Fifteen years ago, Tulum was a quiet, off-the-grid beach town, where residents rode bicycles in flip flops and noshed on fresh papaya slices.
Now, with Mario Testino scooping up waterfront property and famous faces like Sienna Miller and Michael Pitt kicking up their heels at boutique resorts like Coqui Coqui (owned and operated by male model, Nicolas Malleville), Tulum has graduated from cheap escape to glamorous international resort town, complete with chic hotels, stylish eateries, and all-night bars catering to the influx of Hollywood glitterati.
Here, we’ve rounded up the destinations and activities to include on your Tulum itinerary, from shopping chic silk caftans (favored by supermodel Miranda Kerr) at Josa Tulum to getting a full-body mud mask at the Mayan Clay spa.
The beachfront town of Tulum, Mexico, on the southern edge of the Riviera Maya, has quickly become of one of the hottest destinations in Mexico. The New York Times last year referred to it as a "hotspot for fashion insiders." Here, what celebs to look out for, what to pack to get the Tulum look, and where to stay, eat, and party with the rest of the jet-set.
WHO TO SPOT
Visit Tulum, and you'll be in good company. The beachside town is a favorite of Sienna Miller and Jude Law (pictured), socialite Amanda Hearst, designer and stylist Nicola Formichetti, Demi Moore, Reese Witherspoon, and Drew Barrymore.
WHAT TO PACK
Think hippie, with a serious luxe vibe. Wear pieces like Clover Canyon's printed crepe de chine maxi dress ($290, net-a-porter.com), Proenza Schouler's Holographic sandals ($650, proenzaschouler.com), and Dolce & Gabbana's Miss Dolce medium woven raffia shoulder bag ($2,845, dolcegabbana.com) to get the Tulum look. It goes without say that the more bikinis that you pack, the better.
WHERE TO STAY
A favorite spot among Vogue editors and celebs like Michael Pitt, the beachfront Amansala Resort (pictured, KM 5.5, Carr Tulum, amansalaresort.com) bills itself as the utmost in "eco-chic." Like most of Tulum (which is largely off the grid), the power cuts after 10 p.m., but that doesn't put a damper on any of the hotel's most popular activities, including outdoor yoga, "bikini bootcamp," and a "detox" raw food cleanse.
Another option is the Coqui Coqui spa and hotel (Carretera Tulum Boca Paila, KM 7.5, coquicoquiperfumes.com). With a star-studded clientele that includes Evan Rachel Wood, Jamie Bell, and Kate Bosworth, it comes as no surprise that this limestone paradise is operated by male model Nicolas Malleville. The breezy beachfront rooms are furnished with traditional Mexican textiles, while a double-exposed spa and perfumery (their signature vanilla fragrance makes a luxe souvenir) has a more modern vibe.
WHERE TO SHOP
Walking around Tulum in anything other than a bikini and caftan is practically sacrilege, so we advise gearing up at Josa Tulum (KM 7.5, josatulum.com), where celebs like Miranda Kerr stock up on super-luxe silk caftans and halter dresses in a variety of rainbow bright hues and prints.
Josa tulum/Josa tulum
WHAT TO EAT
We don't typically think "pasta" when we think of the Riviera Maya, but the fresh Italian fare at chic eatery, Posada Margherita (pictured, Carretera Tulum-Boca Paila, KM 4.5, posadamargherita.com), rivals anything you'll fine in Italy. Not only does the restaurant offer classic comfort foods like vegetarian lasagna and seafood pasta, but any entree can be tweaked to suit a vegan or gluten-free diet (no doubt due to the influx of NY/LA clientele, which includes Sean Combs).
If you prefer to digest your lunch in a hammock swaying in the ocean breeze, make way for Casa Violeta (Boca Paila 8, casavioletatulum.com), a thatched roof, one-room restaurant (with a hand full of top-notch cabanas to rent) that offers spa-like cuisine like zucchini carpaccio and baked tomatoes.
And if you are looking for light, fresh fare, look no further than Casa Jaguar (Carretera Tulum, Bocapaila, casajaguartulum.com), where bikini clad patrons nibble on mango ceviche and sesame crusted salmon while sipping the house's signature "Jaguar Juice," a sweet blend of hibiscus, cinnamon, orange, mint, and mezcal.
Posada Margherita/Posada Margherita
WHERE TO PARTY
Post-beach cocktails and bumping beats are in ample supply at Curandero (Avenida Tulum, curanderotulum.com), a bar and cafe outfitted with recycled and re-purposed furnishings on Tulum's main drag. Floor to ceiling windows ensure the dance floor doesn't get too sweaty, while a host of top-notch DJs lures a diverse crowd of tan beach bums.
HOW TO UNWIND
No trip to Tulum is complete without doing at least one "downward facing dog." The thatched-roof meditation room at Maya Tulum (KM 7, Carr Tulum-Boca Paila, rrresorts.com) hosts a vast array of yoga classes and wellness retreats (many of them hosted by New York and LA's premiere instructors).
WHERE TO INDULGE
Mud may not sound like the most glamorous of attractions, but Tulum is famous for its mineral-rich Mayan clay, which is said to sap toxins and impurities from the skin. For the most indulgent mud treatment, head to the Mayan Clay Spa (KM 8, mayanclayspa.com), where a comprehensive session includes clay body massages, masks, and baths.
Mayan Clay Spa/Mayan Clay Spa
MUST SEE SITES
Should you tire of tanning and celeb-spotting on the beach (though we don't know why you would), head inland to the Tulum Ruins, a massive 11th century walled Mayan city. The imposing steps up to the city's largest structure, the pyramid El Castillo, will definitely burn off a few of last night's margs.
Enchanting Challenge/Enchanting Challenge