum. It’s a pleasant blur of sun, bike rides to the beach, lounge chairs and margaritas. There were a couple trips to ruins too, but we got out of there as soon as possible and got ourselves back to our lounge chairs (here).
As always, the moments that stick out aren’t the perfect ones: I remember the squeaky and sticky bike I got for my last day (and how grumpy it made me), an Instagram princess on the beach who couldn’t sit still for more than thirty seconds (and the back story we made up about her), the unwittingly hilarious Airbnb host who warned us about the danger of coco-driles, a 3 a.m. trip to the airport, a Colombian Bruce Springsteen lookalike. Basically, anything that made us laugh and remember why we really, really like being around each other.
Funnily enough, Kristin and I showed up at the beach with the same book – Zoe Whittall’s The Best Kind of People. That’s you, K. You’re the best kind of people.
Cheesy! Sorry. Here are a few more photos of our Tulum rendezvous – and a mini sort-of guide to the area.
It didn’t seem worthwhile to write up a Tulum guide, because it’s a big deal at the moment and there a thousand good guides out there (like this one by Lucy Laucht), but here are a couple of things to keep in mind:
- K and I initially booked into a glamping resort on the beach, but a few days after I booked I got a notification that the resort was no longer available. I can’t tell for sure, but it seems like it may have shut down. There’s still glamping here and here (cause it’s a glamping kind of place…) but both options were a little rich for our blood, so will have to put those beauties on a list for one day…
- Instead, we stayed at a couple of Airbnbs in town. Neither was anything particularly special, so I’m not going to share them here, but it should be noted that the budget options in Tulum are situated in the town of Tulum, which is a few kilometres from the beach. The town is super bicycle-centric; you can rent bicycles all over the place (hold out for a cute one; trust me, in Tulum you’ll want one). There’s a great path from the town to the beach – and K and I loved our daily bike rides to and from. Except for the last day (see above re: squeaky bike). So if you can’t get a place at the beach, don’t sweat it. Actually, you might sweat a little on your bike.
- For both Kristin and me, coffee is Priority 1A. We literally went to Ki’Bok for coffee and breakfast every morning, and we thought both coffee and food were pretty damn good (it seems Travel + Leisure agrees).
- Ki’Bok is located in a strip of restaurants and bars in the town. There’s also a cool bar with excelled mojitos called Batey. Kristin and I spent a few hours there on our first night (and met a Colombian Bruce Springsteen lookalike!).
- There was a place in town called Burrito Amor that I really loved. Burritos are TexMex, not Mexico. But I’d been in Mexico for almost three weeks by the time I got to Tulum, and I was getting a bit tired of traditional Mexican food (obviously got over that about five minutes after I got back to Vancouver). So the SoCal-feeling burritos at Burrito Amor were a breath of fresh air.
- The ruins in Tulum weren’t actually that old. They’re the most stunningly situated ruins you may ever visit, but there are heaps of houses in Europe that are older than these ruins. So. I was underwhelmed. If you decide to skip them and stay on the beach with a good book and a margarita/paloma/cerveza, no judgement here.