After a year of dealing with my long, unruly and overworked hair, it wasn’t until my trip to Tulum that I found the magic potion to all my hair problems. I was a bit hesitant about how my winter and bleach tainted hair was going to react to summer weather and loads of sunshine a few weeks ago during my trip to Brazil. So I decided to see if I could find a way to reach a level of reversal in my week back from Brazil where I found myself in the midst of a very, very cold and very, very windy New York Fashion Week. With Mexico just around the corner after that, I decided that my hair just needed a break from it all, and I think I found the perfect solution in the form of Kerastase’s brand new line of hair products called Aura Botanica. The line is made for those conscious about the ingredients found in the products they use on their bodies. The number of toxins and non-natural ingredients found in today’s beauty, hair and skincare world is astonishingly terrifying, and I applaud those brands working hard to take these realms into a more natural, toxin free state. The products in the Aura Botanica line are made of 96% natural origin ingredients, all responsible sourced and handpicked from Morocco. No silicones. No sulfates. No parabens. All things that hair definitely feels and looks much better without. The four products that I brought with me to Tulum and that I started using midway through NYFW was life changing, yet subtle (which I prefer because there is nothing worse than shocking one’s hair in any sort of way). I could feel the change in my hair, and it felt healthy even after long sweaty days riding bikes under the sun, dips in cenotes, after being covered by sea salt and sand. This was the first time ever in ages where my hair felt easily manageable and soft after so much exposure to the sun and sea water. And not even once did I touch my hair with a straightening or curling iron the whole time. I washed my hair day and night with the special shampoo and conditioner, the Aura Botanica Bain Micellaire and the Aura Botanica Soin Fondamental. The shampoo is super luxurious in the way it lathers and adds shine to my hair. The conditioner is the best detangler yet with its high concentration of of natural oils. Each night, after washing and air drying, I would apply the Aura Botanica Concentré Essentiel, a concentrated combination of all natural oils for nourishment and softness, to my ends. My split ends seemed to simply disappear. And each morning, before heading out for the day, I would use a wet brush through my hair and then use a few light sprays of the Aura Botanica Essence D’Eclat, a bi-phase mist of oils and rose water solution, all over to control frizz throughout the day. Every single product worked together to restore my hair’s health and look subtly and natural, and the smell was sweetly citrusy and fantastic. Good hair. Check. Up next on the blog . . . all the other good things we found in Tulum, Mexico!
There is something super special about Mexico. Escapism to the max. Being half Mexican on my Dad’s side, Tulum and Mayokoba for me was such a treat. And especially since I never had the chance before to really explore the country outside of right across the California-Mexico border when I was a teenager. And let me tell you, those experiences were a far cry from what we got to see, smell, taste and hear on the Caribbean coast of this magical country. Natalie and I set flew out from NYC to meet our friends Kiara and Cara who were coming from Vancouver. East coast and west coast colliding on the tropical Caribbean coast. We were planning this trip for what felt like ages . . . so the feeling of finally getting on that plane . . . not to mention stepping onto Mexican soil for the first time in a long time . . . was a huge sigh of relief. Already, Tevas on our feet, the first thing on our list was tacos. Our driver from the airport to Tulum knew the perfect spot for chicken tacos. We only had two each, but we regretted not getting four each. They were THAT GOOD. And so simple. Already, we knew we had reached paradise.
Our first night in Tulum was spent glamping at Joy Tulum. The property was a simple and modest setting with a touch of quirkiness that felt just the right amount of bohemian. Our bungalow tents had lots of charm despite the bare necessities. But that was really all we needed for our first night in Tulum. And we were only a short bike ride away from the main part of town, where we enjoyed a dinner at Hartwood, a well known restaurant that has been all the rage in Tulum. Oh, did I forget to mention how trendy Tulum is? I heard a lot about how it boomed in the past five years, but the reality of that statement doesn’t really hit until you actually walk down the main street of Tulum. Just a warning, you more likely than not may run into someone you know if you are from a big city. Not that that is a bad thing or anything. It’s just a good way to describe the social scene. But don’t get me wrong, Tulum can be anything you want it to be. And especially if you are really trying to escape someplace like NYC, as was the case for Nat and I. We picked and chose our hang out and sightseeing spots and endeavors wisely, making sure to leave room for as much local culture and food as we could. And enjoying the most simple of things like sunsets and the more quiet parts of the beaches away from the $600 a night eco-chic hotels.
