If you follow me on instagram, you probably know that I just came back from an epic 12 days Mexican trip. I feel so grateful and very privileged to be able to travel, and have been doing for most of my twenties. Moving to London 8 years ago has been a huge factor in that, thanks to its 5 airports in the city! From London, you can literally fly ANYWHERE! And even just for this, I am so glad I live here.
When I was still working in my corporate job, I used to wisely plan out my 20 days offs, in order to get the best out of it. By doing so, I was always able to see my family in Brittany, go on city breaks in Europe and also do at least one long haul trip a year. Literally, I did like and mostly loved my job, but I totally worked for my adventures abroad.
Now, I understand that it is an absolute luxury and that not everyone can afford it. But I also believe that if it is something you really want to do more, then save for it. Instead on spending 100 pounds on a shopping haul every month, save this money to buy your next flight to a European city. You will be surprised, as you could even get 2 flights with these 100 pounds!
1. Rent a car
This is the best decision made on this trip! The best way to get to the Yucatan peninsula is through Cancun, which is 2 hours drive from Tulum. A lot of hotels/ Airbnbs will offer airport transfer, which are between 50 to 70 GBP one way. Our car rental costed 150 GBP including full cover insurance for 12 days. It is also so safe and very convenient to drive in southern Mexico. I am talking about long and large roads, straight and easy to navigate. It is the best way to get around Tulum if you are looking to go explore a little bit further than the beach. Finally, Google Map will be your best friend.
In case you can’t drive, an alternative would be to use the “Taxi Collectivos” inside Tulum, they are very practical, but do take a while to get around. If you can, avoid using the Taxis, I have heard that they are super overpriced and also not very ethically ran …
2. Go early or late in the season
Especially if you are planning to go to Tulum (this little paradise that everyone loves) do try to go earlier in the season (November) or later in the season (April). I went early in November and the weather was perfect! There were a few showers at the beginning, but just like any tropical country, it clears out very quickly. I am not very good with heat, so 25C to 30C is just the perfect temperature.
Nothing was busy and there was no need to book anywhere, always a sun bed free at the beach, no need to queue to the bar etc … If you can’t go low season ( which also means cheaper flights ) and decide to go high season in Tulum, expect to have to book every restaurants and plan a couple of hours to get to the city. There is only one road to get to the beach …
3. Eat the Street Food
Just like me, Mexican people do love their food! It was amazing to see so many small restaurants, Taqueria (that sells Tacos) and small Street food trucks everywhere. You could see locals in the morning having their breakfast before work, sitting on a plastic chair and having the best time. My motto is always don’t be scared, if you see the stand is busy with locals, it is a great sign of fresh, home cooked and flavoursome Mexican food.
A few restaurants recommendations from me to you. Expect authentic Mexican food and ambience, not overpriced and places I have visited personally.
- Charly’s Vegan Tacos
- Burrito Amor
Playa Del Carmen:
- El fuegon
4. Take your snorkelling kit with you
If by any chance you have a little space in your luggage, try to bring your snorkelling kit with you, because Mexico has the SECOND biggest coral reef in the world and some incredible Cenote – natural craters filled with translucide water and natural life.
Of course you can buy some kits in Mexico, at some prices from 15 to 40GBP and can also rent some for a cost of 15 GBP per person. Some of the hotels might also have some for you, so it might be worth checking with them.
Not going to lie, camping isn’t really something I have done a lot or have perfected. However, glamping is my thing! It is very affordable, it is fun, and it is good for those who want to connect with nature and refocus. There are some great place in Mexico where you can do glamping, and AirBnb is the best place to find these. I let you enjoy these photos to understand why I loved staying at Navitus.
1. Stay in a all inclusive hotel
I mean, I know that for some people, staying on a beach all day is the dream, and that is ok! But if you want to really see the country and discover the culture, just get out there! You have crossed the Atlantic to just see the beach or the pool. I do think there are some really good and cheaper option as well ( if this is the reason why you go All inclusive) if you do a little bit of research. With websites like Skyscanner, Airbnb, or booking.com you can compare flights from different companies, and find the perfect stay.
2. Book every activities before being on site
Whenever I travel, I first create my itinerary. I just look at a few blogs, speak to people I know, and usually move places ever couple or few nights. Once that is done, I usually stop here. Then I get to the country and really see what is to offer.
