Happy Friday! We’re excited to bring you a guide to Tulum, Mexico written by HoH team member Kathryn Worsham Humphries who just went there last week. I went on a day trip to Tulum a few years ago with FMK and my family when we were staying in Playa del Carmen, and we loved it! We swam in the cenotes and explored the ruins and beaches. Kathryn and I were chatting about how it’s become quite the hotspot, so we wanted to share a handful of suggestions of where to stay, eat, and explore in case you have plans to visit. Continue reading for the full guide and a few pro travel tips!

Kathryn: I first started hearing buzz about Tulum, Mexico ten years ago when I was living in New York. Tulum is a small beach town a couple hours drive south of Cancun. It had been a popular destination for years among yogis and nature-lovers seeking peace and quiet away from city life. Thanks to Instagram, the town quickly became popular with a fashionable crowd. Fast forward to today, and Tulum is now a hotspot for young people all around the world who want to enjoy a beautiful beach and a bustling nightlife scene.

My husband and I were planning a one year anniversary trip and looking to go somewhere relatively easy to get to where we could relax, drink margaritas, and eat delicious food. After asking multiple friends for suggestions, we landed on Tulum. Even though it’s become quite the tourist destination, we had an amazing time and I think it’s definitely still worth visiting!

I realized on our trip that there are a couple of ways you can experience Tulum depending on how much relaxation you want. I personally enjoy more downtime while my husband likes to explore, and it was nice that Tulum offered plenty of opportunities for both. We spent four nights there and could have easily stayed longer. I wanted to share our favorite spots, including the two hotels we stayed at, day trip recommendations, and a handful of restaurants and bars that we loved. Read on below!

Where to Stay

Where you should stay in Tulum really depends on the type of trip you’re planning. There are dozens of hotels along the beach and also a handful of boutique hotels in Tulum town. If you’re wanting an authentic Mexico feel, you might want to stay in town and bike to the beaches during the day — most hotel beach fronts are open to the public. If you’re looking to be on the beach and close to the trendy restaurants and bars, there are lots of options along the singular road that runs down the beach.

We stayed in two hotels because our #1 choice was booked the first night we arrived. We wanted to be off the beaten path and on the beach. There are plenty of options that are bustling with music and a beach club, which we experienced the first night. For the rest of the trip we found a hotel that was truly tucked away. While most places in Tulum appear to be more on the lively side, it is possible to have an “off the grid” experience if that is what you are looking for!

Casa de Las Olas

In a word, Casa de las Olas is heavenly. It’s at the very end of the beach stretch of Tulum — literally the last place before you enter into a nature reserve through a Mayan archway.

This seven room boutique hotel is located down a gated driveway and nestled under a canopy of trees. Other than tropical birds chirping the only other sound on the property is the sound of the waves crashing on the beach.

A few of the suites have full kitchens, so in theory you could swing by a grocery store on your way there and never have to leave the property (this is how I will do Tulum next time!). There isn’t a beachside bar, but there is a chef who comes each morning to make a homemade breakfast and can also provide lunch and margaritas upon request (the margaritas are amazing!). Other than the breakfast, which is complimentary, the food and drinks are a bit pricey, so I would recommend stopping at a grocery store in town to stock up on snacks and your beach beverage of choice.

This hotel is eco-friendly and does not have air conditioning, which was actually very pleasant as it was a breezy 80 degrees during the day and 60 degrees at night. We kept the windows open so we could feel the breeze and fall asleep to the sound of the ocean. The hotel offers yoga a few times a week on their rooftop studio overlooking the jungle, and the staff can also arrange for a local masseuse (a must!). If you’re looking for beachside cabanas and service, look elsewhere, but if you want to be in a remote sanctuary this place is the best!

Rosa del Viento

If you’re looking for a relaxed atmosphere with beachside food and beverage service, I would recommend Rosa del Viento. There is a restaurant and bar on site with fresh bites and tasty cocktails (don’t miss the guac and shrimp tostadas!). The beach is relatively quiet with plenty of comfortable lounge chairs and areas shaded by palapas. The rooms are well decorated and have private balconies with hammocks overlooking the ocean. They have bikes for you to borrow so that you can cruise around town and a little library with games and books. We loved our one evening here!

where to eat



Arca is a romantic, candlelit restaurant with serious food cred. The chef worked for Noma in Copenhagen before partnering on this open-fire concept located on the “jungle side” of Tulum’s beach road. All of the dishes and cocktails we had here were fantastic. Like most places in this stretch of Tulum, it’s open air and lit by lanterns hanging from the trees.


