A need to digitally detox and disconnect from the world brought me to Tulum, Mexico, a little resort town on the coast of Quintana Roo, about 1.5 hours (80 miles or 128.2 km) south of Cancun. I didn’t know much about Tulum, nor did I really take time to do research on it, but I chose this place because I wanted to be south of the border to take a break from the Northeastern cold, and Tulum stuck out to me, like it was calling my name and I just had to be there. My sister, Joan, decided she needed to do the same and came along for the adventure.
Without expectations, the best unexpected things happen–the mantra I traveled to Mexico with, and surprisingly (or maybe not), the mantra that most people we met during our stay in Tulum lived by. Like most Americans, my sister and I arrived in Mexico with fear, the result of what we saw in the news, but left with thoughts that Tulum could serve as a second home. The kindness of locals and expats alike eased us into embracing the culture, and helped gain the confidence we needed to properly explore the area, allowing us to discover these 7 must-do fitness activities while you’re in this paraiso lindo:
Run Through the Dirt Trails of the Mayan Jungle
The purpose of this trip was to disconnect from the digital world and reconnect with the natural one in order to re-calibrate for the new year. To achieve that, we stayed in La Calma, a family-operated eco-lodge located in the middle of the Mayan jungle where electricity is limited and internet connection is unavailable.
About thirty minutes from the heart of Tulum, this quaint B&B mostly used for yoga retreats is in the same area as many of the popular cenotes including Dos Ojos and Sac Actun, sacred sinkholes and ecological feature distinct to the Yucatan Peninsula, so the dirt roads and trails are perfect for early morning runs where you can work off a sweat and cool off immediately after, finishing just in time for breakfast.
P.S. If you stay in LaCalma like we did, Svatka and Lucie will serve you the most nutritious, satisfying breakfast that will keep you energized the whole day.
Get Lost in the Magic of the Mayan Ruins
The history of the Mayan culture goes way back, and to really appreciate it, you must visit what the once thriving civilization left behind. There are many to choose from, but the ones worth exploring are the ruins in Tulum, Muyil, Coba and of course, one of the seven wonders of the world, Chichen Itza. Tulum is in town, and Muyil within half-hour, but Coba and Chichen Itza is a bit of a travel to get to–about 45 minutes to Coba from Tulum by car, and 2 hours to Chichen Itza.
Totally worth the drive though because you can’t help but get lost in the magic.. If you don’t have a car, most hotels provide buses to these archeological sites, or know where to catch one. Rock your best sneaks for optimal exploring experience because you’ll be allowed to climb some of these pre-Hispanic pyramids, and an Indiana Jones-style satchel for storing all the cool trinkets and “almost free” souvenirs you’ll find along the way.
Snorkel Pretty Much Where There Is Water
If you’re a mermaid and love to be in the water, we suggest you bring your own snorkeling gear because you’re going to have many opportunities to use it. Pretty much everywhere you go in Quintana Roo where there is water, there is snorkeling: drive to Akumal to swim with the turtles; sail on a catamaran from Playa Del Carmen to Cozumel for an all-day snorkeling excursion; swim with whale sharks around Isla Mujeres (June through September only); or snorkel in the cenotes nearby Tulum–Gran Cenote and Casa Cenote are the ones worth seeing. If you’re more of a hardcore mermaid, you can go diving in many of these places too!
Paddle on the Lagoon of Sian Ka’an
For avid SUPers, or even for first-timers looking to learn how to stand-up paddleboard, reach out to Nancy Kyd and her team over at SUP Yoga Tulum, the Mayan Riviera’s first and only Boga Yoga Stand-up paddleboard school. They provide paddleboard rentals, lessons, excursions and, of course, SUP yoga classes on the most beautiful waters of the Mayan Riviera.
We wanted to see Tulum from a different perspective and opted for a SUP tour; our guide Sian Macondo made sure we did just that and took us in the lagoon of Sian Ka’an where he shared with us interesting facts about its ecological trademarks. Sponsored by Papaya Playa Project and Boga Yoga, Sian is a professional kitesurfer so naturally he tried to convince us to take up kitesurfing–for sure next time, Sian! Afterwards, we went for a snorkel and dip in Cenote Cristal e Escondido. Muy divertido!
Dance the Night Away at La Zebra’s Salsa Sunday
Feel like salsa dancing the night away? La Zebra Hotel offers free salsa dance lessons every Sunday at 6PM, then you can show off your newly-acquired skills two hours later at the sultry salsa dance party with a live band and all and amongst Latin dancers of all levels.
Thank goodness the party takes place under the stars on the restaurant’s beach patio because the night can get HOT, especially if you begin to master your moves and hook onto a good dance partner who will make you want to dance all night long! Definitely a calorie-burning experience!
Zipline at Garrafon Natural Reef Park
Okay, this isn’t much of a fitness activity, but just a really fun thing to do while you’re there: ziplining at Garrafon Natural Reef Park on Isla Mujeres. If you decide to take a trip back up to Cancun to spend the day on Isla Mujeres, make sure you make it to the southern end to zipline across the beautiful crystalline waters of the Caribbean Sea.
This will probably take up only 30-45 minutes of your day depending on the crowd, so you’ll have time to do the other activities Garrafon offers like kayaking, swimming with dolphins and snorkeling through the reef. See–we told you there’d be a lot of snorkeling!
Yoga, Yoga, Yoga!
Tulum is without a doubt a destination for yogis looking to get away and deepen their practice. Wherever you end up staying or going for the day, yoga practice of all style is offered. You can begin your day or end it with yoga, in a studio, in the jungle, on the beach, on a SUP or a rooftop during sunrise or sunset–the options are limitless! Our favorite spot? Uno Astro Lodge with classes designed to give you an out-of-this world experience.
I don’t typically travel to the same spot more than once, but Tulum has that certain kind of vibe that I look for when I need to get away, not to mention it’s quite affordable and easier to fly to from the Northeast than most destinations out west. And if you know me, I like to get away A LOT! So make sure you stop and say “Hola!” if you see me out and about or lounging in one of the beaches (most likely planning out my next fitness adventure).
Oh, and if you’d prefer to keep connected, comfort and convenience, consider staying in Los Amigos, a boutique hotel located in the heart of Tulum just a block from the main street where restaurants, bars, souvenir shops and other conveniences are located. They provide bicycles at no additional cost to help you get around town, and rent out cars if you want to hit up places beyond town. Additional information and rates can be found at www.LosAmigosTulum.com.
Ever been to Tulum and did a fitness activity during your adventure we didn’t mention? SHARE THE LOVE and let us know by commenting below.