October 23, 17
THE 3 BEST HOTELS IN TULUM
Welcome to Paradise!!!
Once called the “Cancun-Tulum” corridor, the Riviera Maya is considered to be a top resort destination for travelers (especially from the US), that need a quick but relaxing getaway. Visitors line up to jump in and feel the crystalline blue waters of the Caribbean Sea, but the little Bohemian town of Tulum offers more than just a conventional escape for vacationers. On an all-girls trip with our closest friends, we were hyped to experience the magical and sweeping views of Tulum.
Driving into Tulum is like entering a new and sacred world, one that is filled with natural wonders and a sustainable lifestyle, that popular beach town resorts still have to catch up onto. The fusion of luxury boutique hotels with an environment-friendly approach towards their natural surroundings does not only give you a new outlook on how to live a more viable existence, but it also enables you to genuinely connect to the enchanting scenery around you and relax more than anywhere else in the world. Most hotels in Tulum use green architectural designs that tie in with the landscape and leave a minimal ecological footprint, revolutionizing the way we go on holiday, and compelling visitors to focus more on the essential qualities of life (NATURE).
With all that beauty to take in, we were excited to see what all the best beach-front hotels in Tulum had to offer, so we decided to check out as many as possible (that’s how sure we were on coming back to this mesmerizing ocean-front town, that Pablo Escobar once called his home).
For future visitors of the “City of Sunrise”, we share our three favorites and break down what makes them the best hotels in Tulum, Mexico.
As we stayed the first portion of our trip at Nomade Tulum Hotel, it was our opening introduction to a vacation that will be centered around connecting our mind, body and soul to mother nature and all that it has to offer.
An ocean-front paradise, the hotel joins Moroccan-inspired interior with contemporary architecture, cultivating a refreshing atmosphere of bohemian luxury. The place caters to flower children and affluent travelers alike, therefore attracting charismatic crowds from all over the world. Although it is as a tranquil adult retreat and entices would-be guests to indulge in serenity, families with young children are welcome here and we have seen many parents with their little ones during our 6-day stay. Relax in one of the beach-front cabanas and admire the view of white, soft sand and the peaceful ocean of the Caribbean. With delicious food, that encompasses tasty options for vegetarians and vegans and a unique selection of recreational activities, that range from rejuvenating workshops to bike rentals, the hotel delivers an extraordinary service to its guests. Ultimately, Nomade Tulum turns out to be a sanctuary that encourages personal transformation through a unique program of the healing arts, varying from yoga sessions to shamanic ceremonies. Be ready to turn a tropical escape into a journey of self-discovery and therapeutic restoration.
+ Free breakfast included (delicious choices for vegans); beach club during the day; best location – Be Tulum Hotel to the left & Casa Malca to the right
– Although kids are welcome, hotel amenities don’t cater to children; book regular room instead of deluxe tents if you don’t like open air bathroom facilities
At Yaan Energy Spa participate in their Temazcal Ceremony, a powerful Mayan ritual to purify the mind, body and soul held during new/ full moon.
From a personal residence of the most infamous drug lords ever, to a 5-star boutique hotel with staggering wall art and sculptures, Casa Malca is the perfect getaway for anyone who fancies a more private but quaint vacation. As the place is equipped with (only) 41 rooms and is not too far away from the protected Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve (towards the end of the Tulum strip), it offers a more mellow and discreet atmosphere, that is nonetheless thrilling through its grand and funky interior and unique cocktails at the beach-front bar. Hidden from the eyes of spectators, Casa Malca’s impressive entrance, that is surrounded by dense tropical vegetation, sets the tone of a memorable and extravagant holiday escape. Here you will experience a liberating journey of creative expression, as you absorb outstanding artwork of the most renowned contemporary artists such as KAWS or Jean-Michel Basquiat. By displaying pieces of his own ultra-rare collection, New York art dealer Lio Malca was able to transform Escobar’s private playground into a sophisticated getaway, that attracts not only a well-to- do crowd, but also creative-minded people with an appreciation for artistic expression and craftsmanship. The distinctive history of Casa Malca creates a mysterious atmosphere and provokes curiosity about how one of the wealthiest drug lords spent his time in paradise, which only enhances the extraordinary experience at this luxurious retreat. Whether you want to enjoy the view of a radiant sunset on the roof top deck, or gaze at the stars inside one of the hammocks by the glowing ocean at night, Casa Malca provides you with all that you need for an unforgettable retreat.
