Tulum, Riviera Maya – Mexico (25.10.13)
Tulum is one of my favourite beaches in the world, and right now – at this time of the year – is the perfect time to visit, as the Caribbean hurricane season gives way to the most pleasant of dry heat, clear sky weather periods. Having travelled many-a-coastal-mile between North, South and Central Americas I believe it is difficult to find a more welcoming, picturesque and natural stretch of talcum-powder-white-sand beach anywhere else in the Americas.
Aside from its gorgeous beach setting, kissed by the brilliant turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea, one of the most remarkable aspects of this paradise coast is that it still remains, in, 2014, a relatively under-visited and thankfully under-developed beach destination. This is especially remarkable considering that it is only a short plane ride away from the USA.Set away from the larger-scale hotel complex developments further north up the Yucatan coast, Tulum has an exciting variety of low-impact hotel and boutique-guest-house properties either located on the beach itself, or within easy striking distance of both Tulum or the remarkable Sian Ka’an biosphere.
We at Nomadic Thoughts have been in love with, and sent clients to, this region for over twenty-five years. Time and time again clients return happy, recharged and equally in love with not only the stunning paradise beaches of Tulum, but also the surrounding areas that offer so much.
Located over 1½ hours south of the enormous tourist area of Cancun, Tulum might as well be a continent away – for its true charm is reflected in its enormously long, super-chilled setting. It offers palm trees, crashing waves and a desert-island ambiance to woo the most easy-going of beach babes. Total relaxation to match the slowest of Caribbean islands, with as diverse and interesting an array of side attractions as you will find anywhere else on the planet.
As well as running parallel to one the world’s most beautiful beaches, the 900km long Mesoamerican Barrier Reef system is the third longest in the world after the Great Barrier Reef and New Caledonia Barrier Reef – boasting over 500 species of fish, 36 soft coral species and 70 hard coral species.
Complementing the reef and running directly south from Tulum Beach the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Sian Ka’an can be enjoyed on foot with pristine, untouched jungle next to bright blue Caribbean Sea. Indeed when I first stayed in Tulum (resting three weeks, with my wife and two children aged 14 months) we walked, with kids in backpacks, along from Tulum into the biosphere without actually realising we were in the protected area itself. Tulum beach continues for as far as the eye can see with busy jungle on one side and squadrons of low flying pelicans on the other. We ended up hitching a ride out with a park ranger returning from an animal audit which included Puma, Ocelot and Jaguar.
Sian Ka’an takes its name from the Mayan language meaning ‘origin of the sky’. It is aptly named as there are over 300 species of birds in a region covering 400,000 hectares of land, with 120kms of coastline and 120,000 hectares of protected marine area. All this, starting within a Frisbee throw from Tulum itself.
The equally impressive Pre-Columbian Maya site of Tulum enjoys probably the most picturesque of all Mayan settings. Perched high up on the cliff top with palm trees for sentry posts, the walled city stands as proud today as it did between the 13th and 15th centuries when the Maya were at their height of power – turquoise sea and white sand bay below.
Equally impressive are the local cenotes, limestone sink-holes which have resulted in the collapse of limestone rock that exposes groundwater below. The first time I snorkelled, watching as divers wound their way between stalactites and stalagmites up to 70 metres below, I was reminded of a giant, flooded Cheddar Gorge. Whether you are a diver, snorkeler or swimmer, the cenotes offer a terrifically unusual environment to enjoy three of the four largest underwater cave dives.
So if you are looking for a paradise escape right here, right now – call us, as Tulum awaits and we know where to stay, how to explore and the best places to chill.