Posted on Fri, March 23, 2012 at 11:01AM
From the Travel Editor: As the weather turns warm, we’re craving a real beach getaway—you know, the kind where you have absolutely no obligations except tanning. When the crew at Design Hotels’ pop-up Papaya Playa Project (located mere feet from the pristine beaches of Tulum) suggested we offer a discount on their newly extended dates through November 2012, we knew this would be the perfect beach for us. For decades, Tulum has been a destination for those looking to unwind and decompress—think daily yoga on the beach, no electricity, and a sleepy pace of life. (It’s worlds away from the luxury all-inclusives further up the Riviera Maya.) Even though the once sleepy town has become more popular and developed in recent years, it still retains its low-key, eco-conscious attitude—meaning it’s still our destination of choice for a true “leave it all behind” getaway. Our favorite activities, you ask? Daily yoga (pretty much every hotel, spa, and hippie in town offers a class), massages, beach- and hammock-lounging during the requisite afternoon siesta, and exploring the surrounding jungle. Just outside town, go swimming at the Grand Cenote (a large sinkhole popular with day-trippers) and hike around the ruins of the Mayan city, perched on a cliff overlooking the ocean. A few miles south of town, visit the mangrove swamps and colorful wildlife of the 1.2-million-acre Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve on a boat tour. If it’s water sports you’re after, then you’ve come to the right place. You’ll find everything from swimming and kayaking to snorkeling and scuba diving along the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, the second largest of its kind in the world. Whether we spend our day on the beach or in the jungle, the evenings are reserved for exploring some of the best restaurants the Riviera Maya has to offer. Scenesters savor fresh, Italian-influenced dishes at Posada Margarita, while those in search of fresh seafood with a gourmet bent head to Hartwood. Sip cocktails and cold beers overlooking the beach at Papaya Playa’s bar, while a rotating roster of international DJ’s spin in the background. It’s no wonder that Tulum has recently been touted as the next St. Bart’s or Goa. We’re crossing our fingers it won’t get flooded with visitors anytime soon. But we’d suggest going now, just in case. And with our Papaya Playa rates starting at $85 per night, you have no excuse not to.