Scenes from Tulum, Mexico

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When you arrive at your amazing, beachfront hotel in Mexico and the friends you are traveling with mention they don’t like the beach or enjoy walking in sand, what do you do? I didn’t know how to respond so I kept my pie-hole shut. It just meant this was going to be a different kind of vacation – which was completely fine.

Last March (2019), I vowed I’d never spend an entire winter in Colorado without a break from the cold again. So, we booked a week long trip to Tulum, Mexico. It’s one of my favorite places to go when desperate for a beach vacation. I do worry about the future of Tulum – the number of tourists seems to be increasing every year making the sustainability of the place questionable. You can read about the dark side of Tulum via this article that describes what happens behind the scenes. It’s a pretty eye-opening piece. I happened to read it when we got back from the trip.

I always stay at the same place, the Encantada Tulum. The Encantada is located at the South end of the beach, close to the entrance to the Sian Ka’an Biosphere. It’s super quiet, the rooms are wonderful (there are only 8 of them) and the staff make you feel as though you are one of their own family. We found the property on a day trip from Playa Del Carmen in 2012 – this was the 3rd visit to the Encantada.

It used to be the last hotel in this part of the resort area. My have things changed – a whole slew of new restaurants, hotels and boutiques exist further South. The growth is definitely straining the ecosystem, but I can see the effort many places are taking to protect this beautiful place.

The evening winds cooled our slice of paradise. We’d fall asleep to Sean’s music collection every night, with the warm glow of tea lights strategically placed throughout the room. It was the best part of the trip!

If you don’t have a car, walking or cycling is the way to go. There are also plenty of taxis if you need em. Growth means more traffic, unfortunately – it may make the cycling option unappealing to you if you are worried about a collision. The primary road leading to the beachfront hotels in Tulum is riddled with potholes and speed bumps the size of Texas. None of this stopped us – we spent a day roaming around on cruiser bikes supplied by the hotel. The chain on Sean’s bike kept falling off every time he hit a bump – it was one of the highlights of the trip!!

Even though there was a ton of traffic during the day, we found quite a bit of peace and quiet wherever we went. Either on the beach, in restaurants or on the road early in the morning or at night. My favorite time of the day to wander was after sunset with the twinkling lights of restaurants and shops providing a soothing, romantic ambiance. There were instances on this trip when it felt like we were on an amusement park ride….it was very surreal at times (in a good way).

There is sooo much to do in and around Tulum you need to stay for weeks to cover it all. We kayaked in the biosphere at sunset which was lovely but not for the inexperienced. The wind was pretty strong and we had to navigate narrow canals – our kayak was deemed the “divorce kayak” for the first hour, but by the end of the 3 hour tour, we were back to honeymoon status, lol. There is only one outfitter allowed to host kayak tours in the biosphere (Yucatan Outdoors) – so it was just our group out there. It was really nice. They don’t have pink flamingos in this part of Mexico, but they do have pink Roseate Spoonbills – super cool.

Sean and W explored the ruins while M and I shopped. Good news is, I only came home with one purse and 8 tubes of Retin-A (it’s soo cheap in Mexico). BTW, no way the dress below would make it over my hips. I’d look like a big sausage link in it. We also took a couple of day trips outside of Tulum which I’ll ‘splain in a separate post. (Ruins images by Sean – go Sean, beautiful shots)

Lastly, the food in Tulum is incredible and a foodies paradise! No Taco Bells here (even though I love the Bell). The concierge at the Encantada gave us some great restaurant recommendations. Everything we had was super fresh and tasty from Moroccan tagine dishes, fish tacos, ceviche, acai bowls, short ribs, and grilled shrimpies. You name it, you can find it in Tulum. To stay competitive, the restaurants do a beautiful job with aesthetics – all of them are so well done – welcoming and tasteful. I could have snapped photos for days.

In the end, I didn’t get the golden tan I was hoping for, but the trip was fabulous and wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. Realistically, the skin doesn’t tan anymore anyway – thanks to the happy days of middle-age – only new, ‘beautiful’ age spots form after a day in the sun.

Not sure when or if we’ll make it back to Tulum. It makes me super sad to think about the stuff happening behind the scenes. None of us came down with Montezuma’s Revenge so it seems they are doing something right. We’ll see what happens, all I know is the good memories will stick with us for a lifetime. If nothing else, the Retin-A stock will need to be replenished.

……i choose this……

Pam

PS. Our blogging friends over at Wandering Together just got back from Tulum as well. They documented the trip beautifully if you’d like to see another viewpoint.

