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Tulum/Playa del Carmen Trip

When did we go….

  • Dec 29 – Jan 8, 2022/23


Why did we go…

  • we decided last minute that we wanted to have another warm winter vacation and we couldn’t find anything suitable in Costa Rica or Hawaii so we headed back to Mexico
  • we enjoyed the Tulum beach strip earlier in the year and enjoyed our prior trip to Playa del Carmen for a friend’s wedding a few years ago
  • we were joined by our daughter Robyn and her friend Saskia (otherwise known as daughter 2.0)



How did we get there…

  • 6 hour direct flight from Calgary to Cancun and the same on the return with Westjet
  • 2 hour drive from the airport to our hotel in Tulum (the beach drive from the town of Tulum can take 30-45 minutes)
  • 1 hour drive from our hotel in Tulum to Playa del Carmen, but we took an all-day tour to see some other sights, which took 8 hours
  • 1 hour from our hotel in Playa del Carmen to the Cancun airport



Where did we stay…


  • Sanara boutique hotel
  • Sanara means ‘it will heal’
  • located 5 km south of Tulum on the Atlantic ocean
  • onsite restaurant called The Real Coconut, which had excellent healthy choices of food and drink
  • yoga studio with a view out to the ocean, which was a fabulous spot to ‘namaste’
  • we had a one bedroom that had two beds where the three (sometimes four) of us slept and an outdoor patio with two chairs and a sitting hammock that had an ocean view
  • no beachside pool but a lovely beach area and a private plunge pool across the street that was part of our daily routine
  • the service was outstanding and it was sad to leave these people behind but we will be back

Playa del Carmen:

  • Grand Hyatt
  • we had two rooms for us, and the gals, and both had ocean views
  • several onsite restaurants, fitness facility, lap pool, spa, pool/lounge chairs overlooking the ocean
  • centrally located two blocks from Fifth Avenue



Where did we eat…


  • The Real Coconut (breakfasts/lunches/dinners, beachside restaurant/bar at our Sanara hotel, exceptional healthy food, great service, amazing ocean/beach views, wonderful New Years Eve traditional Mayan dinner accompanied by lovely ancestral music)
  • Hartwood (dinner, very popular spot, different menu every day, excellent food, great service)
  • Ziggy’s (lunch, beach club setting on the ocean, excellent Mexican food, great service from Julio)
  • Posada Margherita (lunch, met the owner who started the restaurant 21 years ago, excellent Italian cuisine in a cool boutique hotel setting)
  • Casa Banana (dinner, fun vibe with some interesting people watching, great service, excellent food)
  • Casa Violeta (dinner, great Italian food, good service, nice ambiance)

Las Coloradas:

  • Lalo’s (lunch, great chow, huge lemonade drink)

Playa del Carmen:

  • restaurants at our hotel (all were very good food)
  • Fresco Habito (lunch, super healthy cuisine in a Cantina type setting a block from our hotel)
  • Zenzi’s Beach Club (dinner, beach setting, decent food, fun ambiance, live music)
  • Oh lala (dinner, quaint place just off the beaten track with amazing food, service and ambiance)
  • Birria (lunch, unique Mexican hole in the wall, very tasty food)
  • Trujillo’s (dinner, sat on upper patio, fun vibe, great food)
  • Axiota (dinner, authentic Mexican chow, nice chat with the owner Javiar, fun server named Joshua)



What did we do…


  • yoga at the onsite beachside studio
  • boogie boarding (good consistent flow of decent sized but not dangerous waves)
  • walked the beach which is very nice with soft sand and cool boutique hotels and bars along the whole beach
  • checked out the cool boutique stores along the beach strip (some very upscale items)
  • watched the sunrise (over the ocean) and sunsets (over the jungle) from our hotel
  • road bikes along the beach strip
  • checked out the cool entrance at Roc Luxe hotel
  • spin class with Saskia on a platform overlooking the ocean at Alma Ride
  • hung out at our private beach area reading and people watching
  • on our last day we departed with a guide who toured us to Valloidad (nice breakfast at Rua Café, town walk), Suytan Cenote, and Las Coloardas (pink/orange salt infused lakes were very cool)

Playa del Carmen:

  • enjoyed our hotel amenities (spa, fitness facility, lap pool, oceanside pool, reading)
  • did a couple of spin classes at our hotel through Rola
  • enjoyed the hydrotherapy at the Cenote spa in our hotel (lap pool for swimming, cenote warm pool & relaxation area, sauna, steam, hot and cold pools, and showers)
  • cruised the shops on Fifth Avenue (very touristy, so nothing exciting)
  • enjoyed rooftop drinks at the Thompson Hotel, Be Playa, and IT Hotel (traditional before dinner outing)
  • had some beverages at Chela de Playa brew pub
  • performed some karaoke at the Dirty Martini bar to Bryan Adams Summer of ‘69
  • rode the hotel bike around downtown Playa





  • Tulum is on the Caribbean coastline of the Yucatan Peninsula in the province of Quintana Roo
  • in the Yucatec language, Tulum means ‘wall’ referring to the large barricade that surrounds the city
  • it is known for it’s beaches and the well-preserved ruins of an ancient Mayan port city
  • population of 50,000 people

Playa del Carmen:

  • coastal resort town along the Yucatan Peninsula’s Riviera Maya strip of Caribbean shoreline
  • located in the state of Quintana Roo
  • known for its palm-lined beaches and coral reefs
  • Quinta Avenida (Fifth Street) pedestrian thoroughfare runs parallel to the beach with blocks of shops, restaurants, and nightspots
  • population of 300,000 people



What did we not do that is on the agenda for next time…


  • do a Temazcal ceremony
  • visit other cenotes and ruins
  • check out more of the beach strip hotels, restaurants, and shops
  • explore more of the town of Tulum and/or other local villages

Playa del Carmen:

  • visit Isla Mujeres
  • discover more off the beaten track restaurants, shopping and pubs



Final thoughts…

  • the weather was beautiful, with highs of 30 and lows of 20
  • the Tulum beach strip (oceanside and the road) are fun areas to hang out, dine, and people watch, despite the insane traffic
  • Tulum is becoming as popular as the other Mexican beach resorts and is soon to have an international airport in 2024