Although a mere scooter-pootle from Tulum’s Insta-saturated beaches, Wakax Hacienda feels a world away, offering a crowd-dodging jungle experience. The step-back-in-time stay is based around an impressive reconstruction of an 18th-century-era hacienda typical of Mexico’s Yucatán peninsula. But it’s the lush tropical setting that truly wows, with the lakeside lodge sprawling amid its forest surrounds. Whether you’re cenote night-swimming, jungle bike-riding, or perspiring in a sweat-lodge ceremony, the hotel’s lose-yourself vastness offers a real sense of space, seclusion, and fully immersive selva adventure.
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American breakfast for each guest throughout the stay
12 noon, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 5pm.
Double rooms from £201.10 ($246), including tax at 16 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional government tax of $1.50 per room per night prior to arrival and an additional resort fee of 13% per booking prior to arrival.
Rates include breakfast for Smith guests as their Smith Extra (usually US$20 a person, each day).
The lodge is within striking distance of some stunning ancient Mayan sites from the clifftop Tulum Ruins to the once-mighty city of Coba.
We love the Superior Casita, a standalone room with its own entrance, a private terrace, and one of the biggest bathrooms this side of the border. Their sleeping-cum-living areas are bright and roomy, and it’s all conveniently positioned just a few strides from the Mestizo pool. Oh, and you can expect a live tree growing through the ceiling or window.
You can slip into any one of three peaceful pools dotted throughout the lodge, together with two lakes, three cenotes and an underground river. You’re not short of places to get wet.
The resort has no spa per se, but massages (relaxing, holistic or deep tissue) are offered in jungle-view treatment rooms and there’s a traditional Mayan temazcal (sweat lodge) too.
Mosquito magnets should consider stocking up on weapons-grade repellent. You are in the jungle after all.
A consecrated chapel on site means you can arrange your jungle nuptials here.
Wakax Hacienda is certainly family-friendly, but the tranquil and intimate atmosphere is not conducive to noisier nippers.
Plump for a table under the waterside palapa, especially for dinner when the moonlight bounces off the water.
Boho beach or back-to-nature chic.
Down a flight of stairs from the main level sits the lodge’s only restaurant, El Cocal, named after the lake it overlooks. An open terrace makes for superb views over the jungle surroundings while you munch on a choice of regional specialities and familiar classics. Their creamy guacamole is a must, with grilled octopus and ceviche firm stand-outs for dinner, plus there’s a separate vegetarian/vegan menu featuring ‘Beyond Meat’ burgers. Come evening, low romantic lighting sets the mood and it’s just a few steps to lakeside hammocks perfect for a post-meal chill.
The bar is part of El Cocal restaurant, and draws from an imaginative and colourful cocktail menu, together with a robust choice of tequilas and local beers. Order your drink and plop yourself down where you like.
The entrance to Wakax Hacienda is located on the highway that connects the resorts of Tulum and Playa del Carmen on Mexico’s Riviera Maya.
The nearest place to touch down is Cancun International Airport, which has direct flights from cities all over the US as well as connections from London. It’s about an hour and a half away by road and private airport transfers start at US$170 for up to six people each way.
Hiring a car at Cancun Airport and driving down the coast is a popular way to travel, especially if you are planning on making other stops around the Yucatán peninsula. Parking at the hotel is free and plentiful.
Worth getting out of bed for
Wakax Hacienda is one of those places where you can really do as much or as little as you like. Whether it’s gazing over the lake, swinging in a hammock, or flopping by the pool, there’s an abundance of spots scattered throughout the lodge’s expansive confines to just kick back and soak up the glorious jungliness of it all. Of course, there’s a heap of activities that get you well in amongst it too. One must-do is the Jungle Bike Experience involving a five-mile pedal through the tropical trails. Don’t worry, there are a couple of stops to get a breather while you learn about the Mayan culture before a dip in a cenote. Not for the claustrophobic is the Underwater River Tour, which takes you on guided spelunking through a semi-flooded cavern. If you prefer to be above the water, the lodge offers a pick of kayaks, paddle boards, and boats to navigate ‘El Cocal’ lake. If it's a spiritual transformation you’re hankering for, or just a good detox, book yourself a session in the temazcal sweat lodge. A bonafide Mayan shaman directs an ancient four-step ritual that promises to bring out your inner (wellness) warrior. Everything bar this and spa treatments are included in the rate. And lest we forget, when you want to escape the jungle, you have easy access to mile-after-mile of Tulum’s white-coral sand Caribbean beaches.
During your stay at Wakax Hacienda it’s unlikely you’ll want to break the magic by leaving for dinner. However, if you must, you don’t have to travel too far to find somewhere special to eat. One such place is Buuts' Ha' Cenote Club which, as the name suggests, is a beach club overlooking freshwater swimming holes. The seafood-rich menu mixes up local flavours with international favourites. Prices are on the higher side, but the setting is undeniably rather special. For a more straightforward Mexican dining experience, drop in on Oscar & Lalo Restaurant just off the highway. This family-run, jungle-garden eatery has 40 years of cooking up authentic Mexican and Yucatán cuisine. The seafood platter with margarita pairing here has our vote.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this lakeside hotel on the Yucatan peninsula and unpacked their sisal hammock and gusano(AKA ‘worm’) salt, a full account of their immersive jungle break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Wakax Hacienda in Tulum…
From swinging off the main coastal highway through a gated entrance, it’s at least another five minutes’ drive along thicket-flanked trail before you reach the Wakax Hacienda’s reception. It’s a fitting arrival to this off-the-beaten-track lodge tucked away in the lush Yucatecan jungle. After check-in pleasantries you’re handed a map of the site. And trust us, you’ll need it. Just padding around the colonial-era replica of the property, with its central plaza, arch-lined walkways and imposing Casa del Patron, is a beguiling stroll. But the real magic here lies in the tropical forest surrounds that feel like a genuine slice of jungle idyll. When you’re boating on the emerald lake or cooling off in a private cenote, exploring subterranean caverns or sweating it out in an ancient Mayan ceremony, who needs the beach?