47 comments

  1. Sounds like you had a nice, well deserved stay. Great photos.
    My comment is mostly about the linked article and I have to say that I’m not surprised with the content of the article. I’ve noticed the changes in the Yucatan since I first visited Cancun in 1978 (just 4 years after the international airport was completed). There were very few high rises. We stayed at the El Presidente which probably is no longer there. The hotel was still having the final construction touches put on. It was nothing at all like it is today (though I’ve not been back to Cancun itself). I remember having eaten a taco from a street vendor – big, big mistake.
    During the trip we went snorkeling at Xel Ha Lagoon. It was magnificent with brilliant colored coral reefs and tropical fish. We went to Tulum and hardly a soul was there. It was wonderful. You could take photos of the ruins and not worry about your shots being photo bombed.
    Fast forward to the late 1990’s we took a trip to Playa del Carmen which at the time hadn’t yet been “discovered” by Americans. It was a Euro vacation spot (hence the allowing of topless sunbathing, or that’s how the story that I was told goes). One of my most anticipated highlights was to take my teenage kids to Xel Ha. It was dead. The once brilliant coral looked like heaps of brown rocks. Tulum still seemed relatively untouched.
    Two years later we returned to Playa del Carmen, the Americans had discovered it and it was overrun with cheesy, touristy chain bars, fast food restaurants.
    I don’t know that the problem is so much the numbers of tourists but the cluelessness of some tourists (people taking flash photos in the Sistine Chapel; walking on the delicate crust of the Yellowstone hot springs; I could go on).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love the history you laid out here. Wow – you have seen it all. What is it with people, they are clueless – hey, let’s take a photo of that mama bear and her cubs. The coral thing makes me SUPER sad. ugh. Tulum is managing to keep things from being cheesy – definitely a different crowd there than in Playa and no chain restaurants – thank goodness. Good news, I do think things have changed on the food front – you’d be safe to eat a street taco now. I am going to do a post on our jaunt to Punta Allen, the amount of trash we saw washed up on the beach made me sick to my stomach. I didn’t photograph it only because it’s already etched in my mind. We humans are literally trashing everything.

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    1. Haha – I think canoes are soo much harder to navigate. My BFF and I used paddle at summer camp – we fought about it the whole time. We also had no clue what we were doing. If only you-tube was around back then. Have a great weekend AB!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ah, a rental bike with chain problems. been there. Several years ago, in Mexico my wife and I ate two huge plates of ceviche for dinner. I was astounded that we didn’t get sick, but it was so good, we couldn’t help ourselves.

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    1. Thanks! yeah, I think because I have been going for such a long period of time, I notice the differences more than someone going for the first time. The development is sooooo tasteful I have to say. It doesn’t feel cheesy at all – though I do think from mid December to the end of January, it takes on a party vibe from what I hear.

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    1. DEFINITELY. Though we did spend one night in Cancun and stayed towards the Marina – they build a really nice shopping area with good restaurants down that way. The only issue there is the beach is a 10 to 15 minute drive away. We did have a blast :-).

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    1. Oh yes, I do love Mexico – all parts of it. I was so pleasantly surprised with the food we had. I didn’t remember Tulum being such a foodie place, but it was!! Yeah, the beach areas are really beautiful as well. Thanks for reading Supchick!

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  3. Big fan, you know me, both of you, your pictures, and Mexico, Tulum in particular. Sadened at every place that’s become too touristy, that locals can’t maintain it the way it was, that consumerism is consuming everything and everyone’s mind… even when we know it’s bad and we should do something about it, we keep being biased and dive right in. You and me among everyone else. I wish we could find a way to enjoy our Planet without destroying everything that makes it so beautiful…

    I’m very glad you had another go at Tulum and that you could share that moment in one of your favorite places with one of your favorite people. And again, your pics are showing the beauty, serenity and peace of it all. That first picture is a keeper! 😉

    Be well! Happy trails, wherever your steps may lead you.
    xoxoxo
    Jul’

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree with you Jul! We all are killing off the planet – it makes me so sad to see what we humans do. I am a huge consumer, which I am trying to do my best to unwind. I can say, that because of you, I am more thoughtful about how I approach things. I just saw someone post about a liberty bottle filtration system that I am going to try to find. We drank more than our fair share of beer and margaritas in Mexico just to avoid bottle water. This bottle will allow us to drink water no-matter where we are. This guy used it in India which is a very good testament. Have a wonderful weekend!! xoxo I have not quite gotten to the point of the no hair washing….but I do limit it now to 2 x a week – lol.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. “When you arrive at your amazing, beachfront hotel in Mexico and the friends you are traveling with mention they don’t like the beach or enjoy walking in sand, what do you do?”… Duuuh, you ditch the friends!!!
    Your photos are pictures from paradise. They simply make me want to jump back in a plane and go. But what a sensible thing to mention your concern about what’s happening behind the scenes. All travelers should do that.
    Thanks for sharing. Have a great weekend. Mwah!

    Liked by 1 person

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