H was determined that this year’s winter vacation would take us to a beach destination that would deliver warm weather. Finding a vacation that checks all the boxes we were looking for; including a place we haven’t been, a place where the Canadian dollar isn’t worthless, and a place that doesn’t involve an awful flight connection presented a bit of a challenge. In looking at options, we kept coming back to Tulum, a place friends of ours had visited last year and that pops up all over as an exciting place to visit when you do a google search.
Although I had never been to Mexico, and Heidi hadn’t been in years, the capper was the fact that Ottawa actually has direct flights to Cancun and Tulum is just an hour and a half down an easy-to-drive highway.
We loved our ten days in the Tulum area, spending six nights in Tulum itself and then our last three nights about twenty minutes north, closer to Akumal. There are two distinct parts to Tulum, the beach and the town. We stayed about halfway between, in a district of new condos and vacation properties called Aldea Zama. Since we had a car this was an ideal location – about 5 minutes from the beach and 5 minutes from town. Without kids, the whole area would be perfect to explore on a bike but instead we navigated it in a rental car about the size of a bike.
Before we left, we reviewed all the rules we thought we should follow in order to be careful about what we were eating – take Pepto capsules before each meal, don’t eat salad, don’t order drinks with ice – and then about halfway through our first meal we realized we were eating vegetables, hadn’t taken Pepto and were all drinking big glasses of pineapple juice full of ice! Abandoning our self-administered rules worked out fine, we ate everything in sight, with ceviche being the only exception and had no issues.
We had four full beach days – all of the beaches in Tulum are public but there is limited access except through hotels. I had found some patchy information online about how the beach clubs work but it turned out to be that there were plenty of options. It seemed that beach chairs or beds could be rented for minimal cost or no cost at all if you chose to eat in the restaurant as well. Our favourite spot we found was La Zebra – located near the south end of the beach zone, this is a high-end boutique hotel but they were happy to let us use their beautiful beach beds as long as we had lunch at their restaurant, which was also really good. Beyond the beach and the restaurant, they also had two key components for those of us travelling with young kids; nice clean restrooms and a playground!
We made a concious decision to just relax in Tulum and try not to do too much. We did visit the ruins one day and explored parts of the town but beyond that we basically stayed to the beach and pool.
After our week in Tulum, we headed to Akumal and spent the day at the beach snorkelling and looking for turtles. Although the water was a little rough, I was proud of Ella for swimming way out there and finding a couple of the big sea turtles.
At our new place, we spent our last three days just relaxing in the beautiful weather. There was a huge pool that wasn’t busy at all so we spent a lot of our hours there. The condos we stayed at were also associated with the Bahia Príncipe resort so we were able to use their facilities, take the kids to the dolphin show and we went to one of the shows at night.
Although I was a little hesitant at first, I was impressed with how well this trip worked out and how much I enjoyed Mexico. Given the easy flights and the consistent weather, I’d happily return to explore more. We definitely preferred the laid-back vibe of Tulum to the busier resort atmosphere as you travel further north. A rule of thumb we found was that as soon as something is priced in US dollars, it’s time to get out of there.