+ Untouched private beach, big outdoor pool
– Little to no choice of vegan dishes
This adult-only retreat offers you a once in a life-time experience, as it brings to life an environment with the pure purpose of nourishing body, mind and soul in order to become one again with nature.
There are 3 things to be attentive of when visiting this magical place:
- By building their own water passages that surrounds the premises, Azulik Resort establishes a connection between the guest and the element of water throughout the property.
- By using only candles as the main light after the sun goes down, Azulik Resort
conserves energy, while at the same time creating a romantic and dreamy
- By replacing air conditioning with floor-to- ceiling windows, Azulik Resort drives its
guests to take advantage of the cool ocean breeze at night.
August 13, 17
With over 80 accessible beaches on Maui, the island offers the most diverse views of ocean fronts. Whether it is sand of unique colors or the various beach activities to go about, you will never feel a sense of monotony while exploring Maui’s coast.
1. ‘POOLS OF ‘OEH’O’ (SEVEN SACRED POOLS) OR HALEAKALA NATIONAL PARK KIPAHULU
This beautiful utopian-like place should be Number 1. on your list of things to do in Maui, since you will find the most picturesque and impressive surroundings here. Arrive early and plan an hour to an hour and a half to reach the waterfalls. During the hike you will encounter many different landscapes with breathtaking views of the ocean, tropical guava trees and dense bamboo forests. Be cautious throughout the hike as it gets higher in elevation the further you go. Since the lush plantlife conceals some of the views, you don´t realize that you are standing on high cliffs, so be careful where you step or stop to take a break. Once you reach the pools, you will be rewarded with refreshingly clear water and a breathtaking view of the endless ocean.
678 Omaopio Road | Kula | Maui, HI 96790
2. ‘BLACK SAND BEACH’ OR WAIANAPANAPA STATE PARK
This uniquely colored beach consists of fine pitch black basalt rocks, that stem from volcanic sediment. With the turquoise waters of the ocean and the bright green plantlife around it, the landscape picks up a mesmerizing contrast. Although it can get busy here with many visitors admiring the landscape and crushing waves, it is definitely a must-see in Maui. The earlier you arrive, the more likely it will be that you can enjoy the dazzling setting without any crowds.
Wainapanapa State Park | Hana | Maui, HI 96713
3. ‘RED SAND BEACH’ OR KAIHALULU BAY
Unlike Black Sand Beach, Kaihalulu Bay has a tiny beach that is in part protected from the open ocean by an offshore reef. Therefore, the waters are more calm and it is easier to swim here. The red-blackish sand gets its color from volcanic fragments and the scenery looks like a painting due to its distinctive red and blue tones. One factor to be thoughtful of is that you are hiking on an edgy cliff and slippery rocks make the hike quite difficult. Make sure to watch your steps and be ready for a small work-out!
Uakea Road | Kaihalulu Bay | Hana | Maui, HI 96713
4. HAMOA BEACH
There is a reason that Hamoa Beach is considered the Nr. 1 beach in the USA. Without a question, this place has one of the most fascinating and beautiful landscapes we have ever seen! There is not much to say except for: Get ready to encounter one of nature’s finest tropical wonders of North America! One important note for surfers /snorkelers: Depending on the weather, the waves get extremely intense and big so take care if you are not used to severe surf conditions.
Hamoa Beach | Hana, HI 96713
5. MOLOKINI CRATER
Molokini is a volcanic crater that erupted approximately 230,000 years ago. As a natural resource with extremely clear water, it is not only welcoming visitors from everywhere interested in volcanic landscapes, but it is also a popular scuba diving/ snorkeling destination to spot sea life. The crater is only three miles off Maui’s southwestern shore and tours on yachts, rafts or catamarans leave daily from Maalaea Harbor.
