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The Azulik Hotel in Tulum

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Located in the Tulum National Park, the Azulik Hotel hosted us for our five day trip to the region. Built atop a natural hill, each cabaña boasts a vista over the shimmering azure waters of the Caribbean, and we couldn’t have hoped for a better home away from home.

Azulik Eco Lodge

Because of its location within the borders of a national park which is frequented by sea turtles, there is no electricity in any of Azulik’s cabañas. Candlelight all the way. Though it’s tempting to see this as an annoyance, it doesn’t take long to realize that it’s actually among Azulik’s chief benefits. No electricity means no TVs. No radios blasting from the neighboring hut. No opportunity to flip open the laptop and work. No entertainment other than sitting on the patio with a bottle of wine and the starry night sky.

An adults-only establishment, Azulik sells itself as a romantic getaway for couples, so there won’t be any screaming kids terrorizing your vacation. The hotel offers yoga and reiki sessions, massages and temazcal, and you can even hold your wedding here.

We stuck to the same schedule for every night of our stay in Azulik. Dinner, followed by a long bath in the wooden tub. Then sitting together on the terrace, chatting about the day or star-gazing in silence. And finally stretching out on the bed, and allowing the sound of the waves to carry us off into sleep. It’s relaxing just to remember it. The Azulik is a perfectly romantic place to escape from the stress of your regular life.

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Azulik Eco Lodge
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February 11, 2014 at 6:07 pm Comments (2)

Pictures from Tulum Town

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The beaches are unforgettable, but there’s a side to Tulum which has nothing to do with sand or turquoise blue waters. And that would be the actual town, where most of the locals live and work. It’s not quite as picturesque, but don’t let that keep you away… we enjoyed the pueblo almost as much as the coast.

Tulum Blog

Tulum Town provides a nice dose of “normal life” after the paradise-overload of the beach. The bars and restaurants are good, and a lot cheaper. And though you’ll see a lot of tourists wandering the streets, and a few chintzy souvenir shops, the pueblo has managed to retain its Mexican identity.

Location on our Map

Vacation Rentals in Tulum

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February 11, 2014 at 3:21 pm Comment (1)

Swimming with Sea Turtles at Akumal

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We were floating on our bellies in the waters of Akumal Bay while, just a couple meters below, giant turtles grazed on sea grass. It was an experience that instantly joined the ranks of my all-time favorites.

Turtles Akumal

We had been skeptical upon arriving in Akumal, a small town just north of Tulum. Yes, our friends and acquaintances had raved about it, but really: a place where you can swim with sea turtles? For free? I’ll believe it when I see it. We expected that Akumal would prove to be just another tourist trap on the over-developed Costa Maya.

At first, our fears seemed to be borne out. Akumal is swarming with foreigners, and to get to the beach you have to fight through an obnoxious lineup of salespeople hawking special tours and experiences. But the beach is free. And despite the crowd, we had no problem finding a relatively quiet area.

We spread out our towels underneath a palm tree. So far, so good. But still, we were distrustful. We’re just going to swim out into the water, and presto there will be sea turtles? Just like that, grazing and unconcerned by our presence? Yeah right! We grabbed our snorkel gear and swam out into the bay, and almost immediately we found sea turtles. Just like that.

So many turtles! And so big! I chose one and swam alongside it for awhile, watching as it ate. Occasionally, it would run out of air and slowly climb to the surface. Such moments which were exhilarating, since it truly didn’t care about my presence, and would come so close I could have easily reached out and touched it.

We stayed in the water for almost two hours. You might think that watching turtles eat grass would quickly get old, but it didn’t. While in the water, we saw some coral formations and families of colorful squid. But the stars of the show were the turtles… such beautiful, peaceful creatures, simply watching them made me content and relaxed. Akumal is a special place in the world. If you’re anywhere near the area, swimming with the turtles is an experience you shouldn’t pass up.

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-Video and photos taken with this Underwater Camera

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February 10, 2014 at 4:13 pm Comments (3)

The Ruins of Tulum

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Memorably set on a bluff overlooking the turquoise waters of the Caribbean, the ruins of Tulum are perhaps the most picturesque on the peninsula. The site itself is small and compact, and none of the surviving buildings are particularly large, but this doesn’t make the place any less impressive.

