Worth getting out of bed for
The pre-Columbian Coba ruins are on your doorstep – so visit them. The ruined Maya city sprawls around two lagoons, with sacbe (elevated roads and pathways) branching off from the central site. Look out for the cluster of pyramids, some of which stand 42 metres high, and the two long courts, once used for ball games. Apart from the ruins, there’s not a massive amount to do in Coba itself – the small village houses the local guides and their families. However, you can follow the sacred sacbe trails that snake through the jungle. Pack towels and swimwear for a spot of cave-diving at the cenotes, 6km away. Beach bunnies should drive to Tulum’s sociable, seductive stretch of sand, 40 minutes away (but worth it). To glimpse authentic Mexicana, drive to Valladolid, the same distance away. This lively, colourful town has an art gallery worth popping into at Casa de los Venados, a restored hacienda on Calle 40. For mid-day dips, Cenote Zaci in the centre of town should be on your radar.
There’s not much in Coba itself, so make the 44 km drive to Tulum for food and drink. Hartwood (www.hartwoodtulum.com) on the jungle side of Tulum's beach road is run by two New York natives, and delivers contemporary American cuisine featuring locally sourced ingredients. Seafood and steak is served on cast-iron dishes and chunky cutting boards. Located inside the eponymous hotel, Posada Margherita (+52 984 801 8493; www.posadamargherita.com) serves hearty home-made pasta and wine from Chile, Argentina and Italy. For Argentinean steaks, live-music-packed weekends and a solid wine selection, head to Casa Banana (+52 984 806 2871; www.casabananatulum.com) at Boca Paila. Casa Violeta (+52 984 879 0294; www.casavioletatulum.com) serves wood-oven-baked pizzas and freshly caught fish. Try the seafood platter, and sit at a table with a view of the water. Open only for dinner, Hechizo (+ 52 984 879 5020; www.hechizotulum.com) will satisfy serious gourmands. Run by chef Stefan Schober and his wife/pastry chef, the name of this tucked-away restaurant means enchantment – a few nibbles in, you’ll realise why.
Café 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.