For those looking to avoid the crowds and get close to nature in a tropical setting next to the white sands and aquamarine waters of the Caribbean, Tulum is the place. About an hour south of Playa del Carmen on the Riviera Maya, Tulum is a small, tranquil resort and the laid-back ambience and natural beauty invites you to kick back in a hammock with a good book and take an occasional swim in the alluring waters, which are safe for swimming. Nevertheless, there are plenty of attractions and activities in Tulum. The majestic Mayan archeological site in Tulum looks out across the Caribbean Sea, while the Mayan ruins in the jungle at Cobá are just forty-five minutes away and there’s a spider monkey sanctuary on the way. Around Tulum there are plenty of sink-holes (underground freshwater caves called cenotes), which are ideal for swimming, snorkeling, and diving.
You can get to some on foot or by bike and for others you’ll need to get a bus or taxi, but Tulum is a small place and everything is relatively close. Just 300 meters off the beach is a coral reef that is superb for snorkeling and scuba diving. Other activities in the area include kite boarding; zip lining at the eco-park; kayaking, and horseback riding. You can also go on a snorkeling tour where they take you out to some great spots for around fifteen bucks with the snorkeling gear included in the price. Another great place for a tour is the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve just a few miles south.
Tulum is a gay-friendly destination; tolerant, friendly, and with hassle-free topless and nudity on some beaches. One would think it was too small to offer any specifically gay accommodations, but in fact the Adonis Tulum Riviera Maya Gay Resort & Spa is an all-inclusive, five-star hotel offering luxury suites with Jacuzzis and ocean views. There are four restaurants, three bars, a lovely pool, and a clothing-optional beach. Adonis is adults-only, straight-friendly, offers weddings with a Mayan shaman, and has a great spa with massage and body treatments.
If you were thinking of something a little more rustic and economical try Cabañas Tulum, set right on the beach, just a short swim from the coral reef, and a two-mile walk along the beach to the Mayan ruins. Ensconced in tropical vegetation, the cabins are simple but comfortable; there is no electricity but there are candles, mosquito nets, cool breezes, and a great restaurant. It’s rustic, romantic, and perfect for viewing the star-filled night sky with no artificial light to spoil the view. There are no gay bars or clubs per se (except at the Adonis, of course), but there are some decent bars and clubs in town.
Perhaps the best is the Habana Café with its Latin rhythms, friendly atmosphere, and lovely rooftop terrace. For some excellent Thai food and a great ocean view, check out the Mezzanine restaurant overlooking Playa Paraiso, and if you’re travelling on a budget there are plenty of good inexpensive small restaurants in town. And just in case you’re wondering about more ‘mundane’ matters, yes, these days there are banks and ATMs in Tulum.