Ever since my pen pal Luis wrote about beautiful clothing-optional beaches in Tulum, Mexico, I had been aiming to go there. We planned a trip with Luis exactly one year ago, but unfortunately he had to cancel literally last minute. I still went on my own, and I wasn’t disappointed to say the least. Out of two resorts recommended by Luis, I picked Papaya Playa.
It is a quiet place with cabins, open-air showers, restaurant all built in rustic tropical style, that blends harmoniously with local environment. There were many people but it never felt crowded. In the mornings, I often had the beach to myself.
I didn’t just stay at the resort, of course. I made friends with Tomas from Papaya Playa reception, and he organised a couple of trips in its vicinity and also joined me when he didn’t have to work. The obvious choice was Mayan ruins of Tulum, which is not a clothes-free place, of course…
… with the exception of iguanas, that guard the ancient site.
However, we went for a snorkelling tour on the coral reef right in front of the ruins, and I asked the boatmen if I could swim naked. They said they had no issues with that, as long as the only woman in our group of about 6 tourists wouldn’t mind. (Apparently, it was obvious to them that men wouldn’t.) She and her husband were totally cool with the idea, although they said they had never been to a nudist beach. I was really happy that both local and visiting Mexicans seemed to be much more open-minded re nudity, than they were portrayed by some of my Mexican friends, who believed their country was too conservative….
So, there I was snorkelling naked in the warm Caribbean Sea!
By the way, that reef is a part of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, the second largest barrier reef in the world!
Although I knew that it wasn’t very rich in terms of biodiversity (for a coral reef! which means that it would still be probably the most diverse marine ecosystem around), I was disappointed that visually it wasn’t nearly as bright as the coral reefs of the Red Sea that I saw in Israel and Egypt.
But then I saw three squids, and two of them were facing each other. I had just watched a documentary about cuttlefish before going to Mexico, so I immediately recognised that those were two males in a competitive dance that involved display of change in colours. Unfortunately, one of them retreated when I came closer to take a video.
We also went to the beach of Akumal, which is famous for sea turtles. It’s not a clothing-optional beach, but I felt it’d be a waste to swim clothed in such a nice warm water, so I took off my swimming trunks as soon as I was in water. Not long after, I saw some huge sea turtles grazing on sea grass! They looked so majestic and didn’t seem to be bothered by my presence.
We also went to the beaches of Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, south of Tulum. Those are really beautiful, and I would like to say truly pristine, but unfortunately there was quite a lot of trash! It wasn’t garbage left by visitors of Sian Ka’an, but all the stuff that people through away from numerous boats into what they think is unlimited vastness of the Caribbean. It probably doesn’t occur in their head that if those things don’t sink down to the bottom of the sea, they will float until washed away ashore… and with time they accumulate in noticeable and disturbing amounts! The only reason why we don’t see this garbage on beaches at the resorts is because of constant cleaning. I think it would be good to leave small sections of urban beaches unattended, so that everyone is reminded about the amount of trash that floats in the sea…
Despite that, it was probably the most stunning beach in the area!
The water was beautiful,
and we discovered some ruins too, doubtfully though as ancient as to be tracked to Mayan civilisation.
Palm trees grow all along the beach,
and of course we were tempted to go for a walk in the forest too.
It was probably the first time I saw a forest comprised entirely of palm trees.
In the evening, I read short history of Mexico under coconut trees of Papaya Playa. 🙂
And with the full moon rising,
it was a perfect time to take some night shots with that kind of iconic tropical background.
Oh well, I couldn’t decide if that place looked more beautiful during moonrise or sunrise! 🙂
Then, I had some delicious mangos for breakfast at the beach, and those attracted some new friends.
I didn’t realise iguanas were such mango-lovers, they seemed to have lost all their shyness and typical careless look.
Pelicans were passing by and just checked out if there was anything for them, but I usually don’t eat fish for breakfast.
However, I did make quite a few iguanas happy with mango skins.
At some point, they were all satisfied and retreated to sunbathe…
So did I, and I would definitely like to come back to Papaya Playa to see my friends again. Maybe next time, I should give them some papaya 😉