Tulum is the perfect place for those looking for a laid-back tropical setting in relaxing surroundings. The whole of the Riviera Maya has beautiful white sand beaches and turquoise waters, but in Tulum you don’t have to share them with many people. Relatively small and intimate, Tulum is nevertheless larger than some places on the coast, like Akumal or Puerto Aventuras, and features more services and attractions. Thanks to the lovely coral reef just off the coast Tulum is a great place for snorkeling and scuba diving, and the beaches are safe for swimming. The renowned Mayan ruins look out across the Caribbean Sea and a lovely beach below. Tulum is about eighty miles south of Cancun, forty miles south of Playa del Carmen, and just a couple of miles north of Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, a fabulous area of protected mangroves which is great for a day tour by boat or kayak.
There are plenty of cenotes (freshwater caverns perfect for swimming and snorkeling), and just thirty miles inland is the Mayan archeological site of Cobá. Not too long ago Tulum had very little in the way of services, but now it has banks, ATMs, and some really great bars and restaurants. This is a tranquil refuge for kicking back in a hammock on the beach, taking the occasional swim, getting snacks at the beach palapa, and maybe doing a bit of yoga. So if you’re looking for a huge array of bars, restaurants, and nightlife you’d be better off in Playa del Carmen or Cancun.
Nevertheless, Tulum has plenty of quality bars and restaurants. There are, of course, several Italian restaurants, a ubiquitous feature of Mexican destinations, but there is one that is really worth mentioning due to the outstanding quality of the food and preparation – Posada Margherita. Set on the beach and enjoying dreamy ocean views, Posada Margherita is also a, well, ‘posada’ (a small hotel, with beach bungalows in this case).
The freshness of the pasta and bread made on the premises and of the fish caught daily makes me wonder whether any dish could turn out badly, regardless of what they did with it. They say it’s the quality of the ingredients that counts most, and that seems to be borne out at Posada Margherita. The fish with shrimps and cherry tomatoes in a brandy sauce is still lodged somewhere in my palate memory, along with the red snapper and the fettucine with mushrooms and broccoli. The wine list is excellent and the service very friendly.
Another exceptional restaurant that is also a part of a boutique hotel overlooking the ocean is the Mezzanine, where you can combine excellent accommodations, Thai cuisine, and a cool bar with lively nightlife, or just visit for the delicious and authentic Thai cuisine. The chef is from Thailand and it shows in the culinary quality of what comes out of the kitchen. All the appetizers we had were extremely tasty and for the main course the Thai pad with chicken and the yellow curry with shrimps ensured that we will be coming back to the Mezzanine on our next visit to Tulum.
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