Exploring Tulum

a sign on a beach

After checking in to El Pez, we headed out to start our vacation. Gilbert managed to secure us a reservation at the Kitchen Table restaurant a short 5 minute walk from the hotel. While the restaurant was a short walk away, keep in mind that there is no sidewalk on this stretch of road so you had to be very mindful of the traffic.

We arrived at the restaurant unscathed and were quickly shown to our table. The restaurant is set back from the road in the middle of the jungle and was fully outdoors which created a unique atmosphere.

a sign with a heart on it
a sign with writing on it
a group of trees with lights

The menu was small but had plenty of good options. We started with cocktails and the KT Sope which were amazing!

a menu on a clipboard
a menu on a table
a paper with writing on it
a plate of food on a table

For my main, I decided to go with the catch of the day and while I don’t remember what type of fish it was, I do remember it was very tasty.

a plate of food on a table

After dinner, we had a short walk back to the hotel where we grabbed a nightcap from the bar. I had an “Old Cuban” while my partner had the “Dear Mr. Trump”. Note the cinnamon stick “cigar” in mine and the letter attached to hers.

a person lighting a drink with a flame
a drink on a table

We took a seat on one of the outdoor couches and enjoyed our drinks with the sound of the waves. Our server brought some warm, homemade potato chips to accompany our beverages.

a table with drinks on it

The next morning we woke up decently early and enjoyed our coffee on the deck before heading off to the restaurant for breakfast. After breakfast, we had no real plans for the day other than exploring Tulum so we explored the hotel a bit in the daytime before heading off along the beach.

a road next to the ocean
a beach with waves crashing on the shore
a rocky beach with bushes and rocks

We passed through an area of small shops and restaurants, some attached to smaller properties along the beach, and surveyed some of the local goods before stopping for a drink to get our day of relaxation started. We also saw some fairly exotic cars that I wouldn’t want to be driving on dirt roads in Mexico.

a sign on a pole
a sign on the sidewalk
a red sports car parked on a road with palm trees
two drinks on a table

After our drinks, we headed down to check out the Papaya Playa Project, which is loosely affiliated with Marriott, the only one of the large US chains to have a presence here. While we initially considered staying here, they wanted almost $700 USD a night for the base level room for the dates of our stay.

Curious to see if we were missing out on anything, we stopped in for a bite to eat, some drinks and to check out the beach.

a sign on a wall
a group of trees in a sandy area
a beach with palm trees and a palm tree
a glass of liquid on a table with a beach in the background
a beach with palm trees and a building
a bowl of food on a table with a beach in the background

We ended up getting a couple of drops of rain falling on us as we finished up our snack but it quickly passed. The setup of the hotel and the beach club was more than adequate but given the large number of daytime guests for the beach club along with the repetitive club music, we were glad we were staying at the El Pez.

We left the hotel by way of the beach and continued walking north parallel to the road. I don’t recommend this as the Papaya Playa is the last thing for quite some time and we eventually had to cut through an empty lot to get back to the road as we had run out of beach.

a rocky beach with waves crashing on it
a dirt path with palm trees and a beach

At this point we were close enough to town that there was a paved sidewalk separated from the road. We decided to walk down to the shops close to town and see if there was anything that caught our eye. We didn’t find anything so, after stopping at a restaurant for a quick snack/beer, we grabbed a cab back to our hotel.

a sidewalk with palm trees and a car on the side
a sign on the sidewalk
a green bottle of beer on a table

Back at the hotel, we settled into a couple of lounge chairs on the beach and I worked on this review. We also met one of our neighbors, a couple honeymooning from New Orleans and he and I were able to chat SEC football for a bit as we both had games on that weekend. He also gave us a great local restaurant recommendation for dinner later that night.

a person's legs on a beach
a group of glasses of drinks on a table

After spending a couple of hours on the beach, it was time for our massages. The hotel has a full time masseuse however, if you want a couples massage, they ask you to give them a day’s notice in order to bring somebody else in. We had decided on massages that morning and were delighted when Gilbert informed us we could have our massages that afternoon.

We both chose the 50 minute relaxing massage and the atmosphere of the oceanfront massage cabana combined with the mojitos caused me to relax to the point I slept through the final 15 minutes or so and I had to be woken up when it was all said and done.

a white curtains on a wooden structure
a bed on a beach with a view of the ocean

After showering and changing post-massage we headed to the lobby to grab a cab into town. The city of Tulum is about 15 minutes from the hotel zone along the coast. We grabbed a cab by the front desk and before long we were pulling up to Antojitos La Chiapaneca, the taco restaurant recommended by our neighbors at the beach.

a book with a picture of a building

We ordered a few tacos and tostadas and before long, plates and plates of food were being brought to our table. Either something was lost in translation or they brought us a little lagniappe as they don’t get many visitors from the hotel area. Either way, the food was delicious and we finished every bite.

a plate of tacos with meat and meat on it
a group of tacos on a table
a table with plates of food and beer

Even with all of the food and a couple of beers each, our total still came out to less than $20 USD for both of us. Though the exchange rate was definitely geared towards using the local currency.

people in a restaurant with people sitting at tables and a table with food

After the meal we went off down the Main Street and did some window shopping and people watching.

a group of people outside a restaurant
a man sitting on a balcony
a red mask with horns and a cross on a yellow surface
a store with a sign and shelves of liquor

We ended up finding a purse at the stall pictured above and after some haggling we got it for what seemed like a decent deal. We continued along to the Parque Museo de la Cultura Maya which was all lit up for the holidays.

a store with bags and purses
a group of people standing in front of a building with a large christmas tree
a building with lights and people standing in front of it

After taking a look at the lights, we stopped into Bonita for a nightcap before heading back to the hotel and calling it a night.

a woman sitting on a bench
a sign from a wall
a group of people sitting at tables in a restaurant
a menu on a table
a drink on a table

The town of Tulum as well as the beach area were both a ton of fun and we had a great time exploring both. Though the beach is where many of the tourists go, the city was a great glimpse of the local culture and their hospitality was unmatched. We will definitely be returning to visit.

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