Bohemian charm in Tulum - Americas - Travel - The Independent

Bohemian charm in Tulum

The Hedonist: What to see and where to be seen

As I drive along the highway from Cancun airport, my dreams of a genuine Mexican experience are slowly crushed by wall-to-wall all-inclusive resorts. But then, two hours later, the road gets bumpier and the gaudy entrances begin to turn into pastel-painted wooden signs covered in tropical vegetation. Boho beach town Tulum is a world away from Cancun.

Across the sprawling stretch of pristine white beach are a number of tiki hut-style eco lodges, each varying in design and hipness ever so slightly. The most decadent is Ana y José (00 52 998 880 5629; www.anayjose.com), where luxuries such as in-room air conditioning make it Tulum's equivalent to Claridge's. But my companion and I have chosen to park ourselves somewhere more in line with the town's down-to-earth ethos; we couldn't resist the rustic charm of the hammock-lined wooden bungalows at Luv Tulum (00 52 1 984 114 6604; luvtulum.com). They are situated so close to the Caribbean Sea that you can go from sleeping to snorkelling in just a few body rolls.

We unpack and it's time for a stroll to take in the stunning coastal scenery. The high dreadlock count and signs for temescal – a Mayan healing ritual that involves overheating to the point of hallucination – make me start to worry that my trip will be like a New Age version of The Beach. Maybe it's just dehydration, so we stop for mojitos under the shady palm trees at La Zebra (00 52 1 984 115 4728; lazebratulum.com). Soon I'm starting to warm to this town's prettily packaged counterculture ideals; they do serve cocktails here, after all.

Night comes and the stars are out in full, which is lucky as there are no streetlights. The town is carved from the jungle, and the darkness only adds to the mystery of what might pop out from behind the vintage VW camper vans. Local organic restaurant Hartwood (hartwoodtulum.com) is the place to be, so we go there. However, when we arrive at 7pm, the receptionist laughs us off. Apparently, the waiting list started three hours ago.

Instead, we head to the friendlier Posada Margherita (00 52 1 984 801 8493; posadamargherita.com). Italian cuisine wasn't top of the list for us on this Mexican adventure, but the overflowing basket of freshly baked focaccia, and owner Alessandro's charm – he comes and sits at our table to talk us through the menu – is irresistible and oh so cool.

Tulum abides by a strict bedtime. Even the trendiest locals are tucked up by midnight. Luckily for us it's Friday, the night of the weekly party at Mezzanine (00 52 1 984 115 4728; mezzanintulum.com), by far the liveliest around. There's a queue around the block, but our new Italian companion Alessandro ensures that a few handshakes are all we need to get straight in. After revelling in the house music beside linen-clad loved-up couples and well-bred American and European twentysomethings, we finally call it a night.

I wake up with PTS (post-tequila syndrome) – pounding head, nausea – so plunge straight into a double portion of huevos rancheros (fried eggs served on corn tortillas topped with tomato chilli sauce). Then it's yoga time. In an effort to get into Tulum's Mother Nature vibe, I've signed up for a class at Yoga Shala (00 52 1 984 137 3016; yogashalatulum.com) and there's no going back now. An hour later, I'm still alive, and feeling revitalised enough to grab a juice from Restaurare (00 52 1 984 168 1282) with other members of the group.

The rest of the day is spent taking in the sites and doing the usual tourist thing. Tulum is best known for its picturesque Mayan ruins, which are to be found edging off a cliff into the Caribbean Sea. Equally astonishing is the drive through Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve (cesiak.org), where you can spot alligators lurking in the dark lagoons. Then we lunch at El Camello, one of the few places in town where locals and tourists mix, tucking into mountains of ceviche.

Tulum's definition of hedonism may include more holistic and healthy choices than most but, balanced with a distinctly laid-back Latin pace, it's somewhere I could get used to.

A Hedonist's Guide to ... (Hg2) is a luxury city guide series for the more decadent traveller. For more information see hg2.com

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Sport
FootballFull debuts don't come much more stylish than those on show here
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Travel
travel
News
The ecological reconstruction of Ikrandraco avatar is shown in this illustration courtesy of Chuang Zhao. Scientists on September 11, 2014 announced the discovery of fossils in China of a type of flying reptile called a pterosaur that lived 120 millions years ago and so closely resembled those creatures from the 2009 film, Avatar that they named it after them.
SCIENCE
Life and Style
tech
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Arts and Entertainment
Matisse: The Cut-Outs exhibition attracted 562,000 visitors to the Tate Modern from April to September
art
Life and Style
Models walk the runway at the Tom Ford show during London Fashion Week Spring Summer 2015
fashionLondon Fashion Week 2014
News
Kenny G
news
News
peopleThe black actress has claimed police mistook her for a prostitute when she kissed her white husband
Life and Style
techIndian model comes with cricket scores baked in
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Day In a Page

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week