Opinions can be divided about Tulum. The first time I visited I wasn’t sure, but I returned recently and found the right spots, and it’s really out of this world. One place I would recommend is a restaurant called Hartwood, which has a relaxed atmosphere and open fires on which everything is grilled – from fish to lobsters and langoustines. The menu is focused on seafood. The chefs travel around the local area finding ingredients and their dishes never disappoint. A good example is the Aguachile, a Mexican ceviche. I think they also offer steaks but I haven’t tried these yet.
There are two Tulums: the town and the beach strip, which are separated by a 15-minute car journey. The town is developing. There are lots of things going on and nice places. But there are also lots of construction sites and piles of rock scattered everywhere. It’s rough and fast-paced.
The beach is more developed. Its sand is really white, though the water changes colour. The last time I was there it was greyish, but the second time it was clear and lovely. I don’t know if it’s been done consciously, but somehow they have managed to make the beach an eight-kilometre strip where not one building looks ordinary. There are many wooden constructions and when it comes to hotels, rather than rooms in conventional buildings, there are huts to the left and right. Some places have pathways through jungle. Others have ropes hanging everywhere in the typical, bohemian style found throughout Tulum. I assume there must be an array of great architects working on the area since the buildings are all so amazingly designed.
One of my favourite places is called Nômade. It’s everything – a hotel, a restaurant, a bar and a beach club. It’s huge. There are pathways to the beach area where open fires light up the restaurants between which they’re situated. These restaurants look like the kind of tree houses children would build and are on four levels. On a typical evening, you get a drink, sit by an open fire, then move to the restaurant for dinner. Slowly, the restaurant becomes a bit of a party. There is some dancing and the music gradually gets louder, but in a relaxed way. It never becomes intense like a club.
The whole area is very alternative, even though it has become commercial and so many people visit. Yet when you stay here, all you see is jungle. There aren’t the blocks of hotels you get in so many other tourist destinations. I think that’s the beauty of it. They have managed to make this commercial development without ruining the nature all around you.
Hartwood, Carr. Tulum-Boca Paila 7-6 Km, Tulum Beach, 77780 Tulum; hartwood.com.
Nômade, Carr. Tulum-Boca Paila 10.5 Km, Tulum Beach, Zona hotelera, 77880 Tulum; nomadetulum.com