Cenote Cristal was the cenote we decided to visit during our stay in Tulum. It isn’t the most popular of cenotes, but we realized we were biking in the opposite direction of the popular cenote, Cenote Dos Ojos, and just said F it, let’s check this one out. And turned out to be really lovely and spacious, and not too overcrowded at all. There was a fun wooden plank that made for the perfect jumping spot. We even got Natalie to jump in even though she is usually the scaredy cat of the group! After our long bike ride, this spot turned out to be the exact sort of break we needed. And we were refreshed to get back on our bikes again to explore the main part of town from there.
Great stop for breakfast:
Av. Tulum S/N
77760 Tulum, Quintana Roo
The breakfast burrito with cheese and chard (Mexican version of spinach) . . . is one of the best things in the world! Note: make sure you know which hot sauce is which. It’s always the least expected one that is the most spicy!
Carretera Tulum-Boca Paila, Km. 5.5
77780 Tulum, Quintana Roo
This place is killer for fresh made smoothies and juices to start your mornings off right. The owner is Canadian and super friendly, and he adopted a stray kitten that was found hanging around. I had a veggie omelet and green juice here and it was super tasteful.
Our next two nights were spent at a fabulous (and I cannot stress the word fabulous) Airbnb, one of the last 10% of Airbnbs available at the time. Tulum is in high season right now, people! The area was a bit off the beaten path, in a newly developed area of wonderfully architected condos, called Aldea Zama Artiacondos. We were super impressed by the service at our Airbnb, how peaceful and chic it was, and how accessible it was to all the parts of Tulum we wanted to see. We could get to everything by bike in less than 20 minutes max. Equipped with a little dip pool in the front, we felt right at home and so, so comfortable. We almost contemplated staying another night because it was so perfect.
Other highlights of Tulum:
The vegetarian mushroom tacos at Papaya Playa Project. They were just snacks on the menu, but the serving size was a massive meal. We were so hungry and chowed down so hard, but they were the best vegetarian tacos ever made. Highly recommended!
Michaeladas and margaritas at The Beach Tulum Hotel. The white hammocks near the bar area is such a great lounge spot. And it’s never too crowded. Also, the swing chairs at the bar are super cute. This place is upscale for sure, but super laid back. Perfect for hanging out during the day for a drink. And the people working on the property are so, so welcoming.
Early morning bike ride to the Tulum Mayan Ruins. But beware of tourists. We made the mistake of leaving an hour too late, and hit tourist central. The bad outfits and shoes made the experience of the Ruins far less elegant, but still the history and architecture and story behind this place is quite phenomenal. Plus the view of the beach from the cliffside is sooo picturesque on a sunny day. I made sure to keep on iguana watch. They are massive!!
Our last two days in Mexico was spent at the Fairmont Mayakoba resort, which was part of our relaxation and TLC portion of our trip. The deep tissue massage that we were welcomed with was the biggest treat after all our long bike rides around Tulum. But what was special about this place in particular was the land that the property was built on, which is mostly limestone which has been eroded to expose cenotes, caves and underground rivers. The hotel made sure to craft this eroded limestone to keep the majority of the nature surrounding the hotel in tact, creating canals that run through the property so hotel stayers can be able to go around and see how nature takes its course all around them. The most important thing at Fairmont Mayakoba is balance. The land, the water, the animals that live on the property . . . all exist in balance with one another because of the careful care of the Fairmont staff. What a mind blowing thing to know, that in a place as fancy and fabulous as this hotel, one can still be right in the middle of nature’s course, and actually be an important part of its sustainability cycle. The boat tour around the property was a mini biology class that opened my eyes up to the beauty of Mexico and its natural wonders.
That’s about it for Tulum and Mayakoba for now, but definitely more pictures to come soon . . . Thanks to Teva for keeping our feet safe and ready to conquer each day. Styling our Tevas during our trip was the best way to be creative on the beach. Hope we inspire you to add Tevas to your upcoming spring and summer wardrobes.
My baby sister, Natalie. I feel lucky I get to travel with her. Even though we argue, annoy each other and pick on each other from time to time, I know that we laugh, love and support each other more than anything else. At the end of the day I know that I can’t do without her. My little babe.
