Tulum is not only the hottest vacay spot in the Western hemisphere, but it has also become a shopping mecca that offers everything from one-of-a-kind fair trade items to colorful Mexican folk art. The best times to explore the many shops and boutiques are right after breakfast or after dinner and cocktails. Most stores open quite early and close late, because Tulum‘s tropical sun is relentless, and when it’s at its strongest, it’s best to be under a palapa on the beach. Keep reading to find out where to hunt for the best Tulum treasures.
Mixik is a brightly colored shop that sells traditional artesanías, or Mexican crafts. These are not your usual tourist trap souvenirs that are actually produced in other countries. With locations in both the hotel zone and downtown, this is where you will find beautiful hand-painted ceramics, embroidered blouses, funky skulls and skeletons at a reasonable price. It’s the ideal spot to shop for gifts for friends and family back home, and they will carefully wrap each item for your return trip. Downtown, look for the brightly painted storefront and the palapa roof. The hotel zone version is located near Zamas.
Kaahal Home is a lifestyle concept store where you can pick up a gift for someone back home or transform your home from boring to bohemian beachy. Warm and inviting, Kaahal is located downtown on the main road and sells one-of-a-kind, handmade home decor like ceramics, glasses, napkins, table runners, blankets, bedding, carpets, cushions, furniture and even dresses, bikinis, handbags and sandals. The idea here is organic and essential, ancient meets modern. Created by Giuli Cordara, a native Italian from NYC who fell in love with Tulum and its people, the shop was inspired by her passion and admiration for the astonishing work of artisans in Mexico. Kaahal isn’t cheap, but these unique, beautiful items made by locals are worth every penny.
Meeting the demand for luxury products in Mexico, KM33 (Kilometer 33) is a boutique with locations in Tulum, Turks & Caicos, San Miguel de Allende, Punta Mita and Los Cabos. Their appreciation of Latin American designers is obvious in each carefully curated item, and they support brands that produce high-quality products and have alliances with artisan communities. Be on the lookout for MAPACHE hats, inspired by founder Mariana Padilla’s first trip to Tulum. Realizing last minute that she needed a sun hat, she grabbed an old straw one and wrapped her brother’s woven belt around the rim. A lot of people asked about that hat and the resulting product is gorgeous: unique designs painted by hand and adorned with ribbons that are woven by a group of indigenous women from Chiapas.
MexicArte offers a wide variety of authentic Mexican souvenirs made by artisans from all over Mexico. You can find anything from tiny inexpensive animals carved from wood, to pricier, larger paintings and artwork. Everything is made and painted by hand, and if it’s something that can’t be carried home, it can be delivered by mail. MexicArte is located on the main strip downtown, and there are two other shops, one in Akumal and one on the Tulum beach road. You won’t get the hard sell here, and prices are fixed.
Organic Beauty Shop La Madre Tierra
La Madre Tierra (The Mother Earth) offers 100% organic body, skin and hair products, including natural sunscreen, creams made from medicinal plants, organic mosquito repellant, bamboo toothbrushes, natural honey shampoo and conditioner and facial rollers made from jade and other stones and crystals. Everything is natural (read: no chemicals and environmentally friendly) and made in Mexico. Even the packaging is eco-conscious. They also offer beauty treatments like waxing and facials. You can find Organic Beauty Shop La Madre Tierra on the main street in downtown Tulum.
If you’re looking for both traditional Mexican crafts and simple souvenirs (like t-shirts, keychains and the like), you’ll find them here. Tulum Bazaar is a typical Mexican tourist market, with a fiesta atmosphere and vendors that cheerfully ask you to look at their wares. Prices are generally not fixed here, so relax, enjoy and feel free to negotiate. For a fun vacation photo, there are people dressed in traditional Mayan dress or with iguanas that you can pay to take a picture with. Tulum Bazaar also offers bars and cafés where you can have cocktails and/or lunch.
Natural Rough was founded in 2017 in order to promote authentic artistry and the value of handmade craftsmanship and traditional artisan techniques. They offer handmade garments and accessories made from natural and sustainable fabrics using ancient techniques. The owners focus on discovering and supporting indigenous techniques from the Venezuelan deserts to the Colombian mountains of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. The result is pricey but breathtaking apparel for men and women, which is available online and in stores in Spain, Italy, the US and, of course, Tulum.
Casa Hernandez Gallery
Beware of sensory overload (in a good way) in this family business, started by grandfather Vicente Hernández and now managed by son Mauricio Hernández and grandson Mauricio Jr. Located on Tulum Avenue in downtown Tulum, the shop offers a very large selection of hand painted Mexican pottery, plus folk art and crafts. Much of the pottery is authentic Talavera, Mexican hand-painted ceramics which can only be produced in certain places, primarily Puebla, because of the clays that are needed. The pottery must also meet very specific criteria; for instance, only certain colors can be used. Casa Hernandez Gallery also carries Alebrijes, Huichol art, Otomi and other fantastic folk art.
Pepe Soho Photography
Looking for artwork? Pepe Soho is one of Mexico’s more important and well-known contemporary photographers. His work is intense, crisp, colorful and inspiring. His image Believe won first place in the World Photographic Cup in the Nature category. Pepe previously had high-profile careers as a designer, musician and businessman, and discovered photography after a life-changing injury and recovery. Pepe Soho galleries can be found in Miami, Mexico City, Playa del Carmen and Tulum on Boca Paila, the hotel zone road.
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