Here is a link to a website where you can find tours and daily updates on weather conditions.
Address to Maalea Harbor:
101 Maalaea Road | Wailuku, HI 96793
WHERE TO STAY:
There are a few options on where to stay dependent on what you plan on doing during your trip:
Kaanapali, Lahaina, Napili, Kahana, Kapalua are the most popular and convenient areas for travelers, who enjoy restaurant dining and shopping. All beaches around these neighborhoods are very beautiful and scenic, and offer a wide range of water activities through hotels or rental shops nearby. While there are many high end resorts and condos in Ka’anapali and Kapalua, the whaling town of Lahaina offers more mid-range lodging opportunities. If you are looking for a more relaxing and soothing holiday, staying here might be not for you as you have to deal with traffic and large crowds by the beaches.
Reached by the legendary Road to Hana, East Maui is a peaceful place and unspoiled by the many crowds and large resorts. Isolated from other parts of the island, the town of Hana offers hikes to spectacular waterfalls, extraordinary beaches with rare colors of sands and a memorable atmosphere of a hidden tropical paradise. Although you will encounter many visitors exploring all the beauty Hana has to offer, staying here will give you the most authentic and heavenly experience as you can relax while becoming one with nature.
Kihei and Wailea are two of the towns on the island that offer cheaper lodging. The weather in these areas is great all year-round, as the sun comes through the most here. With over 6 miles of accessible beaches, visitors have easy access to changing rooms and parking. For beginners who want to learn surfing, Kihei Cove is the best call of all Maui and board rentals are nearby.
With lesser crowds and a more convenient proximity to the Road to Hana, North Maui is great for travelers who want a more local feel during their stay. As there are no hotels in the area, vacation rentals are the way to go. Baldwin Beach Park and the Historic Town of Paia nearby are the two top places to check out when staying here.
July 28, 17
MOOREA AND BORA BORA IN 8 DAYS
Our next escape and truly a dream come true was our trip to French Polynesia. Known to be the number one honeymoon destination, Tahiti and its neighboring islands are without a doubt embodying absolute paradise on earth.
HOW TO GET THERE AND WHERE WE STAYED:
We arrived at Fa’a’a International Airport in Papeete with Air Tahiti after an 8 – hour long flight from Los Angeles. From there we waited for our connection to Moorea, Tahiti’s closest neighboring island. Although Moorea is only a 45-min ferry ride away, we decided to continue our journey by plane, as leaving the airport and getting a ride to the harbor felt like too much work. However, if you pack lightly and want to go to Moorea asap, I recommend taking a taxi to the harbor and hop on a ferry. There are multiple ferry – crossings daily and tickets cost about 16 USD per person for one way (cheaper than the 65 USD flight ticket). Another good tip that no one gave us is that Air Tahiti offers multi-island tours, where you have more freedom exploring other islands as well. Make sure to definitely see both Moorea and Bora Bora. Here is the link to Air Tahiti and it’s island hopping tours: https://www.airtahiti.com/multiisland-fares
Located in front of a white sand beach, we decided to stay at the Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort & Spa for the next six days. Not only does the hotel provide beautiful views of the lagoon that surrounds Moorea, but it is also situated right in front of a spectacular mountain rising to the sky. As a ‘high island’ of volcanic origin, Moorea is a perfect hiking destination and a great place to work on your fitness (bring your hiking shoes!). The hotel offers complimentary snorkeling gear, stand up paddles and canoes for their guests, which you can use to explore the area. Just a short walk away from the resort is a small greenery area with a secluded beach – it made us realize how astonishing it is that Moorea kept its raw island feel despite it’s growing popularity and number of visitors annually.
