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ULTIMATE QUIDE FOR QUINTANA ROO

The places on the Caribbean coast offer you white sand beaches and crystal clear water surrounded by palm trees. It's also known for its excessive parties, especially around Spring Break, and counts in general as one of the tourist hotspots of Mexico. The name of the state Quintana Roo is not well-known, but cities in this state, like Tulum and Cancun, definitely are.


Content:

Cancun

Is one of the most famous beach towns for Spring Break. It's one resort after another and perfect for an all-inclusive vacation trip.


Food:

For me, The Surfing Burrito was one of the best restaurants in Cancun. It's across the street from the hostel Mayan Monkey. You can create your own burrito and it's very affordable. Also, the Açaí bowl is a must-try there!


Things to do:
  • Around 5-10 minutes away from the Mayan Monkey hostel is the party area. The entry fees are around 30$. Be aware to choose the right club and ask for special promotions. If you're lucky drinks will be included in the entry fee.

  • 30 minutes away from the hostel there's the Centro Comercial Flamingo Plaza. It’s a big shopping mall, where you can find all the big stores like Zara and H&M.

  • Cancun is located in the Gulf of Mexico and is famous for its Caribbean blue water. Playa Norte is a free beach next to the party area.


Accommodation:

The Mayan Monkey Hostel is the place to be. It's right at the beginning of the hotel zone and as already mentioned 5-10 minutes from the party area away. If you're looking for peace, it won't be the place for you, but it's the perfect place for connecting with other travelers.

 

Tulum

Tulum is one of the most famous cities on the East coast of Mexico. A nice town with its own hippie vibe and lots of things to do.


Food

There are so many places to recommend, it definitely was food heaven there, which is why I’ll categorize the food places into breakfast and lunch/dinner spots.


Breakfast:
  • A good spot for brunch is the Cafeteria Hunab Ku (give the croissant con aguacate y queso a try)

  • Burrito Amor offers breakfast burritos but is good at any other time of the day

  • Holistika, everything on the card is amazing, especially the Acai bowl. They also offer yoga, meditation, or breathwork courses for around 250 pesos.

  • The flat white from Liefs - is just delicious.

  • Last but not least, Del Cielo is another good breakfast spot, but you’ll need patience because you won’t be the only one, who would like to eat there.


Lunch/dinner:

First of all the street food spot with the most amazing vegan tacos. You can find it when you’re heading to the center of Tulum, you’ll find an OXXO and it’s located right next to it. You’ll also find meat tacos, tortas, etc. from other sellers.


One of my favorite seafood spots was Sabor del Mar. As the name already mentions, everything that lives in the ocean will find its way to your stomach. You need to give the shrimp taco with crusted cheese a try!


Another similar seafood restaurant with a cute atmosphere is the restaurant called Tres Galeones and it’s not that pricey. You can find it on the main road of Tulum.


Also located in the center you’ll find something rare. A Japanese restaurant! Uno offers Japanese noodles and other Japanese dishes apart from sushi.


Always looking for a good Italian place to eat, I found one during my second visit to Mexico. Acqua & Farina offers you authentic food straight from Italian. Delicious hand-made pasta with an over-filled glass of red wine makes the night perfect. I had the seafood pasta, which I highly recommend! If you're craving dessert, make sure to order the fluffy tiramisu with an Italian espresso.


Mayami Burger should be a decent burger spot. I’ve never been there, but since I don’t have such a place to recommend, I thought, I should mention this place.


And if you’re ever craving authentic Mediterranean food there’s Pasha. They offer different kinds of mezze, falafel burgers, or shawarmas.


Last but not least, one of my favorite food spots in Tulum, where you find different kinds of healthy food. La Hoja Verde is a cute restaurant located in the city center, that's perfect for having nourishing food and is very vegetarian/vegan friendly. Price-wise it's very fair, the staff is friendly and the portion size is quite good. My absolute favorite dish here was the Buddha bowl and the falafel pita.


Tips

Since Tulum is such a famous place, I’ll share some “insider” tips with you. One is a bit hidden because when I went there the first time I missed it. There’s a huge supermarket called Chedraui. You’ll find it if you’re heading to the beach, it’s on the left side.


Speaking of going to the beach, catch a Collectivo they are much cheaper than the taxis or you rent a bicycle or scooter - just try to avoid getting a taxi, as they’re so overpriced.


Things to do:

There’s a free beach and kinda everyone is going there and enjoys the crystal blue water and the white-sanded beach. Playa Paraiso is definitely the place to be. Be aware of the seagrass season, which attends from May-August.


In the hotel area, there’s a nice beach section called Mia right next to the famous Jungle Gym. Normally you have to pay an entry fee, but maybe you smuggle yourself in.


For partying one place to recommend is Gitano Beach Club, but the hotel zone, in general, is very pricey, but it’s up to you if you would like to spend that amount of money.


Cenotes, cenotes, cenotes until you’ve seen enough of them.

My three favorites were:

  • Grande Cenote (the most famous one)

  • Casa Cenote (that one has a crocodile in it!)

  • Cenote Calavera

but to be honest, just look at Google and choose the one next to your place, because they all look very similar.


Right next to Playa Paraiso, you’ll find some culture by visiting El Castillo. The entry is only 80 pesos, which is fair. You get to know more about the Maya culture of Mexico and what has happened during history and what the historical buildings look like.


If you’ve rented a scooter then do a day trip to Akumal where you’ll be able to swim with sea turtles and stingrays.


Another chill spot where you’ll find a quiet, private beach is at the hotel Caleta Tankah. You must pay an entry fee, but is definitely worth it and has one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever been to.


