Travel with a newborn. When Everly turned three months old, we somewhat ambitiously (read: somewhat foolishly) embarked on even more new territory. We decided to take Baby to Mexico.

My husband and I have a shared love of travel and have been fortunate to have seen 17 countries in the past six years. We knew that if we were lucky enough to have a child that we would still do our best to see the world with a baby in tow. As spring break approached and Vancouver weather continued to be dreary and rainy, we whimsically began looking at sunny destinations.

Mexico had never been on our radar in previous years because of Zika and our years-long attempt to become pregnant. But with the virus risks becoming less severe and a new baby under the wing, Mexico was suddenly in the clear. Both Robin and I dislike all-inclusive resorts and huge hotel compounds, so we knew that we didn’t want to go to Cancun or Puerto Vallarta. But Tulum had started to come up on my social media radar, so that is where our search began.

I had some pretty specific requirements for this vacation. I wanted a small, boutique hotel with easy access (read: steps) to the beach. It needed to have a restaurant on site, and be closely situated to a town for baby supplies. We eventually landed on Villa Las Estrellas — a 14-room hotel along the beach and in perfect proximity to the main drag of Tulum beach.

In retrospect, Tulum was a terrible choice for a new baby! First, it’s not a very kid-friendly place and most of the hotels are catered to adults. There is only one road through Tulum Beach, and while it’s paved, there isn’t really any sidewalk on either side. It’s a dusty, narrow, and uneven road, so a stroller was pretty unthinkable. Luckily, we brought along our baby carrier which we used anytime we walked anywhere. In fact, the only time we used the stroller was at the airport!

Second, Tulum is rustic. Despite the IG-worthy pictures all over social media, Tulum does not have all the modern conveniences of other big cities. While there is running water, it’s not potable in potable in many hotels. Most establishments (including our hotel) ask that you don’t flush any paper down the toilet. Restaurants in Tulum are dreamy and delicious, but are very dark and often lit only by candles. It’s common for them to be “off the grid” (no gas or electricity). All of this sounds right up our alley pre-baby, but with breast-pumping equipment and the fatigue that comes with being new parents, the little luxuries can make a big difference!

Despite the setbacks (not being able to wash my bottles or breast pump, for example), we loved Tulum. It was completely unlike any Mexican tourist area we had seen. Even during Spring Break, Tulum felt quiet. Restaurants were busy but even the most popular spots were able to seat us. Even though we brought an infant into decidedly non-baby eateries, we were never turned away. In fact, every restaurant was accommodating and went out of their way to make our meal enjoyable. This wasn’t hard since dining in Tulum has some of the best food we’ve experienced abroad! Notable meals included Cenzontle, Arca, and Gitano — seriously, just check out these links for major swoon-worthy, open-air restaurants. I can’t properly describe how romantic and delicious these restaurants were (especially in my new-parent brain haze), but it’s safe to say that you’re in for a treat if you stumble into any one of them!

Dining in Tulum would be fulfilling on its own, but we were also taken aback by the amount of yoga available at our fingertips. Since we did almost no research before arriving, we weren’t aware that Tulum has a reputation as a yoga and wellness mecca. Just beside our hotel was Yoga Shala Tulum, a yoga-inspired hotel with daily classes. We were delighted to discover that Everly could come to class with us, and we had the pleasure of introducing Baby to her first yoga class at three months old! She particularly liked the singing bowls during savasana!

No trip to Mexico is complete without at least one excursion. We didn’t know how possible it would be to take Baby out in the sun for very long, and most of the tourist booths didn’t think a newborn was fit for long hours in transit. We almost gave up on seeing a cenote–a natural pit or cave, filled with fresh water. However, after receiving intel from some locals, we decided to venture out sans tour guide. Everly got to take her first kayak ride in a large, open-air cenote at the south end of Tulum Beach. It was definitely a non-touristy spot and gave us a chance to swim in turquoise fresh water (we took turns!) and while the afternoon away on rickety overhanging docks.

In retrospect, Tulum would not be a place I’d recommend to brand new parents. That being said, neither my husband nor I enjoy touristy travel, and Tulum was the perfect place in Mexico for rustic relaxation, adventure, and dining. It also taught us a lot about ourselves and how well we adapted to our challenges. In particular, I was impressed by how inventive Robin could be when we realized that we didn’t have clean water to wash the baby bottles in…a story for another time, perhaps!

While we were exhausted and some days were hard, we knew that we would be equally exhausted in Vancouver. I’m pretty proud of us for embarking on our first adventure as a family — a sign of a great year of mat leave to come!

The only thing I’d do differently is make sure we triple-set our alarm the night before…since choosing a 6am flight with a newborn is not a smart choice when Baby decides not to sleep the night before! This was the only flight in our history of travel that we’ve missed, and we’ll never forget the feeling of panic when we realized that it was almost 6am and we were still in BED!

Let me know if you’ve been to Tulum with a child and what you thought of it!

Until the next adventure,