Many years ago, I remember a New York friend telling me about this stretch of undeveloped jungle land south of Cancun called Tulum. He had had it with New York City. He packed his bags and moved South of the border to build a hotel and live the good life. I’m pretty certain his packing list consisted of a pair of sandals, shorts and a t-shirt. Whether we like it or not what to pack for Tulum today is very, very different. Unlike the fashion you might find in Cancun or Playa del Carmen, Tulum style is decidedly bohemian. Here’s my packing guide for your next Tulum trip.
Tradition runs deep in the Mayan Riviera, and especially in Tulum. It’s beautiful to see women wearing traditional Mayan textiles and prints. I found this set on Parker NY. You can also find a handful of local artisan shops throughout the Yucutan Peninsula.
Barely there bikinis
Going topless in Tulum is common. And bikinis that just barely cover your bits are too. A friend connected me with Nina from Casa Jaguar Swim and I’ve been wearing some of her swimsuits ever since. They are ethically made in Bali and you can shop them at Papaya Playa Project.
Never underestimate how many places you can wear a kimono in Tulum. I managed to wear this one from a jungle party, to a sound bath, to a beach hang, to a business meeting, followed by drinks at Gitano and dinner at Arca. I can’t say it smelled very good by the end but I think that helped keep the mosquitoes away.
Boots for jungle raving
This photo quality is terrible, but I was too busy dancing to bring my camera out at the party. The important thing to note here is the boots. Many of my friends who came down to Tulum for January’s music festivals forgot to bring boots. Rain can come frequently during the winter months and even though it may only last for a few hours (and will usually produce incredible rainbows) the rain creates a muddy mess at the cenotes and in the jungle. If you plan dancing the night away at a cenote party, pack a pair of army boots. I wore mine the entire week. With that said, one of the true joys of a Tulum stay is that, aside from a rainy romp in the jungle, you can go completely barefoot practically everywhere else you go. Shoe-less for a week. Heavenly.
The pinnacle of Tuluminati fashion is the poncho. Whether you’re a fan or not, the ponchos trend is not going away any time soon. The fact that everyone in Tulum wears a poncho 85% of the time makes it difficult to find your friends at night. The upside, you can smuggle at least two bottles of mezcal and your pet monkey in to any party without a single person knowing.
Natural bug and sun spray
Protecting the Tulum environment and land is important to everyone in the community. Your Deet is not welcome. Especially in the cenotes. The delicate ecosystem inside the caves can be damaged by chemical spray so don’t put any sunscreen or spray on before you enter, and stick to organic products. Coola is sold in several of the hotels down there, but at astronomical prices. Better to buy it online.
There are so many amazing spots to do yoga in Tulum. Sanara, Casa Violetta and Ahau are some of my favorite places to practice.
Mexican label Caravana started the rag-chic trend when they opened up shop in Tulum 2012. Now, the more tattered and torn your cover-ups are, the more Tulum you will become. Their shop on Boca Paila is gorgeous. I want to move in. And their clothes are expensive. So if you aren’t willing to pay hundreds for your tattered hippy gear you may want to take a scissor and spend some time DIYing before you touch-down.
Read more about my Tulum adventure in my #EscapewithParker story!