By Suzane Crane.
Why Fictional & Real Life Grumps Would Hate This Caribbean Nirvana
There’s bushels of top 10 lists about what to see and do in Tulum. Here we offer a twist on the conventional hype. Hope it makes you smile… and then come visit us!
1.- TOO OLD
HISTORY, CULTURE, & MYTHICAL MAYAN RUINS
A Curmudgeon’s Perspective: All In the Family’s legendary fictional pessimist Archie Bunker might growl: “Who wants to see such old things? Edith is enough of a crumbling ruin for me!”
Remnants of a fabled Civilization, the Yucatan Peninsula boasts some of the most important and distinctive Mayan Ruins and Sacred Sites in Mexico. Perched above the glistening Caribbean and just a bike-ride away from town or the hotel zone, the uniquely situated and incomparably picturesque Tulum Ruins stand testament to a vital ancient city and important sea port dating back to the 13th Century.
And just a few hour’s drive from Tulum, the Pre-Hispanic City of Chichen Itza — one of the Seven New Wonders of The World — grandly exemplifies the ingenuity and insight possessed by the Maya and Toltec peoples throughout a 1000 year history.
Even closer, the small archeological vestiges at Muyil (just north of Tulum) are well worth a visit, as are the jungle ruins at Coba (where you can bike throughout) and the less visited/less commercial Ek Balaam – all providing redolent reminders of the great Mayan Civilization that long defined the Yucatan Peninsula.
A Normal Person’s Perspective: Tulum is a treasure-trove of antiquities alongside evocative living Mayan culture. These masterful archeological relics inspire imaginings of human history and long-lost civilizations. Fascinating and educational.
2.- TOO WET
TULUM BOASTS HUNDREDS OF CENOTES UNIQUE TO THE YUCATAN
A Curmudeon’s Perspective: Glee’s supercilious make-believe athletic director Sue Sylvester might sneer: “If I wanted to go in a hole filled with water I’d take a bath! And by the way, you should too. You stink! ”
A geological phenomenon unique to the Yucatan Peninsula, Cenotes are fresh water sinkholes in which one can swim, snorkel, dive, and cave. Found in abundance throughout the Riviera Maya, Cenotes vary in size and traits, dramatic stalagtites dripping from limestone ceilings like dinosaur’s teeth, labyrinths of subterranean tunnels, deep caves and underground rivers… Some have been co-opted for tourism and feature zip-lines and picnic tables, while others remain more pristine odes to nature.
A normal person’s perspective: Offering cool, fresh water and underground exploration, Cenotes are natural marvels not to be missed for families and adventurers alike.
3.- TOO SANDY
JEWELLED CARIBBEAN WATERS FRAMED BY MILES OF VELVETY BEACHES
A Curmudgeon’s Perspective: Like Christmas, Scrooge would disdain Tulum’s beautiful beaches: “Bah, Humbug! All that glistening aqua water and powdery sand between my toes and in my nose… It’s like a blue-hued holiday nightmare” he might scoff.
Heralded as one of the world’s pre-eminent beach destinations, Tulum’s silky stretch of unblemished sand hugs the kaleidoscopic Caribbean Sea. Fringed by ecologically sound and considerately designed boutique hotels that fuse with nature, you won’t find any concrete high rises in Tulum. Respect for the environment and tropical milieu both distinguishes and enhances Tulum’s organic charm.
A Normal Person’s Perspective: The variegated blues of the Caribbean undulate like a wind-blown ribbon with sand so soft it’s like walking on air. Tulum’s reputation as one of the most idyllic beaches on the planet is well deserved.
4.- TOO RELAXING
A Curmudeon’s Perspective: Notoriously neurotic filmmaker Woody Allen would hate it here. “I don’t respond well to mellow, you know what I mean, I-I have a tendency to… if I get too mellow, I-I ripen and then rot.” His actual words.
Tons of jungle and beach-side yoga and massage, facials and detoxifying clay spas exist beside a potpourri of other traditional and esoteric wellness therapies like Mi Amor Tulum Spa.
Holistic experiences may include temazcal (traditional sweat lodge), biomagnetism, acupuncture, crystal healing, Tarot and Kin Maya readings, fascial stretch therapy, and pretty much everything in between. A popular location for retreats, this laid-back beach haven attracts serious Yogis alongside visitors who just want to chill and enjoy Tulum’s blissful bounty.
A Normal Person’s Perspective: “Bring it on!” Most visitors are seeking a respite from life’s daily chaos and relish the spa and wellness opportunities available in this scenic stress-free setting.
5.- TOO BIODIVERSE; TOO MANY WEIRD CREATURES
NATURE/WILDLIFE/FLORA & FAUNA
A Curmudgeon’s Perspective: An actual line delivered by renowned TV grouch Dr. Gregory House: “Somewhere out there is a tree tirelessly producing oxygen so you can breathe. I think you owe it an apology.”
Varied terrain, favorable environmental conditions, and vast untouched acreage accommodates a spectacular range of plant and wildlife in and around Tulum. Mammals and aquatic creatures, iguanas, and — yes — indigenous snakes make their home in the area’s dense jungles, expansive seas, and infinite azure skies.
Howler and endangered spider monkeys, jaguars, pumas, ocelots, coati mundis, tapirs, and Manatee reside in their natural habitats, while the heavens are aflame with flamboyant birds including Toucans, Yucatan Parrots, Blue-Crowned Mot-Mots, Eagles, Hummingbirds, and wild blue-green metallic wild Ocellated Turkeys, to name just a very few.
