Hit the road to the UNESCO World Heritage site Sian Ka?an Biosphere reserve, a stretch of protected land lined with lagoons, beaches and a section of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System. Study the flora fauna with bilingual guides (+1 52 984 871 2202;www.siankaantours.org). Stop by the quaint fishing village of Punta Allen 2.5 hours from Tulum. Be warned, you?ll need a four-wheel drive for the treacherous roads. Tour the ruins of the walled city of Tulum just five minutes from the hotel. Believed to be the home of the 40,000 Maya, the ruins of pre-Columbian Cob? ? about 27 miles from Tulum ? are usually less packed. You?ll find two lagoons and the tallest pyramid of the Yucat?n amid this jungle-fringed site. The light traffic of Tulum and well-marked paths keep bikers pedaling to surrounding beaches. Rent some wheels and cruise solo or take a guided tour through the jungle at Iguana Bikes in downtown (+1 52 984 119 0836). Get adventurous: explore cenotes on a dive or spot giant snapper on a snorkeling trip, just a five-minute drive from the hotel (+1 52 984 807 8805; www.mexidivers.com). From basic courses for beginners to refresher sessions for seasoned boarders, athletes will love pulse-quickening kitesurfing classes (+1 52 984 745 4555; www.extremecontrol.net).
One of the newest dining dens in town, Hartwood, run by New York natives Eric Werner and Mya Henry, offers contemporary American cuisine featuring locally sourced ingredients. Seafood and steak is served on cast-iron dishes and chunky cutting boards. The restaurant is just steps away at Boca Paila Km 7.6. Belly up to the whitewashed bar and order a spicy grapefruit margarita. The menu changes daily (www.hartwoodtulum.com). Located inside the eponymous hotel, Posada Margheritaserves hearty home-made pasta and wine from Chile, Argentina and Italy (+52 984 801 8493; www.posadamargherita.com). For Argentinean steaks, live-music-packed weekends and a solid wine selection, head to Casa Banana, just down the street from the hotel at Boca Paila Km 8.5 (+52 984 806 2871; www.casabananatulum.com). Casa Violeta hotel?s restaurant serves wood-oven-baked pizzas and freshly caught fish. Try the mixed grilled seafood platter, and sit at a table with a view of the water (+52 984 879 0294; www.casavioletatulum.com). Open only for dinner, Hechizo will satisfy serious gourmands. Run by chef Stefan Schober and his wife/pastry chef, the name of this tucked-away restaurant means enchantment ? one taste of the amuse bouche and you?ll realise why (+ 52 984 879 5020; www.hechizotulum.com).
Colourful ceramic skulls and curios punctuate the shelves of Juan y Jos??s mezcaleria, a 10-minute car ride away in Tulum Pueblo. Among the few late-night joints, this will likely be the last stop for party-seekers, open from 6pm to 3am. Grab a cab and pop in for the lemon grass-infused mezcal.
Caf? Gaudi, a cash-only java joint on Avenue Tulum between Calles Alfa and Jupiter, serves delicious breakfast dishes and good coffee. Searching for memorable meat-free options? Stop here for lunch.
Photo: Shutterstock My first impressions of Tulum, Mexico were not promising. The multiple police checkpoints en-route and the rough deep...