The archaeological zone can be extremely crowded, especially on a sunny day like the one we chose for our visit. To view certain buildings, or take a picture from the designated vista panorámica, we were even forced to queue up. But that was alright. It was a beautiful day and the ruins were so lovely that not even hordes of other tourists could spoil our moods.

All the buildings in Tulum are small, which was by design. Just as at Cozumel’s San Gervasio, the Maya knew better than to build huge pyramids in zones regularly afflicted by hurricanes. Unfortunately, visitors are kept well away from any of the ruins. Climbing around on them is strictly prohibited, and you can’t even get close enough to look inside. This is particularly frustrating at the Templo de las Pinturas, which contains amazing interior murals.

But the exterior detail on many of the buildings is also stunning, and the best part of Tulum has nothing to do with antique masonry at all. At the foot of the site, there’s a gorgeous public beach. Bring swimsuits and a towel, and you can swim in pristine water with the ruins of Tulum rising majestically on the cliffs above you.

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February 8, 2014 at 3:09 pm Comments (0)

A Trip to Tulum

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We saved Tulum for the final road trip of our stay on the Yucatán Peninsula. Everything we’d heard had suggested that this city perched on the edge of the Caribbean would blow our minds. And everything we’d heard was exactly right. Tulum is paradise.

Tulum Beaches

You know who Tulum will appeal to? Rich, retired hippies. Paradise doesn’t come cheap, and to get the most out of it, you’re going to need both time and money. And you’re going to need the right mindset. Tulum isn’t for golf-playing former executives and their mascara-laden wives. It’s for your kooky Aunt Janice, who discovered yoga in her sixties and believes in the healing power of the moon. Seriously, Aunt Janice is going to love Tulum. She’s going to swim with turtles and meditate on the beach. She’ll take a young lover and later torture you with the details of their passionate exploits. Aunt Janice shares too much, and you cringe every time she uses the word “lover”, but look at her. She’s glowing. Good for her.

You know who else Tulum will appeal to? Poor, young hippies. If you don’t need comfortable lodging and beach-side massages, you can enjoy Tulum on any budget. There are cheap accommodation options in town, and good, inexpensive restaurants. The sun, the ocean, the party atmosphere, they don’t cost anything, and you’ve got your dreadlocks and your guitar. I’m sorry: your ukulele. You’re going to find tons of people to jam with on the beach. Keep your hands off Aunt Janice, please, but otherwise have fun, young hippie. You’ve found your place.

Tulum Beaches

I’m being too snarky, but there are a lot of hippies in Tulum, and hippies get my snark juices flowing. Tulum is the kind of place where you’re more likely to see someone dressed as a harlequin than in a suit and tie. I mean that literally. We literally saw more harlequins than businessmen in Tulum. And I don’t mean, they were going to be performing on stage or something. I mean, they were dressed as harlequins because this is how they choose to live. Clown-trannies. Hey, I respect it.

So yes, it’s hippie paradise, but you know who else Tulum is going to appeal to? Everyone. I seriously can’t imagine anyone disliking this place. It’s absolutely magical. The amazing beaches, the restaurants and the hotels. The beach clubs. The town itself, the ruins up on the bluff. The crystal clear water and, yes, even the hippy-vibe. By the end of our five days in Tulum, I was more in touch with my spiritual side than I’ve ever been. I felt closer to nature. I had experiences in Tulum that made me reflect on what was really important in my life. And I’m being completely serious.

Tulum inspires a kind of relaxed state of inactivity, but we resisted the urge to spend all day on our balcony at the incredible Azulik Hotel, and kept our schedule pretty full. Apart from the beach, there’s so much to do in and around the city that we didn’t have a moment to spare.

Location of Tulum on our Map

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February 7, 2014 at 10:05 pm Comments (2)
The Azulik Hotel in Tulum Located in the Tulum National Park, the Azulik Hotel hosted us for our five day trip to the region. Built atop a natural hill, each cabaña boasts a vista over the shimmering azure waters of the Caribbean, and we couldn't have hoped for a better home away from home.
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