Party:

As already said, Tulum is very expensive, especially for clubbing. However, if you’re trying to travel cheaply, Strawhead is a hostel that has a party going on every night. Another party hostel that has parties almost every night is the Mayan Monkey Hostel. Yes, it’s the same hostel as in Cancun. However, parties are sometimes illegal and organized by the cartel, so you need to speak with others if you’d really like to join a good party.


Accommodation:

I’ve stayed at only one place over and over again and if I visit Tulum again, I’ll choose this place again. Mayan Monkey Hostel is for me the best place to stay in town. You can also rent an Airbnb, but that’s up to you.

 

Bacalar

Is famous for its beautiful lagoon, with thousands of shades of blue. But you need to be lucky because without the sun it looks like all the other lakes.


Accommodation:

I stayed at the Yak House Hostel, which is the place to be for basically everything. They offer great food, and drinks and have sometimes parties too.


Food:

We didn't spend much time at Bacalar and my friend got sick, which is why we spend much time at the hostel and didn't try out any restaurants there.


 

PLAYA DEL CARMEN

Down South of Cancun is another tourist hotspot - Playe del Carmen. It is approximately one hour away from it. Because of that, it still has an American vibe. Very touristy, good for shopping and partying.

I liked it better than Cancun though. Just because everything was very close and walkable.


Food:

It seems like, that I'm always looking for a good Italian spot in every town. Same for Playa del Carmen. Casa Sofia is a bit apart from the main city center but worth the walk. Good price for good food.


Things to do:
  • As already mentioned, Playa del Carmen is perfect for shopping. It has two malls with the typical commercial shops there and in between many shops for buying souvenirs.

  • Party! In the evening there's one club after another. Just listen to the music and follow your instincts. Mostly you don't pay any entry fees.

  • And of course, one of the most famous sightseeing spots is the Maya temple Chichen Itza. It doesn’t really matter if you’re visiting the temple from Playa del Carmen, Cancun, or Tulum. I made the trip to it Playa del Carmen and Cancun.


 

ISLA MUJERES

One of the most beautiful places, I've visited in Mexico. If you're looking for crystal blue water and a white sand beach, you're at the right place. My humble self was there four times and that must say a lot!


Where to stay:

I'd recommend two places there, since I slept only under hostel roofs, I'm only able to recommend you such places, though.


Anyways, I stayed at Nomads during all my visits to Isla Mujeres. It's a little bit further away from the center, but a wonderful, clean, and spacious hostel. Located directly at the beach. The taxi to the center costs around 100 pesos, so adds this to the overall cost of living.


Special tip: Check the offers from Booking.com and Hostelworld, because sometimes you get the better option (like included breakfast) in one of their offers. They also have private rooms.


Selina is another nice and popular hostel. But this hostel has its price. Nevertheless, the location is unbeatable, you'll find nice people there, who'd love to watch the sunrise with you. If you stay longer, you can also ask them for a discount.


Things to do:

Have you ever seen those images of ice blue water and white sandy beach? You can find exactly this image at Playa Norte. A long white sanded beach, where you can walk around, possibility to play beach volleyball, and watch the most beautiful sunsets there.


Another nice spot for good photos with a nice view is Punta Sur. It is in the South of the island and the entry fee costs 80 pesos. You can walk around and just embrace the nice view.


Foods and drinks:

As usual, always looking for a good pizza place and I've found one on this island. Capricci's Pizza is your restaurant whenever you're craving a good pizza. I can really recommend the tuna pizza with onions. Special tip: Add black olives - my absolute favorite!


Since Mexican food isn't really healthy, sometimes you have the need to compensate for it with healthy stuff. Aroma Isla gives you lots of greens and decent vegetarian and vegan food options.



The hostel Nomads has a few own restaurants. They’re structured as a small food market and offer pizza, fried stuff, Mexican food, and tasty poke bowls.


If you don't know what to choose, I’d recommend you the poke bowl over everything. You can create it by yourself and as inspiration: I had the poke bowl with rice, salmon, mango, avocado, cucumber, sesame seeds, and the soy sauce dressing - just delicious!

 

ISLA HOLBOX

Another beautiful island, famous for watching flamingos in their natural habitat. Unfortunately, it was rainy almost the whole time there.


Things to do:
  • Hot Corner is a popular eatery that turns to dance later at night. The people are dancing on the street and everyone is enjoying life. Definitely a thing to do at night.

  • Of course, the beach. Beautiful crystal clear water and one bar/restaurant after another.

  • If you’re lucky you can spot some flamingos in the morning at the Punta Mosquito Sandbar.

Food and drinks:

Since I didn’t spend much time there, I can’t make many recommendations, but I can at least recommend three very good spots:

  • I've never got such a big portion for breakfast as at Manglu. A thing to mention is, that the sizes of the portions are huge. It was impossible to finish it!

  • While it was raining we went to Painapol. A good place for a healthy brunch and the best place in town for smoothie bowls.

  • During your travels you might do some business as well, at Clandestino, you’ll find a stable internet connection and coffee as well.

If you're staying longer at Holbox, a friend of mine made a huge list for me with some recommendations, which is why I'm going to add them here:

  • Salma for dinner and dancing (grilled octopus is the best)

  • Bar Arena for drinks

  • Msiztra for tacos (super new, need to send you the location)

  • Mario's taco cart (it's very hidden)

  • Las Panchas (the octopus ceviche!)

  • Coquitos (beach drinks and snacks)

  • La Bamba (proper Mexican brunch)

  • Mahi (amazing agua chiles - go for Aztec!) and the mezcal cocktail with pineapple)

  • Marimba (a really nice place for beach beds)


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