Emma Block Illustration

Blog

The creative life of an illustrator living in London

Honeymooning in Tulum

 
tulum mexico guide emma block

When it came to choosing our honeymoon destination we were looking for beaches, good weather and culture. I saw a picture of Mayan ruins over looking a stunning beach and we were sold. Two flights to Mexico booked.

Tulum is a tale of two halves; a stunning beach with trendy boutique eco hotels, and the town which is more rough around the edges but full of local colour and flavour. We stayed in the town in a lovely Airbnb and cycled down to beach on the purpose built cycle path. I have read a lot of travel pieces on Tulum recently that pretend that the town doesn’t exist and that you should spend your whole time staying in beach hotels in eating in beach restaurants. I think that is a bit of a shame because you miss out so much of the local culture and colour if you never venture into the town.

tulum mexico guide emma block
tulum mexico colourful fruit
tulum mexico guide emma block

BEACH

On out first day we made the mistake of heading down to the beach, having a swim then lying down on our towels for a read and sunbathe. Big mistake, we both ended up with very burnt backs, despite slapping on the sun cream. I also fell off my bike, stepped in wet cement and turned green in the swimming pool, so we had a hilarious first day. You really can’t over estimate how strong the Mexican sun is. A few days later when our sun burn had healed we ventured back to the beach and did things the smart way. We went to Papaya Playa Project and rented a sun lounger for the day. The loungers are free if you are eating and drinking at the beach club. The days we spent at Papaya Playa were complete bliss; going for a swim in the incredibly warm, clear sea, coming back to our lounger to read, paint, drink smoothies and eat octopus tacos. Being served delicious Mexican food and cold beers whilst reclining on a lounger on a breathtaking almost empty beach was a new level of luxury for me, and I think Tulum has spoilt me for all other beaches. Also I could stay in the shade 90 percent of the time, which is really the ideal situation when you're as pale as me.

One of the amazing things about Mexico is how full of wild life it is. One of the best things that we did was to swim with wild sea turtles. You can swim with sea turtles for free at Akumel, you just need to hire a life jacket and snorkelling equipment. It’s a good idea to get there as early as possible before the crowds arrive. While in Mexico you should also keep an eye out for iguanas, pelicans, tropical birds and giant butterflies.

tulum mexico guide emma block
tulum mexico guide emma block

CENOTES

Another must do thing in this region of Mexico is to visit some cenotes. Cenotes are natural sink holes filled with fresh water. They are incredibly beautiful and an amazing place to go for a swim. We visited a few and our favourite was the Gran Cenote in Tulum. Large crowds tend to arrive from 11am onwards so I would recommend getting there before 9. Thankfully the jet lag makes it easy to get up super early If you have snorkelling gear bring it with you, and if you scuba-dive you are in for a real treat. Cenotes Dos Ojos is great for divers. 

tulum mexico guide emma block
tulum mexico guide cenote
tulum mexico guide cenote
valladolid mexico guide emma block
valladolid mexico guide emma block

VALLADOLID

If you love colour and folk art and want to see a less touristy side to Mexico you have to visit Valladolid. It's only a few hours away by coach, but it's a world away from trendy tulum. It's streets are full of colourful colonial buildings, perfect for exploring and taking photos. It's got a great selection of folk art shops and local boutiques. Cenote Zaci is a large cenote in the town that is worth a visit. My biggest regret of the holiday was missing the chance to visit the folk art museum because the infomation on TripAdvisor was wrong. What I saw through the door looked amazing! Coqui Coqui is a gorgeous perfume boutique and tearoom that you have to visit.

valladolid mexico guide emma block
valladolid mexico guide emma block
valladolid mexico guide emma block
valladolid mexico guide emma block

RUINS
There there are lots of Mayan ruins around Tulum but the ones at Coba were our favourite. They are in the jungle which thankfully provides some shade and also makes them super cool to explore. Hiring bikes is the best way to get around. Mexico doesn’t do health and safety, which is why seat belts are optional, you can swim in caves and you can climb up really tall Mayan temples. I didn’t know I had a fear of heights until I got to the top and couldn’t look down! The steps are steep and uneven so don’t wear sandals like l did! Whilst you’re in the area you can also check out the local cenotes and zipline across the lake.

coba mexico ruins
coba ruins mexico
emma block tulum

Our trip to Mexico was everything that we hoped it would be and more; sunshine, beaches, culture, colour, adventure and a lot of incredible food. There’s not been a day when we haven’t wished we were back in Mexico. It was a truly unforgettable honeymoon.