When the weather is cold, we dream of the beaches and the warm evening breeze of Bali. But when you’re living on the west coast of Canada, travelling to Bali is far from convenient. So, for us North Americans, Tulum, Mexico, is a more favourable travel choice. Tropical, with beautiful turquoise waters — and where a little bohemian meets modern sensibility — Tulum is located only 1.5 hours down the coast from Cancun. It is the perfect little getaway.

From the Cancun airport, Tulum is an easy destination. Simply drive straight down its alluring coast for approximately 2.5 hours, hang a left, and ease right into seaside living. We highly recommend renting a car because it’s more economical than taxis and offers you the freedom to explore the numerous and stunning coastal hotspots, including cenotes, water caverns and lakes. Depending on where you stay in Tulum, a car definitely makes it easier to cruise in and out of the main area. Tip: Make sure to pay for your car rental and insurance in Cancun (and not online) for a better rate. And, tag on that collision insurance because no credit card covers it (contrary to belief). Like I said, rent a car. You won’t regret it. Trust me.

 

En route to Tulum, you’ll pass Playa Del Carmen, a very popular vacation town and only forty minutes from Cancun. It’s definitely worth a visit if it’s your first time. Playa Del Carmen is a lively beachfront town filled with plenty of hotels, restaurants, shopping and nightlife. We stayed in Playa Del Carmen on our first and last night, as it broke up the drive and made a very early morning flight that much more manageable.

Tulum is made up of a main town area and oceanfront real estate running up the coast, containing 30 or more boutique hotels. The majority of oceanside hotels are situated close to the main town, with a handful just a few miles up the coast, back towards Playa Del Carmen. We stayed at two beachfront hotels in Tulum and they were both unique and beautiful. The first stop was Maria Del Mar, located in Tulum’s main oceanside beachfront.

 

Maria Del Mar is a small boutique hotel nestled between a local designer’s clothing store and Mina, a renowned South American restaurant. And like most oceanfront hotels in Tulum, the view is in the back. Once inside the hotel, you can look out towards the lush greenery, rolling tides and quaint two storey buildings (outfitted with cleanly designed rooms). You’ll notice this a lot in Tulum — minimalistically designed rooms with basic amenities. Think eco chic. But, if you really can’t live without a TV, Iphone dock and/or a gym, then Tulum may be a spot you’ll have to prepare yourself for.

 

Maria Del Mar was designed for relaxation. So, bring a great read, take in the glorious sun and relax. We’re here to spend time outside, lounge by the pool, tan on day beds and swim in the ocean (just a stone’s throw away). A very unique part of the property is a perch (just a few steps up from the pool) that offers hammocks and morning yoga classes with spanning, stunning ocean views. Since the property only has 18 rooms, you can even enjoy a little privacy — we would never see more than 6 or more people in or around the pool at any time. And, if you want to conveniently access food, drinks, shopping and activities, then Maria Del Mar is in the heart of everything you need, and yet, still feels relatively private.

After spending 4 very enjoyable days at Maria Del Mar, we drove to Jashita, a boutique hotel located in a small cove, just outside of Tulum’s town centre. Upon arrival, we honestly questioned the convenience of the hotel’s location — but that quickly dissipated as we eased into this private paradise of clear, calm waters and breathtaking views. The pool was perfect and just a few steps away from a private beach. The property was manicured and highly Instagrammable. Except for desiring a variety of food, there was really no reason to leave — ever. If we didn’t have responsibilities to return to, staying another week would have been an easy decision.

 

Jashita is your quintessential tropical boutique hotel designed by owners that want to keep their hideaway a little secret. It is situated beside private homes and amongst even smaller hotels, further building the mystery and exclusivity. The rooms are a little bit more equipped than most Tulum hotels, offering a more luxurious bed and bedding as well as a private cold tub on the outdoor patio. And when it comes to service, Jashita is friendly and just the right amount of attentive, so that you barely notice hotel staff even there. But, on the flip side, when you need someone, he/she will magically appear. Perfect. Without a doubt, we’ll find ourselves yearning to return to Jashita. It leaves an impression and the simple notion of, why did we ever leave?!