Like the idea of Mexico and perhaps you’ve seen photos of Cancun, but you want something away from crowds and more relaxing? Then Tulum is more than likely somewhere you will really enjoy. I liken Tulum to Canggu (in Bali) five years ago. It has enough infrastructure to keep you comfortable while still being raw enough to enjoy real, local culture and walk barefoot without feeling out of place. To put it simply, you can be yourself and enjoy the beautiful white sandy beaches, the Cenotes (swimming holes – see below) and delicious food without anything pretentious. Don’t get me wrong, like a lot of us, I enjoy a 5 star hotel from time to time, but for me, nothing beats seeing the real beauty of a destination by escaping the 4 walls of your hotel room and immersing yourself in everything it has to offer. Especially when that destination has yet to become overpopulated by humans, which fortunately hasn’t happened at Tulum…yet.
In Tulum you can find shack style beach accommodations along the main strip and most people ride bicycles (not motor bikes) to explore the various beaches, cafes, restaurants and bars. By no means is Tulum ‘built up’, so there is not tonnes of options, but there is certainly a handful of places that I loved eating at so I have summarised them for you below (we did go to some others, but these are the only ones I would recommend if you are 100% plant-based and looking for delicious vegan food).
Hands down my favourite place in Tulum. We went here maybe 6 times in a week across lunch and dinners. Setting wise it’s got a slightly bohemian feel and has a mixture of standard tables and then some smaller tables with cushions (we opted for the tables on the floor with cushions each time). We even had a slight misunderstanding one evening with the waitress and despite some unusual customer service, we gave the place another shot and I still recommend this place as the #1 spot in Tulum for delicious food and a beautiful setting. My favourite meals here were the sushi (vegan option with Tempeh), Tempeh rice paper rolls and the Quinoa bowl with Tempeh. The restaurant is not vegan, so you need to ask them to swap the fish for tempeh, but it’s on the menu and they are very used to it. Little tip: even at dinner, ask the waiter for the lunch menu…they will happily get it especially if you say you are vegan and then you can choose across the two menus. On Fri and Sat nights (perhaps a few others), they have live music so if you are organised ahead of time, call up and book one of the front tables…cracker date spot gents!
Nomade also has hotel rooms and offers sound healing, human design and various ceremonies which are worth checking out if you are interested in trying something new.
A raw vegan cafe nestled between palm trees at Ahau Hotel which is a beachfront hotel. Raw Love serves up delicious smoothies, smoothie bowls, raw savory dishes and great coffee options with various plant milks on offer. They also have some raw vegan treats for the sweet tooth’s out there. If you feel like really kicking up your feet after you finish your meal, make a beeline for one of the hammocks. My favourite dishes here were the Nearly Raw Pad Thai, Living Pizza & Alkalize Up Smoothie.
I first went here over 2 years ago and pretty much went every single day. Charly’s tacos, as the name suggests, is 100% vegan and is crazy good Mexican food. They have tacos, salads, coconut ceviche and heap of other interesting dishes. Good spot for lunch or a quiet dinner. Location wise it is not far from Nomade and Be Tulum.
This hotel has quite a few vegan options on it’s menu and they are apparently getting even more. If you don’t have breakfast included in your hotel, I would recommend going here one morning for breakfast. Positioned right on the beach so you can see the ocean as you eat.
Gitano is a little more upbeat in that it has a bar and restaurant vibe so if you’re wanting something that is a little louder and serves a range of cocktails, then this should be on your list for dinner one night. We really enjoyed the Lentil Dahl pot (make sure you ask for it without yogurt on top), grilled avocado and the cauliflower dish.
Set right at the other end of the beach from Nomade & Be Tulum is Mezzanine – super delicious Thai food. I have to thank Dr. Michelle McMacken for the recommendation! We started with ‘Pangas’ which are sort of like a betel leaf with tofu, mango, chili and nuts with a delicious sauce inside. We then had the Sweet Potato Yellow Curry and the Penang Curry with Tofu (we requested the tofu addition and it was fine). Great place for dinner or lunch and is set on a beautiful part of the beach (see below). Mezzanine is also a hotel so you can stay there, but I personally would recommend staying at the Be Tulum/Nomade end of the beach strip as it’s a shorter bicycle ride to the cafes and little shops.
Enjoy – and if you do check one or more of these places and happen to take a photo, please tag me, I love seeing everyone’s travels!
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