3 Gorgeous Hidden Gems In Tulum: New Kimpton Resort, Luxe Cenotes And More
Tulum is one of those magical spots that you can’t visit just once. There’s just something about its picture-perfect beaches, jungle-chic hotels, and fascinating Mayan ruins that lingers in your mind, nudging you to come back. But the key to making repeat trips to a destination feel as fresh and exciting as your first visit is to fill your itinerary with experiences you might have missed the first time. And the good news is that Tulum brims with under-the-radar spots that will make you fall in love with the bohemian beach paradise all over again.
Here are three hidden gems in Tulum that will make your second (or third… or fourth…) visit to this beloved vacation destination your best one yet.
Kimpton Aluna Resort Tulum
Looking for a peaceful spot to escape Tulum’s notorious party scene? Book a stay at the Kimpton Aluna Resort Tulum. Open for just over a year, Kimpton’s first property in Mexico is a stylish hideaway that perfectly captures the vibe of Tulum throughout the property. Each of the 72 tranquil guest rooms features a private terrace with lounge chairs and views of the pool or garden, handmade wooden furniture, neutral colored linens with accent pillows in soothing earth tones, and macrame wall hangings. They make for an atmospheric home away from home that will leave you restored.
The Kimpton Aluna Resort Tulum is more than just a place to stay, though—it’s an immersive experience that starts from the moment you check in. You’ll write down any worries that are on your mind on a small slip of paper, then toss it into a small fiery cauldron and watch them go up in smoke. At ground level, you’ll find Parallel 20˚, the breezy restaurant with spirulina bowls, chilaquiles, fish and chips, grilled yuca, artfully plated lobster salads, and tacos galore. There’s also a large pool with a swim-up bar. Look out for the friendly resident dog lazing about the area.
But this hotel takes things to the next level on its beautiful rooftop. You can easily linger for hours on the pillowed lounge spaces with a cocktail from the rooftop bar, Bhanu Sky Kitchen. Don’t be surprised if you stumble upon a tasting session of some of Mexico’s top mescals or a heartfelt cacao ceremony at the open-air yoga studio toward the back (or, better yet, ask the staff to arrange those experiences for you and your travel buddies!). The best part, though, is the adults-only pool flanked by thatched-roof cabanas. It’s the stuff Tulum dreams are made of.
Muyil Mayan Ruins and Lazy River Float
If you’ve been to Tulum before, you’ve probably already visited the ancient Mayan city of Chichén Itzá. The famous El Castillo pyramid is mesmerizing, but considering the crowds and the exhausting two-hour drive to get to the must-visit attraction, you might be eager for a unique cultural experience that’s a little more laid-back on your next visit to Tulum.
Fortunately, Mexico Kan Tours offers just that with guided excursions through the Sian Ka’an biosphere reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that’s still a somewhat of a hidden gem in Tulum. A half-hour drive from the main tourist area, this incredible expanse of nature features a fascinating collection of millennia-old ruins that once made up a Mayan trading post. Little to no crowds at this Tulum attraction allow you to get up close to ancient sites, including temples and a pyramid, and appreciate them in peace. Mexico Kan Tours’ good-natured guides are well-versed in the history of the site, as well as the flora and fauna of the area, so they can answer any questions you may have as you wander around.
The Mayan ruins alone would make for an amazing day trip in Tulum, but the tour doesn’t end there. You’ll take a short stroll on a boardwalk that winds through the jungle before having a picnic of fresh sandwiches next to a lagoon. Then, you’ll hop on a boat and ride through intricate mangrove canals that were once active trading routes before reaching the highlight of the tour: floating in a natural lazy river. Wearing a life jacket around your hips, you’ll jump from a short dock in the pristine turquoise water and float as the gentle current takes you through an ancient Mayan canal. Relaxing in the warm water with the sun on your face and listening to the natural soundtrack of birdsong might just be the ultimate wellness experience in all of Tulum.
Visiting a few of the Riviera Maya’s thousands of cenotes is one of the top things to do while traveling in Tulum. Once used by the ancient Mayans for spiritual ceremonies, many of these stunning subterranean sinkholes have since been turned into tourist attractions. If you have yet to visit a cenote near Tulum, make a point to spend a half day at Cenotes Casa Tortuga Tulum. Tours include immersions in a variety of different kinds of cenotes, including swimming holes in stalactite-filled caves and an open-air cenote with crystal-clear water the color of emeralds.
Afterward, experience a luxurious new take on the cenote experience at the nearby Buuts’ Ha’. Dubbed “the only club inside a cenote,” this recently opened Tulum attraction marries the natural beauty of cenotes with a Coachella-like atmosphere, sans the crowds. Think: Fantastical woven straw sculptures towering into the sky, boho boardwalks to get from one place to another, thatched-roof cabanas, overwater hammocks, and DJs that create just the right soundtrack for the experience. This place is bound to become the area’s next big hot spot, so check it out while it’s still one of Tulum’s hidden gems.