Finding Paradise in Tulum

Playa del Carmen is located in the middle of the Riviera Maya, a stretch of pristine Caribbean coastline stretching from Cancun in the north to Tulum in the south. Most of the places I love to visit from Playa are located to the south of town, such as Akumal, Xcacel and Cenote Azul, but I recently discovered another piece of paradise in the form of Tulum’s Paraiso beach (which literally means paradise!).

My previous visits to Tulum had proved a little fruitless, and I had actually wondered what all the fuss was about. I’d ventured south to explore the ancient ruins which overlook the ocean, but that day the clouds decided to open up, preventing me from appreciating the true beauty of the beach.

Tulum ruins

The other time I visited Tulum, I was a little confused by its layout. The pueblo (town) is set just off the highway almost five kilometers away from the beaches, with the ruins situated at the northern end. If you don’t have your own transport, this means utilizing the collectivos (vans) and taxis to get around, as it is too far to cover on foot.

On my last visit, however, we had access to our own vehicle, which allowed us to explore at our own pace. We decided to hit the beach just south of the ruins, which had public access and parking.

The beach in front of the Paraiso beach club was busy with happy locals and tourists enjoying the sea and sun, but we still managed to secure a spot under the shade of a natural umbrella – a coconut palm.

Tulum palm tree

We took to the crystal clear water which reflected a bright turquoise blue. As soon as I entered the water, I was filled with such a deep feeling of appreciation for being able to spend time in the Mayan Riviera. It truly is such a beautiful part of the world, and it’s beaches are something to behold.

What’s more, they are completely free!

There are many resorts along the coastline of Tulum that provide access to the beach for the cost of a sun-lounger or a meal at their restaurant, but honestly, I prefer the public beaches where locals and tourists mingle and enjoy the beach together.

Tulum paraiso beach

Paradise is available to everyone, and is not something that has to be earned or bought. It is simply there, waiting to be enjoyed by everyone who takes the time to do so. The crystal clear, invigorating waters, the white sandy shores lined with palm trees and flanked by jungle; it is nature’s gift to us in this part of the world.

Looking around at the contented beach-goers – kids burying themselves in the fine sand; elderly couples perched on chairs under umbrellas; tourists taking multiple ‘selfies’ of themselves against the spectacular Caribbean backdrop – it seemed that everyone else felt the same way.

We were experiencing paradise on earth, and there was simply no other place any of us wanted to be that day.

Paradise in Tulum

Tip: ‘Paradise’ beach is easily accessed form Playa del Carmen, less than an hours’ drive south. Turn left at the traffic lights before the town, then left at the T-junction near the beach. After about 2-3 KM, turn right at the sign which says “Public Access to Beach”, then pull up a piece of sand under a palm tree and enjoy!

Top 10 Things To Do on the Riviera Maya

Playa del Carmen is located on a pristine stretch of coastline on the eastern Yucatan peninsular, known as the Riviera Maya. The Riviera Maya offers world class accommodation, unique natural wonders, beautiful beaches and historic treasures which make it a popular vacation destination for people from all over the world. We’ve compiled a list of the Top 10 Things To Do to assist you with you next visit.

1. Experience the Unique Vibe of Playa del Carmen

Riviera Maya Playa del Carmen

‘Playa’ as it is known by the regulars, is a cosmopolitan town on the Caribbean Sea, securing a special place in the hearts of all who visit. Sparkling waters, fantastic restaurants, lively night life and friendly people are just some of the possible reasons why this town is the ‘jewel in the crown’ of the Riviera Maya.

2. Swim In a Cenote

Natural, geologically formed pools filled with cool clear fresh water are scattered all along the Riviera Maya. Known for their refreshing, healing qualities, swimming in a cenote is an absolute must for visitors. Our favorites are Cenote Azul, Cristallino and Dos Ojos (Two eyes).

3. Snorkel with Sea Turtles

Riviera Maya Akumal

The protected bay of Akumal is the feeding ground for a number of sea turtles. All year round, these majestic creatures feed on grasses growing from the sandy sea floor and don’t seem to mind inquisitive visitors watching them eat. Snorkel gear can be hired onsite.

4. Step Back in Time at Coba

Riviera Maya Coba

The ancient Mayan city of Coba makes a great day trip from Playa del Carmen. Take a guided tour and learn about ancient Mayan prophecies, hire bicycles to explore the vast grounds, then climb to the top of the main pyramid and imagine yourself as a powerful Mayan king surveying a great kingdom.

5. Chill out in Tulum

Riviear Maya tulum

The beaches of Tulum are famed for their underdeveloped shores and turquoise waters. Grab a good book, spread out a towel and soak up the laid back vibe.The Mayans who inhabited the city in ancient times certainly had good taste in real estate!

6. Dive the World’s Second Largest Barrier Reef

The waters off the Riviera Maya are home to one of the world’s most spectacular reef systems. Most dive companies are located in Playa del Carmen or the nearby island of Cozumel, and can arrange a tour to suit you.

7. Celebrate the Day of the Dead at Xcaret

Day of the Dead Playa Del Carmen

Xcaret is an ecological themed park offering excellent activities all year round, but its ‘Festival of Life and Death’ in early November is not to be missed if your visit coincides. Funerary exhibitions, ghoulish face painting, excellent theatrical performances and a variety of food stalls are just some of the highlights of the festival to mark the famed ‘Day of the Dead.’

8. Discover Untouched Natural Treasures at Sian Ka’an

South of Tulum, discover ‘Paradise on Earth’ at the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, a protected area of untold natural and ecological beauty. Take a boat ride through the lagoon to discover manatees, dolphins and unique bird life, then feast on fresh lobster at a water front restaurant in the tiny town of Punta Allen.

9. Become a Beach Afficianado at Xpu-ha and Xcacel

playa del carmen beach club

Discover the lesser known beaches of Xcacel and Xpu- ha south of Playa del Carmen, then decide which is your favorite. Is it the natural, rugged beauty of Xcacel, or the laid back beach bars and aquamarine waters of Xpu-ha? You decide.

10. Slip into ‘Mexico time’ in  Puerto Morelos

Riviera Maya Puerto Morelos

A sleepy fishing village just north of Playa del Carmen, Puerto Morelos retains a relaxed atmosphere whilst offering great restaurants and one of the best English book stores on the Mayan Riviera. Pick out a great book then read it over fresh ceviche or seafood tacos and forget about having a ‘To Do’ list at all.

For more information on transport options and tours for the above activities, contact our concierge service.