I remember back when we were little girls, I hated when our mom would dress us up in the same outfits. I was a child desperate for her independence, and that went all the way down to the color of my shoe ties. Flash forward to the present day, and here we are, Natalie and I, wearing the same Carolina K dress in different colors, but purposefully. Oh man can things change over time. It goes to show that maturity really is a thing that can fully come to fruition. I’m sure mama is proud 🙂
Love you Nat Nat 🙂 Photos taken in Carmel, California one peaceful morning. xx
There’s something undeniably special about the California coastline, as you make your way towards Central California but not quite all the way north just yet. For me, it’s still close enough to home, but at the same time it feels like I’m transported lightyears away. It’s a quiet sort of loudness that is spoken by the crash of the waves just a few blocks away, the stars that seem to twinkle brighter than ever, and the reliable rainfall that calls for an early night in. That’s exactly what I think about when I visit Carmel-by-the-Sea, a little escapist town on the coast north of the famously fantastic Big Sur. This place sounded like the perfect city to start the first day of the new year in. My family and I, we just came out of a pretty crazy and busy holiday week, and we weren’t looking for a party or a town that would keep us up all night. No, were looking for some peace and quiet, and a whole lot of nature. A drive up the California coast was exactly what we were in pursuit of. And here at Hotel Carmel in the heart of Carmel-by-the-Sea, we found a gem of a spot to spend three delightfully slow days in. Hotel Carmel feels like home. Slightly bohemian in style, but with a minimalistic nature that suits everyone’s tastes I would assume. As soon as I walked into the front lobby, I was warmly greeted by a rustic brown leather couch covered with Southwestern style pillows. The wood of the decor was earthy and warm all around the innermost portion of the lobby. I felt like I was transported back in time to a place where the fireplace is always lit. The side of the lobby near the front windows was brighter and lighter, with shades of blue complementing white walls. It was a nod to the sea that was just a few blocks away I was pretty sure about that. Instantly, I felt like I could kick up my feet for however long that I pleased. Now that’s how a hotel should make one feel.
The rooms were spacious in just the right amount; simple yet modern feeling. My room had shuttered windows that allowed the morning light to stream in like a hazy dream. The bed was so warm and cozy that I forgot that it rained nearly the entire evening before. I always slept well to the sound to those drops. The rain, it’s a part of Carmel, and it’s the reason for its lush beauty. It’s the reason why Carmel is where one goes to find peace and comfort in the quieter things, like a good book on the deck outside of one’s room, a glass of red wine to be drunk long and slow (there’s complementary wine hour in the lobby every evening at 5:30pm), or a melodically paced walk down streets that seem to wind in circles but that bring you to surprises at every corner (like a jaw-dropping Spanish-tiled staircase or one of the most authentic bowls of pasta one could ever try outside of Italy). Really, Carmel-by-the-Sea is completely walkable, and we only used our car to drive farther south along the coast to Big Sur. It made it one of the most convenient and effortless of trips.
The friendliest of staff is always there to greet you. In the morning, a well-rounded continental breakfast awaits in the lobby for all guests before they start their morning adventures exploring Carmel and its neighboring cities. Hiking, swimming at the beach, going for a run, taking the dogs for a walk, getting inspired by the panoramic views along the coast. There’s so much to do and see. I think Carmel and its neighboring Big Sur are sure to bring out the photographer in every person. The simplicity of nature and its beauty is really what these places are all about. Below the lobby is a bar with good food owned by the hotel called Brophy’s Tavern. It’s a favorite of locals in the area!
One of my favorite parts of our stay at Hotel Carmel was the outdoor patio and fire pit, along with the intimate hot tub. It’s this hot tub and fire pit that we started conversations with tourists from all over the world, each having unique stories on what brought them to Carmel. Couples. Families. The lone traveler. As someone born and bred in California, I have always known of Carmel, but never really gave it a good chance because I always put other, more exotic places higher up on my t0-see list. I road tripped along the coast a few times, but always passed by Carmel! As I’ve gotten older, I’ve grown to appreciate more what is closer to home. What’s literally in my own backyard (or at least a 5 hour drive north of where I was born). I’m glad that I decided to explore more of what is more accessible within California during this trip home for the holidays. There is such an expansive array of landscapes and paces of life within this wonderful state, I can understand now why tourists come from all over the world to Carmel to see what all the mystery is about. Just about everyone we met at the hotel was on there way to or from San Francisco, and made sure that Carmel was the place to stop by on the way. That speaks loads. It looks like everyone is looking for a peaceful retreat on their international travels more often nowadays. And Big Sur, which I mentioned before. To rest ones eyes on the cliffs and rocks and green and sea in the way that it is meld together as it is in Big Sur, is to really understand what the meaning of what the word “meditative” is. The views easily calm as much as they excite the imagination. It’s a balance that is so unique to this part of the California coast.
Our stay at Hotel Carmel was magical to say the least. I left well-rested and recharged. Exactly what a new year should have us feeling like. Looking forward. Not dragging on what’s behind. I hope to be back very, very soon!! Thank you Hotel Carmel for our stay 🙂