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Kin Toh: Magic in the Trees

Welcome to Rivendell, Tulum style. Imagine a glammed-up treehouse, suspended above the steamy jungle, lit entirely with candles. This is Kin Toh at Azulik. We came for cocktails and dinner. To get to the restaurant, you check in at a normal-looking lobby, then cross a footbridge to climb a curving spiral staircase lit by blown-glass lanterns. With each step, the outside world falls away.

At the top, you find you're in an elaborate treehouse built on and around the trees. Down below, footpaths curve over pools of water. Upstairs, giant hammocks sling across empty spaces where wooden floors should be, beckoning those unafraid of heights. After a cocktail or two, it's easy to kick off your shoes and crawl out there. For those ready to fork over some serious bank, you can rent a private nest that levitates above the jungle. If I were a princess, this is exactly the kind of palace I'd want for my own.

It's all outside, of course, so it's sweaty and a bit buggy. A star anise cocktail clinking with ice tastes like heaven. Sun-kissed hostesses in pink backless gowns lead you to your table like a fleet of sexy bridesmaids. It all feels exclusive and rare and sensual.

I've never witnessed design that harmonizes so beautifully with nature. After dinner, we crawled out onto those hammocks, laughing like giddy teenagers. Then we wandered out to the main road and back to reality, pinching ourselves all the way.

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Cobá

There is nothing like standing on structures that were built almost 2000 years ago. Cobá was the biggest trading hub of the Mayan world. The buildings rise up out of the jungle, making you feel like Indiana Jones discovering a cache of ancient treasures.

Raised roads called sacbeob ("white ways") connect Cobá with other Mayan cities in the Yucatan, including Chichen Itza. Stelae, stone slabs depicting Mayan scenes, can be found all around the temples. The kids especially loved walking through a small tunnel, which our guide said was a place to test your resilience while running over hot coals--kind of like running the gauntet but with the benefit of being hopped up on peyote. After a tour of the ōllamaliztli ball court and a smaller temple, we jumped on bikes to follow a sacbe through the jungle to the highest temple, Nohoch Mul.

Years ago, we visited Tikal in Guatemala. While Tikal is much more elaborate and has the highest Mayan pyramid in the world, Cobá has a similar eerie feel. The jungle hasn't been hacked away and everywhere you look you'll see hills with trees growing out of them--except those aren't hills. They're unexcavated buildings.

Nococh Mul is the only Mayan temple in Mexico you can still climb. And what a climb! At 138 feet tall, the temple steps are pretty eroded and slick in spots. But the view from the top made every second of vertigo worth it.

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Amansala Afternoon

Our Airbnb rental included access to Amansala Yoga & Wellness Resort. Swoon.

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Tulum is for dreamers

Nothing shakes off winter cobwebs like a smack of sunshine and salt air. I can't say I've ever traveled anywhere exciting for spring break. I'm not really a spring break kind of girl. When I was pregnant and puking with baby number one, we did travel to Egypt to stay with a dear friend. But that's another story. This year, spurred on by a surfeit of Southwest points and a friend ready to pull the trigger, we planned a DIY family adventure in Tulum.

It was new for us, this traveling with another family thing. I'm officially sold on the idea--especially when you jive with your friends and everyone shares a similar ratio of adventure and chill. I don't think I'd want to travel for a week with just anyone. But when you love your friends, and they bring a laid-back but game-on personality, it's time to hit the road.

Tulum has been on my radar for a while, a sort of yoga and surf town that calls my name. I'm not much for big resorts. Wild beaches, Spanish galore, tacos, outdoor showers, Mayan ruins, crystal clear cenotes, earthy boho chic style? Yup, count me in.

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