2/11/16

Tulum, Mexico + The Riviera Maya

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"Take a lover who looks at you like maybe you are magic."
Frida Kahlo


There is always a fragment of magic involved when it comes to traveling, but when you head south to a land of tropical bliss in the Riviera Maya and into the quaint city of Tulum, you are destined to be swaddled in magic. From the turquoise clear water, to the white beaches dusted with sand, there is a hint of harmony that lingers in the salty air and in my soul. And it's that harmony the seeps into your mind, into your thoughts and radiates out into your day until you are free.

Our days in Mexico reached a level of relaxation that I never even knew existed. Or perhaps those feelings have been so suppressed by parenthood and the chaos we call life that I forgot they were attainable. Yet, somehow we managed to enjoy five whole days in a moment of bliss; a moment of peace. In those five days, life was simple.

While my husband and I have both been to Mexico, we've never been to The Riviera Maya, which is the stretch of Caribbean coastline on Mexico’s northeastern Yucat√°n Peninsula. I was a bit surprised to find this area was comprised of mainly moderate to high-end resorts, several of which are all inclusive. Not usually our cup of tea, but it worked in this situation. Because let's be honest, the real reason we chose this destination wasn't because it was on our bucket list but rather to see Phish. When the announcement came that Phish was to play at a tropical destination my bags were practically packed and I had the grandparents lined up to babysit. I was ready to head out the door; with or without tickets.

Just south of this area is Tulum, a hidden gem tucked away between rustic beaches with a boutique feel and the ancient Mayan ruins that loom over the oceanside. Tulum was, by far, my favorite region. Cities line the beaches from the north to the south, but Tulum is truly unique.

We stayed north of Tulum at the Fairmont Mayakoba, part of the package that we purchased for Phish Riviera Maya. While the Fairmont was outstanding on its own, I have to admit it was outshone by its sister resorts; The Rosewood and The Banyan Tree. Our suite was tucked into the jungle side, just off the main cobblestone path that connected the entire resort. Follow this path and you will eventually reach the ocean; an extensive beach that was filled with the tiniest conch shells, painted blue skies, casitas and cabanas and, well, a plethora of upscale Phish phans that banded together like an army of one.

The weather was typical for the tropics, hot and humid with small bouts of showers, which somehow timed themselves to land perfectly mid concert when everyone was in their dancing prime. To feel the warm rain against your skin and the cool, crisp sand on your dancing feet, to smell the salty ocean air and to hear the perfect balance of music radiating out over a dedicated crowd was perfection. In that moment, it was the golden age. The Mexican night sky came alive after the setting sun, like Prince Caspian casting his sword across the horizon. The light sparkled bright above the ocean and eventually faded into the darkness.

But like any moment in time, it all comes to an end. We arrived home with a stash of memories and a sense of joy; our spirits were exhilarated and uplifted. Sometimes, all you need is a little get away to refresh the mind and jump start your life.

A few of my recommendations for this area:

Fairmont Mayakoba | The next time we head to this area we'll most likely stay in a boutique hotel in Tulum, but I do recommend the Mayakoba. If you are willing to splurge I recommend The Banyan Tree, which harbors an Asian influence, or The Rosewood, where roads are replaced by water canals that weave their way throughout the resort.

Zamas | This rustic hotel located in Tulum offers a breath taking ocean view, a beach filled with free-standing bungalows and a restaurant that is out of this world. Our lunch here was by far one of the best meals we had in Mexico. The spear caught snapper and ceviche were the perfect match for a sunny, beachside afternoon. And the cocktails were some of the finest we had.

Hartwood | Unfortunately, we never made it to Hartwood because they are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, but everyone highly recommended this New York City chefs-owned restaurant. Serving only the freshest, finest and local foods, it seems that the big city transplants have certainly made a name for themselves down south.

The Real Coconut | Pretty much right up my alley. This all-natural restaurant serves food prepared from the freshest local ingredients with a large array of juice and smoothie options.

Josa Tulum | These absolutely stunning dresses are so versatile they could be worn from beachside straight into the night life. Trust me, they are worth every penny!

by James | I saw a pair of these simple, yet chic sandals in our resort gift shop, but unfortunately, they didn't have my size in any of the styles. I'm hoping to snag a pair online.

mr. blackbird | I don't wear a lot of jewelry these days, and when I do they tend to be dainty and delicate, but I do love a good statement piece. This shop focuses on handcrafted jewelry and accessories that make a statement.

Coqui Coqui | Another boutique that was recommended by a few friends but, unfortunately, we never made it. Fresh, original fragrances are blended together to capture the exotic sense of life and culture in the Yucantan Peninsula with these charming perfumes.

Must do activities for the area: snorkel, zip-line through the rainforest and ride ATV's to the cenotes!