Tulum is the honeymoon you've always dreamt about—white sand, brilliant turquoise water (just cool enough to be refreshing but warm enough to not shock your system), and abundant perfect palm trees. It's charmingly rustic, but still has mouthwateringly fantastic dining. And with such picturesque environs to explore, it's a no-brainer for a romance filled island getaway!
Afternoon: Once you land at the Cancun airport, on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, it's a one-and-a-half hour drive to Tulum. Check into a colorful seaside bungalow—complete with hammock—at Zamas and you can have the area's very best margarita in your hand within minutes. You made it to Mexico, so relax on a lounge chair and just enjoy where you are. Or grab a beach cruiser and check out the strip. For a superluxe stay, try the popular all-suite Be Tulum, with its sand-side infinity pool and treetop yoga shala.
Evening: Since Tulum faces the Caribbean to the east, sunsets are not as easy to catch. The upstairs level of Mateo's, home of the coco loco cocktail—a boozy coconut-y rum drink—is the place to watch the sky change colors. One of the best dinners in town can be had at Posada Margherita, where you can shop a well-curated boutique with a glass of wine while awaiting a table within reach of the beach. The menu is simple and small: a few homemade pastas, prawns and fish dishes. It's impossible to go wrong, but make sure you don't fill up on the bread crate of multiple fresh focaccias, chunks of parmesan and marinated cauliflower, which is hands-down incredible. Zamas has a guest-chef program and live music most nights, making it another excellent dinner choice.
Photo: Courtesy of Gitano
Morning: Start the day with a fresh coconut and avocado toast, or something equally fresh and tasty. You can't visit the area without experiencing its cenotes—freshwater limestone caves in the jungle that were sacred to the Mayans and are unquestionably spectacular. It's best to book a tour—snorkeling or, if you're comfortable, scuba diving—in which a local guides you through the crystalline water, ducking under stalactites and swimming over stalagmites and past limestone columns. Dos Ojos is a nearby destination with two cenotes; Pet Cemetery is stunning and less busy.
Afternoon: Relax, take a walk down the beach or warm up in the sun (the water in the cenotes is quite icy). If you haven't made a reservation in advance for dinner at Hartwood, go between 3 and 6 p.m. to lock in your table for the evening.
Evening: Hartwood is a must-have dinner experience for all Tulum travelers. It's a 100 percent sustainable restaurant that cooks its locally spear-hunted fish, and produce from communal organic Mayan farms, over an open fire and in a wood-burning oven. The menu is ever-evolving based on what's in season and available, but with such care put into the collection and preparation of the dishes you're essentially guaranteed a magical night. Afterward continue on to the jungle-chic bar Gitano for well-crafted cocktails such as the sweet-and-spicy Kisses in the Car, featuring mezcal, passion fruit, tangerine and habanero.
Morning: As much as the beach may beckon, the famous Mayan ruins with their pyramids, Coba and Chichen Itza, are also spectacular sights to experience. Because they're such a huge draw for tourists, early morning visits are most peaceful.
Afternoon: Enjoy a lazy lunch of guacamole, bright bruschetta and grilled octopus at Hemingway Restaurant, part of a beachfront eco-resort. Colorful pillows and dishes, clear views of the rolling waves, and great margaritas make it a place you'll want to spend hours. Soak in the enchanting atmosphere further during an opulent indigenous treatment at Coqui Coqui, a resort and spa that makes its own lush fragrances.
Evening: If it's a Sunday night, head to La Zebra for salsa lessons and a night of close, sweaty dancing. Or, if you're heading back to Cancun, make a stop inland on the way for a last bite: a few al pastor tacos at Taqueria el Carboncito, the hands-down best place for the savory pork and pineapple staple.
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