When you’ve got a stretch of white-sand beach and turquoise waves lapping at your toes, what more do you need? Eco Tulum, a collection of green destinations on Mexico’s Caribbean coast about an hour and 40 minutes south of Cancun, takes that question seriously. The answer? You don’t need much more. In an exercise of inspired editing, Eco Tulum’s resorts dispense with everything that could get in the way of you, the beach, and a major sun-buzz.
Take Cabanas Copal, the organization’s first resort. Born ten years ago, the resort has grown to 47 cabanas. Copal’s lodging is rustic, hidden among the native vegetation, with some cabanas offering some sea views. “We embrace the jungle,” says Luciana Leguizamon, who works in Eco Tulum’s marketing and media office. To that end, none of the cabanas use electricity (although the resort’s common areas are powered for a few hours every day after sunset). The sun lights the way by day; candles glow at night. Much of the cabanas were built with recycled building materials, and guests are encouraged to tune in to nature. You can take “going natural” as literally as you want here. The resort welcomes guests with all kinds of clothing policies, from cover-everything-up to bare-it-all. (Tulum’s beaches have traditionally been accepting of nude bathing. You can wear as much of a swimsuit as you want, but if seeing other people naked makes you blush, be prepared for some pink cheeks.)
Although still in the luxury-by-way-of-limits category, Copal’s neighbor Zahra offers a few more creature comforts. Built to be more of a boutique hotel experience, Zahra cabanas have electricity (and powered ceiling fans) from morning to 11 pm at night. Some cabanas also get wireless internet service. The resort’s grounds are less “jungle-y” than Copal, and some cabanas are built for families (sleeping up to six people).
Eco Tulum takes its green commitments seriously. In addition to their serious limits on electrical use, they also are water conservation kings. The restaurant focuses on local dishes and ingredients, including many vegetarian options. Room amenities (soaps, etc.) are organic, as are the spa treatments at Maya Spa, Eco Tulum’s wellness center that specializes in holistic Mayan treatments.
Speaking of that spa, in case you have a hankering to do anything other than sunbathe or lounge in a hammock, Maya offers a huge range of services, from massages to body wraps, from Mayan baths to dry floatation chambers. If you’re looking for more active amusements, the spa offers free yoga classes every morning (additional afternoon classes start at $10/90 minutes). Cabanas Copal serves as a home-base for equipment rentals – kayaks, bikes, scuba and snorkeling gear are all available, as are jungle tours and scuba courses. Plus, you’re only three kilometers from the Tulum ruins, what’s left of a walled Mayan city built between 1200 and 1450.
If you’re a nature fan, you’ll want to make sure to visit an Eco Tulum resort between April and September. That’s when the turtles visit, too. Every night, sea turtles make their way to the beach to lay their eggs. It’s an Eco Tulum tradition to stay up late to watch their journey – just remember to leave the flashlights in the cabanas. They scare the nesting turtles!
Come back tomorrow and Monday for Eco Tulum rates.