Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Flying solo! Tulum, Quintana Roo. Mexico

Solo travel is highly under rated. As soon I mentioned I am off to Mexico on my own, my friends called me brave, adventurous, insane and everything in between!
None of the above had the slightest postive connotation and not one person showed any signs of encouragement.
Being a nervous flyer, a sedative or 2 later I arrive into Cancun, the capital of spring break city for every college kid in the US of A, at that time of the year. 
I beat a hasty retreat, from the airport heading south and an hour and a bit later arrived into Tulum.
Tulum is the uber cool hipster hangout in the Quintana Roo state of Mexico.
Gorgeous places to stay, most labelled boutique and/or eco chic, draped with bougainvillea and white washed to perfection.

Powdery white sand, crystal clear azure Caribbean waves and a yoga studio every 10 meters. Paradise found!

Plenty of fashionista and stylista hippies in Louboutin wedges and Marysia swim wear swanning about, amazing restaurants, including raw food eateries and more than  a generous number of ‘green' smoothie bars dotted the landscape.

I had decided to spend 10 days here the plan was to ‘yoga’, ‘beach’ and explore the area.
Having spent hours on researching where to stay I picked 2 places, both had 5 star reviews on trip advisor and looked fantastic .
Playa Selva was a self serve situation and the other, Luv Tulum was a boutique property with breakfast and service through the day until sunset.
The beach was at my doorstep and plenty of shops, restaurants and yoga classes a minute's walk from each of these hotels.

The first evening armed with a flashlight, yes, it does get very dark even on the main road. 
I embarked on a mission to get the lay of the land .
Tulum is pretty straight forward, hotels on the beach side, the bars and restaurants on the jungle side.
Having made a little itinerary I had a plan for almost everyday most of which involved checking out the hot spots and eating way too much- the yoga would compensate or so I convinced myself.

This is my round up of faves.


Mur Mur is small and cozy,  I always met someone to chat with!
Drink the Spicy Paloma- Tequila with grapfruit, lime and spice! Snack on the new potatoes with sour cream and chorizo, everyones ultimate carb fantasy!

Gitano. Slick, sophisticated and the place to be seen. Known for the Friday night party after 10 pm with Dj’s mixing tunes.

Le Zebra – super fun for a Sunday evening led salsa dance class, music, drinks and dinner overlooking the Carribean sea.



Casa Banana is a must! My fave was super healthy antioxidant smoothie – beautiful to boot...they also have the best Argentinian style steaks, its always packed at dinner time as well.

The Real Coconut at the gorgeous hotel Sanara has amazing vegan and gluten free options, don’t eat before a yoga class. I did and had to postpone my class to the evening.

Raw Love – you guessed it, vegan, healthy and all raw super foods.


Taqueria La Eufemia – authentic tacos with a salsa bar, bang on the beach. Get there early!
This is also where I discovered the chelada – Beer with a massive shot of lime and Maggi Jus in a chili salt rimmed glass, totally refreshing.

Ahau Beach Club – a great place to get a cabana and spend the day, excellent food, service on a white sand beach.

Nomade hotel cafĂ© – A boho out of Morocco paradise, swank and glam.
Ziggy Beach – perfect for a day on the beach, stay past sunset  for live tunes and dancing and a pool table for those who prefer the shade.


Hartwood : with menus on blackboards and lines snaking a mile starting at 3 pm, is totally worth the one month advance booking I had made. Exceptional in all aspects!

Casa Jaguar – A laid back jungle vibe, excellent food- the baked avocado with the spiced ceviche is a must. A good place to start the evening.

Do and See.

Take a taxi and day trip to the Aztec ruins in Coba with a lunch stop in the colonial town of Valladolid.

Hike through the Muyil forest archaeoligical region and then float down the mangrove flanked canals.
Swim/ dive /snorkel  in the freshwater cenotes. A web of underground interconnected rivers, beware of manoeuvring through tiny tunnels if you are claustrophobic.

The Tulum ruins are small and beautifully maintained and the only ruins on the sea shore, well worth an evening or early morning walk.

The Mayan clay spa- Not being a huge fan of massages, I succumbed to  90 min of what seemed like torture,  in the spirit of adventure. Large lumps of hot clay thumped on my lower back and a few minutes later I felt my ascent from a most certain hell to a heavenly state of relaxation, soothed from all the aches of yoga classes and adrenalin soaked adventures. This ended with a 2 minute jungle walk n pitch darkness and a open shower under the moonlight and stars. Now i felt ready to take on the full moon party at the Papaya Playa Project.

A local cooking class – mine was at Lily’s home cooking school, called Riviera Kitchen - met some fun people and drank a lot of Mezcal. Mezcal is the new tequila, the difference being tequila is made specifically from blue agave and mezcal from most varieties of an agave plant.
Tequila and Mezcal is almost never drunk in ‘shots’ however sipped on ice with a slice of orange.... that is authentic way to imbibe this drink.
I fell in greed with the local sweet, mango with chili which Lily introduced us to.

I walked away with amazing recipes and a new found respect for traditional Mexican fare as opposed to Tex Mex, an invention of the Americans.

Indulge at the spa at BE Tulum, expensive, but worth every penny.


Tulum and the area has a number of lovely boutiques, each individualistic in style and more than a tad expensive .
Stand out stores are Coqui Coqui in Valladoloid - a beautiful perfumery, divine fragrances and oils for the body and home, all made with natural ingredients along with a jewel box of a tea room. A must for a spot of tea and treats.

Lolita Lolita in Tulum – Owned and run by Lolita of course who changed her name from Tanya, as she has a penchant for older men, she, her mum and aunt concoct products even those that enhance sensuality. Handmade organic soaps, shampoos, body lotions and potions.
The star buy  has to be the “PleasureKit” containing a love potion. A whiff off is going to put you in the mood, made from Damiana, a flower tinture. A lubricant made from cold pressed coconut oil, almond oil and ylang ylang a known aphrodisiac as well as cinnamon a skin tingler. The kit also contains a candle made from soy wax, rococo butter and hints of chocolate, all of this edible!

Caravana – beautifuly crafted one of a kind hand woven garments,'With a rhythm and a soul that remains unaffected by time or trends' is the way they describe themselves. Caravana have made the cut to Net –a- Porter too and is available online.

Top tips while traveling solo.

Get the lay of the land – through reading, looking at a map and taking a walk around the area where you are staying.
2    Identify a few spots and activities you may enjoy – then try them out, there is no downside.
3    Talk to the person next to you at the bar – there really are lots of people in the same shoes as you – You will be surprised how easy it is to meet interesting people you will end up with some new friends and great company for the evening !

      Be safe – which is easy if you are sensible. Take reliable transport and be independent, be aware of where you are headed especially if you are joining a people you have just met. Splash out on private guides and transfers as it will help you in saving time as well as give you the flexibility to tailor your experience. Enjoy the liberation that comes with making your own schedule or not having one. This vacation is your's to do as you as you please.


Take the plunge and fly solo.

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