Cetli is the most special restaurant we visited in Tulum. It’s just outside of Tulum town and you can tell it’s a magical place as soon as you step inside. There are only a few tables and you can peek into the kitchen where one woman is carefully preparing everyone’s meals. The decor feels like you are in a local home, and there is a courtyard in the back with a small shop selling linens and other home goods. You are given a complimentary appetizer board with delicious cheeses and spreads while you wait for your entrees (since there is one woman hand-making all of the food it takes a bit of time, but it is definitely worth it). Mole sauce is the speciality here and there are a few different kinds on the menu. The tamarind margarita is not-to-be-missed.


If you find yourself on a day trip outside of Tulum, be sure to make a stop at Chamico. This casual fish shack overlooks a lagoon and serves up super fresh ceviche and whole fried fish. Sip on a cerveza while you take in the view!


As the most renowned restaurant in Tulum, Hartwood is not easy to get into. It’s advised that you make a reservation a month (!) in advance. While the food and drinks are great, don’t be too disappointed if you can’t get in — there are so many other amazing restaurants! If you do manage to get a reservation, don’t miss the empanadas, whole roasted beet (trust me), and fresh fish entrees.

Mur Mur

Excellent dinner option on the jungle side of the beach road. Reservation recommended.

Taqueria Hornario

Authentic Mexican street food in Tulum town. We had the lechón and cochinita pibil tacos which were both delicious! Sit outside on their covered patio and enjoy the authentic ambience.


where to drink


Known for its disco ball, live music, Friday evening party, and fashionable crowds, Gitano is a bar that could be in New York City but happens to be in the jungle of Tulum (they actually have a New York location). The people watching is prime and there are multiple rooms and nooks to sip your cocktail in. They also have a full restaurant menu if you’re looking for another dinner option.

Todos Santos

Rather than a cocktail menu, the bartenders at Todos Santos ask what you typically like to drink and then mix up a custom concoction. Warning, if you order something “with tequila that is refreshing” they might make fun of you behind your back! If you’re into the DJ scene, make your way into the backyard where they have a dance floor set up for late night.

What to Do

If you’re content lounging on the beach you may not want to venture far from your palapa, but if you want to do some exploring there are plenty of options!

Mayan Ruins

Tulum is known for its Mayan ruins built in the thirteenth century. We made an attempt to visit them but the line was so long that we opted out. If you’re interested in seeing the ruins, be sure to arrive early in the morning to beat the crowds. Don’t forget your hat and sunscreen!


Tulum is home to many cenotes which are (in very basic terms) exposed caves filled with water from underground rivers. We visited the Dos Ojos Cenotes which were about an hour away from our hotel. You can scuba dive or snorkel (we snorkeled) and explore the underground caves.

Other Tips

Bring cash: Most places take pesos and USD, but paying in pesos will save you a bit of money. A handful of places do not take credit cards, and spotty wifi at restaurants can make credit card transactions tricky. ATMs in Tulum tend to have long lines and run out of cash.

Wear bug spray: Especially when dining on the jungle side of the beach road, be sure to wear bug spray to avoid mosquito bites.

Pack comfortable shoes: Roads and sidewalks in Tulum can be bumpy, so back comfortable sandals and sneakers. I brought one pair of wedges to wear to dinner, but otherwise wore flat sandals.

Take a Day Trip: If you want to explore the area, rent a car or hire a driver to take you around to the cenotes, ruins, and out-of-the-way restaurants like Chamico.

Do you have any questions about visiting Tulum? Leave me a line in the comments! ~ Kathryn

*Today’s post is by HoH team member Kathryn Worsham Humphries. After working in PR and marketing in New York for nearly 5 years, Kathryn followed her Texas roots home to Houston. As a House of Harper team member, Kathryn creates original content, facilitates brand partnerships, and works alongside Caroline to strategize the HoH marketing and editorial calendars. Outside of work she can be found decorating her Houston Heights bungalow house, practicing the art of hygge, and planning trips that revolve around food. She will happily create a dining itinerary for anyone traveling to either New York or Houston.