THINGS TO DO IN MOOREA:
1. Belvedere Look-out, Pineapple Plantation and 3 Coconut Trees Pass Trail
Rent a car for the whole day and explore the approx. 40-mile (or 65km) long island on your own time. Ask your hotel if you can get a 4×4, as the road leading to the interior of the island (where the Belvedere Look-out is) can get bumpy. Stop at the pineapple plantation on the way to the lookout and explore the area with stunning views of colorful vegetation and high rising mountains. Afterwards, continue your drive towards the top. Once you arrive, park your car and look for the 3 Coconut Pass Trail to hike (taking about 3-4 hours in total). There are many slippery sections, so wear comfortable shoes and prepare for rain in the jungle. As a reward you will encounter scenic landscapes and lush bamboo forests with impressive color tones of green and emerald.
Overall, hiking and stopping at other unique spots such as coconut plantations and food trucks with local fruits along the main road will take time, so make sure to spend a whole day adventuring.
In the middle of a coconut plantation we found a “Tiki”, a sacred piece of art believed to represent protection for the people living close by. It is mind-blowing how Polynesian culture and religion connect to the physical environment and nature without interfering or abusing it.
2. Meet the stingrays and Nurse sharks:
The Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort & Spa offers daily departures of group tours from their dock, however we decided to rent a private motor boat from the hotel to check out the stingrays and nurse sharks (only a 15-minutes boat ride away). After our first and unforgettable experience with the ocean kittens in the Bahamas, we really wanted to spend more time in the area and rented the boat for two hours. Our captain was familiar with one of the 12 stingrays and it came right away to us. Knowing that people bring food for them, the stingrays get very touchy and close to you but don’t panic – they won’t harm you as they only want food and some love.
It is a beautiful experience, where you become one with the sea creatures and the ocean.
HOW TO GET THERE, WHAT TO DO AND WHERE WE STAYED:
Bora Bora is a 45-minutes flight away from Moorea and as you get into Bora Bora you will have spectacular aerial views of the lagoons and Mount Otemanu. Make sure to sit on the left side of the plane, once you enter the plane from the rear.
We chose to stay at Sofitel Bora Bora Marara Beach Resort and upon arrival at the airport we were greeted by our hotel personnel and escorted to their boat that took us to the hotel. On our 30-minute boat ride to the hotel we were taking in the fascinating colors of Bora Bora ranging from turquoise to indigo to azure. It was a breathtaking first impression of the “Jewel of the South Seas”.
Transportation, sightseeing and other activities will be organized through your hotel, so make sure to figure out what is offered and where you are located before choosing a resort. Check out hotels of Bora Bora here:
One of the activities offered through Sofitel Marara Beach Resort at La Plage (their beach) is boat rental to explore all of Bora Bora.
We were super excited to check out the lagoons and reefs of the island on our own thanks to French law that permits 6 hp water-vehicle rental without a boating license. As the motor boats are not too fast, you can go around all of Bora Bora in 4 hours (without stopping). After a short introduction on how to anchor our watercraft and the colors indicating the depth of water around the island, we were ready to leave for our private expedition. The boat came with snorkeling gear and a cooler, so make sure to pack food and drinks for the day out at sea.
Although it was scary to be all alone in the open sea at first, we realized that the waters are so calm and mostly not deeper than 9 feet (or 3 meters), that we felt more comfortable after being 30 minutes on the boat. We stopped at an empty beach without anyone else around to eat something and take some photos. It was a surreal experience and pure utopia.
After continuing our journey for another hour and a half we stopped at another beautiful spot close to the St. Regis Hotel. Our excursion was interrupted there when I stepped accidently on a sea urchin. Unfortunately, we had no idea that exploring the waters would be best with water shoes on. In a frenzy we decided to return to our hotel, where I was assured that if it had been a poisonous sea urchin, I’d be already paralyzed by now (not too comforting). After disinfecting the wound I felt much better and we enjoyed the rest of our stay close to the hotel… Whether it is the dreamy colors of the lagoons or the capturing landscapes and people, the islands of French Polynesia are truly magical and must-see destinations to visit in a lifetime. We will be back soon…