Find a cenote, a large sinkhole, resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater underneath, and swim in one. Arrive early and bring towels, water shoes and snorkeling mask. We liked Cenote Dos Ojos for crystal blue water and cool rock formations including stalagmites and stalactites. I am not going to fib to you, the water is bracing. But, once you are submerged, it is a lifetime experience
Explore a local supermarket. They stock nearly everything you need at affordable prices. We found Chedraui in downtown Tulum. Bring your own bags as they only offer reusable bags for a small fee for carrying out your purchases. They have vats of mole options as well as a wonderful panaderia along with cheeses, fruits and vegetables. You can also buy a motor scooter or a washer and dryer. My trick is to make a shopping list before we leave home of breakfast, lunch and dinner options and pick it all up from the local market before we arrive at our Airbnb. The supermarkets sell liquor so it really is one stop shopping.
You have to explore the Tulum Ruins but arrive at opening at 8 a.m. to beat the crowds from the cruise ships but look out for aggressive locals, posing as official guides, trying to get you to pay to park and ride to the ruins. There is parking available for a couple of pesos and you can walk less than a mile to the ruins free of charge. Look for iguanas, they are everywhere but tricky to see at first.
Try out all the different beach options from public, to national park beaches to private clubs just to experience the blue water and views in unique ways. They all had their pluses and minuses. It is nice to spend one afternoon at the private hotel beach club because the seats are nicer, more shade options and off course waiters to bring you food and drink (for a price)!
Yoga…on the beach is fun especially if you do it early before it gets too hot. We scheduled our time for 9 a.m. on a Saturday. Our teacher, reserved through Viator, was professional and we wore headphones so we could hear her guided instruction over the sound of the waves and we did not bother other guests with our music. For me, it was the first time doing yoga outdoors, which was a very different experience. Balancing on sand is challenging! The five of us in our group were her only clients, which was special.
I am not going to recommend Hartwood. Not bashing them but I think you can save your money, eat at other less trendy restaurants and have as good a meal. The lamb mole tacos were good as was the ceviche. I thought we were going to eat in the jungle at Harwood, off the beaten track, but it is located on the main road to all the beach clubs and other restaurants. I felt a little spoofed.
Shopping is limited but on our last couple of hours before heading back to Cancun for our flight, we found a few nice places on the main highway. Mexicarte was a favorite but there were several small shops with local crafts on this stretch of the road. Be sure to save pesos for this final shopping trip, as they don’t always take debit cards.
In our Airbnb, we had a fully equipped kitchen, which I adored. I love to shop at the local grocery store and then prepare homespun meals after a full day of exploring the area. It completed the day for me and we all stayed healthy and saved pesos for other options.
Look around at all the tropical plant life. The succulents were amazing. They, like the Grinch’s small heart, grew three sizes that day.
Driving in Mexico was exhilarating with a few “oh sh–” moments. There are few rules, more dirt roads than paved, and we did a little off-roading to get to our Airbnb. Reminded me a bit of the bumpy pot-holed dirt roads around my Kansas hometown.