A person swings from a rope above a sunken lake or quarry. The clear pool of water is surrounded by rock walls and climbing roots and vines.

See a new side of the Mexican Caribbean

How to explore like a local on your next trip


Home to some of the best beaches, gastronomy, and culture in the world, the Mexican Caribbean is a popular destination for Canadian travellers. In recent years, a multitude of new tourist attractions and luxury boutique hotels have opened in the region. However, the destination is also home to untapped local experiences, which offer a new side of the Mexican Caribbean for travellers to explore. 

Known for its status as a leading entertainment hub, Cancun’s allure extends to its restaurants, too. The centre of the city is home to the iconic El Parque de Las Palapas, an open-air park just a short walk from Tulum Ave. where diners can taste Mexican and regional dishes, like their famous marquesitas. A few steps away is La Ruta Nader, a street lined with restaurants ranging from Italian to more traditional Mexican food. 

Riviera Maya hosts an endless array of unique experiences for visitors, however select places that are frequented by locals remain off the beaten path. One such local favourite is Xpu-Ha beach, home to Serenity Beach Club. For another beach club experience, the latest trend in Tulum is cenote clubs like Buuts’Ha’ – this space offers food, music, and activities inside some of the region’s most stunning cenotes. 

Cozumel island is bursting with hidden gems, like the Benito Juarez Municipal Market. For over 30 years, this public market has sold fresh produce, regional treats, handmade tortillas and artisan souvenirs. The market is adorned by a large central mural displaying symbols of the island, like endemic wildlife, local garments, important historical figures, and more. Even more murals in Cozumel can be found at Cozumel Sea Walls, by the non-profit PangeaSeed Foundation. This urban ‘artivist’ project is a collection of 36 murals by contemporary artists from 12 countries, each looking to raise awareness of marine preservation through art. 

Visitors can also walk the charming neighbourhood of El Cedral to experience authentic Cozumel island life. Once a worship ground for Mayan gods, today El Cedral is the site of the annual Día de la Santa Cruz festival held each spring, which celebrates the 21 founding families that established Cozumel after the Caste War in 1848. Cool down with a visit to Chempita Cenote, a cave located in Quintana Roo, which is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike. 

Art lovers can head to the State Congress in the Quintana Roo capital city of Chetumal for breathtaking murals. Walking along the boardwalk watching the sunset overlooking the Bay of Chetumal while eating a machacado is also a must in the area.



This stunning new luxury hotel in Tulum was designed with the help of local artisans

Located eight miles north of Tulum, in a secluded bay surrounded by a tropical forest and pristine Caribbean waters, the Conrad Tulum Riviera Maya is a 349-room resort that offers a retreat for guests seeking a transformative getaway, with curated signature restaurants, destination spa, oceanfront pools and access to Tulum’s celebrated sights and attractions.

In the heart of the world’s most exquisite natural wonders, from jungles and beaches to hidden cenotes and colorful flora and fauna, Conrad Tulum Riviera Maya is designed to give guests a deep connection with Tulum’s distinctive landscape. Upon entering the lobby, guests pass through ornate wooden doors, engraved by local artisans, and are immediately greeted by sweeping ocean views and an immersive art installation, a nod to ancient Mayan architecture and Tulum’s surroundings. 

The nature-inspired theme continues throughout the hotel’s thoughtfully designed guest rooms, incorporating organic elements such as stone, wood and metal. Boasting floor-to-ceiling windows with panoramic ocean views, guest rooms are designed with calming tones and elegant furnishings, each with their own private balcony and relaxation tub or plunge pools on the ground floor rooms.

Guests seeking additional space can enjoy a suite complete with a spacious living room and adjacent dining area for up to eight people, as well as a spa-inspired master bathroom complete with a soaking tub and rainfall shower.

A destination unto itself, Conrad Tulum Riviera Maya’s diverse dining options include five restaurants as well as six bars and lounges featuring globally inspired cuisine, casual poolside fare and world-class catering for meetings and events. Venues include energizing bar experiences serving up generous wine lists, regional spirits and refreshing tropical cocktails, and elevated dining experiences offering flavors of the world with innovative and local twists. A sample of the dining offerings at the hotel includes:

  • Autor: The resort’s most sophisticated dining experience is an ode to its chef or ‘author’ where guests experience a personalized culinary journey curated by Chef Jersaí Miranda.
  • Maratea: Features distinct cuisine inspired by the Mediterranean Basin from southern Spain to North Africa, Greece and Turkey.
  • Ukai: A sushi bar dedicated to the traditional Japanese fishing method, brought to life as a contemporary sushi counter committed to sustainable fishing.
  • Kengai: A Teppanyaki restaurant that merges classic Japanese and Southeast Asian techniques with local ingredients and styles, whose name is inspired by the Jacaranda tree, brought to Mexico by Japanese immigrants in the 20th century.
  • Chaak Bar: Named after the Mayan rain god and inspired by the cenotes where the Mayans would connect with him, Chaak Bar offers guests a place to seek shelter and recharge.
  • Cafetal: This upscale café and market are inspired by the traditional Tianguis, an economic and social gathering center in Mexican culture serving locally sourced coffee, snacks and all-day essentials.

Allowing travellers to discover new facets of well-being and self-fulfillment, the guest experience at Conrad Tulum Riviera Maya is characterized by a deep connection with the natural environment and to honor Tulum’s cultural traditions. Whether floating, snorkeling or kayaking in the crystal-clear bay waters or lounging in an oceanfront cabana by one of the five pools, guests can fully immerse themselves in this mystical paradise. 

Nestled within lush mangroves, the Conrad Spa Tulum, for example, is a destination purposefully designed as a wellness refuge.  Guests enjoy a wide range of services inspired by the legends of the Mayan gods and traditional Mexican herbalism in individual treatment rooms or “casitas.” Spa offerings include an extensive menu of body rituals, a sensory Water Ritual including an outdoor pool and thermal facilities and the Mayan Manteada, an ancient massage technique in which shawls are tied around the waist to relax and realign the body.

For guests looking for an enlightened sense of well-being and tranquility, the property has an in-house Shaman to perform ancient rituals like the purifying gratitude and sacred cenote ceremonies.

For more information, including photos, click here.