LGBT’s Hidden Gem: Travel Tulum

Originally Published April 4, 2017 on

To highlight amazing destinations for our LGBTQ readers, Prowdr has begun an exciting new partnership with Ovation Vacations—a premiere luxury leisure travel company.  Whether you’re looking for a once in a lifetime experience, a romantic getaway, a unique family vacation or a way to celebrate a milestone, Ovation can tailor the perfect trip for you.  Case in point: They know all about hidden gems…

For many of us, Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula evokes Cancún with images of college spring-breakers, mega resorts and lots of tequila. But just 90 minutes south, the savvy LGBT traveler will discover Tulum, an entirely different take on the Mayan Riviera. 

Tulum is everything that Cancún is not: micro-boutique hotels tucked away among palm trees, a spectacular coastline and cliffside Mayan ruins.  This is a destination for those looking for rustic luxury; so don’t expect air-conditioning or loads of amenities. 

When you arrive at the town center, known as Tulum Pueblo, don’t get discouraged.  It is on a highway, so it won’t necessarily strike you as a tropical paradise.  While you may go there to find amenities like grocery stores, boutiques and coffeehouses, it isn’t the reason we call Tulum a hidden gem…

Just two kilometers from Tulum Pueblo, however, is the “hotel zone,” with over seventy boutique hotels right on Tulum’s beaches. Many of these are traditional Mayan-style cabañas with roofs made of thatched palm, but there are also some high-end hotels, if that’s more your style. Most accommodations remain rustic, because electricity in the “hotel zone” is either nonexistent or generated on-site.  While some inexpensive cabañas can still be found, they have become more and more rare.  If you’re looking for those, your best bet is in Tulum Pueblo.

Tulum’s large expat community has brought with it many new high-end restaurants, especially in the “hotel zone.”  A number of them have received international attention.  If cheap eats is more your preference, you’ll be sure to find them in the town center.

Without a doubt, Tulum’s greatest draw is its spectacular beaches, considered to be some of the top coastlines in Mexico.  You can lap up its confectioner-sugar sands, jade-green water and balmy breezes for your entire trip and not feel like you’ve missed out on a single thing.

Should you want to break up your beach time, Tulum is within reach of the best of what the Mayan Riviera has to offer.  For starters, there is the massive Reserva de la Biosfera Sian Ka’an, a designated Biosphere Reserve with thousands of species of flora and fauna. In fact, UNESCO declared Sian Ka’an to be a World Heritage site, and it remains the largest protected area in the Mexican Caribbean.  

For the intrepid traveler, explore some of the Yucatán’s famous cenotes, as well as grottos and cave systems with impressive vaulted caverns.  All of these are available for different levels of adventure, from zip-line tours to cave diving  to  incredible photo opportunities.

The one thing you should not miss is the Tulum Ruins.  In fact, Tulum, a Mayan word for “wall,” is thought to have been a major Mayan city during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, because of its role as a seaport (trading in turquoise and jade).  It was the only Mayan city located on the shoreline.  As you stroll among the cliffside ruins, you’ll discover the remnants of elaborate murals—once painted a vibrant red and blue over stark-white walls.  What really makes it so unique, aside from its well-preserved ruins, is its beautiful beach.  You can soak up history and the sun in the same afternoon.

If beaches, natural beauty and history aren’t enough for you, Tulum has become a popular destination for people seeking emersion programs to learn Spanish.  Two of the more well known include Meztli Spanish Language Schooland Jardin Espanol

Where to Stay: 

Our friends at Ovation Vacations have provided several suggestions for your stay in Tulum:

Casa Malca–A Design Hotel and new to the scene.  It marries art, nature and design on a private, southern stretch of beach

Mi Amor–A sexy option from El Colibri Hotels.  There’s a slight hint of retro-1950’s glamour to their intimate bungalows.

Be Tulum–A sophisticated, stylish choice with all of the creature comforts–like 24-hour electricity and air-conditioning.  Be aware: This resort does not permit children.

How to Get There:

While both a Tulum Airport and a high-speed transpeninsula train have been proposed, Cancun International Airport is still the only way for international travelers to get to the Yucatán Peninsula. Don’t worry, though, you won’t have to be there for long.  Taxis or a pre-arranged car service can easily get you to Tulum.  A bus (ADO Bus line) is also available, but it requires a transfer in Playa del Carmen.

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