WHERE TO STAY: Beachfront accommodations in Tulum include the luxe Mezzanine (011-52-984-131-1596, http://www.mezzanine.com.mx), where rates start at $142 a night; Casa de Miel (http://www.casademiel.com), whose rooms start at $220; and the more affordable but still charming cabana rooms at Zamas (http://www.zamas.com), which start at $100.
WHERE TO EAT/DRINK: Casa Violeta (011-52-984-879-0294, http://www.casavioletatulum.com) serves authentic Italian food in a rustic beachfront pavilion (cabanas are also available starting at $140 a night); Zamas is known for its outdoor, seaside dining room, fresh grilled fish and seafood, and fun, if cheesy, cover bands; Mezzanine offers surprisingly tasty pan-Asian cuisine in a beach-chic setting; La Zebra (011-52-984-115-4726, http://www.lazebratulum.com) is a must for Sunday nights, when locals and gringos mingle on the dance floor for a salsa party with live band. (Rooms can be had starting at $90 per night).
WHAT TO DO: Possible activities include visiting the ruins of the Mayan city on the northern end of Tulum's beach strip. Also, consider exploring freshwater cenotes or swimming holes on your own or with a guide from Cenote Dive Center (011-52-984-871-2232, http://www.cenotedive.com). Further afield, UNESCO World Heritage site Sian Ka'an (011-52-984-871-2499, http://www.cesiak.org) is a protected biosphere with archaeological sites and places to fish, ride horses and hike. Xcaret (011-52-998-883-0470, http://www.xcaret.com) and Xel-Ha (011-52-998-884-7165, http://www.xelha.com) are privately operated water parks that offer a range of water-based activities, including snorkeling, scuba and swimming with dolphins.