In fact, the Yucatan Peninsula – and particularly the Riviera Maya – boasts more than 500 species and is considered one of the best birding spots in the Americas. From May to October, Tulum’s coastline hosts thousands of nesting turtles, a spectacle which can be witnessed at sunset when mothers emerge from the sea to lay their eggs on the beach.
Its fertile subtropical climate promotes bountiful flora and fauna, much of which has informed Mayan spiritual practices and medicinal disciplines for thousands of years. The area is an herbalist’s dream!
The protected Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve provides an untarnished view of all the above. Guided boat tours are a great way to explore.
A Normal Person’s Perspective: How lucky we are to be surrounded by such natural beauty and corporeal abundance. If anything, we humans owe Mother Nature an apology for sullying her work.
6.- TOO MANY GREAT EATING OPTIONS
TULUM IS A CERTFIED FOODIE HOTSPOT
A Curmudgeon’s Perspective: An utterance from celebrated pessimist Jerry Seinfeld:“I don’t want to hear the specials! If they’re so special put them on the menu!”
But sometimes there are NO menus… just fresh tasty fare from on-the-go vendors who proffer unpretentious traditional dishes on street corners throughout Tulum. For those who prefer less rudimentary cuisine, the range of dining options in this little beach town is extraordinary.
From acclaimed fine dining to gourmet pizza, Vegan/Vegetarian to just-caught seafood, from sinful gelato to healthful Power Smoothies… familiar to adventurous, predictable to surprising… from inventive Mexican to divine Turkish, from exotic Indian and Thai cuisine of Mezzanine to Sushi and Falafel… from candle-lit romance to barefoot casual, beachfront to jungle, bustling sidewalk dining to secret gardens, Tulum’s restaurant and food scene has garnered international repute as a Foodie’s paradise..
A Normal Person’s Perspective: It’s amazing to have so many inspired dining options within proximity to my hotel.
7.- IT’S TOO DARK TO GO OUT
TULUM’S VIBRANT NIGHTLIFE HAS SOMETHING FOR ALL
A Curmudgeon’s Perspective: “I miss my couch” groused famous TV grouch Al Bundy in “Married With Children.”
Beach Road or Town. DJs or Live Music. Ambient cocktail lounges, raucous bars or laid-back coffee houses… Pumping Techno Parties or the mellifluous sound of waves kissing the shoreline. Salsa Lessons, Cultural Events, high octane or low gear… Tulum’s post-sunset options are eclectic & plentiful.
A Normal Person’s Perspective: Wow, there’s so much to do here!
8.- TOO MANY UNFAMILIAR PEOPLE & CUSTOMS
LIVING MAYAN CULTURE STILL EXISTS IN & AROUND TULUM
A Curmudgeon’s Perspective: The Odd Couple’s cranky Oscar Madison might gripe: “I don’t need to travel to meet foreigners. My roommate Felix is alien enough!”
Beyond Tulum’s tourist hub, small indigenous villages pepper the landscape. In the pueblos closest to Tulum, artisans hand-craft wooden furniture, gord and leaf-woven lamps, hammocks and feather-adorned dream catchers. Great opportunity to purchase memories directly from the source.
A Normal Person’s Perspective: Being introduced to other cultures and rituals is illuminating.
9.- TOO MANY THINGS TO BUY
TULUM OFFERS A DAZZLING ARRAY OF UNIQUE BOUTIQUES & SHOPS
A Curmudgeon’s Perspective: It’s easy to imagine Carla, the famously acerbic waitress from Cheers sneering: “Yeah I’m gonna go spend my hard earned pennies on some trendy frock just to have Norm barf all over me… Dianne why don’t you go shopping for a pretty little frock and have Norm barf all over you.”
It’s no secret that Tulum has become the “go-to” destination for New York fashionistas and other casually chic trendsetters… and the influx of alluring boutiques along the Hotel Zone testify to this fact.
Breezy ateliers touting stylish designer kaftans and flowy dresses, exclusive hats and swim suits, unique handcrafted jewelry, cute sandals and bags… indigenous textiles, art, and home décor, cool stuff for the kiddies and even the hubby can be procured at one of the beachy boutiques where organic coffee and skin products can also be found.
Trinkets and souvenirs, locally produced hammocks and blankets, Mexican silver, artisanal tequila, and necessities such as insect repellant and sunscreen are readily available at the many shops lining Tulum town.
A Normal Person’s Perspective: Joy. Rapture. Delight. Tulum is a Shopaholic’s Dream in with a heavenly backdrop! Even many of the stores themselves are works of art! Best place ever to enjoy a hassle-free shopping for unique and special items.
10.- TOO MANY INTERESTING DAY TRIPS, ADVENTURE & THEME PARKS FROM CULTURE TO ADVENTURE TO JUST CHILLING OUT, TULUM’S GOT IT ALL
A Curmudgeon’s Perspective: Famously acerbic, 60 Minutes’ famously cranky commentator Andy Rooney has said: “The best thing about a vacation is planning it.”
Aside from idyllic beaches and extraordinary archeological ruins, there’s no dearth of day trips and activities to entertain and edify the entire family. Nature reserves such as Sian Kaan and Punta Laguna, a ferry to Cozumel, a foray to the colonial city of Valladolid, kayaking, horseback riding and four-wheel driving… zip-line, kite surf or dive.
Enjoy adventure and cultural shows at one of the area’s spectacular parks such as Xel-Ha, Xplor, Xenses, Xcaret, and Parque Ecológico Labnaha.
Do it all or do none of it… It’s your holiday!
A Normal Person’s Perspective: The best thing about a vacation in Tulum is EVERYTHING once you arrive.