We stayed at Ana y Jose and it truly was a charming beach hotel. We had Suite Nube (right off the pool lower floor) and my parents had the utterly fabulous Suite Estrella (top floor, deck with view of beach, peaked thatched roof and hammock). We all were quite happy and really enjoyed our stay. I highly recommend it and can't wait to return one day.
Below are tips I was given before visiting and some opinion additions I put in, I hope you find them helpful. Please leave me a comment if you do.
We took Delta and had to lay over in Salt Lake City. Turns out Alaska Airlines just started a direct to Cancun flight, I recommend you take that. It was suggested to us that the easiest thing would be to rent a car at the Cancun airport. Driving in the Yucatan is very easy and hassle free. Tulum is about 1 ½ hours south of Cancun by car on the main coastal highway. Directions are very easy from the rental car pick up area. Most car rental services are available for an online or phone reservation before you go. Once you reach the town of Tulum, you will take the first left after the road to the Tulum ruins and follow it until you reach the beach road where you will have to turn either right or left. Ana y jose and many other hotels are to the right. However, some are to the left. There should be signage directing you which way to turn for your hotel. Some hotels may offer shuttle service from the airport and there is also bus service from Cancun. We opted to pay for our hotel to pick us up which I think is the most hassle free thing anyone could do. I love not having to think about how to get there after a long flight. We had the usual "you are now in Mexico" experience, as our driver brought a car too small to accommodate 4 adults, a child (in a car seat) and all our luggage. Mind you, my parents had big-ol-bags! They tried to talk us into leaving our bags at the airport and they'd bring them later that night after they pick up the guests who were coming in on a flight three hours later. Uh no way jose. Around and around we went, but it worked out in the end. We ended up renting a car and the two men caravanned behind us.
SIGHT SEEING & SNORKELING
I heard that the Mayan ruins at Tulum were worth a visit since there's an amazing view and only a short drive from Ana y Jose. But I was feeling far to happy just hanging out on the perfect beach. Another great day trip would have been Chichén Itzá. Founded in A.D. 495, this is one of world’s great archeological wonders and one of the most completely restored sites in the Yucatán. But again we couldn't muster the energy to wake up at the recommended hour of 6am, drive two hours and stay all day, it's tough with a napping toddler too. Could have been fun as an overnight trip with a stay at the renovated Hacienda, but we didn't want to pack up and move. So I am happy to report that we did make it to the ruins at Coba. Hopefully the phrase seen one ruin seen 'em all applies here?
One of the wonders of the Mayan Riviera is the many cenotes, carved from limestone and filled with water from underground rivers. You’ll notice signs for different cenotes as you come down the highway from Cancun. There are quite a few just minutes from Tulum. Bring your snorkel gear and have a refreshing freshwater swim. We rented snorkel gear from the stand across from the restaurant Zamas and snorkeled the Grand Cenote. It was fun but there's not that much to see under there beside the cave walls - the fish there are insignificant and ther are too many tourists in the small pools. It would have been much more satisfying to dive through the caves. Best part for me was seeing the bats flying through the air.
Just off the beaches at Tulum is one of the world’s most beautiful reefs. Snorkeling trips to the reef are offered at a small kiosk on the beach road, before you get to the Ana y Jose resort. Just drop by and make a reservation for a trip out to the reef. There is also a dive shop in Akumal (about 20 minutes back up the highway toward Cancun). Great snorkeling without a boat ride is available at Yakul lagoon, which just outside Akumal.
At the end of the beach road is the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve we were recommend to take the tour given by Cesiak. Check out their site and make a reservation for a tour.
Ana y jose has an ok good restaurant, we liked it best for lunch and enjoyed the quesadillas and ceviches. THe margaritas aren't so good here so stick to the pinas or beers. The restaurant Zamas is just down the beach road This has the best spot for sunset cocktail and guacamole! If you make it up to Akumal, the seafood restaurant to the left of the parking lot is supposedly delicious and offers a selection of fish from the local fishermen.
For a delicious gourmet feast try Hechizo which is located on the beach road just outside the Biosphere. Drive through the Rancho San Erik gate and enter the restaurant. Reservations are a good idea. Hechizo (means enchantment) was by far my favorite experience, the decor and service are lovely. The landscaping is very romantic and secluded. I didn't order the best meal, apparently the scallops we to die for, but my watermelon goat cheese starter salad was divine and every dessert was perfect (e had them all!) and the drinks were perfect.
Tulum is very casual so bring as little as possible! While we were there the days got up to about 90 and the nights down to 78, I never needed the sweater or coat I brought. The ocean swimming is wonderful, so bring a suit and best to bring a wrap and a towel so you can save the two towels the hotel gives you for bathing. The mosquitoes are not bad, but some repellant is helpful if you are a tasty morel (like little bunny!). Also it’s handy to have a flashlight or two along, as many grounds and the beach are not well lit. Some resorts only have electricity until midnight and a flashlight can come in handy. Be sure to bring sunscreen, but don’t wear it when you go snorkeling, as it damages the reef. Bring a light shirt to wear over your suit for snorkeling.