That is when I plan activities, things to do, and even book online for the next day if there is something you HAVE to use a tour guide for. By doing it that way, I don’t pressure myself on the trip and it is so much nicer! We spend our life planning our weeks, and meetings with friends or family. So on holidays, just have a bit of unexpected and the luxury to decide what you feel and want to do today.
Best feeling ever!
3. Buy travel “activities” excursions from the streets
They can spot a tourist from miles away. Yes that is you, with your hat, sunglasses, a camera and a beach bag. And you are the perfect target to whoever is on the street, trying to sell you the best tour in the world. “tour street sellers”, I guess that is how you can call them, are everywhere in Mexico. They are friendly and trying to “help”, but because you are an avid traveller, you don’t need their “help”.
Instead, you would have done your research online. Check whether you don’t need a tour guide to do this activity, how much does this entrance cost, read some blog post about what to avoid etc etc. And have saved a bunch of money and time.
4. Use non biodegradable sunscreen
Protecting your skin from the sun is very important. I am very cautious of that, and have been applying plenty of sunscreen whilst in Mexico. However, I never thought about the impact it could have on the element around me.
Turns out that most sunscreen are not biodegradable ( not a surprise really!) and so they arm the sea! There are some part of the Mexican peninsula that have had to be close, because of the damages it caused to the nature. From now on, I am only buying good biodegradable sunscreen !
5. Stay in Tulum city
We stayed one night in Tulum city, and that was enough. There is nothing much to see in the city and nothing much to do. It is more expensive to stay in the playa, I couldn’t recommend more spending that extra cash. As mentioned previously, even if you have a car, it does take quiet a while to get to the playa at all time.
The only thing that could make this less of a pain – if you decide to stay in Tulum City, is that your accommodation has provided you with bikes. It takes about 30 minutes to get to the playa.
My Mexican Trip
Day 1 – Tulum Playa * Hotel: Amansala
- Do: Tulum Ruins, sit by the beach
- Eat: Chillaquilles for breakfast, a coconut cocktail
Day 2 – Tulum Playa * Hotel: Amansala
- Do: go to the Cenote Calavera and jump inside the cave.
- Eat: Burrito Amore
Day 3 – Tulum City * Hotel:
- Do: Go to playa paraiso and have an early local coffee by the beach
- Do: Walk around the town and have a fresh mojito
- Eat: Sort of cornetto pancakes they sell at night
- Eat: Street food Tacos
Day 4 – Tulum Playa * Glamping: Navitus
- Do: Paddle boarding on the Cenote
- Eat: the breakfast at Navitus is incredible
Day 5 – Tulum Playa * Glamping: Navitus
- Do: Take the bikes and go explore the untouched beaches of the natural reserve of Sian Ka’an.
- Eat: Charly’s Vegan Tacos
Day 6 – Tulum Playa * Glamping: Navitus
- Do: Go to Cenote Dos Ojos and take the snorkling kit from the Glamping ( or buy your own)
- Do: Get some beers or drinks and sit by the sea to watch sunset
- Eat: Nomade
Day 7 – Bacalar * House by the Lake: Casita – Villas Pehaltun
- Do: Walk around the city at sunset
- Eat: La Playita – stunning place built around an incredible tree, by the lake.
Day 8 – Bacalar * House by the Lake: Casita – Villas Pehaltun
- Do: Take the Kayaks and go kayaking around the lake
- Eat: Mango y Chile – vegan burgers and delicious milk shakes
Day 9 – Bacalar * House by the Lake: Casita – Villas Pehaltun
- Do: Check out Cenote Azul
- Eat: buy some fresh fruits from the small super markets and make some nachos or tacos.
Day 10 – Playa del Carmen * Hotel/Apartment: New Port house playa
- Do: take your snorkling kit and go to swim with the Turtles at Akumal
Day 11 – Playa del Carmen * Hotel/Apartment: New Port house playa
- Do: Go to Cozumel Island and buy a snorkling tour
- Eat: some really cute place inside the city
To clarify about sunscreen, the distinction is between chemical-based ones, in which UV rays are captured via a chemical reaction, and physical blockers, which reflect them away. A few of the most common chemicals in the chemically-based ones are highly toxic to corals, and there is some concern they may not be great for your skin, either. The physical blockers, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, can lend a chalky quality to a sunscreen but using them is definitely the environmentally-friendly alternative. I especially like zinc oxide because zinc occurs naturally in ocean waters.